Sep172014
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Featured Articles

A Nation’s Tipping Point: A Time to Talk

By James and Evelyn Whitehead

Time Magazine provided the official announcement: the cover story, with a picture of Laverne Cox, transgender member of the Orange is the New Black series, declared: “The Nation’s Transition.” (June 9, 2014) In the previous months citizens of many vocations—scientists and novelists, priests and professors—were coming out as trans- gender members of society. Old prejudices were dissolving; laws of non-discrimination were multiplying.

Trans Information

1%: Approximately one-percent of persons experience themselves as gender-diverse, that is, as not conforming to traditional categories of exclusively masculine or feminine. This may be so small a percent as to be irrelevant: “what has this to do with me?” But if I myself or my child or my spouse or a sibling is included in this percentage, this is no small matter. Because of widespread cultural sensitivity concerning gender, these persons are often seen as marginal—misfits or outcasts.

Forsaking the Normal: Biblical Tales of Transformation

We go to the Christian Scriptures for guidance in our moral lives. What are the norms we should follow? In search of the normal, we instead find the Bible telling endless stories about paradox, reversals of fortune, and transformation. Yet, convinced that diversity represents defect or signals deviance, we cling to the belief that the normal will keep us on the straight and narrow. The church conspires in this longing, interpreting biblical passages (“male and female God created them”) to insist on a normal that admits no variance.

Graceful Bodies and the Play of Gender

It is you who formed my inmost parts. You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139)

Catholics of an earlier generation were taught that as infants we begin life already marked by original sin. This wound, we learned, stains the soul and is registered in the body, particularly in the lustful urges that may lead to sins of the flesh. We begin life as damaged goods.

Transgender Lives and Catholic Hospitality

Transgender lives remain invisible to most Americans. Throughout history, different social groupings have been assigned to the boundaries of society where they remain largely out of sight. In the novel Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison uses this metaphor to capture the cultural status of African-Americans in mid-century America. Gays and lesbians remained for many decades in concealment, in darkened closets or segregated colonies, until the events at Stonewall in 1969 propelled them into full view. Erin Swenson, a transgender Presbyterian minister, remarks that “the transgendered in our congregations are invisible and will remain invisible until it is clear that they are accepted.” Recent dramatic changes in American society have begun to usher the transgender community into the healing light.

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Highlights of DignityUSA's History

2002
On January 13, the board of directors meets by teleconference. Topics of discussion included our upcoming first national election, as well as reports from other board committees. Director Linda Rieder reports that a Parents and Friends Advisory Board is in the planning stages to encourage greater participation of potential non-gay supporters.