Confronting Transgender Genocide: A Priest’s Struggle to Advocate for Justice

I could tell you the story about me, a cisgender woman, and my transgender wife. I could tell you that we both feel that we’ve lost our home countries because transgender people are no longer welcome there. I could tell you our story, and you’d sympathize, maybe comment on how we had the privilege of leaving but that less-fortunate others did not, then scroll on by. Some people who read this will probably not believe me, or think I’m overreacting. Others will completely ignore our pain and struggle in favor of prattling on about XX and XY and science. No matter how much I try to explain to them, as a biochemist, that their definition of chromosomal gender is entirely too simplistic, they still won’t believe that my wife is a woman. 

No matter what you may think, there is a genocide happening right now against transgender people, and it is a clear and present danger to anyone who doesn’t conform to idealized conservative notions of gender. I could tell you about all the studies that show that gender-affirming care prevents suicide, and that the bills that are being passed in the United States are constructed explicitly to push trans people to take that fatal step. I could give you statements from prominent medical societies that reiterate that not only is gender-affirming care good for children, it helps them realize their true selves and prevents mental health issues later in life. There are reams of evidence I could give you, but most of you won’t care about it at all. 

I could give you all the evidence that sports bans are bogus and if you really wanted to protect girls and women in sport, you’d not make it easy for predators to abuse them in the guise of “medical checks.” I could show you evidence of what heterosexual, white, male doctors did in the scandal that rocked USA Gymnastics. Or I could show you how these bans make it easy for transgender women, women of color, and any other women who people see as “masculine” to be drummed out of a sport based on their testosterone levels, even though all women have varying levels of testosterone. There’s so much data, so much evidence, that is contrary to what the media reports and what pundits foam at the mouth about, but none of you really care about that. 

You won’t care about anything that I could present to you as evidence. In fact, you won’t care about this genocide until something happens to you or someone close to you. Until, somehow, it directly affects your life and your wellbeing. Why bother, when you’re comfortable in your apartment or house, trying to make ends meet, maybe saving some money for something better some day. I can’t force you to care about transgender people and their ongoing genocide. I can’t say anything to you that would cause you to be more than superficially empathetic for people you consider “weird”. 

You are the people I don’t know how to reach. You are the people who tell me that you are progressive and say you care about the rights of women, but then vote against those same rights when it comes to transgender women. You are the people who say that you care about immigrants, climate change, and worker’s rights, but then turn a blind eye when these immigrants and workers are transgender. You are the ones who tell me that abuse is wrong and that we should believe victims, but will gaslight transgender people when they tell you they’ve been raped, abused, and beaten. I don’t know how to reach you when you say the holocaust was evil and wrong, and then decide that my wife doesn’t deserve to live her life in peace. Her world is very small, and getting smaller by the day. Eventually, there may be nowhere left to run.

I’m a writer and a pastor: I write essays, and stories, and try to communicate ideas, but these days I feel like I’m talking to brick walls. I want to get through to you, to teach you that these people you’re throwing under the bus are humans who bleed, and have bled, the same red blood as you. They have hopes and dreams, lovers and friends, spouses and children. 

But if you can’t accept the basic humanity of those who are different to you, I don’t know what to do. I want to believe in the goodness of humanity. As a priest, I long to see humans working together to create and evolve into something better than we are today. I want to believe that we can decide, one day, to accept difference as normal and see intolerance as just as abhorrent as physical abuse. 

I want to believe, but I can’t. I’ve lost my faith in humanity. I’m worthless as a priest and pastor. I’ve lost the means to teach others to see that they should have compassion for other human beings. I watch as people lose the will to see another person’s humanity in favor of ideological perfection. I see the slow decline of the grace that allows humans to make mistakes and then learn from them. I see the deterioration of compassion and the rise of apathy about the plights of others because it doesn’t directly affect your own life.  

I want to shake people and tell them, “Yes! This does affect you!” The laws that are already beginning the genocide of transgender people will soon expand into laws saying that all women will have to dress and behave a certain way in public. Which will then lead to laws causing people of color and anyone else with a difference being removed from the public sphere, all in the name of God. And when the people I’ve failed to reach look around at what’s going on ask me: “How did this happen?” and “Why isn’t anyone doing anything?” I’ll say: “You didn’t stand up for my transgender siblings. You allowed their genocide because you could not see that they were humans just wanting to live their lives. You allowed this to happen because your life was more important than anyone else’s. You allowed this to happen because you couldn’t see the humanity in my wife’s face. You aligned yourself with those who decided that transgender people were an abomination because you decided that the abuse and murder of other human beings was acceptable since those murdering transgender people weren’t coming for you. You deemed them dirty and called them trannies and misgendered them, because you didn’t see that they were just a reflection of you in a different life.

“You are here because you lacked compassion for your fellow human beings. You are here because I failed to somehow be able to show you how to find that compassion. You are here because you allowed it to happen. You got so bogged down in petty minutiae and vocabulary that you forgot that the people you were railing against were just as human as you. And you wonder, now, who will come save you? No one is coming. There is no one left.”

And then, inevitably, when they send us to the death chambers, I will hold your hand, because, in the end, I know we are both human and I have vowed to show compassion to my fellow humans to the very end.

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