Friday, November 20, 2015

Observing TDoR

So, are you observing TDoR today?
Oh, maybe you don’t know what TDoR is. Well, neither did I until quite recently. But it seems to be something worth knowing about and thinking about.
TDoR stands for Transgender Day of Remembrance. It has been an annual observance on November 20 for several years now.
TDoR was begun in November 1999 as a vigil to honor the memory of Rita Hester, a 34-year-old trans woman who was mysteriously found murdered inside her first floor apartment outside of Boston on Nov. 28, 1998.
The vigil commemorated all the transgender people lost to violence that year—and that has been the same for each year since. So far this year, there have been at least 21 transgender people murdered in the U.S. (Check out this article from the Human Rights Campaign.)
There will be TDoR events today all over the U.S.—and in a few other countries as well. I plan to attend the one being held this evening on the campus of the University of Arizona.
In addition to the numerous murders, there is also an extremely high rate of suicide, or attempted suicide, of trans people.
According to an August article in USA Today, “Suicide attempts are alarmingly common among transgender individuals . . . 41% try to kill themselves at some point in their lives, compared with 4.6% of the general public.”
So TDoR should be a time of remembrance not only for those who were murdered but also for those who committed suicide because of being bullied, teased, ridiculed, and/or rejected—and many are rejected even by their own parents.
According to National Center for Transgender Equality (see this link), “one in five transgender individuals have experienced homelessness at some point in their lives.”
In this article, a trans man, talking about the suicide of a high school trans person last December, acknowledges “his own childhood experiences of rejection by parents, church community, and religious leaders.”
So I come back to the book I mentioned in my previous blog article, “Al Mohler’s We Cannot Be Silent: Speaking Truth to a Culture Redefining Sex, Marriage, and the Very Meaning of Right and Wrong.
Mohler is not only against same-sex marriage but very negative toward acceptance of transgender people also. His fifth chapter is titled “The Transgender Revolution,” which he opposes, of course.
In that chapter, Mohler cites Denny Burk, a professor of Biblical Studies at Boyce College (the undergraduate arm of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary), who co-authored the resolution “On Transgender Identity” that the Southern Baptist Convention passed in June of last year.
That resolution, which passed with little discussion, expresses opposition to any form of physical gender transition, as well as any governmental or cultural validations of transgender identities.
It seems to me that what Mohler and Southern Baptists as well as many other conservative evangelicals write and say about transgender people just exacerbates the mistreatment of such people.
But the U.S. House of Representatives is speaking up. On Tuesday of this week they launched a task force dedicated to issues of transgender equality. Mike Honda (D-Calif.) will chair the new group. That afternoon they also held the first-ever forum on transgender issues.
According to this article, “The violence against the transgender community is a national crisis,” Honda said. “Far too often, they face harassment, discrimination or violence for simply being who they are. . . . After 21 deaths of transgender individuals because of violence this year alone, Congress must take notice and act.”
Today, TDoR, is a good time to affirm and support trans people.


  1. Timely. This is fast becoming an issue in Japan and the Japanese church, too.

  2. Excellent, Leroy! Thanks for the essay.

  3. Thinking Friend Glenn Hinson gave permission for me to post his email comments here:

    "I didn’t know about the Transgender Day of Remembrance, Leroy, but I live
    too close to Mohler not to pick up on his views. He has the pulse of the
    prejudicial thinking among Southern Baptists. Sadly, such thinking causes
    great harm to people who do not fit his 'norms' for what is human or

  4. People panic about many things. Sometimes there is a real problem behind the panic, such as the panic about the recent ISIS attack in Paris. Even then, panic is not the best response, but it is a start. Frequently, however, panic comes with no associated danger except the unknown. Sometimes we tell ghost stories so we can enjoy a little panic. Other times we start witch hunts which spawn murderous panics. Sometimes we enjoy looking in the mirror. Other times we will kill to avoid looking in the mirror.

    Science and experience have shown us that human sexuality comes with several moving parts which do not always line up in expected male or female packages. We find different aspects of our sexuality in our DNA, body types, gender identity and sexual orientation. Maybe even a couple of others we have not sorted out yet. Once we get a handle on this idea then we can come to accept that some people will simply be put together differently from the majority. Indeed, these unique people frequently have unique gifts that make them valuable members of a society that will embrace them.

    Many people are not ready to consider this level of ambiguity in either themselves, or in others. Tolerance for ambiguity is an admirable quality in civilized people, but it is not an historic norm. Even within religion, there is a long standing tension between ritual purity and compassionate love. In the end, ritual purity is a tool box, like hammers and saws, not an end in itself. Love is the great commandment, and any time purity laws conflict with love, love must be chosen first. Jesus ate with publicans, talked with adulteresses, let a prostitute wash his feet, and praised the good Samaritan. Yet there are those who think He would not have loved LGBT persons. He not only loves them, He even loves those who cannot understand such love. As is written in Isaiah 58:6-7: "Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin?" Our own kin, the transgendered, are before us!

    1. Craig, I am late in responding, but I heartily agree with Anton. Many thanks for your noteworthy contribution to this blog through your substantial comments!