Today I had the opportunity to reflect on the way religion teaches society to treat the GLBT community. For those of us within this outcast segment of society, this will come as no surprise, but for those who do not define themselves as a member of our community, I'm sure that this will either be a source of surprise that I could equate these seemingly disparate issues, or an outright denial.
What started me on this topic was a news release I read about the plea bargain in the murder of Amancio Corralles’ (a female impersonator in Yuma Arizona). Here is the case of Ruben Solorio, someone who stabbed and beat a person to death and then dumped the body. Ruben confessed to the crime, so it should be a no-brainer that he at least goes to jail for life right? No, in fact he isn't even facing murder charges. Not even manslaughter, he plead guilty to attempted manslaughter with aggravated circumstances, this for a man that has a violent criminal past. What was it about the case that caused such a light plea deal, was it a lack of evidence, some technicality? No, it had nothing to do with the strength of the case at all; it's all about the victim. The victim tricked him into thinking "he" was a "she", after all, shouldn't we all expect anyone to go into a rage over being "tricked" like this. Obviously, it was the victims fault, just like it's the rape victims fault for getting raped if she was dressed provocatively, right (sarcasm)? It's funny that society does it's best to keep us in the closet. Society finds us sick and even repulsive. Society says we are second class citizens, our lives aren't worth quite as much as those in the straight community, just like this case exemplifies. Is it any wonder that a transgender person isn't always forthright about themselves? Do all straight people tell everything about themselves at their first meeting? If I went into a rage because I was with a straight person that represented him or herself as a trans person, would it be more understandable if I killed him or her?
So now back to religion and what does this case have to do with religion? The views that many (not all) organized religions teach society is that all GLBT people are sinners, we are all immoral, we should not be afforded the same rights as a "moral" society just for who we were born to be. It is exactly these teachings, these exclusionary policies that are the reason society allows death to persevere in the GLBT society. Through the churches teaching of "morality", here is what it is promoting:
· 40% of the homeless youth living on the streets are GLBT, there because "moral" parents kicked them out.
· 30% suicide rates among gay and lesbian youth. Why would anyone want to continue living as the "abomination" they are taught that they are, knowing they will never be able to change?
· 50% suicide rate for transgender teens, for the same reason listed above. (These rates do tend to be cut in half for those that actually live through their teen years.)
· For some people, these same "moral teachings" lead them to shooting incidents like in Knoxville Tennessee, and violent murders like the one that killed Corralles'.
I don't want to give the impression that I don't believe in God, I am a practicing Christian and I am comfortable in my relationship with God. I am a transgender woman that is willing to face God's judgment of me when the time comes, knowing that I have done my best to make the world a better place. For all those people trying to live moral lives according to the religious principles that they learned from their church:
· Are you ready to tell God that you did your best to make the world a better place by ignoring the suicide rates of GLBT people because "they are sinners, so their lives don't really matter"?
· Are you ready to tell God that you made society better by excluding GLBT people from the basic rights afforded to straight people like same sex marriage? To tell him that by marginalizing all those "sinners", making it easier to discriminate against them, that the world is better off?
· Can you look upon God and tell him that "I rejected GLBT people just like the Bible told me to, I wouldn't look at them, I turned away from them and let everyone else know that are an abomination. I helped society reject and discriminate against them."
Anytime that GLBT people are excluded from any aspect of society, the people that took part in their exclusion told society that their lives don't mean as much. They told society that it's OK to reject them. It's OK for parents to kick their children out. It's OK that GLBT people kill themselves in large part because of the message these same people espouse. They even helped send the message of hate that causes incidents like the shooting at the Knoxville Unitarian Universalist Church. The same message of hate that caused a transgender woman in Greeley Colorado to be beaten in the head with a fire extinguisher until the killer "thought he killed it" but then when he heard a gurgling noise, so he hit "it" again. I always thought that the Bible was a book of learning, yet what I see in society is the Bible being used as a weapon again and again. When you practice your faith, when you decide how to treat others different than you, ask yourself if God really wants your actions to result in the death of many. Should you be their judge, or leave it to someone with a higher authority.