The Church and Transgender Identity, Part 1 – Bondings 2.0

Last month, one of Commonweal magazine’s cover features was a pair of articles from two theologians on the topic “The Church and Transgender Identity:  Some Cautions, Some Possibilities.” The theologians were David Cloutier, associate professor of theology at the Catholic University of America and the author of Walking God’s Earth: The Environment and Catholic Faith (Liturgical Press); and Luke Timothy Johnson, emeritus Woodruff Professor of New Testament and Christian Origins at Emory University and the author of The Revelatory Body: Theology as Inductive Art (Eerdmans).

In today’s post, Bondings 2.0 will present Cloutier’s argument, and tomorrow we will present Johnson’s perspective.

If we think of the pairing of these two articles as representing a pro and con position, Cloutier’s essay would have to be put into the con column.  I’m not sure that this is a totally fair assessment, though, for while Cloutier clearly questions a lot of transgender discourse, another dimension that comes through his essay is some sensitivity to people who identify as transgender.  He seems interested in finding a way that understands and respects them, even though it is obvious that he does not approve of what he sees as underlying assumptions of a lot of transgender equality rationales.

Source:   Bondings 2.0

Church “a Source of Consolation,” Says Philippines’ First Transgender Politician | Bondings 2.0

Geraldine Roman, the Philippines’ first elected transgender representative to that nation’s congress, spoke revealingly about her Catholic faith in a recent interview with CNN.

Asked how her identity as a trans woman has affected her work as a Filipino congresswoman, Roman answered in theinterview:

“What really hurt me the most was when they judged my relationship with God, because my entire life, I have tried my best to maintain a relationship with God and to be a good person. And for people who do not know me, who do not know my heart, to judge me, especially in public, it was painful.”

Roman said that she did not mind the questions and even criticism she faced for her gender identity and decision to undergo gender-confirming surgery. By doing her work and doing it well, Roman hopes to convince critics that “we’re just ordinary people and we deserve respect.”

Source:  Bondings 2.0

The Biblical Case for Embracing Transgender by Rev. Lawrence Richardson

Gender is a socially constructed term that categorizes people by real or perceived physical/sexual characteristics. The word transgender is a relatively new term that encompasses a multitude of gender identities and expressions inclusive of those identities and expressions that most closely resemble the eunuchs we read about in the Bible.

Eunuchs are people who, for various reasons, live a different kind of sexual reality. Some eunuchs are that way because they are born with ambiguous genitalia. Some eunuchs undergo genital modification and are made eunuchs by others. Some eunuchs make the conscious choice to alter their own physical realities out of a desire to live more congruently with a higher reality.

In Isaiah 56, the prophet lays out the terms and conditions for living in covenant with God. He begins the chapter by saying that to choose what is right brings pleasure to God. In verse 4, the prophet says that even the stranger and the eunuch, who were traditionally looked down upon by the people of Israel, are free to live in covenant with God. In verse 5, the prophet proclaims that God’s way of righteousness and covenant is extended to all and their reward will be their reputation and legacy.

Source: The Biblical Case for Embracing Transgender by Rev. Lawrence Richardson

Fr. James Martin: Respecting Transgender People “Fairly Simple Thing to Do” | Bondings 2.0

Jesuit Fr. James Martin again affirmed LGBT inclusion, saying transgender people using restrooms according to their gender identity “seems a fairly simple thing to do.” Meanwhile, U.S. bishops intensified their criticism of expanding transgender equality.

In an interview with the National Catholic Reporter, Martin was asked about the federal government’s new directive mandating transgender students be allowed to use gender-segregated facilities, like restrooms and locker rooms, according to their gender identity. Martin responded:

“I don’t know a whole lot about that issue, but I would say that I don’t understand the problem with letting transgender people use bathrooms that they feel comfortable in. Personally, I think it’s overblown and that people’s responses are really strange. I don’t know that much about transgender people but that’s all the more reason for us to try and treat them with dignity.

“I thought the comment from Attorney General Lynch was beautiful, that we are with you, we’re going to try to help you. Just as the church needs to treat gay and lesbians with ‘respect, compassion and sensitivity,’ which is in the catechism, it should be the same with transgender people. And letting them use the bathroom seems a fairly simple thing to do.”

Source:  Bondings 2.0

Denmark will become first country to no longer define being transgender as a mental illness |  The Independent

Denmark is set to become the first country to no longer define being transgender as a mental illness.

Government officials said classifying transgender people as mentally ill was “stigmatising” and they had “run out of patience” with the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) work on the definition.

Being transgender is officially considered a mental or behavioural disorder by the WHO, although the organisation is currently assessing its guidance.

Changes by the WHO are characteristically slow, and the Danishgovernment will now aim to push ahead with the move on 1 January 2017.

Source:  The Independent

New Ways Ministry Thanks Sisters of Mercy and Mercy H.S. for Continuing Employment of Transgender Man  

New Ways Ministry congratulates and thanks the Sisters of Mercy and the administrators of Mercy H.S., San Francisco, for their Gospel-based decision to continue employment of one of their teachers who identifies as a transgender man. This decision stands as a beacon of hope in the midst of the terrible darkness of the recent trend of firing LGBT employees from Catholic institutions.

The decision was announced in a letter to parents of students, which, after describing the teacher’s situation, stated:“This afternoon, we informed students, faculty and staff about our resolve to support the dignity of each person—regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation or gender identification.”


We applaud, too, the courage of English Department chair and teacher Gabriel Stein-Bodenheimer for honoring his gender identity, as well to his commitment to educate students in the Mercy tradition. His personal example will be a most powerful lesson to all in the school’s community, especially because his decision involved a large degree of risk.

Source: Bondings 2.0

Transgender politician wins seat in Philippines parliament 

Geraldine Roman vows to campaign against restrictions stopping Filipinos from changing their name and gender after historic victory

Geraldine Roman has celebrated overcoming “bigotry, hatred and discrimination” after becoming the first transgender politician to win a congressional seat in the predominantly Catholic Philippines.

After her victory in Monday’s election, Roman is being hailed by the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community as a source of hope in a country where Church influence means divorce, abortion and same-sex marriage are banned.

“The politics of bigotry, hatred and discrimination did not triumph. What triumphed was the politics of love, acceptance and respect,” Roman said after her victory for a seat in Congress representing the farming province of Bataan, just northwest of Manila.

Source: The Guardian


Extract from on women and development issues in Africa (emphasis added)  “Repositioning culture for development: women and development in a Nigerian rural community – Community, Work & Family – Volume 18, Issue 3”Womens-rights-Nigeria

From a general perspective, advances in Internet technology and the field of medical surgery have affected the concept of woman. Through medical surgery, transgenderism provides evidence that the idea of womanhood is no more static. It has widened the biological identity that defines the woman by pushing the concept of woman into a state of flux. Furthermore, the Internet provides a platform for flexible woman identity. In online communities, a man can adopt the identity of a woman at any time, for an indefinite or a specific period. Such a person can participate, interact and make decisions concerning women in the cyberspace. This is possible in webinars, non-video web conferences and social networking websites. In situations like these, it can be difficult to ascertain males or females because biological identities are concealable behind computer screens. Therefore, it is reasonable to argue that the biological concept of woman is no more the same everywhere. It is wider in legal systems with established sex reassignment cultures. From the aspect of community, it is broader within the cyberspace than in the real world. Considering this changing context of woman, one may view woman as anyone identified to be legally or biologically a female gender of adult age in any society. This very broad definition recognises that the concept of woman is no more entirely biological issue, but has stronger legal (sex reassignment rights) undertones. It recognises the transgender (or transsexual) and virtual woman, as well as the biological woman as a part of womanhood. It recognises that people’s gender can possibly be altered during their lifetimes. It even takes into account, the geographical perspective of womanhood. For instance, a transgender woman in Germany may not be accepted as a woman in Nigeria due to differences in legal and social systems. That means – a man in one country can be a woman in another. About this issue in Africa, there is a lack of data available on transgender populations due to lack of endorsement of gender alteration by National governments. The only exception is South Africa, whose law, Alteration of Sex Description and Sex Status Act of 2003, recognises sex reassignment, and its Constitutional Court has indicated that sexual orientation includes transsexuality. In Nigeria, just as in many African countries, the legal system is transphobic. However, this issue is worth mentioning. Although transgender women may be invisible in Nigerian communities today, overtime or as the legal systems change, communities may face the challenges of incorporating them in women’s community development affairs. This status of the issue in Africa means that the changing concept of woman has community development implications only in countries like South Africa.

Since our research focuses on Nigeria, we take a more traditional view of a woman’s identity – that is, the biological, social roles and cultural perspectives of womanhood. This is in accordance with the situation of women in Nigerian societies. We have adapted to this concept of woman because it matches the traditional view of womanhood in Nigerian rural communities. Within this context, women are at the heart of the social construction of the family. Their reproductive capacity and marital status is important in community development (Okejiri, 2012). In addition, there are behavioural and cultural conditions that guide the identity of womanhood. These social conditions shape women’s identity in Nigeria.

Transgender and Mormon: keeping the faith while asking the church to change

For transgender members of the church, balancing faith with speaking out means taking huge risks – but staying silent could have greater consequence.

At age 13, Emmett Claren used to lie in the middle of a football field behind his house, look up at the sky and beg God to strike him with lightning and change his body. “I would tell him, ‘I have a lot of faith. I believe in you. I know you can do anything,’” Claren, now 22, recalled.

The Utah resident and member of the Mormon church is a transgender man, which means he was assigned female at birth, but knew since he was a young child that he identified as male – even though he didn’t learn the term “transgender” until many years later.

“‘Just change me to a boy right now,’” Claren said he would ask God every day. But his prayers went unanswered.

After wrestling with his faith and identity for years, struggling through periods of severe mental anguish, he came out as transgender at age 21 and is now pushing the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to welcome transgender members.


Source: Transgender and Mormon: keeping the faith while asking the church to change

Catholic School Backs Away from Banning Transgender Students 

A Catholic high school in Rhode Island has taken a step away from its ban on transgender students  after receiving sustained criticism from alumni and the local community.  This move follows earlier conciliatory statements from officials at Mount Saint Charles Academy (MSC), Woonsocket, attempted to explain its original ill-conceived policy banning transgender students from enrolling.

Source: | Bondings 2.0