When Westboro Baptist Church protested the Gender Infinity Conference at UH

They came to Houston as part of their ‘God Hates Trannies’ campaign

As the annual Gender Infinity Conference began at the University of Houston on Friday, Westboro Baptist Church made an appearance as part of their “God Hates Trannies” campaign nationwide.

At 1:00 p.m., they arrived at the intersection of Calhoun Road and University Drive by the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center.

The Gender Infinity Conference is an annual conference held by Gender Infinity, an organization whose mission is to “[create] affirming spaces for families, learners, advocates, and providers to advance relationships, knowledge, and resources that empower gender diverse individuals.”

Their conference has both a general program and a medical program for those seeking to earn Continuing Medical Education.

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Westboro Baptist Church wrote in their picketing schedule that, “Fag marriage came to pass, as foretold by Jesus (Matthew 24:36-39), but your cup of iniquity is somehow not yet full. To ever increase the filthy sin of this generation, now ‘Gender Dysphoria’, or ‘Transgender’ sin is brought to the front burner, thanks in large part to the sin-pushing media and the lukewarm ‘Christians’ of this nation. This gender confusion is simply another shade of sodomite abomination! Unthankfulness and discontentment with your God-appointed lot directly lead to the vile, unclean sins of sodomy and gender perversion (Romans 1:19-32). The Gender Infinity Conference is a den of liars who want to change reality to a pronoun fantasy land. SHAME!”

Westboro arrived on time as they stated in their picketing schedule outside the Rec. There were maybe four or five people – not a large turnout by any means, a few women and just one man. Considering how they normally have massive turnouts, I was quite surprised. Not nearly as intimidating as I expected.

They stood at this corner and sang along to their playlist of parody songs about sin such as “American Sodomite” (American Idiot by Green Day) and “God Hates Who You Are” (We R Who We R by Ke$ha) using a speaker they placed on the ground. They held up their usual signs about how much God hates fags and how America is doomed according to the Bible.

The counter-protest, however, was awe-inspiring.

Held by the LGBT Resource Center in conjunction with conference attendees and the Newman Catholic Center, they held up signs with Bible verses mentioning the love of God.

Catholic Student Org

Ryan Sacueza is a 22-year-old Kinesiology major who participated in the counter-protest with a Catholic student organization.

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“So, Westboro pretty much widely misrepresents the Christian population. In terms of values, they say that “God hates!”. This is the very opposite of the identity of Christ, you know. God, God is love. God is a person who freely gives His mercy to those who ask for it. It’s just that, there’s no truth in “God hates fags!”. This is the opposite of what we believe. We are out here to make sure that Westboro is not the mouthpiece of Christianity.”

Dr. McLaughlin

Dr. Bob McLaughlin, Licensed Psychologist, is a co-founder of the Gender Infinity Organization. He is also a Dean and Associate Professor of the School of Allied Health Sciences at Baylor College of Medicine, with a secondary appointment in the Menninger Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Services. He took the time to answer questions from bystanders at the counter-protest.

“…Young children, who were creating confusion for their parents, in terms of the children’s assertions that they were not the gender they had been assigned at birth, the gender they had been assigned by their external genitalia…But gender is based on so much more than just whether you have a penis or a vulva. Kids were starting to assert their gender, and if it didn’t match what their parents thought, their parents were confused about that. So they would start seeking some understanding and some care. And what we know at this point, is that kids who really assert very strong in that direction at very, very young ages have a fairly high likelihood of maintaining that gender orientation as they grow older.

“Some of them may just be kind of playing with gender labels, but others of them genuinely seem to be wired to identify as a gender that may not necessarily match with their physical anatomy. So as they grow older, then they may regard themselves as transgender…we were concerned about it cause we were seeing it in kids, and those kids were having a hard time in terms of the response of neighbors, of schools, and so forth.  So, we are trying to provide some opportunity for other professionals to understand more about this phenomenon and create a safe space for kids. And as kids grow older, they figure out for themselves what their gender is, and we just need to be able to create a safe, developmental learning environment for them as time goes on.

“So we work with physicians, with lawyers, with educators, and increasingly with other members of the community as well, religious community, and so forth to try to help them understand our concerns. So, we provide supportive services, and the conference has grown to deal more with not only child and adolescent presentations, but with adult transgender people as well. We had our first conference at UH six years ago, we had about 25 people, and we’ve moved to a larger venue after that cause we were originally just in classrooms over in the Psychology building. And then we outgrew the next venue we were at, and then the University of Houston invited us to come back, and host our events here as well.”

At the end of it all, right on time at 2:00p.m., they got in their vehicles and promptly left campus. They didn’t receive much attention as they came to campus on a Friday when many students don’t have classes. They weren’t challenged or screamed at. I’m sure that’s a very good thing – maybe the lack of student body attention will convince Westboro that a return visit is off the table.

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