This is a part of what I sent to Timothy Cardinal Dolan this week:
Dear Cardinal Dolan,
I’m not really sure why I decided to write to you, when I suspect that your mind is probably closed on this matter. And plus, with my poor health, I barely have the strength and energy to write this letter to you. But, here goes my appeal for some understanding:
I am a transgender woman who lives in Madison, WI. I am also a devout Christian, a community volunteer and a member of a Baptist Church here, locally. My name is Rhiannon Tibbetts. While you and I are both sinners, I don’t believe that me being authentically who I am before God is a sin. I ask would you want to be singled out and persecuted for your personal ethnicity, as an analogy. Didn’t Jesus come to bring us The New Covenant of mercy and salvation? Didn’t this Covenant fulfill and transcend the teachings of the law of The Old Testament. Did Jesus ever speak out against lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender folks anywhere in the Gospel? Didn’t Jesus hang out with the common man and with lepers, tax collectors, prostitutes and with women and children? Do you really want to put the same emphasis on relatively obscure passages in The Old Testament that you do upon the Gospels? In other parts of the Bible it speaks of things like obeying your master if you are a slave or cautions us against eating unclean meat. But, we don’t even find those things relevant anymore.
Have you ever considered these Bible passages about eunuchs? Matthew 19:11-12 and Acts 8:26-40. These are very positive passages about eunuchs. I would offer to you that the identity of being a eunuch is about the closest you’ll find to being a transgender person in the Bible.
I would also ask you to consider the recent medical research that indicates being transgender is physiologically based. Findings have shown brain structural evidence, genetic evidence and hormonal evidence that indicates a shift in biological sex for transgender individuals. (Look it up, it is legitimate medical research.)
For myself, I find that my identity rests more with who I am spiritually and emotionally, rather than the genitalia that I happened to be born with. Don’t you find more of yourself in who you are emotionally and spiritually rather than, for instance, your eye color or your height and weight? I believe that to most people the identity of being transgender is just so radically different that they react against it rather than trying to openly understand that different is not necessarily wrong. I believe that we, as a community, have some unique gifts and insights to offer the rest of the world.
I would much rather cast my lot with Jesus as I stand naked before him, someday, than with many people that try to speak for him. I hope that you don’t presume to try to disrupt my relationship with God. I would also hope that you would want to find avenues to call more sheep into the flock, rather than risking alienating many folks who might have otherwise become believers.
Can we find a common ground of love?
Thank You, Rhiannon