Franklin Graham May 6th, 2016
Billy Graham Evangelistic Association
1 Billy Graham Parkway
Charlotte, NC 28201
Dear Reverend Graham,
I’m not really sure why I decided to write to you, when I know that your mind seems 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 will gladly cast my lot with Jesus as I stand naked before him, someday. I hope that you don’t presume to try to disrupt my relationship with God. I would 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?
BTW, do I look like a 57 year-old transgender woman?
Thank you, Rhiannon
May God Bless You!
Franklin Graham May 24, 2016
1 Billy Graham Parkway
Charlotte, NC 28201-0001
Dear Reverend Graham,
You may remember me, I wrote to you a couple of weeks ago. My name is Rhiannon Tibbetts. I am writing to you again, in response to the recent correspondence that I received appealing for some financial support. I am responding with a very modest donation in an effort to try to build some bridges of understanding. I am disabled and I barely make ends meet, so even five dollars is a generous effort for me. In case you don’t remember me, I recently sent you a letter appealing for some understanding for my transgender community. I am enclosing, along with this letter and my donation, a sample of some of my writing. Although you may not have the time to read it, I hope that someone there will have a chance to take a look at it.
I am an author, and I have published nine books in recent years. I am hoping that someday you might come to see the transgender community as a hurting group in need of compassion. I support your ongoing efforts to spread the good news of Jesus Christ. I tend to see His ministry as a liberating message of mercy, for which I am very grateful for. I hope that we can someday find some kind of common ground from which to communicate. We all really have more things in common than ways we are different.
I will pray for your ministry and for Christian evangelism in general.
Thank you, Your sister in Christ, Rhiannon Tibbetts
Franklin Graham July 12, 2016
P.O. Box 3000
Boone, NC 28607
Dear Reverend Graham,
I want to thank you for your thoughtful gesture in personally inviting me to your rally in downtown Madison, last month. Sadly, my health doesn’t allow me to participate in that level of physical activity. I suffer from: myalgic encephalomyelitis, benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, vestibular migraines, peripheral neuropathy, sleep apnea, gender dysphoria, depression/anxiety, P.T.S.D., a tumor in my head and digestive & urinary issues. Most of the time I feel too worn down and drained to do much of anything. And then if you throw in my financial woes into the mix along with some very strained family relations, you can maybe understand a little of what I go through. Oh, and also my heart was shattered into a million pieces, a few years ago.
I would be completely lost without my wonderful church, my (nine) doctors (I have Medical Assistance), my adorable cats and a sweet circle of friends. I still do my best to count my blessings, despite my troubles. I surely would have self-destructed by now, though, if I had not started transitioning to female a couple of decades ago. I pray and meditate regularly these days.
I am writing to you because I am hoping that you have a heart that is caring and understanding. You are among a group of Christian leaders that I have written to over the last few months. One of the people that I wrote to a few months ago was Pope Francis. I was very heartened by his words following that devastating event in Orlando a few weeks ago. I don’t remember his exact phrasing but in effect he said that all Christians owe gay people an apology. I’m just wondering if that event or those words moved you at all.
This country and this world in general are undergoing some very tumultuous times. It feels very scary, but I also see some possible opportunity inherent in the pain and uncertainty. We of course don’t know the day, month or year of Jesus’ return, but I have to wonder if he might be on the doorstep, these days.
I will pray for your ministry, because we all need Jesus all the more these days. Is there any chance that your heart could open enough to include the LGBT community in your good graces? The transgender population is the most highly victimized by violence of any demographic in this country. Our per capita rate of being murdered is just obscene. There are many, many people that don’t understand us and make our lives very painful. (Just witness recent news events) And to my knowledge there are no known criminal incidences of any transgender woman attacking someone in a ladies room.
There are many transgender Christians in this country, please don’t further discourage us. We are just as human as anyone. We bleed, cry, laugh and love, just like you and your loved ones. My personal identity is not an agenda or a sin.
Thank you, Rhiannon Tibbetts