Advocates Demand Catholic Officials Apologize For Calling Trans Activists’ Funeral a “Scandal”

Cecilia Gentili, an activist and artist who fought tirelessly for trans and sex worker rights, was laid to rest in a historic funeral at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan last Thursday. She is thought to be the first trans person to have a funeral at the cathedral, according to those who organized the service. But the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York has since condemned the ceremony, insinuating that St. Patrick’s was deceived into holding it. Now, organizers are demanding an apology.

In a statement released on Saturday, the Archdiocese of New York said that Cathedral staff “only knew that family and friends were requesting a funeral Mass for a Catholic, and had no idea our welcome and prayer would be degraded in such a sacrilegious and deceptive way.”

“That such a scandal occurred at ‘America’s Parish Church’ makes it worse; that it took place as Lent was beginning, the annual forty-day struggle with the forces of sin and darkness, is a potent reminder of how much we need the prayer, reparation, repentance, grace, and mercy to which this holy season invites us,” the statement read. It added that the church would be offering a Mass of Reparation, which was held Saturday.

Activist Ceyenne Doroshow, who contacted St. Patrick’s to arrange the funeral, told the Washington Post that she had picked the church as the venue because of Gentili’s “ongoing confliction with the church and how the church perceives and treats us as a people.”

“And for somebody who had been fighting church, religion and state almost her whole life, it was fitting, for me, to make that happen,” she said. Doroshow said that she told the church that Gentili was “a sex worker advocate, an icon and an activist” but not that she was trans, and encouraged them to look her up as she was famous.

“If a cisgender person’s family organizes their funeral, does their family tell the church that they were cis?” Doroshow asked the Post. “If not, why is that being asked of us?”