In Virginia, a battle is raging over a new transgender rights policy passed by the Loudoun County School Board this month.
According to supporters of the raft of proposed laws targeting trans youth in state legislatures around the country, the answer is emphatically yes: Transgender children are a liberal American fad.
Are they right? Is the Family Research Council, a powerful right-wing organization that supports many of these bills, correct when it claims that children like mine are the result of “a resurgence of postmodern thinking”? Is it true, as a best-selling book has argued, that my daughter is part of a “transgender craze” sweeping America’s youth?
The backlash against the charity is part of a depressing trend for trans people in Britain, whose rights and safety are under threat
Every day I see Christians lamenting the “Cancel Culture;” claiming whenever they face accountability for their words or their conduct, or for the policies or politicians they support—that they are being systematically silenced.
This is irony of biblical proportions.
The Evangelical Church in America doesn’t hate cancel culture, it invented it.
Ask LGBTQ human beings, who have been continually bullied into silence by pastors and youth leaders: who are berated and marginalized and excluded from spiritual community if they speak their truest truth or desire to marry the person they love or want to serve in ministry. Ask them how welcome or heard they feel in the Evangelical Church and how much of a presence they have if they want to be both out and included.
Ask women, who in most Conservative denominations are still not allowed to become pastors or to lead Bible Studies in mixed gender classes; who are still theologically treated as less-than and expected to be silent and submissive, relegated to the kitchen and the bedroom. Ask them how their claims of sexual abuse or domestic violence have been received and how much of a voice they have if they question authority or seek opportunity.
Ask people of color, whose most passionate opposition to equality still comes from white Evangelicals; people who daily face discrimination from a religious entity that is steeped in white supremacy and whose cries for justice in the face of unspeakable brutality by law enforcement are greeted with sustained resistance.
Ask Colin Kaepernick. Ask kneeling NFL players and outspoken NBA stars, who silently and gently asked America to see the racial disparities and systemic injustices still at work here and to demand the equity and empathy that Jesus preached. Ask them how the Evangelical church has conflated America and Christianity and told them to “shut up and play.”
Ask any actor in Hollywood who speaks out against homophobia or anti-Asian hatred or white supremacy, whose name begins to trend almost immediately as professed Christians rush to eliminate them wholesale because they cannot abide entertainers to also be fully formed human beings.
Ask Muslims, whose religious tradition is so often made synonymous with evil; who are continually used as a catch-all boogeyman for mass shootings and terrorism, whose presence is rarely included in Evangelical demands for “religious liberty.”
Ask transgender athletes and abused children and black activists and bisexual teenagers, and Harry Potter fans and Starbucks holiday cup users and progressive Christian pastors. They’ll tell you that nobody boycotts and silences and removes difference quite like Christians. They’ve built an empire on it.
The Religious Right and Jerry Falwell and Franklin Graham are the original cancellers of culture: of black culture and LGBTQ culture and Jewish culture and Muslim culture and non-American culture. It is their daily bread and butter messaging.
I’ve been a pastor in Christian churches for twenty-five years, and I’ve heard staff meeting discourses and witnessed the church lobby conversations and I’ve had a front row seat to organized social media campaigns designed to shut down criticism and remove diversity when it became too loud or too diverse to feel comfortable.
I can’t tell someone what their theology should bear or how they should express their moral convictions or what is compatible with their faith tradition—but I do think it’s hypocritical for Evangelicals in America to clutch their pearls and play the victim, and to condemn a perceived oppression that they invented, perfected, and continue to traffic in.
Jesus’ message was one of invitation and inclusion; of a table being expanded, of the least receiving love, of the foreigner being welcomed, of the lepers being touched, of the Samaritan being good, of the starving being fed, of the entire world being loved with ferocity. It was also a message that pushed back against cruelty in the name of God.
More and more, what I realize as I place the teachings of this Jesus next to the conduct of so many churches that bear his name, is that the compassionate, generous, open-hearted rabbi who preached the beauty of diversity, shunned political power, and condemned manipulative religious people—would be immediately cancelled by Christians.
John Pavlovitz is a writer, pastor, and activist from Wake Forest, North Carolina. A 25-year veteran in the trenches of local church ministry, John is committed to equality, diversity, and justice—both inside and outside faith communities. When not actively working for a more compassionate planet, John enjoys spending time with his family, exercising, cooking, and having time in nature. He is the author of A Bigger Table, Hope and Other Superpowers, Low, and Stuff That Needs to Be Said.
Not even a month after its Board of Governors came to the defense of transgender athletes and put the states who target them on notice, the NCAA caved to the bigotry. By selecting three states that recently legalized discrimination against transgender athletes as hosts for the postseason softball tournament, the NCAA told an already marginalized group of young men and women just how little their lives and self-worth mean.
In many subreddits dealing with trans and LGBTQ+ issues I come across comments talking about how trans experiences are bad, that they wish there was a brighter future, and how being trans is such a burden. It’s a theme that proliferates across the media, that being trans is such an awful thing that why indeed would anyone wish to be trans or seek to publicly live a trans life. For me this is both deeply upsetting, as I want to reach out and help folk work through their issues, and secondly makes me mad because being trans is not all whips and chains, far from it.
The Institute for Sexual Research in Berlin would be a century old if it hadn’t fallen victim to Nazi ideology
The first gender affirmation surgeries took place in 1920s, at a facility which employed transgender technicians and nurses, and which was headed by a gay Jewish man. The forgotten history of the institute, and its fall to Nazis bent on the euthanasia of homosexuals and transgender people, offers us both hope—and a cautionary tale—in the face of oppressive anti-trans legislation in the United States.
Arkansas lawmakers’ move against trans people reflects a larger strategy.
They’re inventing a problem to whip up a culture war that they’re convinced will redound to their benefit. Worried that their party can’t retain or wrest power with its positions on the economy and prescriptions (or lack thereof) for health care, they’re fighting on other turf, with no pause to contemplate the need for their offensives and no thought for the casualties.
We have all had to find our own paths over this year; we all learned more about ourselves. And have had to ask: Who are we, when no one is looking? Who are we, without what once both held us back and held us up? Whom do we wish to be?
IN THE INTRODUCTION to Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters, Abigail Shrier’s performatively alarmed polemic about the purported increase in transmasculine-identifying teens and young adults, the author explains that her affinity for stripping trans people of agency is informed, perplexingly, by her unwavering reverence for the First Amendment.