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Deciding to Build

A large trans flag is held aloft at the 2019 Rally to Protect Trans Health, at the White House, Washington, DC.

The first time I was told that I was too queer to be a congregation's minister, they asked, "What will the neighbors think?,” as if it were the most natural question in the world.

It was then that I understood how grace works: it’s costly. It requires us to be uncomfortable, to get outside ourselves, to go all in.

I decided that I didn't want a wishy-washy faith: one that uses me to signal virtue (“We’re so enlightened! We supported same-sex marriage!”), as if it's a contest to see who can hold the most correct positions—and not my life they're talking about. Where were they when a transwoman was murdered in Montgomery?, or when a queer couple was denied the right to adopt children?, or when Congress failed yet again to pass an employment non-discrimination act that would keep people like me from being fired just for who we are?, or when a teenager, despondent when their parents told them to get the hell out of their house, took an overdose of their antidepressants?

I don’t want a faith that cares more about what conservative neighbors (who would never join us anyway) think more than caring about affirming my humanity; who understand that throwing your lot in with marginalized people requires more than talking about your friendship with the lesbian couple down the street.

I don’t want a faith that wordsmiths my truth, that asks why it’s necessary to use the words that best describe my experience as a queer person. I don’t need help finding alternative words that might go over better with strangers. I need my siblings in faith to notice their discomfort in hearing about my experiences, and use it as a catalyst to action rather than as a way to cement their own comfort.

I want a faith that doesn’t consider me as a “queer minister,” but rather does its damndest to live up to our professed values. I want a faith that centers my voice—and others like me, when necessary; that doesn't think that decades of marginalization can be erased with a few good deeds.

I don’t want a faith that claims to be universalist, but constantly judges some of us for the sin of not conforming to ideas of who we should be.

Instead, I want to build this faith. I'll do it with my own two hands if I have to. If I pick up some friends along the way, maybe we just might be able to build something spectacular together.