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May 30, 2023, Adrian, Michigan – During a recent presentation on Understanding Gender, guest speaker Socorro Sevilla offered a key recommendation for encountering gender expansive persons: common courtesy and respect.
A 25-year social services and social work professional and now a counselor with a private practice in Adrian, Socorro recently gave the opening presentation in a new series offered by the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ Office of Racial Diversity and Cultural Inclusion. The series brings speakers from various racial, religious, cultural, and gender communities to the Adrian Dominican Motherhouse to present their world view.
“My hope is through understanding and education, [the series] can bring compassion, and we can be better allies to so many communities that need help with their voice,” said Kevin Hofmann, Director of the Office of Racial Diversity and Cultural Inclusion.
Speaking to an audience of Sisters, Associates, Co-workers, and community members, Socorro noted that many people experience “confusion, fear, anxiety, and questions” when working through the changing views of sex and gender: from traditional, binary, biological male and female to include transgender, non-binary, gender fluid, and other gender expansive identities.
In recent years, Socorro said, the idea of binary gender shifted to seeing gender as a spectrum: a line along which people fall, with male on one end to female on the other. Yet more recently, they explained, gender is seen as a galaxy. “Every person’s gender is a star somewhere in this galaxy – unique, distinct, but maybe clustered in areas.”
Socorro spoke from experience as a counselor primarily to youth, with 82% of their clients in the LGBTQI+ community. Many in the LGBTQI+ community experience “distinct and chronic stressors related to their sexual orientation and/or identity,” as well as to racial identity. Many of these stressors come from the assumptions that others make about their identity. The stress, they said, is “not so much what’s happening [inside you] … It’s dealing with everybody else’s stuff coming at you.” Young people and those who have been rejected by their families can easily internalize the messages they get from others, Socorro added.
Socorro suggested a simple way to help people in the LGBTQI+ community: common courtesy and respect, accepting them for who they are and using their preferred names and pronouns. This simple form of respect can decrease suicide in the LGBTQI+ community by half, Socorro said. “If that’s all we need to do to cut suicide rates in half, I don’t think it’s that much to ask.”
Watch the entire video of Socorro’s presentation below.
March 30, 2023, Adrian, Michigan – The General Council of the Adrian Dominican Sisters, on behalf of the Sisters and Associates, released the following statement affirming the Vatican’s repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery, which was used to justify the oppression of colonial powers over indigenous peoples.
We Adrian Dominican Sisters wholeheartedly affirm the step taken by the Vatican to repudiate the “Doctrine of Discovery,” a doctrine based on 15th century papal bulls created and used by colonial powers to justify their oppression of indigenous peoples and seizure of lands. It is a step that indigenous people around the globe have long pressed for and that we too joined in support.
The Vatican statement acknowledges that the papal bulls did not “reflect the equal dignity and rights of indigenous peoples” and that it is “only just to recognize these errors, acknowledge the terrible effects of the assimilation policies and the pain experienced by indigenous peoples, and ask for pardon.”
The statement goes on to say, “Furthermore, Pope Francis has urged: ‘Never again can the Christian community allow itself to be infected by the idea that one culture is superior to others, or that it is legitimate to employ ways of coercing others.’”
We are deeply grateful to Pope Francis for his humble, open-hearted listening to our indigenous sisters and brothers; for honestly naming the Church’s errors; and for clearly calling us forward as human persons, all made in God’s image, never again “to be infected by the idea that one culture is superior to others.”
Members of the Adrian Dominican General Council are: Sisters Elise D. García, OP, Prioress; Janice Brown, OP, and Bibiana “Bless” Colasito, OP, General Councilors; Lorraine Réaume, OP, Vicaress and General Councilor; and Corinne Sanders, OP, General Councilor.