There’s a reason BMC changed its name from the Brethren Mennonite Council for Gay and Lesbian Concerns. And I’m not talking about bisexuality — though that calls for a blog post of its own. I’m not talking about sexual orientation in any capacity, actually. Throw out homosexuality, heterosexuality, bisexuality, asexuality, homoflexibility, pansexuality, heteroflexibility, etc. I’m talking about gender. Not sex, not sexual orientation, not sexuality, but gender. I’d like to repeat one bit of that — not sex, but gender - as in transgender.
Perhaps it’s all those Sociology courses I took in college finally getting the best of me, but I’ve reached the limit of how many times I can read sex and gender being interchanged in the Church of the Brethren and Mennonite Church. [Sex refers to one’s biology, whereas gender refers to one’s presentation and identity] I’ve reached the limit of the number of times I can listen to person after person group transgender rights in with homosexuality — as if they are one and the same. These are more than pet peeves and slight annoyances; they are untrue, sometimes even harmful statements.
I’m ready for the lgbt community to finally include its full range of identities. If a group claims to work for lgbt rights, their work can not only focus on homosexuality, or sexual orientations in general. Discussing sexuality and sexual orientation are important matters, but ignoring the fact that the discussion often leaves out transgender individuals harms us all. Doing so creates a dishonest movement, claiming total equality, but working only with sexual orientations. Especially when gender variance continues to flourish in our youth, we should be eager to share resources provided by the BMC office (and elsewhere). I deeply appreciate that, while acknowledging there is still a long way to go, BMC includes the transgender population in the community it serves.
The shameful lack of comprehensive sexuality education in the Brethren and Mennonite communities fuels a lot of this ignorance. It feels as if we are forcing our youth to remain naive about their own bodies, urges, and identities in order to preserve our own intense misunderstandings about the world (after all, we all know decent sexuality education leads to promiscuity, abortion, and homosexuality). I am worried that our denominations seem afraid of the fact that the more we teach our youth, the more they might explore. This exploration is seen as an undesirable and inappropriate process, but I see it as finally allowing our youth to grow outside our unhealthy boundaries and experience a world that seems beyond our control.