When I first came to Clemson and began my first studio classes, I met a man who was once a girl, also known as a transgender person. It was the first time I had met someone of this orientation. The first day of class I went home and looked up the definition of transgender, yes I was a little tadpole in this large pond of a world. Everything was so new, He was new, and I can honestly say that I was caught off guard, confused and judgmental. I can blame my condemnatory mindset on being raised as a conservative bible belter, which engendered fear of anything and everything unknown or different. But really (it pains me to admit) I was just ignorant.
Over these years, through long hours in the studio and hearing his story through his art, I opened up to meeting him and learning about who he was, where he was, his struggles, his change, and basically his life just like any other friend.
Today I stumbled across this article and was curious about Pope Francis' response to an issue that is so relevant yet often pushed under the pretty church rug.
Transgenders do not feel truly accepted in many settings, communities and institutions and especially churches. Though the church claimes to be loving just as Christ loved, today's church (as a whole, yet there are always exceptions) is not showing love or acceptance to those who feel isolated. Why should the church be as judgmental, unloving and critical as the world?
The man in the article, Neria, after years of rejection and scorn by the church, felt that the Pope would not accept him. "I felt that he would not listen to me"
Neri asked whether, after his transition, whether there is " a corner in the House of God" for someone like hime, And he said Pope Francis embraced him.
This is beautiful.
So now here I sit considering this transition in the church: I am a female, someone that a century ago was seen as less than, and I am heterosexual, but I am a sinner. I am a sinner like everyone else. So, hey all you sinners, lets embrace this change, a change that would let another group of people feel welcome and loved in what should be the most welcoming house in the world! Thank you Pope Francis for reminding us that the church should be a big ol' group hug.