They Asked to Pray for a Trans Woman
And pray we did.
This was originally posted as a Twitter thread on April 16, 2018. Because today is D.C. Pride, I thought it’d be lovely to make y’all smile and republish it here. As always, I would be so grateful if you support my writing with a paid subscription.
Today, I was sitting in front of a cafe in downtown D.C., minding my own goddamn business, when three people who were clearly tourists of some sort walked up and gestured for me to take out my headphones. And I did and one of them said:
"Can we pray for you?"
I asked them why they wanted to pray for me, and the same person answered that they felt called by God to walk around the streets of D.C. and let God's voice tell them who might be broken or otherwise need prayer. She literally used the word "broken".
Now... I'm a Christian, and I'm not opposed to prayer or people praying specifically for me when done in good faith. But I was dressed femme as hell today with gorgeous makeup and clothing and earrings, and I sure as hell caught the gist of why these folks happened upon me to offer prayer.
And I thought: okay, let's do this. And I so asked their spokesperson if she understood how it might look to be searching for "broken" people to pray for and specifically pick out a random transgender person on the street to offer prayer. And they looked more than taken aback.
So, I stood up, with what passed for a smile barely concealing my annoyance with this situation, and I asked them what the Book of Matthew says about prayer. And their eyes go wide and the guy on the right starts nervously stammering in front of me in front of this cafe.
It's clear he's having trouble answering the question, as are the other two, so ambushed are they that the "broken" transgender person is asking a simple question about a common verse on prayer in Matthew, and I wait for a few seconds more than what is comfortable to answer.
"You know how Matthew says that where two or three are gathered in Jesus' name, there He is with us."
And they stare blankly at me because they have tiptoed with their condescending, passive-aggressive bullshit straight into a brick wall, and I have no intention of going easy.
"That is what Matthew says, is it not?"
And one of them says "yes, that's right", and they don't understand that the verse is commonly misused as a prayer for intercession rather than its true purpose as a prayer of accountability. And here, today, I shall bring accountability.
I have had it up to here with Evangelicals sticking their noses into how my humanity is defined, and I will be damned if they're going to interrupt my Sunday afternoon coffee when I certainly wasn't bothering them.
"So, let's pray."
And they nervously step forward into a circle.
I say to one of them: "You start us off." And she does. It is quick and antiseptic because they, the three of them, want to get the hell away from this awkward situation. And then I pick it up when it's clear she's done.
"Lord Jesus, thank you for the benefit of these friends..." and I'm quite honest with God about how I hope She'll bless my new friends with a priority for affirmation and inclusion of others. That their community will honor all as God made them and value the strength of diversity.
And I specifically mention the natural beauty of the LGBTQ community and thank God again for making us as we exist, and I throw-in there a genuine wish that their trip back home is a safe one and wrap the prayer up in the usual Evangelical banal phraseology to let them know that I know their community's vernacular better than they do, and by the time I am finished, by the time I have translated the score back to them by tenfold relative to their passive-aggressive "let us pray for you", they murmur their thank yous and scuttle thou hell away.
And now, hopefully, they will know how it feels to have someone inject an overwrought and venomous self-righteousness into the core of their being and--I hope--realize how much actions like these diminish the power of prayer and enable so much harm to LGBTQ people.
Evangelicals: you are not doing the Lord's work by dumping your misplaced condescension on random strangers you believe to be, uh, "broken".
These people did not want to know more about me. They wanted to talk at me and pray at me. And I'm fairly sure Jesus would not do that.
So, remember: if you ever feel the need to do this... don't. Because it may backfire spectacularly, and you'll wind up praying for a restored sense of peace after your varnish gets unceremoniously stripped away.
Prayer should be a loving act, not a bizarre political weapon.
Hi, I’m Charlotte Clymer, and this is Charlotte’s Web Thoughts, my Substack. It’s completely free to access and read, but if you feel so moved to support my writing, please consider upgrading to a paid subscription: just $7/month or save money with the $70/annual sub. You can also go way above and beyond by becoming a Founding Member at $210.