Friday, November 16, 2007

Welcoming Transgender

This week, I led a workshop at my home congregation, the Unitarian Church in Westport, called,
"What's the T in LGBT"?

Our congregation has been a welcoming congregation for gays and lesbians for more than a decade, and we have had gay clergy and staff. Same sex couples are visible members, our religious education for youth sexual orientation openly, our social action program advocates for marriage equality, and so on.

But, we have at present, no transgender members (at least that we know of), and I'm not sure a person of transgender experience would receive the type of welcome we would want.

Twenty two of us spent the evening exploring what gender diversity means, the types of persons who are transgender, and what policies and programs we might begin to offer. The highlight of the meeting was the presentation by the director of the Connecticut Transadvocacy Coalition, who shared her personal story as well as issues facing people in Connecticut.

It was her painful history -- and her current affirmation as a transwoman -- that made the difference. Knowing people, hearing their stories, makes a difference. Meeting and knowing the people who seem like the "other" makes a difference.

It was a first step for us in becoming a trans-friendly faith community. November 20 is the National Day of Remembrance for transpeople who have lost their lives due to hate crimes. There may be an event near you. Check the link out here. Go and listen. Meet someone new. Ask yourself if you are need to know more about transgender people. Read our new guidebook, "A Time to Seek", available for downloading on our web site. Let me know what happens.

1 comment:

igurl said...

I'm so happy to hear that your congregation has opened discussions on what the "T" in GLBTQQI means. I'm also thrilled that such a conversation would occur in Westport. I never thought much about Westport being open to diversity. I'm not putting Westport down, but from past experiences in towns like Greenwich, it doesn't seem to be something to discuss openly.
I know JeriMarie, and the struggle she has had to overcome. She was my first ally in my transition as well. Being a parent of 2, and dealing with discrimination, I know just how hard it is to be accepted. Finding a welcoming religion is even more of a struggle.
Thanks for sharing.