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Dear ,


This coming Saturday, March 31st is International Transgender Day of Visibility, a day when we recognize the accomplishments of the worldwide trans community as they strive to dismantle transphobia and cissexism.

It has been a rough year for all who are striving to live lives that side with love, but our trans loved ones seem to be bearing a heavier burden than most. In 2017 we mourned the highest murder rate against transpersons on record, most of whom were Black trans women. Against the counsel of his Secretary of Defense, our Commander-In-Chief unilaterally decided to ban transpersons from serving in the military. We also grieved the setback of Gavin Grimm vs. Gloucester County School Board as the Supreme Court declined to hear the case of a trans teen who was prohibited from using the bathroom that suited his gender identity. Even within Unitarian Universalism, we face our own struggles as trans ministers continue to cry out against the transphobia that exists in our UU congregations.

Miraculously, all is not lost. Alongside such cruelty, there is hope. On this International Transgender Day of Visibility, we seek to honor the fierce accomplishments of trans people who hope against hope as they strive to make the world a better place for not just themselves, but for all who live and love on the margins of life. Because of their work, we witnessed the courts declare Trump Administration’s trans ban unconstitutional and declare that businesses cannot fire trans employees for religious reasons.

In early spring of 2017 two "out" trans Unitarian Universalist ministers were called into settled ministry with UU congregations. Earlier that spring, the second semi-annual retreat of Trans Religious Professionals UUs Together (TRUUsT) took place in Florida and was attended by 27 trans UUs. In late summer of 2017 the UUA Board of Trustees appointed Co-Moderators of the UUA: Mr. Barb Greve, who is the first trans*/genderqueer, and Elandria Williams, who is the first Black co-moderator (non-binary).

In honor of the life-affirming work of the trans community in and beyond Unitarian Universalism, the UUA wishes to uplift the voices of our cherished trans ministers and leaders who continue to call us into Beloved Community. Please revisit their courageous lives as expressed in the following UPLIFT blogs. In addition, we invite you to support their ministries. Please donate generously to support the 2018 TRUUsT Retreat and the inspiring #BlackTransPrayerBook. In order for us to better enrich the lives of trans UU, we also ask that you share the following survey, Experiences of Trans+ Unitarian Universalists - Survey widely with members of the UU trans community.
Be well,

Michael



Rev. Michael J. Crumpler
LGBTQ and Intercultural Programs Manager
Multicultural Growth and Witness

"If you don’t believe that your enemy can be redeemed you will become what you hate." - Rev. Dr. William Barber, II
"I condemn in the strongest terms President Trump’s immoral directive banning transgender people from entering the military and revoking health care support for those currently serving. Unitarian Universalists unequivocally support the full humanity of people across the spectrum of gender and sexuality, including the right of transgender people to serve in the military. This is yet another attack from this administration on the humanity, dignity, and fundamental rights of people in this country. Even more disturbing, this attack targets those who have committed their lives to faithful service.

My heart turns to all the transgender and gender non-conforming people in the military who are showing up everyday to serve and protect our country, even as their commander in chief has made them a target. I am grateful for your service. Grounded in a belief that all people are worthy, and called faithfully to build the Beloved Community, I particularly urge my fellow cisgender Unitarian Universalists to join me to affirming, supporting and celebrating all of our transgender and gender non-conforming siblings. We are with you. We remain with you until we are all free."
Statement by UUA President Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray, August 26, 2017
Congregational Trans Inclusion
Two Trans UU Ministers Called to Settled Ministry
From July 2017: TRUUsT is thrilled to announce that two trans ministers have been called to new Unitarian Universalist pulpits: Rev. Dawn Fortune and Rev. Otto O’Connor. Both have been called as settled ministers. Read more.
It’s Not About Me
Rev. Otto O’Connor

There’s been some news coverage of my recent call to the First Parish in Malden, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised that many of the local publications in Malden and the surrounding area have focused broadly on my call to this congregation. However, this piece that aired on on NECN and NBC Boston focused almost entirely on my identity as a transgender person. Since it was on TV it was the mostly widely shared piece of coverage of my new position. This was fine, and I knew when the reporter called me that this is what they would focus on.

But it was a little weird, to be honest.

You see, it’s a strange thing to be on the news for doing nothing different from many of my colleagues. It’s a strange thing to have my identity be newsworthy, when for me, it’s just a part of my life. And it’s strange to me when my friends congratulate me on all of this. Read more.
Living Trans* Theology

Rev. Jae Pema-la Scott

For many trans and gender non-conforming (trans*) persons, the days of our lives are often marked by anxiety, shakiness, and fear. For many of us, it feels as if we are flailing about, overwhelmed with the tasks of transition, and forced to put on an armor of confidence in order to survive. Fragile and unsure, we continually show strength in the face of violence and hate.

Though our spirits might tremble, we commit daily acts of bravery by waking up, getting dressed, and stepping out into a terrifying world. With weariness in our spirit, we wonder if we will find the energy to continue. Read more.
Welcome is in Our Bones: Moving Beyond the Binary to Answer the Call of Love

Rev. Jennifer Hamlin-Navias

My congregation, First Unitarian Universalist Society of Syracuse, recently hosted a Building Beloved Community Beyond the Binary conference. This is the second time we have hosted this conference that focuses on transgender identity. Last year, we had Kate Bornstein as the keynote speaker, and this year we had S. Bear Bergman as the keynote. We are a small, 111 member, congregation in upstate NY. Not the first place you would think would host a conference like this. This year we had 125 people at the conference, and most of those folks were from outside our congregation from the larger community. It was a wonderful day. My congregation opened its doors to non UU folk of all kinds, trans, non-binary, gay, lesbian, cisgender, allies, teachers, nurses, parents, kids, social workers, and more. All these folks gathered to learn, to connect, to bend the arc just a little closer to justice. People felt welcomed and safe which is really what made it a great day.
You might wonder why a little church in upstate NY is doing this. There are many reasons, but the most pertinent one is that we are a congregation of deep welcome. We know and practice it. We are certified as a "Welcoming Congregation," and we know that if that means anything then we have to practice welcome. We know that historically churches have not been safe places for LGBTQ folk. We know that if we are going to help change that we have to do more than hang a rainbow flag out front and open your door. Read more.
Transgender Religious professional Unitarian Universalists Together (TRUUsT)
27 trans leaders and 2 allied UUA staff gathered in Palm Harbor, Florida for TRUUsT retreat. Photo by Alex Kapitan.
Learning to TRUUsT

Rev. Anya Johnston


It’s not hard to find places to feel unwelcome. I knew that even when I didn’t know all the reasons that I was different from how the world expected me to be. Once I accepted that I’m transgender I had an explanation for many of the unwelcoming experiences I’d had in life.

It’s been said that naming a problem is half the solution. In the case of naming my gender it has often felt that the problem got much larger once I named it. The places I could feel welcome became increasingly scarce.

Although I came out as trans with a plan in place, I had underestimated the losses that accompanied the truth of my identity. Being genuine seemed to make me less welcome than I’d ever been before. I won’t say that TRUUsT saved me; that seems over dramatic. I will say that attending the first TRUUsT retreat brought me a feeling of welcome that had been missing for many years. Read more.
Support TRUUsT Retreats

Donate now to support future TRUUsT retreats! Learn more.
Transgender Day of Remembrance (#TDOR) - November 20
 
Reflection on Transgender Remembrance Day - November 20
18th Annual Transgender Day of Remembrance - November 20, 2017
Rev. Paul Langston-Daley


This is a day of remembrance—to recall those who’s very being

was not seen as a divine gift

but seen instead as different and dangerous.

We mourn their loss.

Their contribution to this world

cut short.



And in these times,

when all we have worked for

seems to be unraveling,

I see a call not just for remembrance,

but also for resistance and resilience.

Read more.
B. Herbert

TDOR was started in San Francisco to memorialize the death of Rita Hester, whose murder has yet to be solved, along with most trans-murder cases.

Every year, groups of trans and gender nonconforming individuals and their allies come together and light candles, say a prayer, and tell stories in honor of those we have lost that year.

2017 is on pace to have the highest reported deaths of trans and gender non-conforming individuals. As of November 10th, there are 25 reported deaths.

Let's note that these are reported incidents, as some cases usually go unreported, or the victim is misgendered or dead named. Of those 25, 22 were persons of color.

As a trans person of color, November 20th is often faced with deep grief. It's a day when we come together as a community, a family, and speak their names. Reminding those who bear witness that we saw each victim's light, their humanity because they were not strangers to us. Read more.
 
Cautious Optimism on Transgender Day of Remembrance
Terry Cummings

As another Transgender Day of Remembrance approaches, the recent election to public offices around the country of eight members of the trans and non-binary community is a reason for cautious optimism.

It seems that in the modern history of America, or the world for that matter, there have never been so many trans and non-binary people bravely living their lives in the fullness of their identities. And surprise, surprise, cisgender people appear to be learning that we are responsible and caring friends and co-workers, who can be relied upon in time of need. That we are not sexual deviants who molest innocent people in public restrooms.

And there is also cause for optimism for the trans and non-binary community in the world of Unitarian Universalism. More and more I am hearing about members of UU congregations and their children claiming the gender they feel rather than the one assigned to them at birth. Their experiences are not always completely positive, but every place I hear about seems to be mindful of our first UU principle, and apply it to the trans members of their congregation.

Read more.
On Transgender Day of Remembrance, an Invitation
Mr. Barb Greve

Transgender Day of Remembrance was set aside to annually memorialize those who were killed due to transphobic hatred or prejudice. Originally, it was to honor the life of Rita Hester, a transgender African-American woman who was murdered in Allston, MA in 1998. Today communities around the globe gather annually on November 20th for public worship and vigils.

Sadly, 25 trans people have been reported killed in the USA and countless others worldwide. There are no statistics for the number of suicides resulting from harassment for being transgender, but we can guess that it is likely to be high.

I too have been on the receiving end of harassment and physical attack; have experienced discrimination in housing and employment. Despite all this, I have been extremely lucky compared to many transgender people. No one should have to rely on luck to find housing. No one should have to rely on luck to be hired or to keep a job. No one should have to rely on luck to safely live her life.

Read more.
Survey: Experiences of Trans+ Unitarian Universalists

This survey, a joint effort of TRUUsT and the UUA office of Multicultural Growth & Witness, seeks to collect data on the experiences of Unitarian Universalists who are transgender, non-binary, intersex, agender, Two Spirit, or otherwise not cisgender. Take the survey.

If you are not trans+ please do not take this survey.



Support #BlackTransPrayerBook
Reflections on #BlackTransMagick: The Ghost at Church

After I got done with my sermon, white people approached me in droves. Many with tears in their eyes, thanking me for my message. Many regaled me with stories about what they did to address racial injustice in their lives, or moments they wish they did more. I looked around the church and saw only one other Black face, and one white trans person. An older gentleman came towards me and pressed a card into my palm with the church’s tenets written in white letters while saying, "This is why you’d be welcomed here." I wondered what welcomed meant.

There is a spiritual loneliness when looking for your people in the eyes of a congregation that is well read, but not well practiced in the art of addressing racial and trans justice. As a Black trans person whose history has been stolen, erased, and gaslit I had to take intentional steps to piece together a faith practice that didn’t just acknowledge me as a full being, in all my Blackness and transness, but also the reality of the world I exist in at this current moment in time. Read more.
#BlackTransMagick Prayer Book: To Be Black, Trans & Magickal

In 2017, across the U.S., we have seen a rise in unapologetic white supremacy, hate crimes and the usage of violent theologies to further cause harm against already targeted populations. As we know, faith spirituality is an important part of resiliency. In a world steeped in anti-Blackness, transphobia and transmisogyny, very few faith and spiritual spaces have a deep understanding of the ways unexamined theologies can spread anti-Blackness and transphobia. As Black trans people, we are a community often the target of criminalization, homelessness, murder and joblessness. As #BlackTransMagick, we ask ourselves "how do we protect our spirits and those of our loved ones who face so much trauma?"

#BlackTransMagick, is a cohort of Black trans poets and musicians seeking to answer this very question. Through the creation of the #BlackTransMagick Prayer Book, we are seeking a place to hold and process our spiritual pain as a community, hold faith spaces accountable to the anti-Blackness and transphobia they perpetuate and fuel the resiliency of Black trans people needing spiritual space. To make this happen, we need the help and support of anti-racist and trans affirming faith spaces.

This interfaith project, which will be organized by J Mase III (poet/educator/founder of awQward) and Lady Dane Figueroa Edidi (poet/author/priestess), will bring together Black trans poets/artists/theologians to collectively create a book of prayers, meditations, poems and stories that center the spiritual realities of Black trans people. Read more.
General Assembly 2018
 
 
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