Four Christian schools in Northern Colorado, including Longmont Christian School, not far from the church I serve, closed on March 31st because a large group of transgender people were headed up I-25 planning to destroy Christian churches and schools along the way. Yep. Awful, right? A Denver television channel showed a video of the principal of one of the schools in which he detailed the supposed threat. I sat on my couch and laughed at the absurdity of the accusation.
I think about the transgender people who now attend or have attended Envision Community Church (formerly Left Hand Church) in Longmont. We are people who have a hard time destroying dandelions in our front lawns, because you know, they are dandelions. We take spiders outside and wish them well on their journey. We rush injured birds to the local wildlife center. We cry at garage sales. The idea that we would be on a rampage to destroy property is beyond absurd. Have any of these people actually ever met a transgender person?
Yep, that’s the problem. They have not. Over 60 percent of evangelicals believe transgender people already have too many civil rights, yet only 25 percent have actually met someone who is out as a transgender person.
I used to preach regularly at LifeBridge Christian Church in Longmont, a megachurch of a few thousand people. Do you know how many of those people have had conversations with me since I transitioned? It’s not hard counting them. It’s fewer than a dozen, and three of them didn’t realize they were talking with the person who used to preach for them. I’ve met with everyone who has asked to meet with me, but that is exactly three people.
Now you see the problem. It takes hearing people’s stories and being in close proximity to one another to narrow the political divide. And today that simply doesn’t happen. So, some Christian School principal in Loveland, Colorado, earnestly warned his student’s parents about a “threat” that was so absurd it actually made me laugh. After all of the laws and rhetoric of the last few months, it’s pretty hard to make me laugh about this subject. Most of the time I’m sad, and often I am considerably frightened.
The board members of the town in which I live were all encouraging one another to run for office again next year. We enjoy working together and share similar concerns about the priorities of our beautiful town. I had to remind them that as the anti-trans rhetoric increases, my chances of reelection dwindle. It is just a fact.
Sometimes the media adds to the problem. March 31 was International Transgender Day of Visibility, but our local paper had no article about this important celebration, only a front page article about the four Christian schools that closed because they were afraid of transgender people. Thanks Longmont Times-Call. That certainly helps trans people. In the newspaper’s defense, the article did focus on the fact that the threats were completely unsubstantiated. Nevertheless, frightened evangelicals got news coverage, while anything positive about transgender people was absent from the pages of the paper.
I keep thinking about all of the trans people who now attend or have ever attended our church. I keep thinking of the threat we are to society. Getting to know us is a threat to maintaining bigotry and hatred toward transgender people. Spending time with us is a threat to maintaining the fantasy that we are anything other than ordinary humans, roughly as healthy or unhealthy as everybody else. Attending our church is a threat to being able to back up your principal’s harried call to close the school doors because we are headed en masse to destroy every Christian thing in our path. I mean, among other things, that would include destroying my own church.
Reading my memoir would be a threat to continuing your chosen ignorance about the pain transgender people experience from a very young age. Reading my son’s book would be a threat to your conviction that transgender people destroy their families. Meeting my co-pastors would be a threat your conviction that people who support trans people are evil, or at the very least, misguided.
I have a friend from New Zealand who said on a call last week, “What is wrong with America? You are a sick society?” I said, “Yes, we are. And all of this has happened in less than a decade.” If we can fall this far this fast, I am truly frightened about what might come next.