Christian Solidarity with Trans Women of Color

(A)Rise in Power Organizing Collective, Lent 2017

Mischa Caldwell, 41

Jamie Lee Wounded Arrow, 28

Jojo Striker, 23

Tiara Richmond, 24

Ciara McElveen, 26

Chyna Gibson aka Chyna Doll Dupree, 31

Jaquarrius Holland, 18

Alphonza Watson, 38

     During this Lenten season of reflection and preparation, we are mourning the loss of eight transgender women of color who have been murdered in 2017. The hatred and state violence inflicted upon them in the past few months is at once both outrageous and unfortunately common in America today. We mourn these losses, knowing that each of these women were fully beloved by God. We mourn these losses, knowing that many transgender and gender nonconforming individuals are our kindred in Jesus Christ. Additionally, we mourn these losses recognizing that the Church has been complicit in violence against trans bodies by 1) openly condemning transgender and gender nonconforming individuals, or 2) remaining silent as these individuals are criminalized and targeted by state and non-state actors.

We write this statement to admit our need to individually and collectively repent from our racial and gendered violence towards trans women of color, and to commit ourselves to protect and stand in solidarity with black and brown trans women.

We name our concerns as Christians, possessing various intersecting identities. We are black, Latinx, white, mixed race, gender nonconforming, cisgender, gay, straight, and queer individuals expressing our concerns about the violence perpetrated against transgender people of color, especially black trans women of color, in American society.

We commit to holding ourselves accountable to the transgender and gender nonconforming people of color in our midst, recognizing them as friends and siblings in Christ. We also hold ourselves accountable to transgender and gender nonconforming people of color belonging to other faiths or who do not participate in faith communities, recognizing them as full members of Beloved Community.

As we hold ourselves accountable, we also, in the Spirit of Christian community, ask from the greater Church not just to welcome trans persons of color into our congregations, but to take a bold public stance in support of these particular children of God who are under particular threat.

We publically call on the mainline and progressive LGBTQ affirming community of Churches to repent from their systemic racism and transphobia in these ways:

  • A) Center the voices and concerns of trans and gender nonconforming people of color in the movement for LGBTQ justice and inclusivity in the Church
  • B) Resist the temptation to continue to center privileged individuals, particularly those who are white and not transgender in LGBTQ affirming spaces
  • C) Support, fund, and qualify transgender and gender nonconforming individuals of color for ordination
  • D) Hire transgender and gender nonconforming people of color in your Christian LGBTQ organizations and churches
  • E) Require leaders to develop gender and racial literacy that includes information about trans and gender nonconforming histories, theologies and local struggles
  • F) Expand theological and biblical literacy in your congregations to include theologies authored and valued by trans people of color
  • G) Deliver fair and just compensation for the education and contributions that trans women of color and gender nonconforming individuals of color provide both within and outside the Church
  • H) Take seriously the needs of trans advocacy groups as both in solidarity with and distinct from other forms of LGBQ liberation work
  • I) Financially support such advocacy groups through special offerings, service partnerships, resource sharing, space rentals, advocacy and advertising of their programming, etc.

We publically call on the mainline and progressive churches who profess Jesus as Christ to move beyond simple affirmation and toward honest solidarity with our trans siblings, rooted in the knowledge that in Christ we are One (Romans 12:5, Galatians 3:28).

The targeting of trans women of color is a calculated violation of the Body of Christ on multiple levels, and the Church cannot and shall not remain silent. May the God who surpasses all understanding help us to move beyond the mind we have and into the inclusive love of God.