At present, the United States is a society far from embodying transgender justice. Transgender women of color are being murdered in epidemic numbers. Transgender youth face harassment and a denial of rights. Transgender immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers are being detained and deported. In most states, transgender people lack full legal protection, and many states are looking to pass new legislation that explicitly curtails transgender people’s basic rights. In the face of these injustices, transgender justice is a moral imperative. People of faith must take action.
What is Transgender Justice?
The starting point for any discussion of the treatment of transgender people must be the inherent dignity and worth that transgender people share with all members of the human family. This belief in the inherent dignity and worth of all people is a fundamental, deeply rooted belief common to many faiths. Acknowledging the dignity and worth of transgender people requires going beyond a profession of belief. It calls for advocacy for just treatment in society. People of faith must strive towards a more just society—one that allows transgender people to live and to flourish in all aspects of life. This is the work of transgender justice.
The Role of Faith
Religion is being used by some to justify discrimination and spread false narratives about transgender people. As people of faith and conscience, we oppose the use of religion to harm transgender people, and we recognize our responsibility to articulate a different moral vision. We believe that “religious freedom” means the freedom to practice our faith, not deny other people their rights or impose our beliefs on others. We know that gender is a complex and sacred gift, and that the breathtaking diversity of Creation is to be honored, not questioned or denied. We know that gender diversity has played a role in myriad faith traditions and religious texts dating back centuries, and that transgender people serve as faith leaders in many traditions and bring forward powerful spiritual gifts.
Seeking Transgender Justice
Seeking transgender justice begins with treating transgender people in a manner consistent with their gender identity and endorsing policies that do the same. It continues with an ongoing commitment to dismantle systems of oppression that keep people from showing up as their full and wonderfully made selves in schools, faith communities, and workplaces. It also requires opposing laws that seek to stigmatize and marginalize transgender people by legitimizing discrimination in the public sphere and perpetuating false narratives about transgender people.
Recognizing that transgender women of color bear a huge portion of the violence and discrimination directed toward trans communities, seeking transgender justice requires us to simultaneously seek justice along the lines of race, class, sex, and sexuality.
A society that embodies transgender justice is one where transgender people have the ability to participate and have their gender identities and expressions acknowledged and affirmed. It is a society where transgender people have access to safe and sustainable employment, housing, education, health care, and public accommodations. It is a society where transgender people are free from violence, harassment, and intimidation.