On behalf of a carload of clergy, representing four different Christian traditions, who left Sioux Falls at 3:00am to testify against H.B. 1008 last week, and on behalf of about a dozen clergy colleagues who couldn’t make the trip, I am asking Governor Daugaard to veto H.B. 1008, one of the worst anti-trans bills in the country.
One of the most meaningful rituals for a pastor is the baptism or dedication of a baby.
It is amazing to hold one of God’s beloved gifts to the world in your arms while asking God to continue to bless them…all their lives.
Some of those babies are transgender. It isn’t something that is chosen by individuals. It just is. And just because we don’t understand it does not make them any less in the eyes of our Creator. They are whole and beloved by God, just the way they are.
The law that passed South Dakota's legislature on Tuesday would discriminate against an already small group of people within the general population. H.B. 1008 separates and targets transgender children and youth…in fact, it makes them targets to be further ostracized through bullying and exclusion by other kids. The group of kids who need our greatest compassion, openness, support, and understanding are the same group this bill proposes to isolate and oppress further.
As pastors, we are often the people who attempt to pick up the pieces when bullying, discrimination, shame, and isolation beat a transgender kid down.
We hold them when they cry. We cry with them. We pray with them. We visit them in the hospitals when they are too depressed to go on. We spend hours with their parents and siblings. We tell them they are loved by God and that God wants what is best for them.
Sometimes we are called to visit them in the hospital after they have been beaten up, or after they have attempted suicide. And then, sometimes, we are the ones who are called to bury them, because they have either been murdered or have completed suicide. The same babies we baptized with great hope, we bury because of horrendous discrimination—discrimination that H.B. 1008 creates and supports.
When I testified against this bill last week, I heard from people who support this bill because they want to protect our children. Transgender children and youth are our children.
Who protects them from discrimination? Is it not each of us?
I know that this is complicated, but if this bill becomes law, it will not only be legalizing discrimination, it will legalize discrimination against some of the most vulnerable children and youth in our state.
On behalf of myself and my clergy colleagues, please urge Governor Daugaard to veto HB1008. Let families and schools work towards solutions that work for all of our children, including our transgender students.
Photo provided by Rev. Jean Morrow