An Open Pastoral Letter to Transgender
Members of the US Armed Forces
by Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins
I believe we are called to work for peace and justice in the world. That being true, it is also true that nations must have defensive capabilities. Perhaps we rush to war too often, but our government is challenged to provide for the common defense. For decades now, service in the U.S. military has not been conscripted, but rather, has been completely voluntary. For a variety of reasons, many people choose to spend a number of years ready to defend their country if called upon to do so. Such service takes courage and discipline, and those who risk so much for so many deserve our respect and our best wishes.
Today, the pastoral leaders of the Sunshine Cathedral in Fort Lauderdale wish to take a moment to thank all members of the Armed Forces, and to celebrate in particularTransgender members of the branches of the U.S. military. Transgender people continue to be misunderstood, vilified, feared, and targeted, and yet as many as 15,000 Transgender service people work to keep our country safe. Transgender people who serve, like gays and lesbians, women, and people of color at various times in our history, have had to fight for the right to serve and defend a country that didn't always show them the respect as individuals they deserved. And still, love of country and devotion to what it could be prevailed and LGBT people and other minorities have served with distinction, proving that what's in the heart is mightier than the various prejudices that try to hold us back.
Transgender service people, we at the Sunshine Cathedral want you to know that you are in our hearts today, we are praying for you, we appreciate and respect you, and we will speak out for you whenever you are being attacked, no matter who may be launching the attacks. You are heroes and we bless you for your courageous and faithful service. You bravely defend us. We will try, now, to stand faithfully with you.
Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins
"As a veteran I find it appalling that the current Commander-In-Chief of the United States of America would seek to ostracize, discriminate against, or prevent anyone, especially those of the Transgender Community who willingly volunteered, from serving in the Armed Forces. They, like many others raised their right hand and affirmed to 'support and defend the Constitution of the United States...So help me God.' With God's help and protection, let our Transgender brothers and sisters be an example of what it means to serve with pride, honor and dignity." Rev. Dr. Robert Griffin, Executive Minister
"I honor, affirm, and recognize the humanity of all Trans* people serving in the U.S. military. I see you. I will fight for you. I will not accept the continued erosion of your rights." Rev. Anne Atwell, Minister of Connections
"The thousands of transgender servicemembers bravely and honorably serving their country today need to know that in spite of the President's ugly words and regressive policy decision, millions of Americans recognize the value of their lives are grateful for their sacrifice and that of their families for this country." Rev. Ty Bradley, Minister of Social Justice