Got Your Back: A Sung Prayer with and to Trans Bodies

Image: Detail of “Sylvia Rivera,” Jen Casselberry, 2017, Oil on Canvas, 24 x 36 inches.

I was recently delighting in the process of settling into my new office space, looking out onto a bucolic landscape surrounded by trees, and appreciating the view of a church across the street.

Curious to learn more, I looked up the church online and (as I almost always do) went quickly to their statement of faith. Their theological statement, one of the most virulently homophobic and transphobic ones I’ve read in years, effectively stated that I’m an affront to God’s creation.

I’m clear, of course, as a queer trans minister, that this is nonsense. This bad theology – easily refuted with the amazing body of scriptural, theological, educational, medical, and psychological research readily available – begets more violence. It’s violence that impacts the lives of trans people I care about, that fuels the politicians equating trans medical care to child abuse, that undergirds hundreds of proposed anti-LGBTQ legislative bills currently at play across the U.S.

And yet. And yet.

On the wall behind me, in this same office, is an icon of Sylvia Rivera, created by artist Jen Casselberry. Sylvia was my friend during my time in New York City, and, among other adventures, we were arrested together protesting Christian homophobia.

“Got Your Back” is my imagining of trans, non-binary, and gender expansive siblings gathering, each one singing a line, having each others’ backs. And ultimately, with the final voice in the song, God joins us in our resistance.

As I sing, I know that Sylvia has my back. That God has my back. And yours.

Kerr Mesner is a spiritual director, consultant, and facilitator, as well as a queer/transgender contemplative Christian, performing artist, and activist. In his spare time, he enjoys writing songs and playing in his garden.

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Geez Out Loud · Got Your Back by Kerr Mesner, Geez 65: Healing Sex

“Got Your Back”
Please enjoy the recording of this song as part of Geez Out Loud. While all the voices are currently my own on this recording, I anticipate this being sung by multiple trans voices together. – km

Sibling One: I’m here . . . I’ve got your back
Sibling Two: I’m here . . . I’ve got your back
Sibling Three: Keep your spine strong . . . keep your spine strong
Sibling Four: Breathe in . . . breathe out
God: Feel my heart beating in you, beating strong. No more bodies on the line, my line is drawn.

Issue 65

This article first appeared in Geez magazine Issue 65, Summer 2022, Healing Sex.

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