Orthodoxy in Dialogue shares this report with the following three caveats:
LGBTQ Nation often has a tendency to create hyperbolic headlines that do not accurately reflect the content of their articles. Their reporting should be read with caution.
While Orthodoxy in Dialogue has published extensively in support of transgender people and their rights, and of the Church’s pastoral responsibility to engage with them in a manner that recognizes their full human dignity and worth, we also acknowledge the concerns of women who have suffered from male-perpetrated sexual assault and simply cannot share intimate spaces (sleeping quarters, washrooms/restrooms, change rooms, showers, etc.) with male-bodied individuals.
Part of the unfinished (and unfinishable) task of any democratic society consists of negotiating the boundaries where the rights of one are felt to infringe on those of another. Our purpose in sharing this report is not to provide ammunition to the transphobes in our society and the Orthodox Church, but to encourage reasonable, charitable discussion of these difficult questions. Contact us by email if you wish to respond with an article or letter to the editors.
Alliance Defending Freedom, the far-right evangelical legal group that defended the “right” of a baker to deny service to gay couples before the Supreme Court, has a new target.
This time they’re suing to give a homeless shelter in Anchorage, Alaska, the “right” to deny help to transgender people. The federal court lawsuit seeks to overturn the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance that prohibits discrimination against LGBTQ people.
ADF attorney Ryan Tucker told the court that many of the shelter’s residents are survivors of domestic violence and “they would rather sleep in the woods” in the frigid Alaskan winter than share space with a transgender woman. Temperatures in the city in the past week have hovered around zero degrees Fahrenheit.
Hope Center, a Christian nonprofit that operates the shelter for homeless women, turned away a transgender woman twice in January. While the facility had cause to turn her away (she showed up drunk once and after hours the second time), they couldn’t resist taking a jab at LGBTQ people.
As Anchorage was voting on whether or not to strike transgender people from the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance, an attorney for the shelter told a local newspaper that they would never admit a “biological male” into the facility despite how the vote turned out.
The measure was defeated at the ballot box.
But after the attorney’s remarks became public, the city initiated an investigation of the facility. The woman who was turned away also filed a complaint with the city’s Equal Rights Commission. Neither case has been resolved.
The group is asking the judge to stop the city from enforcing the nondiscrimination law, arguing that, as a homeless shelter, the group should have an exemption from the law and, as a charity, it should have the religious freedom to deny access as they see fit.
Assistant municipal attorney Ryan Stuart told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner that the city opposed the suit because the commission’s investigation has not been completed because the shelter wouldn’t cooperate with the investigation.
There is no exemption for homeless shelters in the law.
“There is simply no evidence that transgender people are more of a threat to anyone, whether that be in bathrooms, locker rooms, or homeless shelters,” David Dinielli, Deputy Legal Director for the Southern Poverty Law Center, told local news station KTUU.
“In fact, we know transgender people are among the most, if not the most likely to be targeted for abuse, sexual abuse and physical abuse.”
This report appeared yesterday at LGBTQ Nation.
See the extensive Sexuality and Gender section in our Archives by Author.
Bil Browning is a journalist and essayist for the Bilerico Report who is known for his political and social commentary. He is also an established conference speaker, and regularly appears on news outlets such CNN, Sirius Radio, FOX, and NPR. He has been featured prominently on the front page of the New York Times as one of the nation’s top LGBT bloggers. He lives with his husband in Washington DC.