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BY REV. JESSICA ABELL

January 27, 2021
Dr. Rachel Levine, tapped for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Biden picks first transgender person for Senate-confirmed post – via the Associated Press

Rachel Levine, the current Secretary of Health for Pennsylvania, has been nominated to serve as the Assistant Secretary of Health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dr. Levine is a transgender woman and a pediatrician.
So God created humankind in God’s image, 
in the image of God, God made them; 
Male and female, God created them.
 
And God saw everything made, and indeed, it was very good. 
- Genesis 1:27, 31a
My friend’s five-year-old daughter has a transgender doll. She announced that they would be staying in a particular doll-bed, they would sometimes wear a dress, and sometimes not, and nothing else has been said about it. This doll wasn’t purchased for this purpose, or marketed as a transgender doll in any way. This was just natural play for her, which brings much joy to my heart.
 
My friends are getting used to the plural pronouns for their daughter’s toy, and are fascinated by the whole thing. And our talking about it brought to my mind the many ways in which Imago Dei, the idea that we are made in the image of God, has been used to hurt and harm, and how it can also free us from the damage and shame. It has long been clear to me - and I pray it is becoming more obvious every day - that the true heresy is the discrete binary. The isolated and segregated genders that are called “normal” are false, not of God, and life-giving for no one. Much trauma, shame, and damage have come from this imprisonment of gender.
 
I believe that this statement, God made them male and female, means not that we are segregated but that we are in fact integrated as full human beings, both male and female. Even those whose gender and its expression are extremely masculine or feminine have within them hormones, neuro-chemicals, character traits, and behaviors of “the other” –a continuously false dichotomy. President Biden’s appointment of Dr. Levine to this federal position, and his reversal of the military trans soldier ban, move us closer to justice and equity. Representation matters, and when we can all see that what God has made is good, we can stand not on the tenuous sand of separation but on the solid rock of Creation, wild and diverse.
  1. In addition to this under-Cabinet appointment, this week President Biden also reversed the ban on transgender persons serving in the U.S. military. Anti-trans language will be on the rise. Contact your Senators and House Representative to express your support for the full inclusion of transgender persons. Dr. Levine’s appointment must be confirmed by the Senate, and she will need your support as well.
  2. If you are cisgender - that is, you were assigned a gender at birth that works for you, and you match inside and out to yourself - and you are not lucky enough to have transgender or genderfluid people in your life, get educated! GLAAD, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, has excellent resources. Start with their FAQ page and dive in.
  3. All of us who’ve grown up in U.S. culture have been exposed to toxic gender roles and models. This is virtually unavoidable. As a country, we’ve struggled with it in various policy ways. But have we as individuals? I urge each of us to take the time to parse out our own assumptions and projections about gender. What does it mean for ME that gender itself is fluid, and that its expression is as well? Is it freeing? Affirming? Scary? Why?
Lord of Creation, you have woven the fabric of the universe into our world, and you move throughout it at all times. You imbue us with the sacred and call us good, for we are made in your very image. Guide us to see the sacred image of the divine in all whom we meet, and to embrace your diversity within our own selves as well. This we ask in the name of all we call holy. Amen.
Rev. Jessica Abell is an ordained minister of the American Baptist Churches, USA. Jessica has a Master’s degree in City and Regional Planning, and primarily focuses on the faith-based voice in environmental justice issues. She is active in civic and political spheres and organizations such as Together Colorado and The New Moral Majority. She now runs a small church in Denver and is a founding member of the Spirituality Collective where she writes on a regular basis and works on cultivating a public voice of faith in the American Conversation.
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