The Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, at the 223rd General Assembly in St. Louis, MO on Saturday, June 16, 2018. (Photo by Michael Whitman)

The Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, at the 223rd General Assembly in St. Louis, MO on Saturday, June 16, 2018. Photo by Michael Whitman

In the coming days, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear is expected to veto a bill that will have an overwhelming negative impact on transgender youth across the state. Unfortunately, it may not be enough. Kentucky’s Republican lawmakers are joining their counterparts in several other states in a move designed to commit further violence against and deny the rights of transgender siblings of God and they likely have the votes to override any veto.

If it becomes law, this legislation will:

  • Prevent transgender students from receiving gender-affirming care
  • Require healthcare providers to end treatment/surgical procedures for patients undergoing such care
  • Stop educators from discussing sexual orientation and gender identity
  • Potentially put transgender youth in harm’s way by being “outed” to their parents and others

The decision by lawmakers to take on this issue is placing young people at great risk. Their arguments are lacking in facts and are solely based on what they consider culture appropriate norms. Anxiety and depression are high among trans and non-binary youth. Numerous studies have shown that more than half between the ages of 13 and 24 in the U.S. have considered ending their own lives. Now, more than ever, we need to stop hurting and start loving the LGBTQIA+ youth in our care.

The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) strongly affirms the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, and transgender people, passing a resolution in 2014 to hold them in prayer in countries where they are vulnerable. The assembly affirms the full dignity and humanity of transgender people, their full inclusion in all human rights, and their giftedness for service. The assembly affirms the church’s obligation to stand for the right of people of all gender identities to live free from discrimination, violence, and every form of injustice.

We were created in the likeness and image of God, to live in community and walk by faith together. Even when we don’t understand, we must trust that the good Lord does. There’s something wrong when we alienate individuals based on perceived otherness. We all belong to God. We are called to challenge any judicial process that says we are not created in the image and likeness of God. Every human being deserves to live in peace and live in the presence of a God who never abandons us.


Stated Clerk Signature
Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II
Stated Clerk of the General Assembly
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)