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News Archive (2014)

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.

Publications Committee Chair’s Note

By Leo N. Egashira,
DignityUSA Publications Committee Chair

DignityUSA thanks the Whiteheads for writing these thought-provoking, hopeful essays on Transgender Spirituality, a topic that challenges the boundaries of traditional Catholic thinking and one that speaks to the very core of DignityUSA’s mission. Special thanks are due to DignityUSA Secretary, Mary Kaye Radtke, for her professional photos. Three of the essays are compiled herein; three more will be featured in the next issue of QV.

DignityUSA Protests Role of Msgr. Tony Anatrella in Extraordinary Synod on Family, Calls for His Removal

Boston, MA. September 10, 2014. DignityUSA, the nation’s leading organization of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Catholics and allies, is outraged that Msgr. Tony Anatrella has been appointed as one of the “Collaborators of the Special Secretary” at the upcoming Extraordinary Synod on the Family, a worldwide meeting of Catholic Church officials that will set the agenda for the full Synod on the Family that will take place in 2015.

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Work in the Vineyard

In the northeast, fall brings on colder weather. In other areas of the country, the weather may be kinder. It is time to get back to work, to focus on what we said can wait until fall. If someone asked us in June whether we could help out on a project, many of us may have said, "Could you get back to us in the fall?"

Now is the time. DignityUSA depends on all its volunteers, from its Board of Directors, committee members, and other volunteers who commit themselves to one project, which can consist of a small project or phone call, because they are an expert in their field. 

Psalms, Sex, and Shame

By Daniel Holnes, Dignity/New York

Growing up, reading the book of Psalms was always a special treat for me. It was the only book in the Bible that made me blush. So many of the poems contemplate their speaker’s struggles with faith as manifested in carnal desire and action. I would read it and hide my face so no one could see it turning red, ashamed, in a way, of what it revealed in me: the same doubts, questions, and desires King David had in his heart.

Becoming Church and Eucharist Together

By Sam Albano, DUSA Young Adult Caucus Secretary

In recent weeks, two stories from the gospels have captivated me. In the “Feeding of the Multitude,” Jesus’ disciples were confronted with hungry crowds, but had only two fish and five loaves of bread to offer them. ...  At the Last Supper, Jesus knelt down to wash the disciples’ feet and instructed them that they were now to do likewise. ... Reflecting on our recent young adult retreat, these two stories offer some insight into the meaning of this wonderful weekend.