Exploring the T in LGBT

by Maureen Fiedler

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Religious institutions have been grappling for years with their responses to the LG in LGBT: gay and lesbian couples. The Catholic hierarchy has yet to come to terms with the growing acceptance of gay relationships in civil society. But a glance at the polls shows that the Catholic laity is much more accepting of gay relationships than are the bishops. A majority (57 percent) of Catholics favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally.

Even the B (for bisexual) in this acronym is less problematic for the public than the T, which stands for "transgender." But transgender people are now becoming more public, telling their stories, seeking understanding and acceptance.

One church has moved ahead on transgender issues: the Episcopal church. On June 22, the Rev. Cameron Partridge, who serves as the Episcopal chaplain at Boston University, became the first openly transgender person to preach from the prestigious Canterbury pulpit at the Washington National Cathedral. As part of his message, he quoted from the Gospel of Matthew: "What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops."

He noted in his sermon, "These sentences have quietly moved me, for years, prompting me to wonder: What troves of trouble do we hear from God in the recesses of our hearts? What might it mean for us to tell them in the light? ... In what ways might God be drawing us into the project of revelation?"

And now, Partridge has told his story "in the light." I interviewed Partridge this week on "Interfaith Voices" along with Joy Ladin, a transgender Jewish woman who teaches at Yeshiva University.

What I learned from them is this: There is a lot about sexuality and gender that we do not fully understand because we live in a world that has long organized itself into girls and boys, males and females. Or, as they put it, "life is more complex than the 'gender binary' would have it."

But God's love knows no boundaries. We need to begin to understand more deeply the richness of God's creation as more and more transgender people move into the light.

Listen to the interview.

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