I have been shouted at by angry, threatening men in a shopping mall.
I have had rocks thrown at me from a passing pick-up truck on the Golden Gate Bridge.
With the San Francisco Night Ministry, I have repeatedly encountered my transgendered sisters and brothers on the corners of Polk Street or Larkin…selling their bodies at two o’clock in the morning, because they have no other way to support themselves.
And I know that my transgendered brothers and sisters are killed in this country at the rate of one a month.
A few years back I attended the funeral of a young teen, Gwen Araujo, who was killed in Newark, California just because she was transgendered.
Also at that funeral were the “Rev.” Fred Phelps and his followers, shouting through their bullhorns “Gwen is burning in hell!”
As fate would have it – God’s serendipity – the students at Gwen’s Newark High School were at the time in the midst of rehearsing “The Laramie Project,” which features a chorus of angels. The members of that chorus came to the funeral in their angels’ garb – white robes and wings – and formed a cordon from the street to the church entrance to protect Gwen’s mom Sylvia and the other mourners from Phelps’ haters.
I tell you all this to impress upon you how vulnerable transgender people are to hate, discrimination, and violence. We desperately need the added protection that would be afforded by our inclusion in hate crimes and employment discrimination legislation.
I come before you to urge your support for two resolutions before you that would put our church on record in support of such legislation.
For me, this is not an abstract issue. It is a matter of life and death.
In closing, let me say I have heard those who have told us to “wait your turn.” I have also heard those who have advised us to “accept half a loaf.” To them and to you, I ask: “Do I look like half a human being?”
- The Rev'd Deacon Vicki Gray