People of faith respond to ‘truth matters’
Denise A. Dykeman
Rev. Ellery Dykeman
As people of faith, we are writing in response to the letter to the editor titled “Pronouns Matter Because Truth Matters.”
First off, let’s discuss the differences between biological sex, gender, and gender identity. Sex is a label — male or female — that you’re assigned by a doctor at birth based on the genitals you’re born with and the chromosomes you have. However, that doesn’t fully capture the complex biological, anatomical, and chromosomal variations that can occur in humans. Having only two options (biological male or biological female) doesn’t always describe what’s going on inside or even outside of a person’s body.
Gender is much more complex: It’s a social and legal status, and set of expectations from society, about behaviors, characteristics, and thoughts. Each culture has standards about the way that people should behave based on their gender. This is also generally male or female. But instead of being about body parts, it’s more about how you’re expected to act, because of your sex.
Gender identity is how you feel inside and how you express your gender through clothing, behavior, and personal appearance. It’s a feeling that begins very early in life and may or may not match the sex that you were assigned at birth. Did you grow up and then choose to be attracted to women or men or was it just there? These feelings of gender aren’t something that you can simply choose or change.
There are 8 billion people on the planet. Just because many people’s sex organs align with their gender identity, doesn’t mean that everyone else experiences life that way. And that’s A-OK. None of us is bad or wrong for feeling like the gender that we do inside.
In 2020, a survey by The Trevor Project found that one in four LGBTQIA+ youth use a combination of gender-fluid pronouns including they/them, mixed pronouns such as she/they and neopronouns such as ze/zir to express their gender nuance. This is their truth. Far from being “deranged unstable persons” as the author suggests, these people are honestly identifying how they feel inside about their gender.
As Lutherans, we learned strong values through tradition, sacred text, worship, family, and community. Those values are love, welcome, inclusion, and non-judgement. It is because of our faith that I know treating someone differently because of who they are is wrong. God made that person. Sometimes it’s hard, but our job is to love and care for that person, even if we don’t understand their reality ourselves. Our job is not to shame or devalue or “other” them.
We believe in the common good of treating people as we want to be treated. We want people to call us by our names, and use pronouns that fit with each of our understandings of the truth about who we are and who God made us to be. Our lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, aromantic, and two spirit (LGBTQIA2S+) community members are beloved by God. There are so many ways to be in God’s wonderful creation. God seems to love differences and diversity. How many beetles there are! How many kinds of plants. How many colors and sizes and personalities and languages people can have. How much less delightful life would be if we were all the same. We cannot assume a person’s gender based on the way they look or express themselves. We are close to many members of the LGBTQIA+ community. Calling them liars is flatly offensive. They know their own hearts and bodies and which pronouns fit better than anyone else. Using the pronouns that they identify with is a sign of respect and love. We will continue to do so.
As for the somewhat unintelligible diatribe on communism and pronouns. All we have to say about that is: hogwash.