Recently I attended the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance service. In recent years we remembered about 200 who had been killed in each of the previous years. This year there were 283 who were murdered; in the United States there were 25, up from fewer than five in each of the previous years. Equally heartbreaking was over 1,000 who committed suicide.

There are about one million transgender people in our country. Only 17 states offer legal protection. Montana is not one of those states, though a few cities have passed ordinances — not Billings. They are more likely to be bullied, to lose jobs and be denied housing where there are no legal protections.

Since Caitlyn Jenner made the headlines, more people have come to understand what it means to be transgender and to learn of the problems they face. Yet, transgender youth and adults tell how hard it is to get medical attention, to feel comfortable in places of worship, to feel safe at school or on the job.

As a community we are responsible for each other. Our Montana Constitution guarantees the dignity of the individual is inviolable. Equal protection shall not be denied. We need to learn as much as possible about those who are different if we would live together in dignity and peace.

Medical people take a Hippocratic Oath to treat all people. Does that not mean that they should learn all they can so their patients will be treated with dignity and compassion? Clergy have taken vows of service to God who only requires love for all. Should we not educate ourselves so as to better teach our congregations? 

The Rev. Kenneth Crouch

Billings

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