Another day, another crazy fundamentalist saying abhorrent things about gay men and women. First, there was the pastor who advocated physically abusing young children who seemed too effeminate. Now, another has said we should cordon gay people into camps ringed by electrified fences.
I honestly have no idea what to say about this. It should be obvious how unChristian these comments are – such hatred and violence have no place among the followers of Jesus, no matter how wrong one feels homosexuality is. I think most everyone knows that, Christian or not. These comments are so extreme, I hesitate even mentioning them because I fear giving these twisted people the publicity they clearly crave. I see that same hesitation among people like Alise Wright, who frequently stands up for gay people on her blog, and Justin Lee, who lives in the uncomfortable margin between homosexuality and Christianity.
So rather than spend my morning turning exquisite phrases of outrage, allow me to focus on something positive. This weekend, I read an amazing story from The Washington Post‘s Petula Dvorak about a transgender 5-year-old. Yes, you read that correctly.
As early as age 2, Kathryn told her parents she was a boy and refused to wear or do anything associated with girls.
Kathryn didn’t even want to be around other little girls, let alone acknowledge that she biologically is one.
Jean tried to put her daughter’s behavior to rest. She sat down with a toddler-version of an anatomy book and showed Kathryn, by then 3, the cartoonish drawings of a naked boy and girl.
“See? You’re a girl. You have girl parts,” Jean told her big-eyed daughter. “You’ve always been a girl.”
Kathryn looked up at her mom, incomprehension clouding her round face.
“When did you change me?” the child asked.
The story is long but well worth the read. In the end, Kathryn’s parents agreed to begin treating Kathryn like a boy, cutting her hair, letting her pick out boy-related motifs for her room, changing her name to Tyler and referring to her as “he.”
I cannot imagine how much courage it took to make those decisions. The family goes to church regularly, and if Christians have been generally hostile to the “LGB” part of the LGBT acronym, our reaction to the transgendered has been somewhere between fear and loathing. Yet here is a 3-year-old, convinced she should not be a girl. All of the arguments about choice and being happy with the way God made you collapse – or they should.
So Tyler’s family took him to church and explained to their congregation that Kathryn should now be called Tyler and treated like a boy.
How would your church respond to that?
Tyler made his public debut at Sunday school at their Presbyterian church.
The teenagers who help out in class laughed that it took Kathryn’s parents so long to figure out they had a Tyler.
The pastor there was so supportive of the family that she invited a panel from a transgender support group to come just before services one Sunday in January and explain what Tyler and his family were going through. The room was packed.
“We’re so happy to be here. They usually put us in the basement,” said Catherine Hyde, the leader of the group and the parent of a transgender teenager with a tough story.
That’s right. Their church invited a transgender support group to talk to the congregation about what it was like to be the parents of a transgendered child – and the congregation came to listen!
It’s easy to focus on the negative, the sensational, the hateful words of ignorant fundamentalist pastors. And sometimes those things need to be focused on and condemned for the unChristian bigotry they are. But there are many, many kind, caring, warm-hearted members of the church who simply want greater understanding about the tough choices their brothers and sisters face. Let’s not forget to celebrate those people, who are doing no more than simply being Jesus.