“Living authentically takes courage, strength, and above all, faith,” said Rev. Paul Langston-Daley, in an email to supporters of the Unitarian Universalist Association’s (UUA) Standing on the Side of Love campaign.
His words resonate with me, because they are at once encouraging, yet terribly sad. Sad because as Unitarian Universalists and other people of faith commemorate International Transgender Day of Remembrance, I am reminded that in a society still clinging to rigid ideas about gender, our siblings who are gender non-conforming risk their very lives just to honor their authentic selves.
Anti-transgender violence is a stunning epidemic, embodying the darkest aspects of human nature. Perpetrators of such violence have succumbed to the moral plagues of fear, hatred, and cruelty, turning away from love and compassion. Sadly, the victims of their murderous rage are too often forgotten by society at large. They leave behind friends, family, and an entire community who also feel targeted.
Despite this, I am encouraged. I hold fiercely to the belief that our society is becoming more compassionate and aware. Unitarian Universalists are joined by like-minded people every day who value the inherent dignity and worth of all. We have much work to do, and progress is slow, but I believe we will win this fight.
Unitarian Universalists have long dreamed of a society in which our most valued qualities are those of character. Now we must do more than dream. As long as anyone is harassed or ridiculed, we must demand an end to the bullying. As long as anyone is judged because of their gender identification or presentation, we must insist on a higher moral standard. And if, God forbid, anyone is ever again physically harmed or murdered because of his or her gender identity or expression, we must rise up and seek justice.
We must put our faith into action, not just on this day of remembrance, but every day. In memory of those who have been murdered, to all who feel their loss, and to all who still struggle with oppression, you are not alone. We are with you, standing on the side of love.