Many are calling for Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson to resign in light of his unrepentant hate speech against the LGBTQ community. I believe that these demands fall short and misdirect our attention. We need to speak out to Christian leaders and their congregations. They need to understand that demagogues like Mr. Robinson separate people from God – the opposite of the Church’s mission.

I am sorrowed by Mr. Robinson’s suggestion that transgenderism and homosexuality are filth. As the Executive Director of Blue Ridge Pride Center, I grieve for the 36,000 LGBTQ citizens of western North Carolina who must endure such hate. But I sorrow as much for Christians in our community. Mr. Robinson is leading them in a grievous direction.
I am transgender, which makes me filth to Mark Robinson. Not so to the many civic, business and religious leaders in Asheville who have taken the time to know me. We have broken bread together and worked to build a better community.
Mine is not a perfect soul. But no one who has taken the time to know me would even think of using “filth” to describe me.
My journey hasn’t been easy. For fifty years, I tried to live as a man. I didn’t want to be a woman. The idea disgusted me. Everyone adored me: my family, colleagues, and neighbors. Who would want to give that up?
But, inside, I was a broken person. Call me what you will, but I didn’t know how to experience the world except in terms that I identify as female. I felt alien to my body and despised myself. I prayed to God, “fix me.” He never answered.
I only transitioned when I found myself edging towards suicide. I transitioned to stay alive, not for fun or lifestyle. You see, I was just as transphobic as Mark Robinson because I had been educated by people like him.
It wasn’t a choice. When you stare death in the face, any notion of choice disappears. When, after 50 years, I finally allowed the person inside to come out, I expected the worst.
I met with many surprises. Not the least, God finally spoke to me. For the first time in my life, I was having conversations with God! It hit me: God hadn’t been absent, I had. You can’t have a conversation unless you are both there. Because of leaders like Mark Robinson, I had tried to hide my soul from my maker.
I neither celebrate nor denigrate my gender identity. It isn’t a lifestyle or statement. It is simply who I am. Today, when I come to God, I come as I am. No more secrets, no more shame. I don’t care if others regard me a role model or leper. I am a child of God.
What Mr. Robinson and some Christian conservatives fail to appreciate is that, when they label our identities as filth, they are telling people like me to hide ourselves from God. I cannot think of a more grievous sin.
My prayer for Mr. Robinson and like-minded Christians is that they find the courage and the grace to know and to love people like me – as they are commanded to do. I think they will discover that their God did a pretty good job after all. We are far from perfect, but we are as loved by God and have as much to offer the world as anyone.
We need a society that invites everyone to bring their very best self to the world. We need an education system that encourages everyone to discover the potential within themselves and to find it within others. In western North Carolina, we are working hard to create a community that welcomes all and that celebrates their gifts. We are here, Mr. Robinson, ready to break bread with you, ready to seek redemption together, and to build a better community.

Person Inside

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