From Your Minister of Congregational Care
Our theme for the month of October is “vulnerability.” To be vulnerable is to be susceptible to pain, to wounding, or to some sort of harm. We make ourselves vulnerable when we love someone, when we speak an unpopular truth, or when we push against a tide of injustice. We all have the option of making ourselves vulnerable, but we don’t all have the luxury of being able to protect ourselves from the harms such authenticity might bring. This is especially true for our siblings who exist outside the historical dichotomies of sex or gender. On October 1, the Care Team sponsored our second showing of Gender Revolution (thanks to the generosity of co-producers National Geographic and Katie Couric). This documentary deals with the complexities of concepts like gender, transgender, and intersex. You might think: “Wow, things that used to be a simple either-or have become so clouded and confusing,” but no. Things were never simple dichotomies. Culture simply mandated that we downplay diversity and force a continuum of possibilities into two small boxes.
What do these terms mean? Transgender (not “transgendered”) individuals are those whose identity does not correspond with what they were assigned at birth. Intersex babies are born with characteristics that defy our ideas of what it means to be strictly male or female, coming into this world with some combination of both sexes. Historically, we’ve chosen early surgical intervention which has been a tragic mistake. The suicide rate among children who grow up having been surgically altered to “be” a girl or a boy is incredibly high—perhaps because we’ve gotten it wrong so many times. Imagine forced socialization as the “wrong” sex. Under what circumstances do we feel we have the right to choose someone else’s identity or gender or sex? The problem in such a scenario does not reside in the precious child who is born otherwise “healthy.” The problem resides in a culture that will not accept individuals for who they are. Many countries (Ireland, Argentina, Denmark, Nepal, Germany, New Zealand, Australia, et al.) recognize non-binary genders and allow individuals to self-identify. May that come to pass all around the world so that when people tell us who they are, we honor them rather than seek to mold or remold them into something or someone other than who they are.
As Unitarian Universalists, may we be a model for our religious counterparts around the world—proving that we really do “cherish diversity” and “seek to cultivate justice.” And may we be a model of the principle that honors the worth and dignity of others—exactly as they are. Female. Male. Non-binary. Gender Non-Conforming. Genderqueer. Trans. Or any other term that represents where a person exists along the spectrum of gender identity.
We plan to offer another showing of Gender Revolution at our Salisbury Gathering and another in the Davidson area as well. Hope you can be there if you missed our first two offerings of this great documentary.
May you be who you are—freely and wholeheartedly!
Love one another, beloveds.
Rev. Mary Frances