The message today, in honor of Transgender Day of Remembrance, is delivered in two parts.  The first half is excerpted from an article in the New York Times on August 21, 2015,  by Jennifer Finney Boylan, a professor of English at Barnard College, the author of “Stuck in the Middle With You: Parenthood in Three Genders” and a contributing opinion writer to the New York Times.

The second half is a message delivered to the congregation by Ms. Desiree DeMornay.

The scripture reading today is taken from Psalm 10:12-15 and 17-18.

Below you will find the recordings of each half as well as a transcript of Part 1 of today’s message.

PART ONE

PART TWO

PASTOR: 

It was snowing in Maine on January 9. I’d been to the dentist’s the day before. The staff there were pleasant enough when I changed genders 12 years ago. “We’ll just change your forms,” the receptionist had said, cheerfully. “It’s no problem.”

TRANS TEAM: 

That day, Papi Edwards, 20, a transgender woman of color, was shot to death outside a hotel in Louisville, Ky. 

LIGHT CANDLE 

CONGREGATION RESPONSE:

Jesus help me find my way to end this oppression.

PASTOR: 

If you’d told me in 2000, as a transgender woman just coming out, that I was a person of privilege, I’d have angrily lectured you about exactly how heavy the burden I’d been carrying was. It had nearly done me in: the shame, the secrecy, the loneliness. It had not yet occurred to me that other burdens, carried by other women, could be weightier. 

On January 17, I moved into a new apartment on 106th and West End in Manhattan, in anticipation of the spring semester at Barnard College, where I teach English. My son Zach came down with me, helping to carry my luggage. He was heading back to college the next day. We had lunch at an Ethiopian restaurant called Awash, on Amsterdam. I pointed out the window at the building across the street, where I’d lived with the screenwriter Charlie Kaufman in the early 1980s. I wasn’t out as transgender then; I couldn’t imagine it. Yet here I was, 30 years later, a Barnard professor, having lunch with my son, who is a drama major at Vassar. 

TRANS TEAM: 

Lamia Beard, a 30-year-old black transwoman, was shot that day in Norfolk, Va. It was the weekend before the Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday.

LIGHT CANDLE 

CONGREGATION RESPONSE:

Jesus help me find my way to end this oppression.

PASTOR: 

Feminist scholars write of the concept of “intersectionality” — the way people who occupy multiple oppressed identities can be understood only in terms of their sum, rather than as a set of independent experiences. As two transwomen, Ms. Beard and I had some common experiences. But the differences between us have to be understood not only in terms of race but also in the way the oppressions generated by race and gender are bound together. 

It snowed hard on January 26. The subways closed that night. The day before I’d gone to services at Riverside Church. Sitting in the pews, staring at stained glass, I’d felt the power of God shining on me like a bright light. 

Later, I talked to a friend about the thing I’d felt. My friend, an astrophysicist at Columbia, is a transwoman, too. We are both white. 

TRANS TEAM: 

They found Ty Underwood’s body in her car that day. She was a black transwoman, a nursing assistant who lived in Tyler, Texas.

LIGHT CANDLE

CONGREGATION RESPONSE:

Jesus help me find my way to end this oppression.

Pastor: 

Like a lot of white people, a lot of the time I’m not aware of having “white privilege.” In a similar way, I can tell you that I wasn’t aware of having “male privilege,” either, in the years before transition. It’s something you come to understand only when it’s gone, like the first time I walked down an empty street alone after midnight as a woman, and heard a man’s heavy footsteps behind me. 

On January 31, my wife came down from Maine. We went to see the movie “Selma” at the AMC Theater on West 84th Street. There, we saw the actor playing Dr. King say, “It is unacceptable that they use their power to keep us voiceless.” 

TRANS TEAM: 

Firefighters found Yazmin Vash Payne that day in an apartment in Los Angeles. She’d died of multiple stab wounds, reportedly the third transwoman killed in Los Angeles in four months. 

LIGHT CANDLE

CONGREGATION RESPONSE:

Jesus help me find my way to end this oppression

PASTOR: 

On February 1, I spent the day grading papers. That morning I worshiped at Riverside again. Sitting there listening to the carillon, I remembered the words my mother used to say: Love will prevail. 

TRANS TEAM: 

Around the time I was at Riverside, Taja Gabrielle DeJesus was found dead in a stairwell in San Francisco. She’d been stabbed. A transwoman of color in her 30s, she was a member of Bayview Church. Her mother described her as “beautiful inside and out.” 

LIGHT CANDLE 

CONGREGATION RESPONSE:

Jesus help me find my way to end this oppression.

PASTOR: 

The 2012 National Transgender Discrimination Survey reported that trans people faced pervasive bias in housing and employment and suffered from higher rates of suicide. In almost every area, black trans people reported that they were doing worse than white trans people. 

On Feb. 11, I appeared on MSNBC with the anchor Thomas Roberts and the actress Judith Light, who stars in the Amazon series “Transparent,” about a family with a transgender parent. We talked about the progress being made on transgender issues. But the progress isn’t equal for everyone. 

TRANS TEAM: 

Penny Proud, a 21-year-old transwoman of color, was shot to death the day before, in New Orleans. 

LIGHT CANDLE

CONGREGATION RESPONSE:

Jesus help me find my way to end this oppression.

PASTOR: 

On February 16, Barnard — an all-women’s college — had a community forum for students, alumni, faculty and staff members to talk about the issue of admitting transgender women. I spoke at the event, and told everyone to open their hearts. 

TRANS TEAM: 

Kristina Gomez Reinwald, also known as Kristina Grant Infiniti, was found dead the day before in Miami. She was a transgender Latina in her mid-40s. A Miami TV station reported that, since there were no signs of forced entry in her home, she may have known her killer — a person whose heart, one might guess, had not been opened. 

LIGHT CANDLE

CONGREGATION RESPONSE:

Jesus help me find my way to end this oppression.

PASTOR: 

I talked to Caitlyn Jenner by phone for the first time on May 18. She struck me as a kind soul, from a very different world than my own, but determined to do good. “We don’t want people dying over this issue,” she told me. 

TRANS TEAM: 

Londyn Chanel, a 21-year-old black transwoman, was found dead in North Philadelphia that day of stab wounds. One of her friends told a local station, “She had a heart of gold.” 

LIGHT CANDLE 

CONGREGATION RESPONSE:

Jesus help me find my way to end this oppression.

PASTOR: 

On May 30, I was in San Francisco for a meeting of the board of GLAAD, the L.G.B.T. advocacy group. 

TRANS TEAM: 

Mercedes Williamson, a 17-year-old transwoman, reportedly disappeared that same day in Rocky Creek, Ala. Her body was found a few days later, in a field behind the house of the alleged murderer’s father. 

LIGHT CANDLE 

CONGREGATION RESPONSE:

Jesus help me find my way to end this oppression.

PASTOR: 

On July 21, my wife and I were in a Los Angeles restaurant with the transgender minister Allyson Robinson. “God knows us,” she told me, “before we know ourselves.” 

TRANS TEAM: 

India Clarke, a 25-year-old transwoman of color, was found beaten to death in Tampa, FL that day. A local station referred to her as a “man dressed as a woman.” Her father said: “The Lord made us this way. It’s a shame that we could lose the life because of who we are.” 

LIGHT CANDLE 

CONGREGATION RESPONSE:

Jesus help me find my way to end this oppression.

PASTOR: 

Two days later, I spent an evening on the set of the Amazon series “Transparent” on the Paramount lot. My son, who knows all about having a transgender parent, is working on the show as a production assistant. 

TRANS TEAM: 

  1. C. Haggard was killed that day, in Fresno, stabbed by someone passing in a car.

LIGHT CANDLE 

CONGREGATION RESPONSE:

Jesus help me find my way to end this oppression.

PASTOR: 

On August 8, I went to dinner at the Village Inn in Belgrade Lakes, Maine. The inn is across the lake from our house. My wife and I traveled there by boat. 

TRANS TEAM: 

Amber Monroe, 20, a transwoman of color, was killed in Detroit that day. Someone shot her as she was getting out of a car near Palmer Park.

LIGHT CANDLE

CONGREGATION RESPONSE:

Jesus help me find my way to end this oppression.

TRANS TEAM: 

Since the beginning of August news reports have come out about the deaths of at least six more trans or gender-nonconforming people including Shade Schuler, in Dallas; Kandis Capri, in Phoenix; Ashton O’Hara, in Detroit; Elisha Walker, near Smithfield, N.C.,Tamara Dominguez, in Kansas City, Mo., and Zella Ziona in Montgomery County, MD. 

LIGHT CANDLE 

CONGREGATION RESPONSE:

Jesus help me find my way to end this oppression.

PASTOR: 

My mother told me that love would prevail, and for me it has, as it often does for people of privilege in this country, people who can find themselves insulated from injustice by dint of race or class or education or accident of birth. 

TRANS TEAM: 

For many transwomen, though, especially those of color, something other than love prevails: loss. Did their lives matter any less than mine? 

CONGREGATION RESPONSE:

Jesus help me find my way to end this oppression.