Some religious people, particularly those who are part of religious hierarchies, are often thought of as closed minded when it comes to LGBT people. Thankfully, recent stories are showing that in many cases, that this is simply not true. The Los Angeles Times this week published a touching story about the friendship between a Roman Catholic nun and a young transgender woman.
Leane was 13 years old when her mother kicked her out of the house for being transgender. She had already run away many times and had repeatedly been returned to an abusive home. After her mother refused to take her back into their home, Leane spent years on the streets because she had nowhere else to go. Although she escaped the abuse she had endured at the hands of her mother, the lengths she had to go to left her vulnerable to more violence. When she discovered a lump on her neck that turned out to be lymphoma, Medi-Cal covered surgery and a year of chemotherapy at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center.
But the cancer returned. When Leane awoke in a hospital room, she was greeted by the presence of Sister Margaret Farrell, an Irish-born Roman Catholic nun. Because Leane was homeless, the hospital had called Covenant House California, a network of shelters and transitional housing for homeless teens. Many of these teens are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. Long before she began her work at Covenant House, Sister Margaret had decided that it was not her place to judge others, since “Jesus said 'Do not judge and you shall not be judged.'” Instead, she cared for Leane by bringing new clothing and her favorite foods to the hospital. When the cancer failed to respond to initial treatment, she and Leane went to City of Hope, where Sister Margaret supported Leane through aggressive treatment. She helped Leane write down her final wishes if the treatment was unsuccessful. Leane asked for “godly prayer music” to be played in her last moments.
Thankfully, Leane pulled through and now often accompanies Sister Margaret on her rounds to collect donations for Covenant House as well as to church on Sundays. Leane is healthy and studying for her GED so she can study nursing. Sister Margaret gives her the support that many expect from parents.
GLAAD commends Alexandra Zavis and the Los Angeles Times for bringing this honest and moving story to light. We wish Leane continued health and hope that her friendship with Sister Margaret continues to blossom.