Transgender and Catholic: Nick Stevens

1bscOViayn-jumboThe following was originally posted by the NYTimes on Transgender Today.  Nick Stevens a member of the Call to Action 20/30 Community.

Transgender and Catholic. These two words often aren’t used in the same sentence (at least in a positive way), but these words best describe who I am.

Yes, I’m a Roman Catholic in an increasingly secular world. But I’m also a Catholic in a transgender community who has often experienced religion as a mask for bigotry or even violence.

So when I came out as a transgender male at my small Catholic college in St. Louis I feared my peers would not respond well. Whether it was reactions of hesitation or outright exclusion, I knew things would change.

And things did change. But for the better.

My Catholic peers not only tolerated, but embraced me.

Even my grandmother, who is a traditional Catholic, gave me her blessing. In her words and actions, she communicated to me the fundamental truths of our faith: that God made us to be who we are, and if we aren’t being true to ourselves, then we aren’t being true to God.

Her acceptance was a testament to God’s unfailing love, and it allowed me to be true to myself.

I now work with a Catholic non-profit that promotes the social mission of the Church in public life. My co-workers affirm, respect, and support my gender identity. I also live in an intentional Catholic community committed to the values of social justice, simple living, and peace.

Those who believe the Church will never include LGBT people are blind to a Church that already does. Catholics who include and embrace the LGBT community aren’t acting contrary to the faith, but in accordance with the faith’s highest values.

My Catholic faith provides the moral foundation of my life. It’s taught me the value of radical inclusivity, particularly those who are discriminated against because of where they came from, how they identify or who they love.

I’ve witnessed for myself the home that the Catholic Church can provide to the LGBT community. So it pains me to see headline after headline of transgender people who have been victims of violence, particularly in the name of religion.

And I won’t stop working towards a Church that welcomes all and excludes none.

Why? Because this is my faith. And this the faith of the Church.

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