I hope you’ll set aside a few minutes to watch this video, highlighting the five murders and one suicide of gender-variant people that received media attention in February of this year. How many victims must there be before it becomes an epidemic?
The tyranny of gender rigidity has a death grip on our culture. And this system is not merely theoretical; it has very real casualties. One of the things which troubles me the most is how few non-transgender people get involved in the fight for change. How many transgender people have to die before you will get involved? How many gender-variant youth will be brutally murdered or will commit suicide because they see no hope for a livable future for themselves, let alone a happy one?
I recognize and respect that many conservative Christians believe the binary gender system to be God-ordained and biblically endorsed. I cannot believe, however, that any of them would endorse murder or suicide as justifiable means for protecting, enforcing, or advancing that system. And yet those who speak for conservative Christians in America are largely silent on the matter of these deaths.
To those who are prone to these kinds of violent acts, that silence implies that violence is indeed justified. To the young straight man who has discovered that a gay classmate has a crush on him, the church’s silence says, “It’s okay to rough him up a little.” To a twelve year old boy who has known all his short life that he needs to be a girl, the church’s silence says, “We’ll all be better off if you’d just put the gun in your mouth and pull the trigger.” To the parents of a teenage girl who refuses to stop seeing her girlfriend, the church’s silence says, “Of course you’re justified in kicking her out of the house and onto the street.” When the voice of moral authority refuses to speak, hatred and injustice hear all the permission they need to hear.
For conservative Christian teachers, preachers, and leaders, speaking out against this kind of violence is risky. Some in your congregation will wonder if your views on homosexuality have softened. They’ll question your convictions against offering equal marriage rights to gays and lesbians. There will be talk in the corners of the fellowship hall and around kitchen tables about whether you’re falling prey to the “Homosexual Agenda.” Deacons might start receiving worried phone calls from influential church members. Some members will confront you to your face. Some will trust you less. Some will start looking for another church. The most hardened congregations will eventually suggest that maybe it’s time for you to move on, or will call for a vote to vacate the pulpit.
I recognize these risks. I’ve faced them myself. But I ask you, since when has preaching truth and justice been a risk-free proposition? And I ask you, how much risk are you willing to take? And I ask you, do gender-variant or questioning young people qualify as “the least of these” from Matthew 25?
And I remind you, as our Lord has said and will say again, “Whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.”