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Est. April 5, 2002
October 18, 2018 - Issue 760

God’s Trans-affirming Vote
Question 3 in Massachusetts

"How churches feel about transgender people will vary.
How Trump’s administration treats transgender citizens
must stop.  “YES” on Question 3 is doing God’s work
which is the work of justice."

Across the country, there are epic battles in many states to either pass or not pass transgender bathroom bills. Here in Massachusetts, the bluest of blue states, we’re asking voters to vote “YES” on Question 3, Gender Identity Anti-Discrimination Veto Referendum, to prohibit discrimination based on gender identity in public places—such as hotels, restaurants, and stores.

Rallies to get Bay Staters to vote “YES” on Question 3 has been taking place throughout the Commonwealth. After speaking at one of the rallies in Copley Square one Sunday morning, an onlooker asked me the following question: “Rev, you’re a minister. How does the church and God feel about transgender people? Will they go to hell?”

Trans issues in our churches are not addressed enough. However, trans activism has taken place in both Catholic and Protestant churches and synagogues across Massachusetts. Sadly, Pope Francis has compared transgender people to nuclear weapons. His reason is that transgender people destroy and desecrate God’s holy and ordained order of creation.

“Let’s think of the nuclear arms, of the possibility to annihilate in a few instants a very high number of human beings,” Francis stated in 2015 in an interview with the National Catholic Reporter “Let’s think also of genetic manipulation, of the manipulation of life, or of the gender theory, that does not recognize the order of creation.”

With pronouncements like that, especially from a pope, it's easy to think transgender people are damned to Hell.

Freedom for All Massachusetts has been addressing the faith issue by working in collaboration with Action for Transgender Equality, a collective of clergy and faith-based institutions working as part of the “Yes” on 3 ballot campaign. Passage of the bill, sadly, hangs in the balance because voters are split on the issue although there is no link between anti-discrimination rules and bathroom-related crimes in Massachusetts.

However, people of faith - who can be moved to vote “Yes” on Question 3 - want to know where can they find in the Bible visibility as well as acceptance of transgender people.

The good news is that there are several trans-affirming stories in the Bible. My favorite story is about Philip the Evangelist and the Ethiopian eunuch conversion to Christianity in Acts 8:26- 39.

We can deduce from this perspective that the teachings of Christ circulated widely across the world and Christ’s teachings spread, at least one way, throughout the continent of Africa through the Ethiopian Eunuch. Traveling south from Jerusalem to Gaza, Phillip meets the Ethiopian Eunuch, a court official of the Queen of Ethiopia, in his chariot reading was from a part of the scroll of Isaiah that theologians commonly refer to as “the Third Suffering Servant Song.” The Ethiopian eunuch had traveled to Jerusalem to worship and was headed home. God tells Philip to follow the Ethiopian to baptize him so that he can spread the good news of Jesus.

While traveling down the road together, Phillip explained the Isaiah text and the Ethiopian asked to be baptized. When they came upon some water, Philip baptized him.

Deceased John J. McNeill, a gay Jesuit priest, and theologian affirmed the story of the Ethiopian eunuch as “the first baptized gay Christian. This scripture reveals to many progressive Biblical scholars that God welcomes and affirm gender- variant individuals. Eunuchs were castrated, homosexual, and intersex men. Today the terms could easily translate to mean sexual minorities, referring to LGBTQ individuals. The term means “the keepers of the bed, ”These gender- variant men served and guarded the women in royal palaces and wealthy households.

Also, the story of the Ethiopian eunuch highlights that the early beginnings of Chrsitniaty welcomed not only sexual minorities but also different races, and ethnicities. The Ethiopian eunuch is an example of a queer foreign black man as the first non-Jewish convert to Christianity.

During the “Trans Catholic Voices” breakout season at the DignityUSA conference in 2017, an African American transwoman pointed out that Francis statements about transpeople deny them of basic human dignity and perpetuates violence against them. The life expectancy for black trans is 32 years old.

In her closing remarks, the African American transwoman in “Trans Catholic Voices” asked for help from advocates and allies in the room that nearly brought me to tears.

“Trans lives are real lives. Trans deaths are real deaths. God works through other people. Maybe you can be those other people.”

In Jim Crow America restrooms were a hot-button issue, as today, and a battleground for equal treatment. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawed discrimination based on national origin, race, hue, gender, and religion. The law mandated desegregation of all public accommodations, including bathrooms. The Obama administration expanded the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to protect LGBTQ Americans. However, in February Trump ’s administration revoked federal guidelines permitting transgender students from using “gender-appropriate facilities ” which aligned with their gender identity.

How churches feel about transgender people will vary. How Trump’s administration treats transgender citizens must stop. “YES” on Question 3 is doing God’s work which is the work of justice. Editorial Board member and Columnist, The Reverend Monroe is an ordained minister, motivational speaker and she speaks for a sector of society that is frequently invisible. Rev. Monroe does a weekly Monday segment, “All Revved Up!” on WGBH (89.7 FM), on Boston Public Radio and a weekly Friday segment “The Take” on New England Channel NEWS (NECN). She’s a Huffington Post blogger and a syndicated religion columnist. Her columns appear in cities across the country and in the U.K, and Canada. Also she writes a  column in the Boston home LGBTQ newspaper Baywindows and Cambridge Chronicle. A native of Brooklyn, NY, Rev. Monroe graduated from Wellesley College and Union Theological Seminary at Columbia University, and served as a pastor at an African-American church in New Jersey before coming to Harvard Divinity School to do her doctorate. She has received the Harvard University Certificate of Distinction in Teaching several times while being the head teaching fellow of the Rev. Peter Gomes, the Pusey Minister in the Memorial Church at Harvard who is the author of the best seller, THE GOOD BOOK. She appears in the film For the Bible Tells Me So and was profiled in the Gay Pride episode of In the Life, an Emmy-nominated segment. Monroe’s  coming out story is  profiled in “CRISIS: 40 Stories Revealing the Personal, Social, and Religious Pain and Trauma of Growing up Gay in America" and in "Youth in Crisis." In 1997 Boston Magazine cited her as one of Boston's 50 Most Intriguing Women, and was profiled twice in the Boston Globe, In the Living Arts and The Spiritual Life sections for her LGBT activism. Her papers are at the Schlesinger Library at Radcliffe College's research library on the history of women in America. Her website is  Contact the Rev. Monroe and BC. 




is published every Thursday
Executive Editor:
David A. Love, JD
Managing Editor:
Nancy Littlefield, MBA
Peter Gamble

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