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Pro-LGBT group launches campaign asking Christians to raise money for gender transition surgeries

(Reuters/Brendan McDermid)A man sells rainbow flags near The Stonewall Inn, on the eve of the LGBT Pride March, in the Greenwich Village section of New York City, , U.S. June 24, 2017.

An organization is launching a campaign asking Christians to donate money to help transgender people pay for surgeries related to their gender transition as a form of reparations for past discrimination.

Faithfully LGBT, a group that seeks to share the stories of LGBT people of faith, is raising funds for the transgender community through a campaign called #TitheTrans.

"There needs to be tangible ways that progressive Christians, who disagree with anti-trans theology, give to the transgender community," says Eliel Cruz, founder of the organization. "I want Tithe Trans to be a way for Christians to begin to pay reparations for the damage we have caused," he added.

The group noted that transition surgeries can cost anywhere between $10,000 and $90,000. About 20 percent of transgender individuals do not have any form of health insurance, and many insurance companies do not provide coverage for procedures related to gender transition, according to NewNowNext.

"Christians have disparaged the bodies of trans people, which has contributed to a culture of violence against them," a statement from the Tithe Trans fundraising site read.

"From promoting anti-trans bathroom legislation to theology that has lead to suicides and homelessness.For those Christians who have seen this violence and have been horrified by it, it's time to put your tithe money where your beliefs are," it continued.

According to a news release published on the group's website, the money collected by the campaign will be directed to the Jim Collins Foundation, a nonprofit organization that raises funds to provide grants to cover gender transition surgeries. Applications for grants are reviewed by a board of trans activists, who provides as many grants as the organization's funds allow.

A fundraising goal of $10,000 has been set by the organizers, and while the campaign is directed at Christians, others are also allowed to donate. The organizers are hoping to surpass its fundraising goal, but, as of Sept, 9, the campaign has only raised $512.

The hashtag #FaithfullyLGBT was first used by Cruz when he was sharing his column of the same name at Religion News Service in 2015. Since then, others have used it to create visibility for the intersection of their faith and their sexuality.

In January 2016, Cruz launched a photo campaign highlighting the faces of LGBT people of faith. The photographs are also featured in the Faithfully LGBT website, each one accompanied by the subject's name, sexual orientation, and religious tradition, as well as a quote about the individual's relationship to sexuality and faith.

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