As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.
There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free,
there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.
Galatians 3: 27-28
I think of comedian Mary Walsh's observation years ago the women get one official day of recognition every year while root vegetables get a whole month. We could never keep up with the ever rising tide of Very Important Days yet I do feel that recognizing the International Day of Transgender Visibility is particularly meaningful this year as we hear of many jurisdictions in the United States passing transphobic laws. In Texas there is now a directive which describes parental support of transgender children in transition, including counselling, as child abuse and directs teachers, doctors, and healthcare professionals to report any "suspected abuse", or face criminal penalties.
Each year on this day I ponder the young man who began worshipping in the congregation I served, perhaps 15 years ago. I've written about him before, that he came on his own, sat near the back, and left quickly. During Lent that year he came to all the services from Ash Wednesday through Good Friday. Ruth recognized him as a committed volunteer at the "new to you" store which was part of the shelter for women and children where she worked, and mentioned that he was someone in gender transition.
I think it was following the Ash Wednesday service that we eventually chatted and we agreed to get together over coffee in a downtown cafe. He told me that he'd first attended the congregation with her family, as a little girl. They eventually dropped away from involvement but he had returned as he searched for spiritual meaning and in the hope he would be accepted.He admitted it was a curious experience because no one recognized him from the past even though some people were familiar. I recall being nervous as we talked because I didn't want to be an idiot in the terms I used, or blunder about as I responded to his story. He was quite kind and patient.
Eventually he wasn't around on Sundays and when I asked Ruth about his involvement at the store she said that he's moved to Toronto. I'm grateful for his courage in being visible which helped my change in perception.
We have someone in our close circle who was born as a boy, anatomically, but from the earliest days identified as a girl. She announced a year ago that she wanted to change her name, a decision which the broader family has supported with remarkable grace. So has the faith-based school she attends and their Christian community. We do wonder what the future holds for her in a society which is still given to gender stereotypes and cruelty, but in the moment she is happy and bathed in acceptance.
A generation ago this would have been fraught with challenges at so many levels, yet here we are. We are learning, and deepening our understanding, and I'm convinced that acceptance of the LGBTQ2S community is part of our gospel imperative.
Here is the link to President Biden's statement for the Day of Transgender Visibility