FROM THIS SIDE OF THE DIVIDE: AN INTERVIEW WITH ALLYSON ROBINSON.

jake dockter
The Push
Published in
4 min readDec 27, 2015

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I had the pleasure and honor of interviewing Allyson Robinson about the recent Title IX exemption requests from Christian universities, primarily Multnomah University in Portland, OR.

Q: On reading the news about Multnomah’s Title IX request and seeing the letter, what is communicated to you? How do you respond?

AR: What is clearest to me is neither Multnomah President Williford nor his advisors have even an elementary understanding of gender identity.

Williford’s letter argues for the University’s right to discriminate against transgender students on the basis of its ideology related to marriage, a concept which has no connection to the needs of Multnomah’s transgender community. This tells me the University’s petition is not based on research or analysis, but is instead a knee-jerk reaction to a worldview that challenges their dogma — not what one traditionally looks for in an institution of higher learning.

Q: We know the perspective of Multnomah and schools like it, but what is the view from the marginalized?

AR: From this side of the divide, it appears that Multnomah’s gospel is for straight cisgender people only. Those of us who aren’t born like them, or who have a different perspective, are not a part of the world they are seeking to create for themselves — or the world they envision for us all.

The gospel Jesus preached was not about segregation or ostracism.

Jesus’s gospel was inclusive in ways that often offended the religious leaders of his time.

Those religious leaders told Jesus he shouldn’t welcome certain people or include them in what he was doing in the world. They even petitioned the government to do something about Jesus so as to protect what they saw as the integrity of their institutions.

Q: As a Christian leader, how do you present the beauty of the gospel to the world, in light of movement like this?

AR: Here’s how I’m working to integrate my life into Jesus’s gospel right now. I seek to join the poor, the sick, the lonely, and the marginalized — those who are at the heart of what God is doing in the world today.

I contribute to the growth of institutions that seek to do the same.

I demonstrate readiness to learn from the perspectives of others.

I don’t allow the objections of religious leaders who disagree with me to distract me from this work; I call them out, call them to account, and move on. When I’m given the opportunity to talk about this gospel, I take it — but I don’t imagine my talking to be sufficient. I’m trying to make the gospel my life and not just my words.

Q: Is there any point in protesting this discrimination? Is it futile? Is the best bet to leave Multnomah to its marginalization OR are we called to engage?

AR: As a closeted graduate student at Baylor University ten years ago, I benefitted greatly from the actions of Soulforce, an organization committed to “relentless nonviolent resistance” to religiously based oppression of LGBT people.

They came to my school, sought dialogue with university leadership, and when they were rebuffed, engaged in nonviolent protest of Baylor’s non-affirming policies. Six of them were arrested. Their coming to Baylor didn’t change university policies, sadly, but it gave me and others like me great hope. I call myself a Christian today in part because of their willingness to stand in Christlike solidarity with me.

We who call ourselves Christians must be willing to do the same.

Q: What can Christians do to stand with trans people?

AR: Christians should speak out in support of transgender students, staff, and faculty at Multnomah University and at the other institutions claiming exemption from Title IX requirements. If we do not, how will they know that the gospel these institutions are preaching isn’t Jesus’s gospel? We should support organizations and institutions that seek to embody a more Christlike gospel.

It’s not enough to say we believe in an inclusive God or have an inclusive vision for the world.

We have to step forward and take our place in the building of that vision.

Allyson is an ordained minister in the Baptist church, a consultant for social justice causes, and was recently featured on E!’s I Am Cait. She often speaks on issue of trans inclusion and faith and was keynote speaker at the 2014 Reformation Project conference. View her speech here:

You can follow Allyson on Twitter: Allyson Dylan Robinson.

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jake dockter
The Push

Fighting for liberation of all people, usually against people like me.