As my friend and I were enjoying our meal and conversation in a restaurant, I was aware of a man at another table staring at us. Finally, I turned to him and stared back. He quickly and sheepishly turned away. I knew why he was staring. My friend was a transgender woman.
What we see depends a lot on how we look. Jesus showed us how important it is to see people with our heart. Where the crowd saw a cheating tax collector looking ridiculous in a tree, Jesus saw a man seeking something more for his life. Where the Pharisees saw a sinful woman touching him, Jesus saw a woman expressing great love.
Though we are experiencing emboldened expressions of prejudice and hate in our country, a good thing emerging is a growing plea to see people for who they are, to treat them with dignity and respect.
For 19 years, I have had the joy of ministering to about 250 transgender people across the country. Many have never been Catholic; many are no longer Catholic; some are of other Christian denominations, Jewish or "nones."
I have spent thousands of hours with them. In my 57 years as a woman religious, no ministry has so profoundly shaped my life in God as being a faith companion to God's transgender people.