For Rev. Matt Schultz, the effort to repeal Anchorage’s nondiscrimination laws merited a strong response from people of faith: total opposition. Rev. Schultz came to this understanding more than 20 years ago, before he was a pastor, before he attended seminary and before mainstream society even began to understand what it means to be transgender. He was a young person attending church when a transgender congregant decided to be open about who they were. That choice plunged the church into controversy—and for Rev. Schultz, it was a transformative moment in his faith journey. After that, he knew he would incorporate a deep commitment to equality and justice advocacy into all of his ministry. Today, he cultivates that commitment in his position as the pastor at the First Presbyterian Church.
“As Christians, we should present ourselves as the ones who stand for justice for the oppressed,” he said. “It really is the responsibility of the rest of us to stand up and say [to those supporting discrimination] that’s not who we are. All people are created in the image of God. There’s absolutely no reason to argue that transgender people are an exception to that rule.”