Saturday, 3 June 2017

Remembering The Day My Pastor Called Me An Abomination

This weekend it is four years since I first addressed myself without guilt as Clare. It's my re-birthday tomorrow.

Just been thinking of my experiences in a church that meets in a city centre location in Newcastle.**

They were decidedly unpleasant and the things said to me in a three hour private talk with the pastor were nothing short of disgusting - that I'm an abomination, that there's no way at all I could possibly have been a Christian unless I at least want to repent of being transgender. He said lots more too.

I remembered this because of a discussion elsewhere in which Jewish tradition was mentioned positively. I referred to Jewish tradition and teaching in my talk with that pastor. He said "Well the Jews will say anything won't they" and told me not to refer to Jewish tradition or teaching because, after all, they rejected Jesus.

I was shocked by so much of what was said. I guess I was a bit stupid to be shocked because these attitudes aren't uncommon in conservative Christian circles.

I was wounded too. So wounded that I went home and wrote a poem about it. It became one of my first blog posts.  Here it is.  Under this link.
I was also saddened.  The church that planted the one in the city centre location** states on their website that God does not discriminate over matters of sexuality or gender.  It turned out that their version of God very much does discriminate.
Had things been different I might have acted too.  If I'd known how.

Should I have alerted the people who run the city centre location** that I had been treated so appallingly by an organisation they hire their premises to?

Perhaps.  Perhaps I should have made waves - just as, had I known how and had the mental health for it, I should have made a police complaint against the city centre gym that told me I wouldn't be allowed to change in the changing room and would have to use a toilet cubicle.

Perhaps I should complain more.  Not for my sake.  But for the sake of other transgender people.  Another transgender person might be crushed by that church.  And we all know that transphobic abuse leads in some cases to suicide.

Three and a half years have passed since that day.  I haven't been back to the church.  I've seen that man again.  Been in the same room as him.  But I haven't spoken to him.

Maybe I should.  The next time I see him.  Tell him I forgive him.  He's a bigot.  He doesn't know it but he is.  An interpretation of a religious text does not exempt anyone from bigotry - it didn't exempt me either when I followed similar interpretations of the same book.  He's a transphobic man who treats people like me like shit.  I worry for any transgender person who ever comes into contact with the church he runs or, heaven forbid, is forced to grow up there full of enforced self hatred.

And yet ... he would tell me he was only speaking to me out of love for me.  That's almost more sad than the words he spoke to me.
The church still meets in that room.
Unless things have changed, a blatantly transphobic organisation - with a touch of anti-semitism - still meets in that city centre location**.

Perhaps even now, after all this time, I should mention it to them.


**I originally stated where the city centre location was.  I've removed this information.  I realise that, since I don't have proof of what was said to me, it's possible that I'd be sued at some time in the future.  I don't want to leave myself open to that possibility.

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