Author and activist Jamie Bruesehoff is a guest of hosts Simon Doong and the Rev. Lee Catoe
February 21, 2024
Jamie Bruesehoff, a recent guest on “A Matter of Faith: A Presby Podcast,” recalled the first day her transgender daughter, Rebekah, came to church as herself. The one person whom Bruesehoff feared might cause problems for her and her husband, the pastor of the church, made a beeline for her following worship.
“I held my breath,” she told “A Matter of Faith” co-hosts Simon Doong and the Rev. Lee Catoe. “He said, ‘Listen. I don’t understand this whole transgender thing, but she used to hide behind you and refuse to say hello to me on a Sunday morning. Today she ran up to me, twirled in her dress and gave me a high-five. What more is there to know?’”
“That is the foundation for the work we do for creating that space,” said Bruesehoff, author of “Raising Kids Beyond the Binary: Celebrating God’s Transgender and Gender-Diverse Children.” “How do we move this from issues to human beings, to seeing the humanity in each of us and creating space where we don’t need to check all the boxes and say the right things, but we’re still trying to keep people safe.”
“That’s what’s cool about communities of faith,” she said. “I think they’re one of the rare places where we are in community with people who believe differently. That’s a beautiful gift but only if we have a mind toward safety.”
The hosts opened with this question: What specific gifts or opportunities do faith communities bring to the table in terms of inclusion and acceptance for transgender and gender-diverse children?
“Before I answer, I want to flip the question on its head: What specific gifts do gender-diverse and transgender children bring to faith communities?” Bruesehoff said. “The world right now … is a pretty scary place, especially for transgender and gender-diverse children. People of faith have done and continue to do the most significant harm to this community, personally and politically,” but “people of faith are in a unique position to mitigate that harm. It is up to people of faith to boldly, loudly and faithfully celebrate transgender and gender-diverse people of all ages, but especially young people — to change the narrative and to say these young people are not mistakes, that God does not make mistakes.”
“These children and young people were created in the image of God to be exactly who they know themselves to be,” Bruesehoff said, “and that is a beautiful gift to everyone in relationship with them and to their faith communities.”
“There’s so much to be celebrated,” she said, “in the way that we are made better by being in community with all kinds of God’s people.” Bruesehoff called herself “a cisgender parent of a transgender child who has taught me more about what it means to be in community with people, to love the person in front of me for who they are and not who I thought they were or who I expected them to be and has taught me more about the God who created us.”
On “a more nitty-gritty level, when we look at raising gender-expansive kids, it’s listening to them, following their lead, and letting them be who they are. … When my daughter transitioned, I think both for myself and my spouse there was never any question of loving and supporting our child for being who she was. But we had a lot of fear about the world around her — about what life was going to be like and about how people were going to respond to her. That’s real.” She said the book includes “practical stuff about how to navigate that, how to talk to families, your church and your school, and how to make sure you’re centering that child and not putting that fear on them.”
Listen to previous editions of “A Matter of Faith: A Presby Podcast” here.
Mike Ferguson, Editor, Presbyterian News Service
Today’s Focus: ‘A Matter of Faith: A Presby Podcast’
Let us join in prayer for:
Let us pray
Gracious God, we give thanks that you call us to share Christ’s message of salvation and liberation with all your people. Help us to encourage and enhance each other’s’ efforts, just as you multiply the gifts we share. Amen.