For those of you who missed it, recently Leelah Alcorn, a trans girl of 17 years, committed suicide. She left a suicide note on Tumblr explaining her bigoted parents’ actions that led to her decision. Here’s the post. Trigger warning, of course. It hits hard. But it absolutely should be read.
After reading it, I posted some emotional stuff on my Twitter:
This naturally upset some of my followers. I’m still not sorry, but I felt I should make some clarifications, and I wanted to post them somewhere less impermanent than Twitter.
“The Gospel doesn’t ever actually condemn trans people! Transphobia isn’t Christian!”
There’s definitely a misunderstanding going on here. Guys, I grew up in Texas. I had to get used to being the only person in the classroom that wasn’t Christian. I had to hear everybody else talk about their beliefs as if they were fact, as if it’s understood common knowledge that Jesus is the savior, and that God is watching, and so on and so forth. Point is, I know that there are plenty of Christians who are good people. If I thought all Christians were assholes I’d have never made any friends.
But Christianity isn’t some incidental personal trait, or an oppressed subculture. Christianity is a dominant cultural force, particularly in the U.S. What this means is that when I talk about Christianity I’m not just talking about what is expressly stated in the Gospel — I’m talking about Christianity as a culture that influences how millions of people act.
I remember a time not long ago when people claimed Elliot Rodger wasn’t motivated by misogyny even though he was saying extremely misogynistic things as justifications for the murders he committed. And when you say that Christianity isn’t what’s perpetuating transphobia it feels pretty damn similar. If you read what Leelah’s parents said, they were explicitly using Christianity as their reasoning. Stuff like, “God doesn’t make mistakes.” They specifically sent her to Christian counselors, and these awful people told her more transphobic falsehoods in an effort to “convert” her instead of actually providing her with the mental health therapy she direly needed.
I don’t care if you think these aren’t “true Christians.” They identify as Christians, and they are identified publicly as Christians. And their behaviors and beliefs are extremely common, so if they aren’t “true Christians” then “true Christianity” is basically negligible for purposes of this conversation. I don’t give a shit about what the Gospel says. I give a shit about what Christians are saying and doing in the name of their religion.
If you’re Christian and you’re not transphobic, then fan-fucking-tastic. But if your first reaction to someone criticizing Christianity for perpetuating transphobia is to say “not all Christians” then you are not helping. Take some social responsibility for the culture you’re part of. Help us fight transphobia. Help educate your fellow Christians that it’s okay to feel like a woman in a man’s body, or vice versa, or to not identify with either binary gender.
Until you all do, more transfolk will die, whether or not you believe it’s your religion’s fault.