A Faithful Response to International Trans Day of Visibility
Today, March 31, 2017, is International Transgender Day of Visibility, an annual day set aside to celebrate the power and resilience of trans and gender non-conforming people, and to raise awareness of anti-trans discrimination.
Ironically, today is also the first day after North Carolina’s newest effort to render trans people invisible, House Bill 142, was signed into law by Governor Cooper. Unlike what you might have heard, HB 142 was not a repeal of HB 2, and it continues to harm trans people in new ways. HB 142 prohibits cities and municipalities from providing non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people. HB 142 undercuts any local efforts to grant protections for trans and gender non-conforming people in restrooms and other public accommodations, giving that control to the state. HB 142 also blocks local legal protections for those seeking a living wage.
Last weekend, people of faith across the country, representing a wide variety of religious beliefs, participated in a National Weekend of Prayer for Transgender Justice. Through prayer, education, and action we continued the clarion call for transgender justice and opposition to all forms of discrimination. Laws like HB 142 and HB 2 are not unique to North Carolina; attacks on LGBTQ people have been enacted in state houses across the country and through the ongoing actions of the Trump administration. These are not just rules and laws; they are moral failings that need to be called out by people of faith.
The safety of trans people is not a partisan issue. Trans people exist in all parts of society; we are your neighbors, your friends, your family, your co-workers, and we are part of your congregations and clergy. As people of faith, we must harness our courage and demand respectful and human treatment from those who unwisely wield their power in ways that undermines the least of these. One way to practice faith, then, is to radically affirm all persons and affirm the radical differences that create the tapestry we call humanity.
Our country’s new administration has stepped backward on supporting trans people, leaving equality to vary not only by state or zip code, but block by block and living room by living room. Walking down one street over another might dictate the restroom one is legally allowed to use, whether one can be fired or expelled from school for transitioning, and whether an act of harassment will be prosecuted as a hate crime (or prosecuted at all).
Our many faith traditions teach us to love justice. Incomplete or measured justice is not justice at all. We advocate strongly against HB 142 and any other law that seeks to further the stigmatization of our most marginalized. As people of faith and moral courage, we instead demand a clean repeal of HB 2 that includes statewide non-discrimination protections in public accommodations, employment, housing, education, and credit. We call for full affirmation of the worth and dignity of all North Carolinians.
Last year when the North Carolina legislature passed HB 2, the NCAA took a position against this discriminatory law by announcing they’d relocate their 2016-2017 championship games outside of North Carolina. After HB142 was signed the NCAA announced they’d consider hosting championship games in North Carolina. We need the NCAA to hold the line and reject the fake “repeal” that the legislature has put in place.
As trans people of faith, we hope you’ll TAKE ACTION against discrimination by urging members of the NCAA’s Board of Governors to reverse their decision on putting North Carolina back in contention for future championships.
Barbara Satin, Assistant Faith Work Director, National LGBTQ Task Force
Hannah Simpson, Practice Spirit, Do Justice Member, Transgender Advocate, Writer, Educator, and Comedian
Robyn Henderson-Espinoza, PhD, Public Theologian in Residence at Faith Matters Network
Alex Kapitan, Co-founder, Transforming Hearts Collective; and Steering Committee member, Transgender Religious Professional Unitarian Universalists Together