A Message from the Dean on the Trans Day of Visibility
Seemingly within minutes of the school shooting in Nashville, the Fox News website ran a headline identifying the shooter as trans. It was a headline, not merely a note in a story. This was a dogwhistle. Trans people have become the scapegoats for every American social ill. They are even being blamed for gun violence. Readers took the bait. Comment after comment blamed trans people for our unsafe schools.
Today is Trans Day of Visibility, a day to acknowledge and honor trans people, but also to raise awareness of anti-trans discrimination. The statistics are staggering. Trans people are four times more likely to endure violent crime as cisgender people. Nearly half have been sexually assaulted, and 40% have attempted suicide. Twice as many trans people as others are homeless, and half have been rejected by their families. The list of sorrows and indignities is long.
The Episcopal Church stands for the rights of trans people, rooted in the promise made at Baptism to “respect the dignity of every human being.” In 2022, for example, the entire Church resolved to “support legislative, educational, pastoral, liturgical, and broader communal efforts that seek to end the pattern of violence against transgender people in general and transgender women in particular.” The Church’s Bishop’s, meeting just last month, urged “all in our Church… to create safe spaces and shield all people from harassment based on gender identity, and to join in advocacy to protect them from discriminatory laws.”
As the Cathedral of the Episcopal Diocese of New York, and as a community that is blessed with trans members, St. John the Divine stands with the trans community on this Day of Visibility. This year, the Day falls just before Holy Week. Jesus himself was a scapegoat. He suffered at the hands of angry people, no different from the people of our own day, who turned their fear and rage against an innocent man. In raising Christ Jesus from death, we believe that God has shown once and for all that the human tendency to scapegoat innocent people is not of God. It is the very antithesis of godliness.
As we stand with our trans siblings today, we vow as a Cathedral to resist the tendency to blame anyone for the difficulties of life and the ills of society. Instead, we pledge to work for good in the name of the God who, in Christ, became one of society’s outcasts.