The Georgetown That Saved Me

A3_ViewpointCartoonI read critics’ discussion regarding OUTober. Allow me to explain why we need this. Allow me to explain to you why the work of the LGBTQ Resource Center, the work of GU Pride and the work of Georgetown University to fund these entities is not only a good thing to have at our Catholic campus, but is of fundamental importance.

I write this to critics like The Georgetown Academy because of your discussion, but I do not write this for you. I write this for everyone who holds such views. I write this for everyone who feels that Georgetown must change to include more church teaching, not the other way around. I write this for the Georgetown students, faculty, staff and alumni who believe that respecting life is just about unborn babies.

I am a “man obsessed with dressing up like a woman.” Back in high school, I tried to kill myself twice in one week. I tried to kill myself because I knew I was an abomination. My “harmful fantasies” were very harmful. I wanted to “slice off fully functioning body parts” and I knew this was horrible. I barely made it out of high school alive.

I was raised a Catholic. My father is an ordained deacon. I was an altar server for my entire youth. I have never set foot in a public school on a weekday. (There was that one time I attended a friend’s talent show on a Saturday.) I know Catholic teaching inside and out. I was never told that the LGBTQ community had anything positive to offer to the world. Catholicism was everything.

A phone call from my RA was the only thing that stopped me from jumping off the Key Bridge during my freshman year. I was still an atrocity. I was still a freak. Then I started to talk to people. Not everyone, I realized, saw my wayward desires as a problem. There was even a full-fledged transgender student on campus. The queer community at Georgetown opened my eyes to a world where I could exist and not hate myself.

If Georgetown dropped the Catholic identity tomorrow, I would not be upset. I would be very OK if Georgetown were not Catholic.

But it is. It will always be. You have that going for you. But whether you like it or not, I have made my home here. I have found a space where I can exist. You are correct on one thing: Georgetown does go against the Catholic Church in its acceptance of the queer community. In the ideal that we should respect each other, Georgetown embodies Catholicism better than the Vatican itself.

Georgetown has made a space for me and for the queer community. Some Palestinian guy once said that we should love our neighbors as we love ourselves and when asked for clarification, he used a story about a Samaritan to illustrate that our neighbor is anyone in need. You may know the story.

If Georgetown were the Georgetown you want it to be, I would not be here. I would very literally be dead. The LGBTQ Resource Center, GU Pride, OUTober — all of it saved my life.

I am one of the lucky ones. Every year, hundreds of LGBTQ individuals lose their lives to violence or suicide. Let me take a moment to name a few. Tamara Dominguez. Amber Monroe. Shade Schuler. India Clarke. Ashton O’Hara. Jasmine Collins. Mercedes Williamson. London Chanel. Keyshia Blige. Kristina Gomez Reinwald. Penny Proud. Taja Gabrielle DeJesus. Yazmin Vash Payne. Ty Underwood. Lamia Beard. Papi Edwards. Keisha Jenkins.

Those 20 women have all been killed in the United States since Jan. 1, 2015, for committing the horrifying crime of being transgender. They are not exceptions to the rule, but rather the norm.

Have I told you yet that the average lifespan of a transgender person is 31 years? Let me clarify that: my lifespan is 31 years. If I am “average,” I will be dead within the decade. Let that sink in for a second. There’s a reason I’m not thinking about marriage, children or even long-term career plans. I do not want to plan for a life I probably will not get to live.

I will probably never return to religion. The scars that were caused by such teachings will never heal. In fact, when I look closely, in the right light, I can still see the scars on my wrists from that night in the spring of 2011. They were just a little too shallow to do the damage I had intended.

The Catholic Church nearly killed me. Georgetown’s refusal to go along with all of its teachings saved me.

You mentioned that it is Respect Life Month. I would like to make a request as you celebrate this. Lead by example. Respect life. Respect queer lives. Respect mine.


Lexi Dever is a senior in the College. She is an employee of the LGBTQ Resource Center.

Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.


  1. Thank you for writing this article. You are absolutely correct that Georgetown has not lessened or corrupted itself by going against certain toxic religious doctrines. Rather, it has set a wonderful example of love and acceptance, and other schools and organizations would do well to take note. I am grateful every day to be part of this community.

  2. Love and appreciate this message. Thank you for sharing. On another note, how is TGA allowed to exist??? Big difference between free speech and disgusting transphobic hate. As a cis person, reading their article brought tears to my eyes. Can’t imagine how their hate affects others.

  3. Amazing, beautiful article. Thank you so much for writing it.

  4. Cis Georgetown Student says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your story, Lexi. I don’t know you, but this article is a perfect response to the bigotry that continues to be perpetuated by the despicable people at Georgetown Academy.

  5. Anonymous Alum says:

    Hi – I wanted to thank you for your post. As a member of the Catholic Church, I think what you wrote was very brave, and even though I don’t know you, I think that you are an amazing person. The most important Catholic social teaching is “love thy neighbor,” and I’m so glad that Pope Francis, the Vatican, and Georgetown are emphasizing that as the main framework that the Church rests on. As you said, while you may never return to religion, I hope that some day you will be able to forgive the people that were not able to love you as you are, and appreciate the Church for what it is!

  6. Mary Clare Wareham says:

    Dear Lexi, I wish I was near Georgetown so we could meet and talk together. I have many questions I’d like to ask you about your childhood and family life. The self hatred you seemed to experience then, and perhaps also now, is very unfortunate and…not normal. I would think you have experienced something bad in your past. Somewhere, there has been deception of some sort in your past. Even now, that you seem to think that the Catholic Church promotes and believes in hatred of people with transgender incliniations, is a deception that someone or somethng evil has planted in your soul. Would you do something, would you just try something, Lexi? Something i believe will help you in ways you might not now believe in? Get a medal of the Blessed Virgin called the Miraculous Medal. The other name is the medal of the Immaculate Conception. Look up the story on You tube…Catherine Laboure in Paris France. Put it on and wear it at all times. That’s all. Our Lady will help you with whatever you need right now. She is your Mother and knows exactly what you need. Most of all, she loves you, Lexi, exactly as you are. Give her, tell her all the wounds you have in your body and in your soul. She has the healing power of the Holy Spirit, her Spouse, and of Jesus, her Son. She will help you to understand the full truth about the diginity and goodness of the human person and the truth about yourself. If there is any evil in your past, or any evil right now, she will crush it as she crushed the head of the evil serpent (Genesis 3:15) You also have a guardian angel who is constantly protecting and leading you. Pray one ‘Hail Mary’ a day, wear the medal and there will be incredibly beautiful and powerfully good things for you. I have entrusted, consecrated you to her, and some day, you and I will meet in heaven! God, Bless You, Lexi!


  7. Wonderfully written, and the author possesses wisdom and maturity that is highly laudable. Thank you for your bravery in writing this piece. I am happy to hear you’re doing better and hope that you will continue to do great things in the future.

  8. Anonymous alum: Pope Francis has been very clear in his opposition to the promotion of transgenderism.

    Jasmin: How is the The Georgetown Academy allowed to exist? You’re actually wondering how a Catholic publication exists at a Catholic school? If you believe their views are “transphobic hate” then you believe the same about the teachings of Pope Francis.

    • TGA is not a campus-affiliated publication. They do not accurately represent the views of Georgetown any more than they do the Catholic church or Pope Francis. They’re radical and shouldn’t be allowed to exist (and this is coming from a conservative Catholic). Any ties they do have with the university come from their history, when TGA was a respectable academic journal in which professors published essays (clearly a far cry from what it’s turned into). Don’t blame the Catholic identity of Georgetown for some radicals; it would be the same as alienating all Baptists for the opinions of the Westboro Baptist Church.

  9. This article is powerfully written, and I’m so sorry for all the difficulties you’ve experienced in your life. No, the Church doesn’t support transgenderism, but it does support each and every person on earth, regardless of identity. I know you said that you’re done with religion, but I sincerely hope that one day you can see that the Catholicism of Georgetown is the Catholicism of the Church (and Pope Francis). You’re right–everyone is our neighbor and we ought to love everyone. I honestly haven’t read the TGA article, so I don’t know what it says, but remember that the Church always preaches love for all people. 1Cor13:4-6 (the popular wedding reading: “Love is patient, Love is kind…It does not dishonor others…It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”) is not only love for married people; it’s love that we all should have for each other. That is the true teaching of the Catholic Church. I truly am sorry that you were separated from the thing that may have saved you (as it did for me) when you needed it most. I hope one day you can return to the Church without feeling alienated or hated, because the church truly does not preach hatred against you. Georgetown in fact is supporting and following the Church when it practices respect and love for all people. I hope that you can find that same acceptance and home in the Church again someday.

  10. Ruth Annick Salomon says:

    Brava, Lexi Dever! You brought me to tears with your honesty and eloquence. May you live to be 100!

  11. Lexi.

    I am an RCIA Candidate at St. Paul’s
    with a transgender child.

    Your father interviewed me and shared a bit of his family makeup, when I mentioned that I have been struggling and incubating since 2014 with my child’s announcement that Selina is now Sammy.

    After the initial shock,… I offered Sammy to always use this new name, but have also said that she will always be my daughter.
    (Chromosomes cannot be changed with hormones or surgery… at least not for now)

    Sammy’s reaction to this offer of compromise was disrespectful and divisive, leading to months of no contact or conversation. (Sammy lives in Portland).

    At some point in time, I was not even listed as her Father on Facebook, but now I am unfriended, because I dared to ask difficult questions or offer counterpoints.

    In opposition to your experiences, the Catholic Church and teachings have actually helped me to come closer to reaching out to my child.

    Perhaps, as your Grandmother so wisely advised, you can open back up your heart and mind to ways of thinking that may not be in perfect alignment with your own.

    I will do the same,
    which is why I am reading your story.

    So many recent stories from colleges around the country lead me to surmise that the very same persons who want freedom of expression are shutting off peaceful dialogue with anyone who dares to have different beliefs.

    I hope that this is not the case, and may be exaggerated by the currently divisive media methods that have created a cancer in our free society.

    Just as you and Sammy want me to understand your deep thoughts, desires, and needs,…

    I ask for you to walk in my shoes before you discard my feelings and my belief

    that we should love and accept all of the good, bad, ugly, and wacky traits that God gives to each of us.

    He wants us to use all of these in Good Ways.

    I have asked Sammy to read “The Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren, and Sammy has asked me to read several items of LGBT literature, which I have done.

    I have not heard back from Sammy since we made that agreement in August.

    But,… this morning, God sent me a message.

    He answered,

    that one of Sammy’s purposes on this earth, is to deeply challenge her family’s beliefs,

    and to ultimately bring us together in a common bond to accept and love her, in whatever method we choose.

    (I apologize for the mixed pronouns,… Indicative of my mixed feelings)

    At Christmas, Sammy, her 3 brothers, 2 sisters-in-laws, and I will be together alone for a few brief hours, where I will give her all of my Love, supplemented with big/long hugs,… and a gluten-free breakfast,

    …. and surrounded by Gods loving arms, even though she has rejected God for now.

    That is our start.
    We must respect each other.
    We love each other.
    And we need to stop and listen.
    God will speak.

    I hope that you will have a wonderful family gathering with your Catholic family, and maybe will see you at St. Paul’s!

    With God’s Love
    Stan Loper

  12. Lexi.

    I suggest that you check this article, written by a pastor, who opens his arms to trans genders within the context of Christian beliefs and with God’s Love.

    Could you consider this man’s opinion, and use it to embrace the church and embrace your Grandmother’s wise words?

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