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Why Caitlyn Jenner and I Prayed with One of Our Fiercest Enemies.

Why Caitlyn Jenner and I Prayed with One of Our Fiercest Enemies.
December 20, 2015 Jennifer Boylan

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December 20, 2015

Belgrade Lakes, ME

Good morning from Maine, where I woke up in my own bed with my own dogs this morning, after almost two solid months on the road with Caitlyn Jenner and a band of other trans women. We have travelled the country this fall having conversations with a wide range of trans people and their parents and children and their allies. I hope that when I Am Cait, season two, airs in spring viewers will see and hear a lot of interesting conversations that reflect the full diversity of our great community.

Our last stop on the long journey was Houston, where, among other things, we hoped to meet with the pastors whose intolerant, cruel exhortations to their congregations helped the HERO bill go down to defeat in November. Getting my friend Caitlyn to understand the way social conservatives have used lies about trans people to further their agenda has been one of my goals since I first met her, and this struck me as progress. I do believe her eyes are opening.

We visited pastor Ed Young’s church on Friday, Ed Young being the minister of a megachurch that took the lead on promoting anti-trans hysteria as a means of defeating HERO.

We went there without cameras, without microphones. We did not go there for a photo op. We went there in hopes we could have an off-the-record conversation with the pastor, so that we could tell him to his face the damage that he has caused. This struck me as good work to do.

I can tell you that going into that church was one of the scariest moments of my life. You cannot imagine what it is like to be surrounded by people who have denied your humanity, who have worked to take away your dignity. It is even stranger, and scarier, to have this feeling in a church.

My mother told me to love your enemies, though. So I sat in a pew with my heart pounding, trying to find the love I would need in order to have a conversation with one of our bitterest foes.

My own faith is a private matter that I generally do not speak about in public. But I can say that I believe with all my heart that love is what can change the world.

You can say I’m a dreamer. But I’m not the only one.

At the end of the evening, Pastor Young approached us. We all stood up. And Caitlyn Jenner looked him in the eye and told him how much his actions and his words had harmed our people. I was proud of her— given her conservative beliefs, it struck me as a sign of great progress, a first step into activism, gentle though it may have been. The pastor seemed to me to have never spoken face to face with transgender people before, and he clearly did not understand our lives, given some of the things he said to us.

But we were calm and polite and dignified. We told him about our lives, and he paused to listen. He really did seem to consider our humanity. I thought that moment was breathtaking.

He asked us if we’d participate in a prayer. As a Christian, when people ask me to pray, I am glad to do so. We bowed our heads. My prayer was pretty simple. Please god, open this man’s heart. Please open the hearts of all of those who would do us harm.

The season of Advent asks us to light one red candle each Sunday: one for Hope, one for Joy, one for Love, one for Peace, and on Christmas Day to light a pink one. It was in the spirit of all four of these that I accompanied Caitlyn Jenner to this church to do just as my mother commanded— to love my enemies.

I am hoping that we lit a candle.

38 Comments

  1. Kasey 3 years ago

    Jenny how wonderful you are being Christ to these people who claim to know him so well.. God bless you on this journey, I am praying for you always. Praying for safety and wisdom and God’s continued blessing on your work. Please know that many many people of faith are lifting you up before his throne every day!! Love to you!!

  2. Robin White 3 years ago

    Thank you Jenny for writing this article. Caitlyn is again getting hit very hard again with negative press from the trans community. I was very touched by your description of the event. I hope your story gets out there to help calm the rising storm and provide a balance of truth.

  3. Naomi R. Yunker 3 years ago

    That had to be both incredible and terrifying at the same time. I am glad to hear that Cait is seeing the bigger picture with things. Hoping that people’s minds and hearts will be opened to everyone.
    Faith can move mountains.

  4. Olivia Maynard 3 years ago

    I do appreciate going there is scary. I am at the beginning of transition. The HERO election, and seeing all the signs and having even people I thought were allies and friends say they don’t want me in the ladies rooms was hard.

    I still rarely leave the house at all. Houston is a scary place.

  5. Ann Thomas 3 years ago

    Thank you so much, Jenny and all the rest of you for showing the courage to be there and represent our community in an environment most will not venture to get near. Showing our humanity to people who have never met us is so important! May God’s love shower on you this holiday, get some rest, and be refreshed, ready to lead more in the future!

  6. Sally Cross 3 years ago

    As usual Jenny you are doing good works. That episode in Houston is already being criticized online by people complaining the she herself did not talk to the “right” people. I hope that Caitlin doesn’t let the negative talk bring her down.

  7. Sherry Jons 3 years ago

    Jenny;
    This is a wonderful thing you and Caitlynn did. Hopefully his eyes will open and he’ll not only tell his congregation about the visit….But more importantly educate himself and others about what we, as a community, have to go thru. With permission I’d like to send this off to Jenny Naughton who runs Always Our Children… A support group for LGBT Catholics and their families.
    Merry Christmas and all my respect and love.
    Sherry

  8. Aria Hare Rama 3 years ago

    Blessed be ! That certainly seems to me to be a wonderful and positive step . I am glad you were there with Cait . Thanks for going !

  9. Janine 3 years ago

    Merry Christmas! Thank you for the continued work you do. My son ,Stephen, is looking forward to this year being the start of the surgery. A year of change ,blessed to have support – Glaad and people like you give him light.
    Keep your glowing light and love.
    Warmest regards,
    Janine Lewis

  10. Giselle Marie Chacon 3 years ago

    Thanks for sharing this account Jenny. The memes have just begun surfacing along with the inevitable criticisms. I wonder how many of those critics have tried to put real faces on the ‘demons’ these people have made all of us into? I am also encouraged to hear about your road trip with Cait and your sincere desire to help her learn more about how most of our transgender siblings are forced to live (even here in the US), and that season 2 of the show is intended to give more diverse members of our community a chance to tell their stories.

    Safe travels to you all and thanks for your continuing efforts to bring awareness of the issues that face our community into the light of mainstream society.

    Best wishes,
    Giselle Marie Chacon

  11. Mitchell Gold 3 years ago

    Bravo! If we don’t talk to our adversaries, than they will never hear what we have to say.

    And you hit the nail on the head: These anti-LGBT Christians will lie about trans people to further their religion-based bigoted agenda.

  12. Alexis 3 years ago

    The problem is the way that “they” can use this “show of support” against the local transgender community after you leave town.

  13. Zoe Brain 3 years ago

    If I may make a suggestion?
    After this – please contact the people in Houston who have been hurt by these pastors. I think that’s just as important.

    What you did was good (IMHO) but incomplete, only half the job done, and without that, much of the good will be wasted.

  14. Mitch Gordon 3 years ago

    Beautifully written. Be strong be strong and be strengthened. Something we say in Judaism each time we complete one of the Five books of Moses (each book in Torah). And at Chanukah we too light candles and Peter Paul and Mary have helped to fight for the rights of all people, reminding us with “Light One Candle” how important the light in each of us is to light the darkness around us…Best to you and Caitlyn…Peace and blessings…

    Peter Paul and Mary link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h1cRXgDFiSs

  15. Kittybriton 3 years ago

    Thank you for representing our community Jenny. I have the greatest admiration for those who are determined to love those who persecute us and despitefully use us.

  16. Regina 3 years ago

    Glad they went on a ride around the country! Hand picking T-people to meet and places to visit! Wish the Tabloids were not trying to destroy Caitlyn!

  17. Barbara 3 years ago

    Thank you for your article. I’m touched by the act of the pastor to listen without judgement. I only wish society would or at least to be a little more kind. I’m always reading negative comments even though I try to focus and visit positive sites. The world is ugly for trans people and I hate it. I love everyone in a the community and do my best to support but sometimes I wonder if its good enough. You and the other women do give me hope, and I will hold tight to that…

  18. Barbara 3 years ago

    Its very surprising to me that after spending a lifetime in hiding that some would want a newly trans women to go back into the closet ( as it were)

  19. Leslie Crawford 3 years ago

    It’s all about opening people minds and earning their respect.

  20. Deanna Gray Hawk Pal 3 years ago

    Yes Jennifer, that was good work to do, on many levels. You and Caitlyn did well. What a wonderful prayer you offered. Perhaps it will do some good in the long run. The Baptists are stubborn. Yes, I’m sure your hearts were pounding. Thank you for your good work all around, your writing, and for the time and energy spent with Caitlyn Jenner.

  21. Kristen See 3 years ago

    I must admit to, like so many trans men and women, having been absolutely horrified when I heard that you and Ms. Jenner had gone to that particular church – but then I suspected your motives might have been to bring a more positive message to a hater.

    That having been said, I’m not certain that praying with him was the most appropriate step. While I understand that praying is just something Christians do, I think my response might have been, “No, Mr. Young. I’ll pray for you, but definitely not with you.”

  22. Malinda Lodge 3 years ago

    To face down injustice and hate armed only with love and respect is about as brave as it gets. Many tell us that transitioning is brave, many deny it as bravery and cite necessity. What you did was brave. A bravery far beyond the normal for a one on one confrontation. Thank you for your advocacy and strength. Your subtle leadership in our community is so appreciated and needed. Keep up the good fight!

  23. Jem Traylen 3 years ago

    Wow! That’s inspiring. I wish that I could not only have that sort of courage but also conduct myself with the same dignity and grace when meeting such people. In New Zealand, we have a saying ” Kia kaha” “stay strong”

  24. Cathy 3 years ago

    I believe that love is the only thing that can conquer hate; and courage can conquer fear. It takes tremendous courage to walk into a church like this – but this is exactly what needs to happen if hearts are to change. Congratulations on lighting that candle! For hate is darkness, and love is light, wherever it may dwell. Bravo!!

  25. monica mattox 3 years ago

    thanks for clarifying
    i TRANSITIONED back home in HOUSTON
    i LIVED near the second baptist chuch there off Voss/San Felipe

    Caitlyn Jenner did a BOLD step IMHO
    thank you

    Monica Mattox

    (houston)
    not in dallas
    job transfer PRIOR to HERO vote

    ps: “Dallas is NOT Houston”
    per DALLAS pr campaign
    POST HERO issue

    exactly
    xooxoxo

  26. Brenda Lunger 3 years ago

    Just a few questions, Jenny.

    Did they let any of Caitlyn’s trans entourage use the women’s room at Second Baptist?
    Did you only spend your time dignifying the haters, or did you meet with prominent local Houston trans activists like Monica Roberts, Nikki Araguz Loyd, or Lou Weaver to get a better idea of the situation?
    Did Ed Young confess his sin of bearing false witness against his trans neighbors to you as you prayed with him? Matthew 18 would appear to require that.

    • Let’s see. Yes, we all used the women’s room, every last one of us.
      We did not go to dignify haters. We went to confront them and to tell them of the harm they’ve caused to their faces. It was really scary, but we did it and I am glad we did.
      We did meet with local Houston trans activists. That was a powerful conversation, and I’m glad we did that too.
      We did not meet with Monica, and we should have. I wish we had. I have expressed my regrets to her.
      Ed Young did not “confess to bearing false witness.” He did say he didn’t understand what it meant to be trans, and he figured if you have a Y chromosome, you must be male. We explained to him that this was wrong.

  27. ChloeAlexa Landry 3 years ago

    Ms. Boylan you write, ” This struck me as good work to do.”. You live in La La Land and must not understand TV and how it holds and garners viewers. You as a group did not meet with any of the Black Trans contingent while in Houston. A meeting with the Mayor would have been a positive point. It’s your acting like, Neville Chamberlain, who was out of his league.

    • Chloe, thanks for your comment. I would suggest, gently, that Caitlyn Jenner spending 24 hours in Houston is probably not on the same level as Neville Chamberlain’s sell-out to Hitler.

  28. Autumn Sandeen 3 years ago

    Let me give a little more cynical take, Jenny. If you read the comments — which I’ll admit for my own published writings on LGBT Weekly I don’t — maybe you could respond to.

    So to begin with, as a Co-Chair of the GLAAD Board of Directors, I’m positive you’re aware of GLAAD’s tagline “words and images matter.” You’re no doubt aware of the two images that are circulating the most from the season 2 I Am Cait episode filmed in Houston.

    The first one is the image the of six white women of trans connection — who aren’t local to Houston — flown into Houston for the I Am Cait reality show discussion group about HERO. Even though GLAAD and NCTE are both represented in the image with you and Mara Keisling respectively, apparently no one asked the questions as concerned trans community members of “Do the people in the image reflect who we’re discussing in the episode?”, and “Do the people in the image look like a cross-section of community that we’re representing?” And, the reason is because the answer to both questions is obviously “no.”

    The second image with is with Caitlyn Jenner and yourself in a prayer circle with virulently antitransgender Pastor Ed Young. While Caitlyn and you couldn’t find, or take the effort to find, the trans community civil rights activists in Houston to discuss HERO with — on or off camera — y’all could find, and find time to huddle in prayer with, that virulently antitransgender pastor who literally is seeking to demonize and oppress transgender people.

    The words we have that go with the two images from Houston are Monica Roberts’ words in her viral post entitled Caitlyn Comes To H-town, Screws Up Again — especially the words where she called the six people in first image “vanillacentric.” Roberts now has a second post out entitled My Being Patient With Caitlyn Is Over where she talks about how a freshly minted, white trans woman with a reality show is showing disrespect to black transgender elders in community by consistently ignoring them.

    As we’re discussing this, let’s ask ourselves something: what exactly did either Caitlyn Jenner do to help the Houston civil rights activists prior to the vote in, and now her visit to, Houston? I don’t believe there were any personal appearances or financial donations from the Jenner camp to help fight for the civil rights of transgender people in Houston– please correct me if I’m wrong.

    So, cynical me has to ask “Why Houston? Why now?” Here’s my cynical take:

    Caitlyn Jenner is getting paid millions for her reality show I Am Cait: the producers of Caitlyn Jenner I Am Cait brainstormed for locations for the second season of the show. They concluded that there was money to be made for Caitlyn Jenner and the crew in creating imagery from Houston — I’m pretty sure too that you’re not an uncompensated participant yourself. So, there’s opportunity personal gain to be made in going to Houston to tell a narrative of the Houston civil rights loss for an episode of I Am Cait.

    My guess is that the producers of the show decided they needed Houston as a backdrop, but felt they didn’t need any of the actual civil rights activists — to include the transgender civil rights activists of color — to tell the narrative they wanted to tell. This is how I believe we got the image of six white women of trans connection, with no local trans community connection, that Monica Roberts called “vanillacentric.”

    And, I’m guessing that the producers of I Am Cait thought that the pairing Jenner with Pastor Young would make for good reality show drama. I don’t believe for a minute, Jenny, that Caitlyn or you went to that church without first discussing it first with the I Am Cait producers. (Frankly, how would you even know where the church was without the producers doing the legwork?) But, this is how we got the image of Caitlyn, you, Pastor Young, and a couple of others in a prayer circle — just reality show drama.

    If you want to go by the optics, it looks like GLAAD and NCTE facilitated financial exploitation of the trans civil rights movement for the benefit of those who are making money off of I Am Cait, whether GLAAD and NCTE meant to facilitate that kind of exploitation or not.

    And hey, if this were Jenner’s first community misstep, this would be bad from an optics perspective. But, this isn’t her first misstep — she just apologized for her last major misstep when she said to Time Magazine that trans people should look presentable as men or women so as not to make others uncomfortable. (And, even that wasn’t her first misstep.)

    I’ve read this blog post. As a response, I don’t see how it’s going to overcome the words and images we have from Houston. Frankly, Jenny, at this point you look like part of the problem and not part of the solution. I’m in the group that believe we need a full-throated apology from you personally, and not a justification of the prayer circle image like this one in this post.

    • Autumn, I”m “approving” your post here out of my deep, deep respect for you. I disagree strongly with what you say here, for a number of reasons, some of which I shared with you privately. It’s important to know that GLAAD had nothing to do with this event– they didn’t even know I was there. My affiliation with GLAAD here has about as much to do with the situation as my affiliation with the New York Times or the Kinsey Institute or Barnard College. NCTE likewise was not being represented by mara; she was there at my request to talk about the situation in months ahead regarding the many poisonous “bathroom bills” being prepared by our foes. Anyway, I think CJ deserves plenty of criticism– the entire reason I am on that show is to be the person constantly trying to get her to see the distance between her good intentions and her many false steps; and the chasm between the Republican party she votes for and the harm many of the politicians in that party wish to do to us. When the show airs you will see endless footage of me holding my head, muttering, “You’re killing me.” It was a rather difficult assignment for me, but I did it because I think it’s important work to do. I continue to believe that the most famous trans person in the world is better off educated and included and nurtured, rather than scorned.

      Anyway, I know you disagree, and that’s fine. As I’ve said many times, there is plenty of room in our movement for disagreement. I remain one of your biggest fans, Autumn, and I’m grateful for your contribution here.

  29. Terri Ellen 3 years ago

    Thanks for setting the example as a Christian should in loving one’s neighbor as you love yourself. Proud of you both for going into the lions den!! My pastor knows I’m trans, my bible small group knows I’m trans, it’s hard to manage at times. I’m not out 24/7 and may never be, but I still can educate and show my fellow Christians how hard it is to be trans and that we are not evil, we are just like everyone else.

    You quoted Imagine, John Lennon’s son, it reminded me of another Lennon Song, a Beatle one, All You Need Is Love.

    Love, love, love.
    Love, love, love.
    Love, love, love.

    There’s nothing you can do that can’t be done.
    Nothing you can sing that can’t be sung.
    Nothing you can say but you can learn how to play the game.
    It’s easy.

    Nothing you can make that can’t be made.
    No one you can save that can’t be saved.
    Nothing you can do, but you can learn how to be you in time.
    It’s easy

    All you need is love.
    All you need is love.
    All you need is love, love.
    Love is all you need.

  30. Ellen Davis 3 years ago

    I admire your courage in doing this. It is unfortunate that the church and misguided Christians is where this bigotry started. And the church is where it must end. Thank you Jenny and Caitlyn.

  31. KsjslMZ 3 years ago

    744880 584804superb post. Neer knew this, appreciate it for letting me know. 736362

  32. Debra 3 years ago

    There problem is far more extensive and involves many more people than just the select group you
    are talking about. It holds true for all people for if we don’t fill ourselves with love then others will fill us with hate. The human condition is far more vast than Caitlin Jenner. We all encounter some form of hate on an almost daily basis.
    I am most deeply concerned with the education of the power of good and evil in all the people.
    To segregate one part of the population and only see the hate there is to blind oneself to a much greater problem.

  33. Gertrude Lagnese 3 years ago

    Jesus left us with one commandment: “Love one another as I have loved you”. It’s so very simple, yet so hard to follow. I think Jenny et al did the right thing here. Compassion and love will win the day. As a friend of mine says, people can’t hate you when they know your story. Thank you Jenny.

  34. Catherine Margaronis 3 years ago

    Jenny, this was a truly brave and amazing thing for you all to have done. As a strong advocate and supporter of the LGBTQI community and as family to a trans teenage girl, I’m proud of you. Proud to watch your journey on I Am Cait, proud to see you educate and support Caitlyn even when she’s staunch in her GOP views, proud to watch you take the time to perform such a scary visit to open others’ limited, bigoted views on the trans community. I believe as you do that it’s through love and an optimistic and gentle spirit that we have the opportunity to change those belief systems. To open hearts to an understanding that transgender people are just people, not monsters, not non-believers, not evil. Thank you for all you do in your everyday walk to advocate. There will always be those who bash the I Am Cait group of women for not getting everything right. I continue to hope and pray for all of them, with love in my heart, to remember that each of you is human, each is doing the best she can, and that it’s better to put one foot in front of the other and make forward progress than to be paralyzed in fear of offending someone and doing nothing. I believe when our intentions are in the right place, to do GOOD for others without an agenda for self-promotion, that good is done and progress is made and most importantly, the word is spread to a bigger audience to eliminate ignorance and fear of what’s different. I look forward with the utmost pleasure to season 2: I Am Cait and watching you, Cait, Candis, Chandi, Jen, Kate B, and all of the other trans women I’ll meet through your travels share your stories, hope, and love. Blessings and hugs to you for a phenomenal 2016!

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