Opinion: Embracing God’s creation: A call for love and acceptance for transgender youth

A gay pride rainbow flag flies along with the U.S. flag in front of the Asbury United Methodist Church in Prairie Village, Kan., in April 2019.

A gay pride rainbow flag flies along with the U.S. flag in front of the Asbury United Methodist Church in Prairie Village, Kan., in April 2019. Charlie Riedel / AP file


Published: 04-01-2024 7:00 AM

Rev. Sara Marean is the New Hampshire Conference, United Church of Christ’s Associate Conference Minister. Rev. Eric Marean has served UCC congregations in Minnesota, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire. They live in Nelson with their three children.

We write this letter as ordained United Church of Christ ministers, as leaders within our denomination, and most importantly, as parents to a beloved trans teenager. We love our daughter and we celebrate the tenacity and vision she has to live into the person God made her to be. And we celebrate her, knowing the hurdles she must overcome simply to gain acceptance to be that God-created person.

Since 1985 our denomination, the United Church of Christ, has been open to, and affirming of, the LGBTQ+ community. On Oct. 15, 2022, the New Hampshire Conference of the United Church of Christ recommitted to welcoming transgender, gender-non-conforming, non-binary, and intersex people and their families into the full life and ministry of our places of worship and study, and encouraged all its settings to do the same.

We made this commitment not in spite of our faith, or opposed to it, but rather because of it. In our sacred text, the Holy Bible, we hear again and again the words of God declaring that creation is good. Simply put, our transgender and non-binary brothers and sisters are part of this vast and beautiful creation, beloved in God’s sight, in the fullness and sacredness of who they are as they are. They are not in need of converting to anything different to be seen as good in God’s eyes.

Our teacher, leader and savior Jesus Christ welcomed all to be with him, rejecting those who would place barriers between and among human beings. Just like Jesus, we believe that all human beings are in need of supportive, affirming communities in order to live in health and wholeness, especially those who have known rejection and violence. Our trans children deserve to be loved and affirmed for who they are and encouraged to see themselves as beautiful and whole, no matter their gender expression. They deserve access to health care that compassionately helps them to live into the people God has called them to be. They deserve access to the places and spaces that reflect who they are.

We come to these conclusions and beliefs because of our faith and because we have experienced firsthand God’s voice and presence in our trans siblings. When transgender, gender-non-conforming, non-binary, and intersex people are welcomed into our churches, accepted and embraced for the ways they reflect the face of God, they have become beloved members and leaders of our churches, offering valuable ministries as both laity and clergy. We are richer for their presence in our midst.

The recent slew of legislation from the New Hampshire State House targeting transgender teenagers and their families has a direct impact on us and so many like us across the state. As parents, these threats have made us question whether we need to leave New Hampshire, a state we love, just to access appropriate health care for our daughter. As New Hampshire citizens and taxpayers, these bills have made us question our state motto “live free or die” and for whom that sentiment actually applies.

As devout Christians and those tasked with teaching religious principles, these legislative attacks have made us question the terrible ways our faith has been used to marginalize and demonize those who already carry the burden of living in a world of bigotry and hatred.

We are not alone in our concern. The Republican Governor of Utah, Spencer J. Cox, in vetoing a bill that banned transgender high school students from sports teams that reflect their gender identity, wrote, “Rarely has so much fear and anger been directed at so few. I don’t understand what they are going through or why they feel the way they do. But I want them to live. And all the research shows that even a little acceptance and connection can reduce suicidality significantly.”

“Acceptance and connection” are the minimum of what we can and should offer our trans children in NH. This year, Trans Day of Visibility fell on March 31, which also happens to be Easter. It seems so appropriate that a day of resurrection hope, a day when we lift the miracles God is able to bring about, of life over death, of love over hatred, is also a day when all God’s children, each one of them made in the image of our Creator, are celebrated for who they are.

Our prayer is that a resurrection of love and acceptance for our transgender children and their families may be felt and experienced in our State House as well.