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Trump and Francis: equality denied

Gerard Veldhoven
Gerard Veldhoven

Refocus by Gerard Veldhoven

It is ironic that two world leaders have so much in common! Pope Francis has been very vocal once again, giving transgender persons a two-thumbs down. U.S. President Donald Trump has also expressed his wrath against the same people.

The leader of the Roman Catholic Church has indicated that being transgender is not in God’s plan and also observes that it is merely a deliberate biological change, ignoring the fact that it is emotional, psychological and for some a spiritual journey. The Pope feels it is manipulation and a free choice, not realizing, or simply ignoring the facts, that it can be so mentally exhausting and lonely.

This is not the first time he has spoken out against transgender persons and the entire LGBTQ community. He is not a man for all seasons, but displays an arrogant and dismissive attitude towards this part of society. Love some, but not all.

“Who am I to judge?” These are the words of a Pope who seemed to be a refreshing change in Rome. Of course he judges, and of course he will not embrace the LGBTQ community and allow equality.

Donald Trump has similar ideas and is set to dismiss transgender persons from the Armed Forces, a move that has been criticized severely. He also looks to follow Christian ideas that will allow LGBTQ people to be discriminated against. He is following a religious line in that LGBTQ folks in general are frowned upon by most churches and he will act accordingly.

The question is how are we able to respect those who do not respect us, but push us to the side in an attempt to overthrow the little equal treatment we have gained? It is a serious issue and one that is approved by certain world leaders and in the name of Christian beliefs and other religious organizations.

I have mentioned these concerns on many occasions, but they must be repeated and not swept under the carpet. The likes of Donald Trump, president of arguably the most powerful nation in the world, Pope Francis, the leader of more than one billion Roman Catholics, Vladimir Putin of Russia and some others, such as the King of Saudi Arabia, have one thing in common. They are leaders of our society who, in all earnest, are able to destroy equality and do not make any attempts at solving the problem.

Where are prospective, caring heads of state and how will they be voted into governments if people continue to elect those who stand in the way of positive progress?

Trump with his hatred, his bigoted, bullying manner has the power to take away equal rights, as difficult as it may be. His Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, a longtime critic of the LGBTQ community and most others in the cabinet, follow the beliefs of their president. Pope Francis, his cardinals and bishops, are stuck in previous centuries when only those who produced many children were in good graces.

Do others matter? No indication of that. A kind smile and a few words do not indicate a sincere effort to embrace. On the contrary, every effort is made to divide, and equality is denied. Whom we choose to lead our governments, including the Vatican, as it has its own rulers as a nation, is a daunting task.

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Gerard Veldhoven is a longtime activist for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. His column appears Wednesdays in The News.

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