A church advocating for trans rights
Support for LGBT rights has become more common in recent years, but some transgender pastors are finding it easier than others. 

We’ve seen transgender rights come a long a way in recent years. As acceptance has grown, more and more transgender people have taken up leadership positions – in the workplace, in the community, and even in elected office.

But there is still much progress left to be made, and one place where acceptance has proven fleeting is houses of worship. Some congregations, particularly those with more traditional teachings, have been hesitant to fully embrace transgender identities. And many outright reject the notion of a transgender person being a faith leader.

For transgender people of faith, this particular “stained glass ceiling” has been difficult to break through. But there are signs of cracks developing.

Preaching for Acceptance

Earlier this year, Nicole Garcia delivered her first sermon as an ordained pastor to her congregation in Boulder, Colorado. But this was no ordinary introductory sermon. Garcia’s turn at the pulpit was a historic moment, as she became the first transgender Latina woman to serve as a pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church. After struggling with her identity for decades and praying God would “fix” her, Garcia finally came to terms with who she is and decided to pursue a leadership position in the church. And the congregation has wholeheartedly embraced her.

However, Garcia stressed that faith – not the fact that she’s trans – is her guiding force: “Nobody can question my faith, my devotion to Christ, my devotion to the church. That’s why I’m the pastor here,” Garcia told NBC News. “Being trans is secondary.”

Battles yet to Be Won

For Pastor Elijah Walker, it’s a different story. Walker, a transgender man, leads a small ministry in the town of Jonesboro, Arkansas. His church’s mission is clear, Walker explains:

“What I was ultimately called to do with my life was to create a safe and sacred spiritual community. Not just for LGBTQ folks, but for anyone who feels marginalized or excluded from the church.”

Operating square in the center of the Bible Belt, however, Walker has struggled to find acceptance in the wider community and is constantly downplaying his identity and his ministry’s mission in an attempt to avoid conflict.

 “We can’t be as vocal in public spaces as we would like to be. It’s kinda held me back in some ways,” he says. “I’ve been afraid to get the word out, because I’m afraid we’ll get kicked out of our space.”

And while things seem to be improving for transgender people overall, Walker doesn’t see it happening in his community:

“Nationwide, the trend is definitely to be more inclusive of LGBTQ people, but here in Jonesboro, and maybe in the Bible belt in general, I think that the opposite is true. The trend is either to buckle down to be more conservative and less inclusive, or to just be really vague. That’s not helping any more.”

Yer a Transgender Wizard, Harry!

Support for transgender rights is impactful no matter where it comes from, but evidence shows that having prominent celebrities back a movement can be especially effective in moving the needle. That’s why so many LGBTQ groups were disappointed to see author J.K. Rowling endorse an opposing view on transgender rights.

In a statement on Twitter this morning, the famed mind behind the “Harry Potter” series criticized a recent court decision which determined that a U.K. woman was right to be fired from her job for refusing to refer to transgender people by their preferred pronouns:

The online backlash was swift, with many activists calling out Rowling’s views as “transphobic” and “cruel.” Some supporters pushed back against these accusations, however, arguing that Rowling is simply standing up for traditional feminist views on gender and power dynamics.

What’s your take? Will we keep seeing steady progress in the transgender rights movement, or are some hiccups inevitable? Do people like Rowling deserve to be criticized if their views aren’t sufficiently supportive of transgender people?

33 comments

  1. Shawn Allen Hank's Avatar Shawn Allen Hank

    Dress however you please. Call yourself whatever you like. Sleep with any consenting adult who’ll have you. Live your best life in peace and security. But force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real?

    It doesn't sound like a controversial statement. She is appealing to logic and reason. If a man calls me a man and I am a man, it is ridiculous if I am offended. People have this sense of entitlement, nowadays. Some want and want so bad they will be offended by anything. Maybe that is why the US military is opposed to the concept of trans or transitioning trans in the military. There is a liability created. I am not saying people should insult or abuse others, but when logic and reason are removed, we are left with emotionally insecure people trying to capitalize on what they see as an opportunity. So, the person should not have been fired from her position or his position. If the LGBTQ community wants to change the English language, they should put those changes out for all to see including what the most current list of pronouns are. If I do not see a list, then everyone comes down to a basic difference of female and male. I see no other differences. The two basic sexes are logically because a trans person will go from their birth sex (female or male) to the other sex (female or male). Should we use different pronouns and sex for hermaphrodites? Perhaps, we should hear their response. I am not sure if the LGBTQ community concerns themselves with hermaphrodites (legitimately born).

    1. CB's Avatar CB

      One of the things we have to bear in mind is that this is part of a power play. If you step back and look at various trends you will notice that people are being purposefully divided over race, gender, gender orientation, age, spiritual practice, nation, and language. The whole of it is a broader subject to cover in another post, however. To get to the point; the woman was fired because she refused to use the preferred language in the workplace by refusing to cater to the whims of those who would further divide people by imposing the use of the so-called correct pronouns. This is the political correctedness run amok.

      You are right; once logic and reason are thrown out the window then everything becomes a free-for-all and people can be fired from their jobs simply because they make others uncomfortable when truth is spoken.

      1. tuppennyblue's Avatar tuppennyblue

        I wasn't even language in the workplace... According to the Guardian, "She was accused of using “offensive and exclusionary” language in tweets opposing government proposals to reform the Gender Recognition Act to allow people to self-identify as the opposite sex." She was tweeting her own opinion (actually, it's not even an opinion, it's fact!) in her own time, and is really none of her employer's business. Literally.

      2. tuppennyblue's Avatar tuppennyblue

        I wasn't even language in the workplace... According to the Guardian, "She was accused of using “offensive and exclusionary” language in tweets opposing government proposals to reform the Gender Recognition Act to allow people to self-identify as the opposite sex." She was tweeting her own opinion (actually, it's not even an opinion, it's fact!) in her own time, and is really none of her employer's business. Literally.

  1. Molly Silfies's Avatar Molly Silfies

    One truth cannot be refuted. DNA always tells the true story. Your own DNA is all the proof needed. I AM female by birth and proud to be what God made me. I did not make myself. Neither does anyone. We are fearfully and wonderfully made! Leave creation to God; creation belongs to God!!!

    1. Molly Silfies's Avatar Molly Silfies

      Not surprising at all!! As an active member of the LDS faith, I desire and intend that my 14 living grandchildren are openly taught that the only lifestyle acceptable here in our Church is the most divine one. And the Church will never remit. That isn't possible, because our #1 priority, ALWAYS, is to teach our children Biblical ethics and Godly values. This comes directly down to one of the most important things to us; living the most divine values ourselves, we teach our children by example to live the most divine values as well!!! Although the Choice is ultimately theirs, we teach them Godly, divine values while they are still at home. So…right off hand, may I say, the split is forever and cannot be mended. Are you asking or expecting us to change our stand to be popular or worldly? LDS people are very, very special. We have already made lifetime, eternal commitments with much consideration and forethought.Choices already made, at an appropriate age,  we do not baptize babies, just those who can consciously make a valid choice, CONSCIOUS CHOICE. 

  1. CB's Avatar CB

    The gender is in the genes. An individual can have all the surgeries, take the hormones shots, and dress the part, but they will never actually be of the other gender than the one in which they are born. This is not my opinion; it is a fact. According to statistics, about 61% of those who have made the transformation A) have buyer's remorse and/or B) become suicidal. You can find that information for yourself if you search for it; be aware it is not published in mainstream media. There is the distinct probability that they go to this extreme because they have had terrible issues which they have not been able to resolve. Additionally, it is becoming quite the fad. It is also an example of the acting out of victim mentality. If someone really wants to engage in the attempt to change their gender and they are not hurting anyone else by their actions, and are willing to accept the responsibility of the consequences of their actions, then that is their business. However, if they are asking taxpayers to pay for it, then that is where I draw the line. After all, it is elective surgery and treatment.

    1. John D. Partin's Avatar John D. Partin

      CB, the gender is also in people's spirits and psychology, which are determined or influenced by genetics as well. Not just by their environment. People are who they are on the inside, no matter what they appear to be on the outside or their material and external circumstances. Otherwise, people would always be what other people judge them to be, and Jews would be "kikes", as Nazis and antiSemites call them, instead of the Chosen people, as they consider themselves; black people would be "N" words, instead of other Children of God, the same as everyone else, as they consider themselves to be; and all the rest of us would be "losers", "creeps", "bums", and all the other insulting terms that some people say about us and judge us to be. If external appearances don't define all of these other people, but only the truth as they see it inside of themselves, external appearances also don't define transgender people, but only the truth about themselves on the inside as they see it. If external appearances define transgender people merely because they look male on the outside, in spite of knowing that they are female on the inside, or look female on the outside, in spite of knowing that they are male on the inside, then those same external appearances, according to some other people, also define everyone else and make us all what some people say that we are. You can't have it both ways and say that externals make it true for them, but not true for everyone else. That is a double standard!! If you believe in reincarnation, as I do, it is easily understandable how someone could be female on the inside, while appearing "male" on the outside, or male on the inside, while appearing "female" on the outside: a female soul was put into a male body or male soul was put into a female body. Why wouldn't God just always put female souls into female bodies or male souls into male bodies? Perhaps, in order to make people stand on their own two feet and figure out some things for themselves, instead of needing to have everything figured out for them and done for them, by God or anyone else, and trust the truth inside of themselves and not just external appearances. God didn't make a mistake. Jesus said: "Judge not by the appearance, but judge a righteous judgment". That means don't judge by outward sexual appearance, either, or judge a book by its cover. Reincarnation, the same as any other truth, doesn't stop being true just because some people don't accept it as true. We already reincarnate every 7 years just within the space of this life because every 7 years, all the cells in our bodies are renewed, which means our spirits being put into new flesh or reincarnation. Why couldn't something happen over the course of thousands or millions of years, which already happens just over the course of one hundred or less years? You mention that 61% of those who have sex reassignment surgery have "buyer's remorse", but it is totally unrealistic and unreasonable for you or anyone else to believe that this remorse and suicidal impulse comes entirely from within these people themselves and that societal pressure on them has nothing to do with any of that, the same as it does with young homosexuals who commit suicide and feel unhappy because of that same social pressure and bigotry against them. If that social pressure and bigotry would go away, which is the aim of educating people about gay and transgender people and the fight against that bigotry, these cases of suicide and unhappiness because of that bigotry and social pressure would also go away or lessen considerably. As for sex reassignment surgeries' being paid for by tax dollars, people who are psycholgically and spiritually the opposite sex on the inside than how they appear on the outside and need to convert to their true sex outwardly, too, but can't afford those operations still need to have them done and so should receive help from society in doing so, the same as all of us would want help from society in meeting our needs, too, and as homeless people and those with other problems receive help with their problems. That is our doing unto others as we would have others do unto us and loving our neighbors as ourselves and living this religion which so many people profess to believe, but don't much act as though they do. Actions speak louder than words and by their fruits, you will know them!

      1. John D. Partin's Avatar John D. Partin

        Correction: "psychologically and spiritually the opposite"...

  1. Tabitha's Avatar Tabitha

    So much hate being spewed. Continued proof that xtiananity is a morally bankrupt fairy tail belief system for bigots looking for justification for their vitriol

    1. flugo's Avatar flugo
       No.  It's 'religion' that may be morally bankrupt, not Christianity.  There's a huge difference between the two belief systems.
      
  1. Daniel Gray's Avatar Daniel Gray

    Seems even the transgendered's favorite author is calling them out.

    1. Ilmenheru Terikson's Avatar Ilmenheru Terikson

      Uhm Rowlings is not any ones favored author but those who yearn to live in boarding schools I guess. I mean I read the HP novels they are an ok read, the movies are fun enough but she is far from some top tier author of witty dialogue or clever plots. The typical campaign submission to an issue of Dungeon Mag was more complex and interesting to read.

      1. Daniel Gray's Avatar Daniel Gray

        According to you but not according to the Transgendered group, and your opinion does not matter

  1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

    The Harry Potter fictional stories are much better than the gory Bible fictional tales in my humble opinion. They are much better authored, and children don’t have to be frightened that they will go to hell if they don’t believe in Hogwarts, or Harry Potter.

    1. Daniel Gray's Avatar Daniel Gray

      And just like there is no proof that they wii, you cannot prove that they wont either, so whats your point other then to cause strife?

      1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

        It’s not my intention to cause strife but it’s very interesting to me that my comments catch you on my hook. I love reeling you in and throwing you back for more Daniel.

        My comments are for those who like to listen intelligently to logic and reason. Clearly, you are not one of them.

        1. Pamela J Manyfield's Avatar Pamela J Manyfield

          This is a trick from enemy. People need to wake up. God makes no mistakes. Know His word, His word is true. The truth shall make you free.

          1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

            So if your Gods word is true I guess it's okay then to condone slavery and stoning people to death, being as he was totally happy with it?

      2. Gary James Thomas Garrett's Avatar Gary James Thomas Garrett

        Hi, apparently I am your enemy also. But don't worry I am sure your "loving" god will commit me to eternal torture, so you have every right to demean me and dishonor me and consider me so much less than you, "His truth makes me free"? - kinda sounds like the opposite.

  1. tuppennyblue's Avatar tuppennyblue

    XX is female; XY is male. Anything else is make believe. People have a right to pretend to be whatever they want to be, but I have a right not to join in with their pretence.

    1. Stephanie A Willey's Avatar Stephanie A Willey

      I suggest you return to medical school for your refressher course on genetics, sex, sexuality, identity and gender.
      The real midical science today points out the error in your statement.

      1. tuppennyblue's Avatar tuppennyblue

        Nonsense. You've been brainwashed. What "midical science" (sic) is this?

        1. Gary James Thomas Garrett's Avatar Gary James Thomas Garrett

          I think science is still debating the nature/nurture aspect of this question. The genes that you are born with do not determine your ultimate outcome. As conscious beings we have to make choices about our lives, these decisions do not necessarily depend upon what particular genome we happen to have. There's the old story about the twin brothers born in bad conditions and one becomes a priest and the other a criminal - their choices have nothing to do with the genes. As one matures we all become individuals. To assume that complex human behavior can be boiled down to XX or XY is really a stupendous oversimplification of what we all experience as people. Disrespecting others that do no harm to you simply because you believe they are making choices outside of the XX XY paradigm is truly more sad than anything else.

          1. David C Doepner's Avatar David C Doepner

            Exactly right! Genetics are a blueprint of the planned structure, but the contents of that structure are not defined by X's and Y's. Gender seems to be strongly influenced by the wash of hormones and other chemicals over the developing brain while still in the womb. Until the age of 5 or so, there are few natural behavioral characteristics that show up. There are children born with other combinations of genes, XXY is a well recognized example. There are also children born with genitals that are neither totally male or female. These intersex children are best left alone until they are able to demonstrate gender identity before any additional medical intervention should be considered. Gender, secondary sex characteristics (those that arrive during puberty), and the functioning gonads that produce hormones are often different from the sex assigned at birth by checking between the legs. Gender, it is often said is between the ears, sex between the legs.
            Suggesting the blueprint of DNA is the last word on someone's gender is similar to suggesting the blueprint for a house is the house itself. Live under those sheets of paper or wait and live in a built house with power, plumbing, furniture and being a safe place for a family of unique individuals. We are more complex than XX and XY, take the time to appreciate it because it can be glorious.

  1. Charles D. Zachery, Jr's Avatar Charles D. Zachery, Jr

    As a visionary, I must say that there are some major issues involving the entire subject matter. I have to ask this question: Has a travesty of justice occurred in this LGBT arena, what about sex change operations and how this will affect the communities? I think we may have to toll the legal statutes and rehash/ challange the supreme court ruling_! Nevertheless, May everyone have a happy new year! PRAISE AND GLORY TO ALMIGHTY GOD , IN ALL THINGS, ALWAY, ALWAYS, AMEN!

    1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

      Not as a visionary, but as one that believes in logic and reason, I'm wondering where your demonstrable evidence is that makes you believe that a god really exists? If you cannot produce evidence to your claim, I will then doubt you have good vision as a visionary.

  1. tuppennyblue's Avatar tuppennyblue

    Something's changed... Traditional British pantomime always has the leading male played by a woman, and the "dame" played by a man. In the sixties, the Beatles sang, "Jo-Jo was a man who thought he was a woman"; in the seventies, it was Lou Reed with "Shaved her legs and then he was a she" (Take a Walk On The Wild Side), in the eighties, Van Halen gave us "Dude looks like a lady"... and NONE OF THIS MATTERED OR OFFENDED ANYONE. As long as people were content to live their own lives, NO-ONE CARED. What's different? Now we are having it rammed down our throats and told that are not allowed to disagree. It's really not possible to win an argument where you are claiming that a man can turn into a woman, because everyone knows it can't be done, so instead we are told that if we disagree with the preposterous statement that we are bigots and "transphobes". If you can't win the argument, silence the opposition instead.

    1. CB's Avatar CB

      Very good points to consider; thank you. I heartily suggest everyone re-read George Orwell's book, "1984" and pay attention to the Newspeak. We are seeing language being used today to confuse us and turn us against each other. For example, I heard a boy saying that a particular car was "sick". I replied that it sounded and appeared to be working just fine; the engine was not making odd noises and such. He had to explain to me that "sick" means "good". This is ridiculous. We are witnessing the same "confusion of concepts" regarding the whole gender thing as was described in 1984 regarding "confusion of language"; it is a way to confuse people and very slowly introduce the Hegelian Process, which is to introduce confusion, fear and anger into a populace by covertly creating terrible problems and then when they are fearful enough to the point to where they are induced into victim mentality, then devolve into whore mentality, (where they will do anything to survive) you then overtly offer the solution to the problem and they will do just what you want them to. Fortunately, some are seeing the craziness for what it is: see https://www.naturalnews.com/2020-01-02-doctors-uk-resigning-over-transgender-lunacy-targeting-innocent-children.html

  1. CB's Avatar CB

    Here is something to consider: https://www.naturalnews.com/2019-04-10-medical-child-abuse-pre-pubescent-girls-treated-testosterone-transgenders.html

  1. Amber Fry's Avatar Amber Fry

    I think with other religions out there that are more accepting, it would do the churches well to review tenets and decide if learning to work with the times or eventually become a far smaller minority themselves in time.

  1. Richard Lee Cornell's Avatar Richard Lee Cornell

    Religion shucks if your beliefs do not fellow my religion.

  1. Richard Lee Cornell's Avatar Richard Lee Cornell

    How long will transgender pastors exist if they do not get the numbers to fellow them into Heaven. Numbers being children. If a church does not have children then it will soon be a thing of the past. Gays do not have children. Their lifestyle does not allow children to exist. A church that only has gays will exist for a short while then vanish. Remember the Crystal Palace in Cailforina that was once the place to worship in. Now it is gone. God did not leave it, those that worship there did.

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