transgender

In Catholic Colombia, LGBT People Find Growing Acceptance

Image via Chris Herlinger/RNS

Not long ago, the thought of a transgender person speaking openly to a Roman Catholic priest in Colombia would have seemed unthinkable. Now cultural shifts are making way for LGBT acceptance, at least in some urban areas.

“We are liberal,” said Marcela Sánchez, director of Colombia Diversa, the nation’s most prominent LGBT rights organization. “Please don’t say Colombia isn’t liberal!”

Recent polls estimate that two-thirds of Colombians oppose same-sex marriage, but that is less opposition than in many Latin American countries, including neighboring Ecuador. Support for same-sex marriage is highest in Bogotá, the nation’s capital, where, in a 2010 poll conducted by local newspaper El Tiempo, 63 percent of residents endorsed the right of same-sex couples to marry in civil ceremonies.

The White House Appointed Its First Transgender Staffer

Image via /Shutterstock

The White House has hired its first openly transgender staff member, the Washington Post reports.

The staffer, Raffi Freedman-Gurspan, will work as a recruitment director for presidential personnel. She is not the first transgender staff person to be hired by other agencies under this administration, but is the first to work in the White House. She is also a transgender woman of color, which LGBT groups noted as significant a news release.

Why the Transgender Representation in ‘Tangerine’ is Important

Screenshot from 'Tangerine' trailer/YouTube

When a movie examines a group of people whose stories are only starting to gain mainstream attention — and does it with honesty and compassion — it’s important to pay attention. Director Sean Baker’s wickedly funny and stylish film Tangerine dives deep into the transgender community in Los Angeles in a way that explores the strengths, vulnerabilities, and deep needs of its characters. In other words, it portrays them as real people, not as caricatures — or Oscar-friendly approximations played by a cisgendered actor in drag.

Despite Pakistan’s ‘Third Gender’ Recognition, Discrimination Is Widespread

Photo via Shahbaz Sindhu / RNS

“Tania” and Ferdose Khan live as partners in Lahore’s khawaja sara community. Photo via Shahbaz Sindhu / RNS

Saima Butt witnessed an acid attack in February 2014 that left the victim scarred and writhing in pain. One onlooker said the assault was God’s retribution, and that her death would mean one less sinner in society.

 

“People enjoy our agonies and treat us like insects,” Butt said of herself and of the anonymous victim.

Butt is supervisor at the Khawaja Sara Society in Lahore and a member of the local “khawaja sara” or third-gender community. Pakistan added a third-gender option to national identity cards in 2009, but official recognition has not stopped discrimination against those who choose not to be identified as either male or female.

San Francisco Archbishop Blasts Gender Transitions as Threat to Faith

Photo via David Gibson / RNS

San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone speaks with a nun on June 3 in New York. Photo via David Gibson / RNS

Amid the national buzz over transgender celebrity Caitlyn (formerly Bruce) Jenner revealing her new female identity, a leading culture warrior in the Catholic hierarchy on June 3 denounced the spread of “gender ideology” and warned that it threatens the very foundation of the church’s faith.

“The clear biological fact is that a human being is born either male or female,” Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco said at the start of an address in Manhattan at a conference aimed at promoting an older form of the Mass in Latin.

'They Saved My Life'

FOR YEARS, Dee Curry thrived in her job as a community-based outreach specialist, coordinating and connecting local residents to Washington, D.C.’s health services. “I never intended to become homeless,” Curry said. “My job meant everything to me. But, being empowered as a transgender woman, I encountered a lot of adversity and eventually suffered burnout.”

That burnout led to substance abuse, then incarceration, then homelessness. By the time she arrived at a hospital six years ago, Curry was suicidal. Diagnosed with bipolar disorder, she had been flitting between different places for temporary shelter. “People were not good to me. I was mistrustful of everyone,” she said.

The hospital psychiatrist finally persuaded Curry to contact Pathways to Housing DC, a nonprofit in Washington, D.C., that implements the Housing First model among those with severe mental illness. Housing First offers the most vulnerable, chronically homeless people permanent housing and the supportive services to address mental and physical health, substance abuse, employment, education, and family reunification so that people can get back on their feet. Other models to alleviate homelessness may require program participants to be sober or eligible for employment in order to qualify for housing. The Housing First model reverses this logic.

“We provide housing first because we made a commitment to listen to the people we serve. We asked them what they wanted and needed. They almost always said ‘I need the housing, first, before I can work on other issues,” said Pathways to Housing DC executive director Christy Respress.

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Bruce Jenner and God’s Response to Transgender People

s_bukley / Shutterstock.com

Bruce Jenner at a 'Keeping Up with the Kardashians" party in 2010. s_bukley / Shutterstock.com

Caryn Riswold wrote a moving article about Bruce Jenner’s interview on Friday with Dianne Sawyer. In the interview, Bruce states, “For all intents and purposes, I’m a woman. People look at me differently. They see you as this macho male, but my heart and my soul and everything I do in life – it is part of me. That female side of me. That’s who I am.”

Caryn’s article is titled “How Should People of Faith Respond to Bruce Jenner?” It is a compassionate response to Jenner and all people who identify as transgender. She states that all people are created in the image of God and so deserve our love and compassion. Sadly, many religious people disagree with Caryn, insisting that Jenner is confused, crazy, or just out for attention.

Caryn worries that Jenner will be mocked and ridiculed. She states that people of faith should not respond with ridicule, but rather with acceptance and compassion.

Pay attention to the one who isn’t laughing. The one who looks upset. The one who is desperately trying to escape the gaze and the mockery.

Pay attention to the ones on the margins. Whose image are they created in?

Transgender Mormons Struggle to Feel at Home in Their Bodies and Their Religion

Photo courtesy of REUTERS / Jim Urquhart / RNS

Reflection of Salt Lake temple. Photo courtesy of REUTERS / Jim Urquhart / RNS

Sixteen-year-old Grayson Moore had no label, only metaphors, to describe the disconnect he felt between his body and soul.

It was like car sickness, he says, when your eyes and inner ears disagree about whether you are moving.

“It makes you sick,” Moore says.

“That’s the same with gender.”

When Moore’s mother gave her then-daughter a vocabulary for the feelings — “gender dysphoria,” or transgender — an immediate sense of relief followed.

And, he says, God confirmed that he was not just a tomboy. He was in the wrong body.

Such moments come in the lives of transgender people — times when vague feelings of general discomfort with their identity crystallize into that realization.

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