Have Faith

I have a bit of a departure from my normal blog today. As some of you know, I have become involved with fight against Texas Senate Bill 6 (SB6) the so called bathroom bill.

The group I have been working with needed a press release addressing Texas Values ‘Faith & Family day’. An Anti-Transgender lobby day and rally held in Austin Texas at the state capital last Thursday.

 They used radical religious pretext to condemn transgender people with false interpretation of the Bible.

 So we reached out out to Leaders of Faith and received a flood of supporting messages. The press release had limited space, So here are some more of the kind, compassionate messages for faith from a far ranging collection if faiths and borders.

I hope they move you as much as they did me.

I'm an Episcopal priest. When I saw that we had all gender restrooms at my first call (St. Mary's Episcopal Church), I felt an overwhelming sense of relief. I knew that at least if there was some knowledge of gender and a space that I could safely use the restroom without fear of judgement - and that I could continue to be a priest in my Church. My community is still learning. Some are learning my pronouns and some of my parishioners are totally unaware that I am non binary.  But many people in my community are trying. And that's what counts. I can go to work and be me, and not have to hide who I am - a queer and non binary person just trying to pray and learn how to follow Jesus with my community. I can't imagine what a young person might feel like, having to go to school every day - a place they might not always want to be in the first place- and not be able to use the restroom that works for them. It's inhumane. God loves trans and gender nonconforming people. Keeping trans and gender nonconforming people from safer spaces is un-loving, and is hurtful and dangerous. In places that are supposed to nourish learning and emotional growth, I expect better. I urge all to oppose SB6.


Rev. Kacei Conyers

St. Mary's Episcopal Church

Anchorage, AK 99507

Hi Jess,

My name is James Joiner, I'm an Episcopal priest and the Assistant Rector of St. Michael & All Angels Episcopal Church in Portland, Oregon. Avery Belyeu suggested that I get in touch with you about my support, as a faith leader, of transgender rights. I am deeply opposed to Texas Sb6 and all other legislation which seeks to limit the freedom of transgender persons in public space. My Christian faith reminds me to respect and honor the dignity of all people as made in the image of God, and my trust in Galatians 3:28 tells me that binary gender is something which is surpassed in the new creation Christ inaugurates in the world. Attempts to limit the freedom of transgender people are antithetical to Christian faith and need to be stopped. Let me know if there's anything I can do to help.


The Rev. James Michael Joiner

Associate Rector, St. Michael & All Angels

Dear Jess,

I saw a message on Facebook from Avery Beyleu and I just went to Trans United's website and saw that your press release is already out, however I'm happy to offer my personal and organizational support. The Religious Institute has a large national network of faith leaders and we did the major outreach on the faith amicus brief for the Gavin Grimm case. 1850 religious leaders signed that brief in support of transgender justice. http://religiousinstitute.org/2000-clergy-standwithgavin/ 

You might also be interested in the National Weekend of Prayer for Transgender Justice.  https://www.nationalweekendofprayer.org/ 

Again, please don't hesitate to be in touch if we can be helpful at any point in your work.

Best regards,


Rev. Marie Alford-Harkey

President and CEO, Religious Institute
Religion. Sexuality. Justice.

135 Clarence Street, Suite 206

Bridgeport, CT 06608

Dear Jess,

I am a SGL ordained United Church of Christ pastor and I'm writing to voice my support for transgender rights by stating that I do not support Texas Bill SB6. Please add my name to a list of clergy who stand against SB6 and stand in support of our transgender siblings. 

And please let me know if there is anything I can do that will be helpful in this act of resistance. 

Sursum Corda,

Rev. Eve L. Gorrell M.Div.

Good morning, Jess,

Please add my name to the press release you are writing to counter the Austin Family Values rally.


Steve Sprinkle


Stephen V. Sprinkle, Ph.D.

Director of Field Education and Supervised Ministry, and 

Professor of Practical Theology

Director of Baptist Programming

Brite Divinity School

TCU Box 298130

Fort Worth, Texas 76129

As a Christian minister, father, husband, and advocate for all people, I support trans people’s rights to privacy, acceptance, family, and self-expression. The violence and hurt that SB6 will cause to trans people and those who love them will be immense. Let us lead by example and provide dignity and care for all in the name of our faith, our families, and our moral compasses. As a Christian pastor I am called to love and to protect. SB6 will not do either. I support trans people and reject SB6.


Rev. Dr. Michael L. Gregg

Pastor, Royal Lane Baptist Church

Rev. Dr. Michael L. Gregg | Pastor

Royal Lane Baptist Church (visit)

6707 Royal Lane | Dallas, TX 75230

Rev. Karen Romestan 

Unity on Greenville, Dallas TX

I support families, the many ways that families are made.  I honor the many faces of faith and spirituality of each individual regardless of race, gender, or any external appearances


Rev.  Karen

Jess Herbst, 

It has been brought to my attention that you are heading upa group of ordained ministers of all faiths drafting a letter against the "Texas Values" of the trans bathroom bill. I would like to be involved in it to show my support in the Trans Community. If there is anyway I can be a part of it I would love to do my part. 


Rev. John David Creamer

Sr. Pastor 

Life Covenant Church

Tyler, Texas


My name is Rev. David Lee from Fort Worth Texas. I am the children's minister at First Christian Church in Rowlett, Texas. I stand with the Trans community against the SB6 bill. This bill is blatantly unchristian in the way that it treats those in our community who are marginalized and as a Minister I could never support legislation like this that would put Trans people even more at risk. They are a vital part of our community and we should not treat them as anything less.

Rev. David Lee

Children's Minister

First Christian Church Rowlett


Hello, Jess,

I’m Rev. Charley Garrison and I’m the pastor of Metropolitan Community Church in Waco.I’mopposed to SB6 and I would like to tell you why. I’ve had several Transgender members of my congregation over the years.  Cat Grider and Ronny Slider-Parks are two who I’ve had the privilege of hearing their personal stories.  And what has struck me is the sheer terror they both have experienced in public restrooms as they’ve transitioned.  I have heard that the reasoning for SB6 is to protect folks from sexual predators.  And I’m all for that.  But the fact is that laws already exist to protect against sexual predators. 

But I foresee a rise in violence and brutality against the Transgender community when a Transgender woman is forced to use a men’s restroom and a Transgender man is forced to use a women’s restroom.  My faith calls me to love my neighbor, especially the marginalized.  So I stand in solidarity with my Transgender siblings and stand against SB6.


Rev. Charley Garrison

Pastor, Central Texas Metropolitan Community Church

Waco, TX

Dear Jess, I received a communication from Avery Belyeu that you are working on a press release related to the Texas Family Values rally in Austin today. I understand you need clergy signatures in support. I am more than glad to have my name included. My information is in my signature below. Please let me know if you are in need of anything else. Thank you for your good work. —Jo

Rev. Dr. Jo Hudson

17290 Preston Road, #100

Dallas, Texas 75252



Trans lives our sacred lives because they are human lives. Trans folk are created by and in the image of a holy and loving God, and like all of humanity have a divinely conferred right to flourish. The denial of basic human and civil rights, such as denial of access to an appropriate toilet is immoral, unethical, and inhumane. As a person of faith and an an Episcopal priest, I stand with my trans kin and against the discrimination to which they are subject, including at the hands of the state to which they pay taxes. 


The Rev. Wil Gafney, Ph.D. +

Priest, Diocese of Fort Worth and,

Associate Professor of Hebrew Bible 

Brite Divinity School, Ft. Worth, TX

As a gay man, a priest, a student of Christian scripture, and a follower of Jesus, I am vehemently opposed to Texas' SB6. 

Some support for such legislation claims to stem from the hope of protecting women and children from predators, although there are no documented cases of transpeople committing violence. There are, however, statistical reports suggesting around 70% of trans people attempting to use the bathroom that matches their gender are harassed, attacked, or denied access. SB6 would only stoke the fears of trans people and increase the likelihood of attack. 

Some support for legislation like SB6 roots itself in rudimentary understandings only of biology, along the lines of "We learn in kindergarten there are boys and girls." Basing policy in elementary-level education is improper and ignores the Christian value of education, growth, and maturation of thought. Paul writes in the 1 Corinthians about being fed on milk — that is simple knowledge — at an early age, and growing into readiness for solid food. Physicians, psychologists, and sociologists all acknowledge that gender identity is more complex than simple biology, and as a Christian I rely on the solid food — the education and research — for understanding the world around me.

Trans people — as a demographic — are some of the most likely to be physically attacked (and killed) in the United States, particularly trans women of color. They are indubitably oppressed, living in fear: fear of attack, fear of rejection by friends and family, living in fear of inability to perform certain biological functions as a result of legislation like SB6. 

In Luke 4 Jesus makes clear that he has come to release the oppressed, and in following his example I work for the same. I vehemently reject SB6 and other such legislation based not in concern but in fear and I embrace the struggles and witness of trans people who despite obstacles hear Jesus' call "fear not" — whether they are Christians or people of faith or not. 

The Rev. Joseph Peters-Mathews

Episcopal priest

Seattle, WA

“I am an ordained rabbi and Transgender Woman.  I am most assuredly opposed to any legislation which restricts any person’s rights.  As a transgender activist, I have fought tirelessly to oppose such legislation in Washington State, where I live, and I reject the Texas attempt to pass SB6.

 It is important for Christians to remember such teachings as “Love your neighbor as yourself” and “Judge not lest you be judged.”  Further, it is vital you remember Jesus’ actions.  He did not block or oppress the marginalized in his society. He gave them comfort and healing.

In addition, there have never been any cases of transgender women assaulting women in bathrooms, however forcing transgender women into men’s rooms WILL cause assaults against transgender women.  Thus this bill violates the teaching of “do not put a stumbling block before the blind.”

 This legislation is mean spirited, bigoted and based on false and flawed premises.  I call on the people of Texas to reject this bill.”



Rabbah Rona Matlow


Team Lead/Operator at Trans Lifeline - www.translifeline.org 


Jess Herbst,

Thank you for your continued perseverance for the transgender and gender expansive community of Texas. Avery Belyeu noted you were seeking statements of solidarity.

The first baptized christian who was not Jewish was gender expansive, a eunuch who could move about female only and male only spaces, that Texas would no longer provide this earliest of Christians a refuge calls into question the state's ability to value the religious beliefs of any Christian or any individual. It is sad to see such religious intolerance placed into law.

I hope this statement can assist you in some way. I am traveling with a group of transgender and gender expansive college students to a conference in Texas this summer and already we are struggling to figure out how this law will impact our time there. 



The Rev'd Fr. Benjamin N. Garren

Episcopal Chaplain to the University of Arizona

Chap. Ben Garren



Christian Campus Center

715 N Park Ave.

Tucson, AZ   85719

Dear Jess,

Please add my name to the list of names endorsing your press release, in response to the Texas Family Value rally. Though I haven’t read your press release, I trust my colleague Steve Sprinkle at Brite Divinity School (below).

Thank you.

Rev. Dr. Timothy S. Lee, PhD

Ordained Minister of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

"I have a deep sense of sadness that our Texas lawmakers would even consider passing SB6, which clearly discriminates against the already very vulnerable transgender community and claims to protect women and children from a threat that does not exist.  Passing this law is an act of violence against transgender citizens and will leave them living in fear and at great physical risk.  I have been a pastor of congregations which have included transgender members for more than 30 years without even one incident of inappropriate behavior from our transgender members and visitors.  But, 100% of those transgender folks have faced discrimination and fear for their safety when out in public venues.  It is time for our Texas elected officials to stand for the rights and protections of all citizens.  I urge you to stop this bill from going forward."

Rev. Ken Ehrke  Senior Pastor at Embrace United Church of Christ - Bedford, TX

Glad to join clergy standing with trans

Rev. Dr. Joretta L Marshall

Brite Div ity School