The beating of two transgender women on MARTA on May 20th was despicable and degrading. But sadly, it happens again and again because the transgender community is laughed at, scorned and made fun of. In my own community their needs are only dealt with as an afterthought.
In the world we live in today there is no “safe way” to be transgender: Some are living very out lives, and some are living fully “stealth” lives. Some are identifying as male, some as female and some as both and neither. Some live in small towns, and some in our metropolitan area. There are things we can do and must do, if the beatings, assaults and killing is to stop.
I would encourage our community and friends to:
- Educate ourselves about transgender people and the issues which go with that.
- Let us be aware of our attitudes concerning people with gender-atypical appearance or behavior.
- Let us make more than a good faith effort to use names and pronouns that are appropriate to the person’s gender presentation and identity.
- Let us not make assumptions about transgender people’s sexual orientation, desire for surgical or hormonal treatment, or other aspects of their identity or transition plans.
- Let us keep the lines of communication open with the transgender person(s) in our lives.
- Let us become more aware of the things which would make life easier and the transition smoother, i.e., markers on drivers licenses, applications and forms.
- Let us not just sit on our lack of knowledge and understanding. Let us seek out support in dealing with our feelings. This is the 21st century and there are plenty of resources for us to get help.
I also affirm this day the call put forth by the SNaP Coalition‘s demands:
We are asking that the community bring these men forward and that a process of transformative justice be pursued. We would demand these men attend a Men Stopping Violence course, are made to do community service in support of an LGBT community organization, and be confronted directly by the women they harmed and the larger community and made to hear the impact they have had.
But most importantly, we call on the institutions who are supposed to protect and serve all of us to take this as a call to action and transform the way they do business. The City of Atlanta should be deeply disturbed by the acts of harassment and violence endured by trans* women both at the hands of the Atlanta Police Department in Midtown and other neighborhoods that have recently been brought to light and by the general public on trains, buses, and on the streets. Our lives matter, trans* lives matter and we will no longer be silent or swept aside. Enough is Enough!
Rev. Paul M. Turner
Founding and Senior Pastor of Gentle Spirit Christian Church and Editor-in-Chief of Whosoever, Rev. Paul M. Turner (he/him) grew up in suburban Chicago and was ordained by the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches in 1989. He was called to Atlanta in 1994 to pastor All Saints MCC. Five years later he founded Gentle Spirit Christian Church. He lives in Decatur with his husband Bill, who he met in 1982 while living and working in Ohio and legally married in 2015.