Gender Identity and Our Faith Communities: A Congregational Guide for Transgender Advocacy
Contributors: Margaret Blankers; Dana Beyer, M.D.; Rev. Sarah Carpenter-Vascik; Jakob Hero; Rabbi Elliot Rose Kukla; Rev. Elizabeth Macaulay; Dr. Virginia Ramey Mollenkott; Rev. Phyllis V. Pennese; Rev. Drew Phoenix; Rev. Allyson Robinson; Rayees Shah; and Rev. Dr. Erin Swenson.
Rev. Chris Glaser, Editor. Dr. Sharon Groves, Project Supervisor
Gender Identity and Our Faith Communities is based on the contributions of transgender people, their families and clergy. Drawing on a wide array of personal experiences, religious and cultural analysis, and diverse faith journeys, it will empower people of faith with the knowledge and skills necessary to transform their communities and congregations into welcoming environments. Even more than this, though, our hope is that this curriculum will turn participants into advocates for transgender rights. The transgender community is one of the most discriminated against and least understood segments of our population. They are disproportionately targeted for violent hate crimes; they suffer regularly from the most severe forms of job discrimination and are far too often shunned by their families and faith communities.
Because of the commitment to justice and the tenets of loving hospitality at the core of our faith traditions, we know that faith communities are the ideal site for empowering new allies and advocates for transgender rights. Sadly, though, we also know that some of the harshest discrimination against transgender people has come from people of faith cloaking prejudice in religious discourse. By exploring a wide range of religious experiences and offering thoughtful biblical analysis and commentary, our hope is that this curriculum will embolden participants to see in their faith a plea for understanding and a revitalized call for equality.
The guide is divided into three parts:
- "The Stories" explores the varied experiences of transgender people, probes the complexity of gender identity, and helps participants develop a vocabulary around transgender concepts;
- "Gender Identity and Faith" gives participants a choice of three different exercises that will encourage them to have deeper conversation about religion and transgender people; and
- "A Call for Justice" provides a step-by-step training to move people of faith from acceptance to public advocacy.
In addition to the curriculum, we have included a series of dramatic readings, a participant’s handbook, and twelve outstanding essays from our contributors. Audio files are available for each dramatic reading and for the exercises titled "the Gifts of Transgender People." An explanation of how best to use these files is provided in the curriculum.