Transition and Growing up Catholic

U.A. Nigro

The upcoming religious holiday has me thinking back to my upbringing in the Roman Catholic faith. As a child my siblings and I were raised to follow the Ten Commandments as if they were the law. We attended Catholic school, went to church every Sunday rain or shine, and often had the nuns over for dinner. My parents did marriage preparation for engaged couples out of our house and during the week my mother taught religion to the public school kids. As an adult it has become clear to me that the teachings of Jesus and the church do not align. Jesus said love your neighbor as you would love yourself, but the church turns its back on anyone who identifies with the LGBTQIA community. The hypocrisy drives me insane.


Too many partners struggle with telling their families about their transgender partner because of their Christian upbringing. The fear of being shunned and cast out is literally debilitating, and in many cases, brings on anxiety and depression. It is a crippling fear of being denied by the people you love and trust the most in this world. Numerous times I have had people reach out to me for help in coming out to their families. They struggle to find just the right words to say. Something profound that might ease their families into this new way of thinking and a hope for their support along the way. As Christians we are taught to love and accept everyone. Why then are there so many families who cut off their children when they are honest with them about their partner's transition?

Something strange came over me at the beginning of my wife's transition. I became very protective of her. I am still not one hundred percent sure where it came from, but it was fierce. I made the personal decision to cut ties with anyone who could not accept my wife and her transition. That included our friends and both of our families. By rejecting her and her journey to becoming her true and authentic self, they were rejecting me as well. I have no room in my life or in my heart for anyone who would abandon another human being in their time of need. After all is that not what the Christian religion is all about.

I reassure my children and my wife constantly that they will always have my unconditional love. No matter what they do or where life takes them, nothing can ever alter my love for them. I live by the definition of unconditional; not subject to any conditions. Therefore, it does not matter to me what they decide to pursue in life as a career, if they are gay or straight, or if they happen to fall in love with a transgender person. No matter what, I will always love and support them. So I am left baffled at the thought of a parent disowning their child because they are in a relationship with someone who happens to be transgender. And, dumbfounded to think that with all of the knowledge we now have about being transgender, that this is still happening.

In all of the hours I spent in church listening to a man in a funny looking gown tell me stories about Jesus, never did I hear that it was okay to turn your back on a family member or that it is okay to discriminate against another human being. I heard the exact opposite. I heard that we need to take care of the sick and less fortunate, have compassion for others, love your enemies, and to lift up the outcasts. In the book of Matthew, it is plainly stated, "be sincere, not a hypocrite." So when you are faced with a friend or family member who claims to be a devout Christian, yet they are disgusted at the thought of you loving a transgender person, perhaps you should teach them what they should already know.


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