Sisters, Brothers, and all Siblings of the Light, welcome to Pride Sunday!
My name is Kylie Jones-Greenwood and I am NOT a woman.
When you look at me, you see a female body. That’s my sex assigned at birth.
When you look at me, you see traditionally feminine clothing. That’s my gender expression.
When you look at me, you cannot tell my gender identity. It’s only when we speak, when we connect as human beings, that you find out that I am not a woman - I am genderqueer.
Gender identity is a deeply-held sense of being male, female, or another gender. It is an internal and deeply personal understanding of one's self, and it may or may not align with a person’s sex assigned at birth or gender expression. My deeply-held sense of self is that I am neither a woman nor a man, nor am I something in between - I’m simply a human. I use the word genderqueer to describe this sense of living outside of the gender binary.
Because I am neither a woman nor a man, I think about and speak to myself using very specific language. I use the pronoun set “they/them/theirs.”. Example: “Ooh that Kylie! They’ve got the skills to pay the bills”. I use non-gendered terms. Example: Buddy, friend, pal.
Consider for a moment how you think about or speak to yourself. What words do you use? Do they match your deeply-held sense of being male, female, or something else?
For people who have a gender identity that matches their sex assigned at birth and their gender expression, it’s highly likely that other people think about and speak to them with the same language they use to think about and speak to themselves. Queer people like me, who have a perceived mismatch between their gender identity, sex assigned at birth, and gender expression, don’t receive that basic human dignity as a default. We have to rely on people who know us to respect our identity and use our chosen language. We have to come out to strangers everyday and ask them, sometimes beg them, to use our chosen language. And we have to bear the weight of every wrong pronoun and gendered term and microaggression that a cisgendered person never has to think about.
Sometimes, it is joyous to be Queer. And sometimes it is exhausting. And sometimes it is enraging.
I was joyous when in early 2020, I came to the podium in this church and declared to everyone present that I was coming out as genderqueer and that I would be using they/them pronouns. I distinctly remember the hug Alvina gave me afterward, and hug that rivaled those my late grandmother gave me throughout my childhood. I am joyous each time someone, whether a stranger or a beloved friend, trusts me enough to share their identity with me. I am joyous when I gather with Queer friends and we speak with our shared language.
I am exhausted when people laugh about how they just can’t use they/them as my pronouns because it’s incorrect English. I am exhausted when I must live as a woman when I go home to visit my family. I am exhausted when I have to do mental calculus to decide if a place is safe enough for me to reveal my true identity.
I am enraged because our government is systematically enacting oppression and violence against me and my Queer siblings.
In 2022, H.B. 374 was passed, which bans books containing “pornographic or indecent content” from Utah K-12 libraries and classrooms. Apparently “pornographic or indecent content” overwhelmingly means books about Black, Indigenous, and People of Color and Queer people like me.
In 2023, S.B. 16 was passed, which effectively banned the provision of gender affirming care to transgender patients under the age of 18. Gender affirming care that could look like a child, their parents, and their doctor making a plan to try out a new nickname or haircut.
And now, in the year of our Lord 2024, Governor Cox is poised to sign H.B. 257, which will segregate bathrooms in publicly-owned buildings. Trans folks will only be able to legally use the bathroom that matches their gender identity if they have “fully transitioned,” as in had all possible gender-confirming surgeries, and changed the sex listed on their birth certificate. Not only is that list of demands wildly expensive to complete, it lays out a process that doesn’t match the needs and wants of every trans person.
Yes, there is much to be joyous and exhausted and enraged about in my Queer life.
I found this church because of the Pride flags on the outside of the building. I’ve stayed at this church because of the acceptance I’ve found here. We, together, can move deeper into the pride and acceptance that lives here. And it is with that goal in mind that I leave you with a call to action.
To my allies, advocate for me and my queer siblings. Listen deeply to us. Seek to understand our identities and speak to and about us with the language we ask you to use. Correct others who are using harmful language. And for God’s sake, use your safety and privilege as cisgendered, heteronormative people to protest with all your might against state-endorsed violence, oppression, and hate.
To my queer siblings, let us rely on one another. Let us speak our strengths and vulnerabilities to each other so that when the time comes some of us may resist while others of us rest.
May the all-accepting, all-enduring love of Jesus Christ shine on each of us, and may we internalize and reflect that light to others. In Christ’s name, Amen.