This post, “Dear ELCA, We Must Speak and Act for Trans Lives,” is reprinted in full by permission of the author, originally posted to the author’s blog on March 27, 2023.


By Jamie Bruesehoff [about the author]

During this week leading up to Transgender Day of Visibility as legislative attacks terrorize the LGBTQ+ community with many targeting transgender young people, consider our call as a church and how we might live that call out in proclamation and action for the sake of our siblings. This post is specifically directed at my siblings in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) although the action steps apply to all.

My daughter, Rebekah Bruesehoff, with her dad an ELCA pastor at the New Jersey State House. She was 10 years old then. She is now 16 years old. Trans lives continue to be under attack.

People of faith continue to do the most significant harm to the LGBTQ+ community, personally and politically. People of faith must loudly and boldly speak and act against it.

I have watched as parents, lay leaders, deacons and pastors, and bishops mobilize in action against these sinful attacks on the LGBTQ+ community, especially our transgender and nonbinary siblings. Public posts, sermons, email campaigns, being present at protests, and testifying in the legislature and more.

Thank you Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton for your statement

Thank you to Bishop Kevin Strickland (Southeastern Synod), Bishop Mike Rinehart (Texas – Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod), and Bishop Sue Briner (Southwestern Texas Synod) for showing up at state capitals and testifying and mobilizing your people to do the same. I’m certain these aren’t the only Bishops mobilizing, but these are the ones I’ve spoken with or heard from.

Thank you to ELCA Vice President Imran Siddiqui for repeatedly using your voice to lift up who we are as a church and to vocally support our transgender siblings and oppose discrimination.

Thank you to leaders and ministries like Pastor Dawn Bennett at the Table in Nashville and Technicolor Ministries in the Southwestern Texas ministries. I know so many others are doing this work on the ground; I am grateful for all of you.

I am deeply grateful for every single person, every statement, every act of advocacy. I am grateful for the way our church is looking to understand what a more faithful and just future looks like in the realm of our polity. And we need to do more. Right now.

Our transgender siblings are crying out for justice, they are begging for mercy and protection, for support, for people to care with their words and their actions. Our rostered leaders, our seminarians, families with transgender youth, and the transgender people in our pews need the church to show up at this moment. What are we going to do? There is a genocide happening. There is blood on the hands of those who do not act.



For this we can turn not only to recent statements from Bishop Elizabeth Eaton but to our social statement on Faith, Sexism, and Justice.

Faith, Sexism, and Justice: A Call To Action – English

Faith, Sexism, and Justice: A Call to Action – Spanish

In this social statement the ELCA commits itself to the following (among other things):.

  • Advocate for and support laws, policies, and practices that respect diverse bodies rather than discriminating against, objectifying, or devaluing them. (p. 60)

  • Advocate for and support medical research, health care delivery, and access to equitable and affordable health care services, including reproductive health care, that honor how bodies differ and eliminate discrimination due to sex (biological), gender, or sexual orientation. (p.62)

  • Advocate for and support portrayals in entertainment, media, and advertising that do not objectify or stereotype people but rather show all people as capable of the wide variety of human characteristics and roles. (p. 67)

And in implementation of those commitments, we resolve to:

1 – To urge members, congregations, synods, churchwide ministries, social ministry organizations, church-related institutions, ecumenical partners, and all people of good will to be guided by this statement’s convictions and commitments to resist and dismantle patriarchy and sexism, and to transform life in the church and in society; (p. 81)

2 – To call upon members of this church to pray, work, and advocate for justice for all those affected by sexism and patriarchy and to draw upon this statement in forming their judgments and actions in daily life; (p.81)

4 – To call upon all members of this church to reflect on how mass media (films, video games, etc.) and social media distort sex, gender, and sexuality and to address this problem in their own actions (especially their care for children); (p.81)

10 – To call upon this church’s advocacy and related ministries, such as ELCA Advocacy and ELCA World Hunger, to support and advocate for measures, policies, and laws consistent with this social statement and to give sustained attention to its convictions and commitments in the creation of programs and projects; (p. 82)

15 – To call upon rostered and lay congregational leaders, synodical and CWO staff, social ministry organizations, and faculty and staff at ELCA colleges, seminaries, and universities to renew their efforts to welcome, care for, and support the lives and gifts of LGBTQIA+ persons and to oppose discrimination against these persons so that they may live into the promise of gender justice envisioned in this social statement; (p.82)



It is clear what we believe as a church. In light of the above directives, we must advocate against: gender affirming healthcare bans, transgender athlete bans, curriculum and book bans, bathroom bans, bills disguised as parental rights efforts that jeopardize the health, safety, and humanity of LGBTQ+ young people.

So what do we do? We give of ourselves, our time, and our possessions for the sake of our siblings. The following action steps are by no means exhaustive. Honestly, they are a starting point. But may they be a jumping off point for you to commit time, money, and energy to the fight for transgender lives.

  • Find what’s happening in your state (ACLU leg tracker linked). You can google other resources. Here’s a look at healthcare bans that have been passed or introduced across the country.. 

    • Call your legislators. Tell them as a constituent and a person of faith, you oppose bills that discriminate against LGBTQ+ people.

    • Plan to show up to testify

  • Find what organizations are doing on the ground work related to what’s happening in your state. Google it. Ask on social media. 

    • Reach out to ask how you can best help in this moment. Listen to them and do what they tell you to do.

    • Plan to show up at public actions and protests as a person of faith.

    • Donate funds to them and encourage others to do the same.

  • Communicate what you’ve learned in both items above and the next steps with colleagues and congregation members.

    • Speak it from your pulpit.

    • Mobilize your people.

    • Share widely on social media.

  • Tell your story publicly. As a person of faith, as a Lutheran church leader, as a parent and a community member… I oppose discrimination against my transgender siblings of any kind, not in spite of my faith, but because of it. I support LGBTQ+ people. I support science. I support truth.

    • Write op-eds.

    • Speak to your neighbors.

    • Be bold, because your faith calls you to this.

  • Donate to local, state, and national organizations working for the full justice and safety of LGBTQ+ people, especially transgender and non-binary people. 

  • Donate to direct aid requests for families or individuals seeking safety, seeking healthcare, or otherwise in need.

Transgender and nonbinary people are called and claimed children of God. The church and the world is a better place because of them. And it is our responsibility as Christians to actively and relentlessly work for justice.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jamie Bruesehoff (she/they), a member of the ELCA Church Council, is an award-winning LGBTQ+ advocate, nationally known speaker, and mother of three, including a transgender child. Her family and work have been featured by media outlets and organizations around the world, including Disney, NPR, Good Morning America, USA Today, The Today Show, CBS News, Human Rights Campaign, The Trevor Project, and The GenderCool Project. With a master’s degree from The Lutheran Theological Seminary-Gettysburg and twenty years of experience working with youth and adults in and outside of the church, she strives to create a world where LGBTQ+ young people thrive. She lives in New Jersey with her spouse and children. Her upcoming book, Raising Kids Beyond the Binary: Celebrating God’s Transgender and Gender-Diverse Children, is available for pre-order wherever books are sold.