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Presbyterian committee says ‘dehumanizing’ treatment of transgender military personnel must end

Supreme Court: President’s policy can stand while lower courts hear arguments

by Mike Ferguson | Presbyterian News Service

Faith leaders gather outside of the U.S. Supreme Court building last summer. (Photo by Jessie Palatucci)

LOUISVILLE — Following the Jan. 22 Supreme Court ruling that President Donald Trump’s transgender military ban can remain in effect while lower courts hear arguments for and against the policy, the PC(USA)’s Advocacy Committee for Women’s Concerns is demanding “an end to the dehumanizing attempt at erasing some of God’s own children.”

“We join our voices with those of our partners in ministry both within the PC(USA) and beyond to affirm that all people are created in the image of God and should be treated with dignity and respect,” the committee said in a statement.

According to a CNN report, the Trump policy blocks, with limited exceptions, people from serving in the military who have been diagnosed with gender dysphoria, which the American Psychiatric Association defines as “a conflict between a person’s physical or assigned gender and the gender with which he/she/they identify.” Under the policy, people without gender dysphoria may serve, but only if they do so in the sex they were assigned at birth.

JoAnne Sharp, co-moderator of the PC(USA)’s Advisory Committee for Women’s Concerns, said that theologian Karl Barth had it right when he said Christians must “do theology with the Bible in one hand, and the newspaper in the other.”

Courtney Hoekstra, Associate for Advocacy Committee Support, said that when the ACWC “recognizes something in the church or the world that violates our denomination’s commitments to justice for women, they are called to speak up.”

Transwomen, she said, “are perhaps the most vulnerable members of our society, and the PC(USA) via the last General Assembly has made it clear that we simply can’t be silent about any sort of diminishing of our siblings’ reflection of our Creator’s image any longer.”

The 223rd General Assembly (2018) affirmed “the church’s obligation to stand for the right of people of all gender identities to live free from discrimination, violence and every form of injustice.” It also encouraged PC(USA) congregations “to welcome transgender and gender non-binary people into the life of the church and to continue to grow in compassion and knowledge about the full expression of our individual and respective gender identities.”

The statement of the Advocacy Committee for Women’s Concerns is as follows:

“With the Jan. 22 ruling of the Supreme Court to implement the Trump administration’s policy banning transgender persons from serving in the United States military, we join our voices with those of our partners in ministry both within the PC(USA) and beyond to affirm that all people are created in the image of God and should be treated with dignity and respect.

“The 223rd General Assembly (2018) specifically affirmed and celebrated the fullness of the humanity and the dignity of people of all gender identities, even while acknowledging that the church has in the past ‘participated in systemic and targeted discrimination against transgender people … and been complicit in violence against them’ (Item 11-12). Empowered by the work of the Holy Spirit through our General Assembly, we will be complicit no more.

“It is exceptionally appropriate that (following) the week when we celebrate(d) the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., we are able to raise our voices in a cry for justice, to break our silence as a denomination, and to demand an end to the dehumanizing attempt at erasing some of God’s own children.”


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