Dear Maria,

I volunteer, along with my husband, during a monthly support group. The children ages 5 to 12 stay with us and have a pizza party and we have an activity every month. The parents go to a support group for their transgender children. Some of my friends support us. Another friend, along with my pastor, says to leave this volunteer activity. Can you give me the Catholic side of transgender children?
Volunteer Quandry

Dear Volunteer,

Thank you for your service as a volunteer! It is a gift to the people you help, the organization that hosts the support group, and ultimately to the entire community. A well-worn cliché speaks of the ripples in the pond, and the goodness that spreads. Tis true! Your goodness goes out way beyond your immediate circle, touching countless lives in ways unknown to you. Your efforts lift us all in a time of confusion and pain. You are “a God with Skin” to the people you serve. People who are transgender, and their families, are in desperate need of such kindness and compassion. They need a safe space to heal and contemplate their lives. And, they have much to give, too. Your efforts help create an inclusive world for us all. Thank you.

Regarding the opinions of your friend and pastor who are advising you to leave this volunteer activity: nowhere in Jesus’ teachings are we instructed to turn away from anyone we see in need, or who asks for help. Ours is not to judge the worthiness of the request. We are, instead, to give as we have been given to. Jesus spent most of his time with people his culture and church deemed unworthy, and he took a lot of heat for it. You’re in good company!

As far as the Catholic perspective on your question, I offer Fr. James Martin, SJ’s excellent article, We need to build a bridge between LGBT community and the Catholic Church, for your consideration.

The heart of your question lies in discerning how you will proceed in your volunteer role. You’ve sought counsel from different directions. (Including this column. Thank you!) As you listen, attend to:

  • What rings true for you
  • What strikes a chord of interior resonance
  • What brings a tear to your eye, or a lump to your throat
  • What gets you excited
  • When despair wells up

These feelings are gold, as they will give you clues for your next step. Sit with the feelings and ponder their meanings. Take them to prayer. There’s no deadline for your decision, so give the answer time to emerge.

As you consider your options—leaving or staying—which choice brings you more life? Leaving may feel easy, but will it bring regret? Or, does leaving free you to pursue other opportunities? How does staying feel? Is there heaviness, or resistance? Or, do you enjoy the situation, and find satisfaction in your efforts? Sift through your own feelings, versus how you think others may respond. You’re an adult. You get to decide.

This discernment time is a wonderful opportunity to sort through your thoughts and feelings and deepen your spiritual journey.  Along the way, love all people who cross your path. We have no idea what they’re carrying. Compassion is the best default position.

Dear Readers: In a quandary? Life got you down? Need some perspective? If you’d like to submit a question, click here. I look forward to hearing from you, or “for a friend.” Please add your thoughts, and suggestions in the comments section, below. 

Disclaimer: The advice offered in this column is intended for informational purposes only. The opinions or views expressed in this column are not intended to treat or diagnose; nor are they meant to replace the treatment and care that you may be receiving from a licensed professional, physician or mental health professional. If you have specific concerns or a situation in which you require professional, psychological or medical help, you should consult with an appropriately trained and qualified specialist.  This column, its author, and the publisher are not responsible for the outcome or results of following any advice in any given situation. You, and only you, are completely responsible for your actions. We reserve the right to edit letters for length and clarity, and all comments are moderated.