As a hospital chaplain, I have visited people from numerous Christian denominations and non-Christian belief systems. I have ministered to people of different races, of different cultures, of various sexual preferences, and even several transgender people. As a hospital chaplain, I strive to accept each individual as a fellow human being deserving of dignity, equality, and respect.
My faith in Jesus guides me to love them as creations of God, loved by God and redeemed by Jesus. Moreover, Jesus directs us to love these individuals with an unconditional love. Jesus’ example is to love them where they are, and as who they are. Jesus doesn’t demand change, he inspires change. Zacchaeus and the woman at the well come to mind as prime examples of how Jesus changed lives by interacting with people right where they are.
Which brings me to Ellen. Ellen was in the hospital, and she requested to see a chaplain. I came to her room and sat down to have a conversation with her to see what she needed. She proceeded to spill out all the emotions she had been harboring in her heart for most of her life. She shared deep childhood challenges that continued through her adolescence into adulthood. I sat there for an hour listening to her, holding her hand, and offering up prayers on her behalf. The next day when she was getting discharged, she saw me and said, “There's my friend Chaplain Mark.”
There's something you need to know about Ellen. Ellen is a transgender woman. I tell you that because there is lot of talk these days about transgenderism. Much of that talk dismisses people like Ellen and her lived experience. Some would say that she is just pretending while others would say that she has abandoned her God-given gender. I don't know anything about Ellen’s physical makeup or anything about her chromosomes. All I know is that there was a person in front of me that day who needed comfort and care. If you ever encounter someone like Ellen (or others like her), please don’t dismiss them out of hand. Every one of them is a precious soul, created by God, loved by God, and redeemed by Jesus.