Skylark Bookshop to host transgender issues discussion

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COLUMBIA - After a local church came under fire for a sermon some felt was transphobic, one local bookstore "talked things out" through books.

Co-pastor of The Crossing Keith Simon participated in Skylark Bookshop's forum on transgender issues on Wednesday. In its Facebook post, Skylark invited Simon, who gave a controversial sermon at The Crossing.

In the sermon, Simon referred to transgender people as "broken."

Beth Shapiro, an employee at Skylark, proposed the event. 

"I thought it would be neat if we talked about both fiction and nonfiction books that had transgender people involved," Shapiro said.

Simon said he was glad he was invited, so he could "continue to learn more," but did not want to take the spotlight from the event.

"Given the discussion and the controversy that has been revolving around the sermon at The Crossing, I thought it would be neat if we talked about both fiction and nonfiction books that had transgender people involved," Shapiro said.

Urmila Kutikkad, an attendee of the event, said she was saddened by the sermon but was happy to hear Ragtag and True/False severed ties with The Crossing. 

"Even in the apology videos that were released, to repeatedly hear trans and queer people referred to as broken was...sad to hear in my community," Kutikkad said.

Simon also said he has had a lot of dialogue recently with people who have different views than him. 

"I don't know what his takeaways were, like if he's going to change his opinion," Kutikkad said. "Maybe it's unrealistic to expect these kinds of things."

"One of the things about being a small store is we can be nimble and address situations as they arrive," bookshop owner Alex George said.

She said learning new ideas best comes through reading.

"At the shop, we believe that the way to learn about things and to gain knowledge is through books and through reading," Shapiro said.

Kutikkad said, moving forward, she hopes to see a better retraction of the sermon, but she does appreciate the pastor coming to the event. 

"His presence meant that he wasn't just trying to apologize once, get it over with and not engage anymore," Kutikkad said. 

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