Wrestling with the Church As an African-American Transgender Woman

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Friday, 23 March 2012 18:40

Wrestling with the Church As an African-American Transgender Woman

Written by  Toni Newman
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As an African-American transgender woman, I am spiritually sensitive and truthful, yet many religious organizations and churches reject and ostracize the transgender individual.

Many churches claim that the life of the transgender person is doomed and headed to hell. The accusation of the church is that the transgender person lives in darkness and shame.

I was raised in a strict, Christian home by God-fearing parents, with the love and support of a strong church family. The Bible, the word of God, was our guide to following the teachings of Jesus Christ. As a family we were deeply involved in the church and were taught to live by the teachings of Jesus Christ. I enjoyed my 18 years in the church, because it taught me to be truthful and honest, to treat others with love, and to always love the Lord.

I knew even during this time, from the age of 6, that I was a different bird and a special child, but I did not have the knowledge to identify my inner feelings, which I now recognize as confusion around my gender identity. The church says transgender people are living a life of deceit and untruthfulness, against God's will, according to the Holy Word of God. Religious leaders and pastors have told me many times that the fact that I'm transgender will bring shame on the church and be offensive to many within the church body. But my response has always been this: how can truth and light be wrong in any individual's life? The Bible speaks of telling the truth and living in the light, and that is exactly what I have done for the last 20 years. I am condemned for being honest with myself and others, while as a street prostitute/escort/mistress I engaged in activities with men, some highly respected and revered, who will deny even today that these activities occurred.

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Writer, law school student, and author, 'I Rise: The Transformation of Toni Newman'


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