[Huffington Post] Transgender Christian leaders have a message for President Donald Trump’s administration, following reports that it plans to drastically narrow the legal definition of gender.
Even though the administration is moving to stop recognizing the existence of transgender and nonbinary people, there’s nothing it could do that would erase trans people’s inherent worth, the faith leaders told HuffPost.
“No government entity or leader can take or excise or erase the depth of worth that Transgender people are and embody,” the Rev. Dr. Robyn Henderson-Espinoza, a queer Latinx activist and founder of the Activist Theology Project, told HuffPost in an email. “My religious tradition teaches that I am made in the image of God and of sacred worth.”
Progressive activists have responded with anger and protests to news that the Department of Health and Human Services is seeking to establish a legal definition of gender that would roll back advances made by the Obama administration. The proposed definition, first reported by The New York Times, would treat gender as a biological and unchangeable condition assigned at birth.
In effect, the definition would exclude America’s estimated 1.4 million transgender or nonbinary citizens from federal civil rights protections. Disputes over a person’s gender would have to be clarified with genetic testing, the Times reported.
The government’s proposed definition would realign its understanding of gender with the theology of conservative evangelical Christians, who have long been some of Trump’s staunchest supporters.
The Rev. M Barclay, director of the Christian ministry enfleshed, said they are deeply troubled about the proposal ― but not especially surprised, given the administration’s previous discriminatory actions toward the trans community.
Not only does the proposed definition threaten to snatch away trans Americans’ access to crucial resources and rights, these political moves against the community also leave deep emotional wounds, Barclay, who is based in Iowa and uses gender-neutral pronouns, told HuffPost.
“The spiritual trauma of being perpetually told who we are isn’t real, that others shouldn’t believe us or support us, and that our well-being isn’t of collective significance is doing so much damage,” they said.