Our Spirit Babies Service – December 20, 2014, 11 AM

28 11 2014

Please join Between the Worlds Church for a special service, Our Spirit Babies, on December 20, 2014, 11 AM.

Antinous: Deity of Allies?

25 11 2014

I am endlessly fascinated by the writings of P. Sufenas Virius Lupus, particularly their writings on gender, Paganism, Antinous, and those places where all of these things meet.

Their recent post, Antinous and the Trans* Peoples, is an excellent discussion of allies to trans persons. I’ve been of the mind that “ally” is an identity as I’ve certainly encountered my share of people who, while expecting and demanding respect, essentially tell me to go pound rock salt up my nose with a broken bottle. So when I encounter persons who not only identify as allies but they actually do the work, I am grateful.

It’s interesting because I’ve been told by my MGRSI peers and allies alike that an “ally” is just a person who’s being a decent human being and, therefore, doesn’t really need to be thanked. When allies says this of themselves, it only reinforces my desire to thank them.

Ultimately, they’re right: being an ally is nothing more than just being a decent person. And while it could be argued that being an ally is simply applying the Golden Rule and the second half of the Great Commandment in a practical way in one’s life, it seems to me that being an ally should be more reflexive than that.

For those who are allies because they feel it’s their duty to do so in order to fulfill the command of Christ, I offer you my thanks. But for those who are allies because they feel it’s just part of being human, I offer you even greater thanks and appreciation.

The faithful have not cornered the market on kindness.

Amen, and Blessed Be.

TDoR 2014: Afterward

21 11 2014

Today is Friday, 21 November. The Transgender Day of Remembrance was yesterday. It was the second such service I helped with this week, the other being the Tuesday morning chapel service at school.

At this time last year, I was a huge mess. This year, it was a bit easier it was less emotionally taxing. And that was due to my ever-growing circle of friends.

That’s not to say my friends didn’t support and uphold me last year. They most certainly did. In fact, the support I received from those friends last year was key to me applying to seminary. There are many who helped me. But for 2013 I want to especially thank (in no particular order) Chuck Fry, Rev. Lee Whittaker, Rev. Philip Tanner, Lauren Renee Hotchkiss, Rev. Gina Pond, Sarah Thompson, Denise Cicuto, Calyxa Omphalos, Melanie Marquis, Rev. Abigail Schairer and everyone from SisterSpirit, P. Suefenas Virius Lupus and the Ekklesía Antínoou, the Graves family, and many more.

This year, I can add to the list of persons to thank: the Circle of Dionysus and those who held space for me at the “Yes They Are!” ritual, the Circle of Cerridwen for believing in me and welcoming me into the Circle, my many new friends at PSR (including but not limited to Nikki, Ariel, Jamie, Marie, Trust, Tara, Naomi, Michelle (both of them), Joe, Amy, Winford, the list goes ever on), Prof. Sharon Fennema, Lily Zheng, and many others.

But most especially I want to thank my partner, Anne Marie Judson. Anne, you are the main reason why I am able to wade through the horror that is the TDoR and still feel whole. I love you.

There are cisgender allies in the above lists as well as other trans persons and numerous persons with non-binary gender identities. Together, we will stand.

When I Became a Teaching Moment

17 11 2014

As my partner and I were leaving the grocery store yesterday, we heard a woman calling out to us. She brought her two daughters toward us and asked if we wouldn’t mind helping her with something. We agreed.

“Look at them,” she said to her daughters. “They’re a couple. They love each other and respect one another, and they contribute to society.” She went on to explain that not all couples look the same.

Turning to us, the woman mentioned that her younger daughter had said I looked like a man in women’s clothing. The mother had said to her daughter that there are many ways that people experience being boys or girls and that if she was confused it was better to ask than to make assumptions. She encouraged her daughter to ask me, and I encouraged her to do so as well.

In a quiet and shy voice she asked, “Do you want to be a boy or do you want to be a girl?”

I responded, “I was born a boy, but I grew up to be a woman.” My partner added which pronouns were the proper ones to use when referring to me.

I was treated to a shy smile in reply, and the mother thanked me. This mother was a woman of color who mentioned her daughters were adopted from Africa (she didn’t indicate which country) and that the society from which they came didn’t give them a context to understand that people were transgender. She thanked me for giving her the opportunity to teach her girls about my experience.

I felt honored by this. The whole thing was conducted in a way that felt very respectful to me. My experience of gender and relationship with my partner led to a teaching moment in a parking garage outside a grocery store.

Truly, I was grateful for that woman and her daughters.

To The PTA Moms at My Son’s School

14 11 2014


Lori Duron writes an excellent rebuttal to more of the nonsense she shouldn’t have had to encounter in the first place.

Originally posted on Raising My Rainbow:

Last week I published a blog post about things said during a PTA meeting I attended at my youngest son’s school. I wanted to shine a light on the homophobic, transphobic, insensitive, hateful and hurtful things that some moms said during the meeting and show that as far as we have come in LGBTQ acceptance and equality, there is still much work to be done. And sometimes that work needs to be done in heavy doses at places much closer to home than we’d like.

Almost immediately, PTA moms from our school started commenting, messaging and reacting viscerally on social media.

As they did, I stared at the PTA tagline: Every child, One voice. I’m not convinced that our PTA as a whole cares about every child and some of the voices I heard that night are not voices I want speaking on behalf of my child. That being said…

View original 1,491 more words

Causing Civil Unrest: Jesus and the Money Changers

14 11 2014

You know you’re in seminary when comments on Facebook lead you to conduct research amid your already assigned work for classes.

I recently shared the following image on Facebook:

The story behind scene depicted in that image can be found in all four Gospels: Mark 11:15-19, Matthew 21:12-17, Luke 19:45-48, and John 2:13-16. As a result of sharing this picture, I was treated to the following comment, to which I replied in-thread:

It could be argued that the United States of America is a country that was born from civil unrest, hence my comments about the British and the Loyalists. The established social order for the British colonies was that they were subjected to British rule, no matter how unjust those persons in the colonies felt that rule was.

Once upon a time it was perfectly legal to deny women access to polling places and the right to vote. Thanks to the suffragettes who caused much civil unrest in their time, I and all other women, trans and cis alike, have the right to vote in this country.

Civil unrest is often a tool used to overturn unjust laws or resist oppression. While there are many in the gay and lesbian communities that regard the Stonewall Riots as the beginning of gay and lesbian liberation, key figures at Stonewall were not only trans women, but trans women of color (Stryker, pp. 82-86). Stryker’s words were corroborated by Miss Major, whom I had the pleasure of hearing speak earlier this year when she was a guest speaker at the Pacific School of Religion. Miss Major, a trans woman of color, was there at Stonewall, engaging in the very civil unrest that has helped liberate the marginalized gender, romantic, and sexually identified (MGRSI) communities.

So, we see that Jesus of Nazareth wasn’t the only one engaging in civil unrest against those parties exercising their legal rights to oppress others. According to Richard A. Horsely writing on the Gospel of Mark in The New Oxford Annotated Bible (p. 1813), Jesus’ “cleansing of the Temple” was a fulfillment of prophecies from Isaiah 56:7 and Jeremiah 7:11. J. R. C. Cousland’s notes to the Gospel of Matthew in this same book (p. 1777) state that “Roman money had to be changed into Tyrian shekels, the only currency acceptable for use within the Temple.” Marion L. Soards, who wrote in this Bible on the Gospel of Luke (p. 1867) implies that the money changers weren’t merely exchanging these currencies, but were “selling the prescribed offerings.” And finally in his notes on the Gospel of John, Jerome H. Neyrey says that Jesus “attacks the sellers for profaning [the Temple] by making it a market (p. 1885).”

Hans Dieter Betz alleges that there is extra-canonical “evidence, especially from Qumran [in the Dead Sea Scrolls], that at the time criticism of the Temple was more widespread and diversely motivated.” This suggests to me a shift in what C____ B______ called “the social mores of the region” in the above Facebook screen capture. Betz goes on to state, “The problem that apparently irritated Jesus was that the merchants and bankers had moved inside the sacred precinct to conduct their business.” The Temple tax had to be paid and currencies had to be exchanged to do this. Betz’s analysis suggests that Jesus felt this business should’ve been done outside the Temple property.

Economic position didn’t exempt one from paying this tax, though certainly the rich could more easily afford it than the poor. P. M. Casey elaborates by saying “money changers always sell money for more than its face value, to make a profit” and “scribes would increase the money which people had to pay.” It is this “abuse of the poor” that is one of the primary motivators for Jesus act of civil unrest. While the money changers were indeed doing what needed to be done, “they could do their work outside the Temple.” (Casey, 1997)

Another Facebook friend of mine posted, “It is just a myth, but an interesting one.” Yet Casey suggests that as this is one of the few stories that is described in all four Gospels that the story of this event might be historical in nature.

Whether historical or mythological, I still find this story of Jesus’ act of civil unrest to be relevant today. I am a queer, transgender woman, and according to the various laws in differing regions of the country I call home I have varying amounts of freedom. By contrast, my heterosexual, cisgender peers have far greater rights, and those rights are uniform across the land. If I must engage in civil unrest as did the Stonewall rioters to ensure persons like me are treated like people, then I will do so.

Sometimes, civil unrest is required for positive change.

Sources Cited

Betz, Hans Dieter. Jesus and the Purity of the Temple (Mark 11:15-18): a Comparative Religion Approach. Journal of Biblical Literature, 116 no 3. 1997.

Casey, P. M. Culture and Historicity: the Cleansing of the Temple. Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Apr97, vol. 59 no. 2. 1997.

Coogan, Michael D. ed., The New Oxford Annotated Bible, 4th ed. NY: Oxford University Press.

Stryker, Susan. Transgender History. Berkeley, CA: Seal Press. 2008.

November: a Time of Conflict

4 11 2014

Friends, it is November and the Transgender day of Remembrance will be held in sixteen days. I’m on edge.

This year, our beloved dead include an 8-year-old child from Brazil who’s father beaten him to death for being too girly, and a 21-year-old sex worker in Venezuela killed by police officer who expected a discount for her services. There are other children on the list. Police in Mexico witnessed a trans woman being throw into the street where she was run over and killed while they did nothing.

I’m pissed off. Yes, I am a seminarian who’s studying to be ordained in the United Church of Christ but I can still be furious. I must and will pray for those who so actively seek my destruction and the destruction of those like me. But there are those who, while they might not advocate the killing of trans persons, work to make our lives legally impossible.

You know who you are:

  • Those who would deny us our human rights to safely use public restrooms that match our gender identities.
  • Those who strive to make our medical care cost-prohibitive if not illegal.
  • Those who feel we don’t need employment protections, even though I can be denied employment (and housing and healthcare) in 34 states of this country for being trans.
  • Those who would deny us our rights to legally marry our partners so that we could have our own families and persons to advocate for us should we become hospitalized and can’t speak for oursevles.
  • Those who vote for candidates and politicians who propose or support legislation that would restrict our access to safe restrooms, affordable medical care, employment/housing/healthcare, and marriage equality.
  • Those who deny that they do indeed have privilege for having gender identities that are aligned with the sex they were designated at birth: the cisgender persons of the world.

You have arrayed yourselves against us. And while I cannot forget that, I will pray for you even as I pray for those of us who suffer every fucking day for being the Other. Maybe you don’t actively hate us, but you strive against us nonetheless perhaps without even realizing it.

Being an ally takes work, a lot of it, and I am extremely grateful to my allies. I will not police the identities of others. But if you want me to consider you to be an ally, you must be advised that there is a great deal of work you must do to secure that title from me.

So bear with me. Doubtless, my Facebook (connieanne11), Twitter, Tumblr, and blog could be very angry this month.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 308 other followers

%d bloggers like this: