Saskatchewan

Opinion | 'If your god discredits the humanity of a group of people there is a problem with your god'

As a trans woman who is also Christian, Pride week always brings conflicting emotions. I revel in the celebration of diversity of gender and sexuality. At the same time, I am reminded of the harm some Christians have done to two-spirit, queer and trans folk.
A new document by the Vatican could do further harm to two-spirit, queer and trans folk, Cindy Bourgeois says. (Eduardo Lima/Canadian Press)

As a trans woman who is also Christian, Pride week always brings conflicting emotions.

I revel in the celebration of diversity of gender and sexuality. At the same time, I am reminded of the harm some Christians have done to two-spirit, queer and trans folk.

I wasn't always a Christian. My family stopped going to church when I was 10. When I came out as trans to my brother, he said, "That's not so bad. It's not like you found God or anything."

Neither of us knew that five years later I would be a minister for the United Church of Canada, the first transgender minister ordained to a mainline denomination in the country.

Most trans people I know left the church when they came out, but I started attending. I was able to find a church that accepted me as a woman. I fell in love with the spirituality and Jesus's call to justice.

'Lives are at stake'

Some find it strange that I can be a Christian considering the discrimination many Christians have inflicted on two-spirit, LGBTQ and non-binary folk.

More harm was done this week with the release of the Vatican document Male and Female He Created Them: Towards a Path of Dialogue on the Question of Gender Theory in Education.

The document denies the humanity of trans people, summarily dismisses entire academic fields and misrepresents science to fit its desired outcome.

As part of the Christian tradition I must fight any expression of Christian faith that deals in oppression.- Cindy Bourgeois

We don't need to refute it point-by-point, but we must categorically condemn it. As Robert Jones Jr. said, "We can disagree and still love each other, unless your disagreement is rooted in my oppression and denial of my humanity and right to exist."

We must not let the Vatican hide behind the veneer of theology and faith. Any good theology listens to people and loves people the way they are. You don't need a god to tell you that. In fact, if your god discredits the humanity of a group of people there is a problem with your god.

This is not an argument about the number of angels that can dance on the head of a pin. Lives are at stake. The rates of suicide and homelessness for two-spirit, queer and trans kids are much higher than cisgender, straight kids.

There are two-spirit, queer and trans kids attending Catholic schools in my community who I fear will bear the brunt of this.

Many provinces, including Saskatchewan, have Catholic school systems. The Vatican document could contribute to children being rejected from these schools or from their families because of their gender.

Rejection can drive young people to the street or, in some cases, to take their own lives.

'Pride is a protest'

This again raises the question of how a trans person can stick with the church. True, I am not Catholic. But to take refuge behind that is cowardly.

As part of the Christian tradition I must fight any expression of Christian faith that deals in oppression. I must insist that the humanity of two-spirit, queer and trans people is not up for debate. I must resist the transphobia within the Christian tradition and speak out in solidarity with all my trans siblings who do the same in all areas of public life.

I am reminded that Pride is a protest. When I march, it will be in protest of all those who deny my humanity and in unity with people of all genders, especially those attending Catholic schools.

Let those accept this who can.


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About the Author

Rev. Cindy Bourgeois is the first transgender person ordained to the ministry in a mainline denomination in Canada. She has written and spoken extensively on the intersections of faith and gender. Cindy is currently serving Wesley United Church in Regina.