READER POST: About ten days ago, the Church put out its new style guide. In it, they asked that it be called by the official name, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and made a plea to others outside the faith do use the correct name, not “Mormon” or “LDS.” Asking for the name change isn’t wrong, and leaders shouldn’t be called wrong for doing it. However, the announcement alienated LGBTQ followers and supporters.
First, let me be clear on this. I am not against the “new” style, considering the name of the church has always been The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. When addressing the church formally and in news articles, people should use the correct name. However, I am going to continue to call us “Mormons” because the majority of people outside the church will always call us that. Using a familiar word it takes the edge off somewhat.
Having said that, as a transgender woman, I thought the announcement was a slap in the face of transgender people. When speaking of the new style, they used wording like “we prefer to be called…” and “That is now incorrect.”
Here is an example of how the announcement felt mocking: “When describing the combination of doctrine, culture and lifestyle unique to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the term ‘the restored gospel of Jesus Christ” is accurate and preferred'”[emphasis added]. Newsflash: the LGBT community has been letting the Church know what we prefer to be called and what is correct terminology. But they ignore us.
The aforementioned quotation bothers me for another reason, too. It lumps the culture and lifestyle into the gospel. This is the same culture that has had rough stuff to say about the LGBT community. A culture that had people tell me that I am living in sin because I am transgender. A culture that weaponized the “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” to hurt and discredit me. I’ve always been told that, while the people aren’t perfect, the gospel is. That gospel now includes the culture that hates and dehumanizes the LGBT community. This is not what Jesus taught.
I am in the middle of a spiritual crisis on this. The style guide isn’t a big deal, but the way they went about it left a lot to be desired. In the long run, this announcement and style guide will be unheard of in the greater zeitgeist, but it will also turn away some members (particularly transgender people) because of the pretentiousness that comes with it.
April is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. She came out as a transgender woman in 2011, in the midst of an 18 year break in church activity. In 2016, she became active again.
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