I remember she had short brown hair and she wore a long floral print dress with tennis shoes. Even at 7-years-old I knew... those shoes... didn't go with that dress. I also noticed that Stephanie looked a little different than most women.
I don't remember what she shared, however, I remember several members of the church, including the pastor, surrounded her in the back after service. When this church did that, it was their attempt to convert the new person. This church was extremely unbalanced and unhealthy. For instance, the pastor was successful in splitting my Mom and her sister apart for 13 years because they said she was a "witch." Because of that, I didn't meet my Aunt until I was in the 4th grade. I can not stress enough how unbalanced and unhealthy this church was.
I can only imagine what they said to Stephanie because Stephanie was a transgender woman.
A few days later, I remember hearing my Mom talk about Stephanie. Mom said when Stephanie arrived at her home that night after church, there was an intruder waiting for her. This intruder then tied Stephanie to her bed and killed her.
The last night of Stephanie's life she went to the church... looking for love, hope and acceptance. She received everything but those things we all long for. Today, I know Stephanie experienced that and more when she met Jesus that night.
I share this story because it is my hope that the Evangelical church will acknowledge it's past of homophobia and transphobia and learn from it. It is my hope that the Evangelical church will learn to love again. It is my belief that it will be the LGBT community which teaches the Evangelical church to do just that... love it's neighbor.
Please consider sharing Stephanie's story with someone you know. Most of all, love the "Stephanie's" around you.