Bishop Ortiz’s Statement on Anti-Transgender Legislation

Group 236

Dear Beloved Colleagues and Friends in Christ,

In keeping with our mission to boldly and boundlessly love Jesus and God’s beloved creation, we present this statement on Anti-Trans Legislation. I am mindful that while our synod has been a Reconciling in Christ synod since 1989, not every congregation or member of our synod recognizes LGBTQIA+ people as a reflection of the divine image of God; full of beauty, creativity, and love.

To those of you who struggle with our synod’s welcome and support of people who are LGBTQIA+, I recognize your sentiment because there was a time when I too struggled to welcome and support members of the LGBTQIA+ community. What the Holy Spirit has confirmed for me time and time again, however, and especially as one who is not a member of the dominant culture, is that the Gospel of Jesus Christ compels us to shed sentiments that do not align with Jesus’ invitation and call to love all people without hesitation or reservation; for it is Jesus who feasts with the marginalized, rebukes oppressive systems, and calls us to advocate for human dignity, justice for all, and life itself.

To the LGBTQIA+ community and allies, like most statements, this one is not perfect. It does not name every data point, concern, or frustration caused by this season in our world or our church. Despite its limitations, I pray this statement serves as a catalyst for conversation and action.

Metropolitan Washington, D.C. Synod, as church together, may we become complicit in God’s kingdom come – in a world where all people are honored, safe, and called into loving community… with God’s help and in Jesus’ name.

En Cristo,

The Rev. Leila M. Ortiz, Bishop

Bishop Ortiz’s Statement on Anti-Transgender Legislation

This year, an unprecedented legislative assault has been unleashed on LGBTQIA+ people in state legislatures across the country. According to legislative experts, 2023 has been the worst year on record for introducing and enacting anti-LGBTQIA+ legislation. Many of these bills target trans and non-binary rights and trans and non-binary youth specifically, in an attempt to exclude them from sports, deny them the use of school bathrooms, and prevent them from accessing critical medical care.1 Across the nation, legislators have introduced over 490 bills and 51 have been passed into law at this time. While we have no data on the District of Columbia, in Maryland one bill was introduced but was defeated and at least 12 bills were introduced and defeated in the Commonwealth of Virginia.2 The introduction of this type of legislation is unfortunately not new, but the intensity and volume over the last legislative session is alarming and necessitates a response by those who understand the harm this is causing. 

At the heart of so many of these bills are discrimination, dehumanization, and death-dealing prejudice against our trans and non-binary siblings. As people of God, who strive to respond to the demands of the gospel, we understand any and all injustice toward God’s beloved humanity is sinful. As such, we cannot remain passive to the threat these bills pose to trans individuals and communities. In 1 Corinthians 12:26, we read about the body of Christ: “If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.” Trans people – beloved, beautiful, and diverse people of God – are part of the body of Christ, and they are suffering under the weight of these discriminatory and hateful pieces of legislation. 

As Bishop of The Metropolitan Washington, D.C. Synod, as a human being, and as a follower of Jesus Christ, I invite you to communicate with your local, state, and federal officials to share with them your concerns about how these policies negatively impact our neighbors. In addition, I invite you to advocate for policies that support and secure the dignity, rights, and light of God in LGBTQIA+ people and all people. 

Allies to the LGBTQIA+ community, consider becoming more informed through the work of Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries and Reconciling Works. I encourage you to have faithful discussions with your family members, congregations, and neighbors about how the Gospel compels us all to work for the justice, equity, and dignity of every person, especially those who continue to be marginalized and targeted because of their identities. 

As we celebrate Pride Month, I give thanks for the ways trans and all LGBTQIA+ people reflect the divine image of God; a God boundless in creativity, beauty, and love. Dear ones, you are genuinely loved and I thank God for you. 

As church together, may we work and pray for God’s kingdom come – a world where all people are honored, safe, and called into loving community… with God’s help and in Jesus’ name. 

En Cristo, 

The Rev. Leila M. Ortiz, Bishop

1“2023 Anti-Trans Bills: Trans Legislation Tracker.” Accessed May 25, 2023.

2 American Civil Liberties Union. “Mapping Attacks on LGBTQ Rights in U.S. State Legislatures.” Accessed May 25, 2023.