“Defend the lowly and the orphaned; render justice to the oppressed and the destitute! Rescue the weak and the poor, and save them from the hand of violence!” -Psalm 82:3-4
November 20 is internationally known as Transgender Day of Remembrance. Started in 1998, after the brutal murder of Rita Hester, Transgender Day of Remembrance is a day to remember, honor, and memorialize those who experience violence, hatred, and transphobia because of their gender identity or expression. In 2022, we specifically remember Paloma Vasquez, Marisela Castro, two transgender women murdered in Houston this year. They, along with more than 30 other transgender people have been killed in the United States just in 2022.
In 2021, 57 transgender persons were murdered in the United States, of which 84% were people of color (visit hrc.org for more statistics). This doesn’t include the ongoing violence and harm that transgender people experience on a day-to-day basis in Houston, New Orleans, and throughout our synod. And this is all happening as laws meaning to protect LGBTQIA individuals and families have recently come under attack.
As the ELCA Social Message on Gender-Based Violence states, “Gender-based violence is an ancient sin that for thousands of years has harmed countless women, children and men. It is a sin that Christians need to recognize, understand and confront, for our religious history also bears its stain.” As Lutherans we have a responsibility to advocate for dignity, justice, and equity of all, to care for the marginalized, and to stand in solidarity with the poor and oppressed.
I invite the pastors, deacons, and congregations of the Gulf Coast Synod to learn more about violence against the LGBTQIA community, and especially the trans community. Pray for and provide pastoral care and support to those who experience harm. Advocate for laws that protect those who regularly experience oppression. And consider becoming an RIC congregationthat welcomes and includes LGBTQIA individuals and families in the life of your church.
And to those who are part of the LGBTQIA community, know that you are of unimaginable value and that the God of the universe sees you and loves you.
For more information:
- Human Rights Campaign
- Trans Women of Color Collective
- The Houston Montrose Center
- LGBT Community Center of New Orleans
- ReconcilingWorks (RIC)
Bishop Michael Rinehart