The largest Christian denomination in Sweden posted an open letter this month to the transgender community declaring that it, too, is transgender.
The Church of Sweden, a Lutheran denomination with more than 5 million members, posted the letter on its official website with the names of nearly 1,000 people who signed it. It was authored by six individuals, four of whom are priests.
"We are writing to you from a church that is also trans. A church is made up of people," the letter says. "People are different. We have confirmands, employees, churchwardens, elected representatives .... and other parishioners who define themselves as transgender people. The church thus also consists of transgender people. Therefore, the church could be described as trans."
The letter then compares the transgender community to the biblical character of Hagar.
"She is a slave girl who is exploited by those who own her," the letter says. "When she is no longer needed, she is driven out into the desert with her child to a probable death. Her water has run out and she puts her child under a bush because she thinks he will die. When God hears the child crying, God's angel speaks to Hagar. 'Do not be afraid,' says the angel, and God shows Hagar a well of water so that she can give the child a drink. The life of the child and Hagar does not end in the desert. The child grows up and God promises Hagar that the child's people will grow up.
"Sometimes we are like Hagar," the letter says. "People with power over our lives talk about us and treat us as if we are an object, something they own."
The letter goes on to compare trans-excluding feminists – that is, feminists who say transgender women are not truly women – to right-wing Christians.
"We see that trans-excluding feminism uses a rhetoric that we recognize from radical right-wing Christian groups and right-wing populists," the letter says. "You suffer from words and actions that draw their nourishment from some of humanity's darkest sides. We mourn a downward rights movement. You, I, we, all need a broad solidarity feminism that fights narrow gender norms."
Photo courtesy: ©Bruno/Germany/Pixabay
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.