Over 50%. The words cut like a knife. Over 50% of Iowans support bans on gender-affirming care for kids and LGBTQ teaching limits in schools. Over 50%. For those of you good with fractions, that means over half of the people I, and so many other LGBTQ+ Iowans share geography with support these bans.
Now I know that by the numbers, there are more registered Republicans in the state than there are registered Democrats. There are also a huge number of people in the state (more than those registered with a particular party) who are unaffiliated with any party. Which means that these issues are more than just "party line" issues. Which, in some ways I think, might make this harder to wrap my head around.
But in other ways, it's easy to understand. Because even if people aren't aligned with one party or another, and even if they aren't aligned with one particular faith background or another, people are a part of the current culture. And the current culture is full of people who vote on issues rather along party lines, as well as people who are "culturally Christian;" those brought up in the church or around Christianity, whose faith now is more social than spiritual. These same folks tend to lift out and keep certain pieces of their faith and scripture while having no trouble leaving others behind.
Which means that this "over 50%" of our neighbors and friends might be people who can't reconcile what they know about faith and God and creation with the existence of trans* people. Maybe some of you who don't necessarily identify as "culturally Christian" might also be struggling to reconcile your faith and what you know of God and creation with the existence of trans* people. If so, then I want to help you and others get a better understanding.
Over the next few weeks I will be addressing common issues related to God, faith, creation, and the trans* experience in a series I am calling "Trans* is the Word." I pray you will come to each blog post with an open mind and heart, and that somehow, in sharing these posts with you, you'll come to share them with others too. Perhaps this is the way we move from "over 50%" to under it.
Trans* is the Word these days, dear siblings. Let's at least talk about it.
Rev. Melissa Sternhagen
Rev. Melissa Sternhagen was called as the pastor of St. Paul Congregational UCC in June of 2020. Prior to her call to St. Paul, Pr. Melissa worked as a hospice chaplain in the Ames, IA area, following pastorates at rural churches in Central Iowa and Southern Illinois. Pr. Melissa is a second-career pastor with a background in agribusiness and production & supply operations. She received her M.Div. from Eden Theological Seminary in St. Louis, MO, and holds a MA Ed. in Adult Education and Training, and a BA in Organizational Communications.