Reverend Dr Gwendolyn Howard: “Real life examples” of what happens when transgender people have equal rights

Reverend Dr Gwendolyn Howard
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On June 10th, the Providence Journal posted an Op-ed by David Carlin. In it, the author makes a number of unfounded assertions about the Equality Act (which was recently passed in the United States House of Representatives). The Act would enshrine into law that LGBTQ people are entitled to equal rights with everyone else and such rights would be acknowledged and protected on the Federal level. Mr Carlin issues dire warnings about what consequences would arise if it were to become law; There would no longer be sports for women and girls, it would allow predators to sneak into women’s locker rooms and bathrooms, and adolescents will be forced to come to terms with their own sexuality and identity. He adds that this is all based on the pernicious philosophy that nothing is as it seems and all is a construct. He also predicts that this will all lead to the banning of Christianity. Finally, he suggests that transgender people are the “weirdest members of society” and are “delusional.”

I have been a minister for over thirty years, I am also a clinical social worker, and I am proud to be a trans woman. And I disagree with nearly everything Mr Carlin writes. Rather than counter his arguments point-by-point (and there are numerous studies which exist that refute all of his claims), instead, one might simply ask if there are any “real life examples” of what happens when transgender people have equal rights?

In fact, Rhode Island was among the first states to grant equal rights in the areas of employment, credit, and accommodations to people regardless of “gender identity or expression.” This was at the start of the 21st Century. And, to my knowledge, women’s and girl’s sports still exist, nor has there been a reign of female-impersonating men terrorizing bathrooms. As for worries about young people having to better understand themselves, their identity and sexuality, my training and experience tells me that this is a healthy part of adolescence.

I’m not certain why Mr Carlin believes that the Equality Act is based on a philosophy that nothing is real. I, for example, know I’m real, I know that I have always been female. I know that when I am denied my basic rights as a human being, it is real, and it is hurtful.

Mr Carlin insists that all of this will lead to the banning of Christianity. I do not believe this faith is quite so fragile.

He concludes that people like me are the “weirdest members of society” and “delusional.” I have worked in clinics with clients who really are delusional. I’m not sure he understands the meaning of the word. As for being among the weirdest members of society, it is hard for me to believe that Christianity is all about name-calling and hurtful insults. I’m also not convinced that Christianity is about denying marginalized members of society their basic rights – denying their worth and dignity as human beings. Among the things I do know about Christianity is the admonition to “pray for those who persecute you.”

My prayers tonight will have new additions.

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About Reverend Dr Gwendolyn Howard 1 Article
Reverend Dr Gwendolyn Howard is a longtime Providence resident and member of TGI Network of Rhode Island board of directors. (TGI Network of Rhode Island is a nonprofit organization that serves the needs of the transgender, gender diverse, and intersex communities of Rhode Island and surrounding areas through support, advocacy, and education.)


  1. I am in total agreement with Rev. Dr. Howard. I too am a transgender woman, and I have known for a long time that no matter how much I wished, prayed, hoped or begged for it to be different, it would never be. The goal is to accept who you are.

    It has been my observation over my decades in the LGBTQQIA+ community that trans folk are the most loving, generous, open minded and caring people in public society. We have existed in all cultures and all millennia since time was time. We have been Shaman, healers, mediators and wise revered members of our communities because we have lived and experienced more due to our having a foot on either side of the gender fence (I don’t intend offense to my non-binary family).

    We are not delusional or ‘weird.’ We probably are outside the experiences of many who fear those that are ‘other.’ That is not a problem with us, it is a problem with society and human nature to fear the unknown. Get to know a few of us… for all I know, you probably already do but you just don’t know it.

    Peace and Love to all

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