Where’s the welcome? Trans Catholics mostly rejected


Trans Catholics in the US say they’re having a hard time retaining their faith. Apart from a small number of individual parishes, transgender people are kept outside the community.

Even the US Conference of Catholic Bishops rejects the concept of gender transition.

Trans people also face rebukes from fellow Catholics, which drives them away.

One transgender woman says this results in the church losing not just the transgender person but “parents, children and groups of friends who say this is not the church we want to belong to”.

During the past two years, at least six catholic dioceses have issued guidelines discriminating against trans people.

One diocese bars church personnel from using trans people’s preferred pronouns reflecting their gender identity.

Objecting to trans-supportive “gender theory,” the diocese stipulates “all interactions and policies, parishes, organisations and institutions are to recognise only a person’s biological sex”. And, as well, people must use toilets and adhere to dress codes associated with their birth gender.

In another diocese, pastors have been told to deny trans, gay and non-binary Catholics the sacraments “unless the person has repented”.

“Many of our bishops are anti-science. They are cold and cruel” says a nun who has ministered to trans people. “You can’t respect people and deny their existence at the same time”.

Occasionally though, a parish shows an entirely different, more welcoming look.

At one parish’s annual Pride Mass in support of LGBTQ people, the priest invited a transgender woman to deliver part of the homily.

“We are not disordered, confused or a fad” she said. “We are not trying to defy God, nor to play God”.

“By staying visible, not only outside these walls but inside our churches, we change hearts and minds one person at a time”.

Another parish observes the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance which commemorates people killed due to anti-trans violence.

“We must always stand up against hatred in all its forms and not allow others’ fears (or phobias) to be a reason for hatred” the priest wrote in the parish bulletin.

“Rather, we must continue to learn more about the experience of others and to become more tolerant and accepting of one another”.

Grassroots activism on behalf of greater inclusivity will accelerate as more parishes add LGBTQ ministries, one trans woman hopes.

For young trans Catholics, the conflicting approaches of individual churches and clergy can challenge them and their parents.

“A place that had once been a safe haven for me had become a place of danger” one said.

“But since coming out my spirituality has grown. I feel whole for the first time in my life”.

His mother, a convert, now has mixed feelings, and a nun who ministered to transgender people for decades says friction over transgender inclusion is likely to intensify.

“There has never been a time in the American church when the catholic hierarchy has had less moral credibility,” she said.

“The people in the pews are taking responsibility for doing their own homework and recognising that we are all God’s people”.


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