We are also acutely aware that there is an ever growing movement to legislate away the rights of transgender people in the U.S. - by banning books that provide affirming representation, banning trans people from playing sports and accessing bathrooms, and prohibiting gender affirming medical care. In such an environment, coming out is not always a safe thing to do. While visibility and living one’s truth is important, we cannot ignore the issues of safety that are an acute concern for so many trans and non-binary folks today, especially trans women of color.
What does it mean to you to be out as a trans/non-binary person and as a person of faith?
“It means everything to me to be both a trans woman and a Christian. To me, the unfriendly attitudes of many Christian people and denominations toward queer people have a lot to do with being able to make discomfort disappear. If I were not a queer and trans person, I would be vulnerable to that same instinctual drive to feel at peace, regardless of the cost to others. Holding these identities together keeps me uncomfortable, and keeps me from lapsing into the easier kind of belief that says "I've got the answers, and they apply to everyone." “ -Allie
“At a spiritual standpoint, God's love for me is an important part of my continual faith. The fact that I know that he loves me as I am helps me to love myself. Our physical bodies will be left behind when we die and go off to heaven, so why should it matter if I change it on earth to better my mental health. However, having faith and being queer is hard when faced with other Christians, some of whom regard me as less than or heretic because of my identity.” - Cameron (he/him)
“It was difficult at first, but I can be an example of God's inclusive love. Even in my secular life I've been around and out for so long that most people are used to me. This exposure seems to help.” -Deacon Carolyn
“It means being willing to openly queer binaries — especially the idea that there is only male or female, that there is only gay or straight, and that one can be trans/nb or Christian but not both. It means claiming my and my community’s created goodness as trans and/or nb.” - Rev. Cameron Partridge (he/him)
“For me it means not having to hide either part of myself - my transness or my faith. But it’s also been difficult - being out as trans and finding a faith community that affirms that hasn’t always been easy. On the flip side, sometimes a hostility towards faith permeates queer and trans spaces. It means holding the tension of the harm that has been done in the name of faith towards queer, trans, and non-binary folks and being committed to live openly as a trans person of faith, making sure there are faith communities that affirm trans and non-binary folks and provide opportunities for them to flourish.” Rev. Kori Pacyniak (they/them)
“It means a lot to me, and honestly I don't think I would be who I am today without my faith.” - Andrea
“Living with the Dignity that is pledged in our Baptismal Covenant.” - Vicky M.
What do you see as the most important and pressing issues facing your community/communities?
“I live in a rather conservative area, so fear is a definite factor which, I think, makes it hard for many. I also believe, insofar as faith communities are concerned, the fear of rejection is an issue. In my diocese, that is not a real problem, but I know of many other churches which loudly and proudly condemn LGBTQ+ people.” - Deacon Carolyn
“The issue that worries me the most is the blatant lack of understanding or acceptance shown by those in charge of my diocese. I feel afraid to be out in places such as summer camp, because of how other pastors’ children, and staff/clergymen might treat me or my family differently. I also fear that the commonality of board/committee members treating/talking about lgbtq people as an "idea" and not as people who have lives and feelings will lead to decisions being made without the people affected by them really being thought of.” - Cameron (he/him)
“I see the most pressing issues to be the demonization of the trans community. In the mainstream world we seem to be viewed as deviants or simply confused. The recent political battles over our existence, and the outright banning or limiting of our ability to receive necessary medical care have also been stressful to the extreme.” - Andrea
“Trans people are vulnerable in so many aspects of our lives because of the ways our identities are stigmatized in society. That manifests in housing precarity, food scarcity, joblessness, lack of social support, mental health issues - but it's all rooted in disconnection from our neighbors, driven by their discomfort with the ways we're different from them.” - Allie
“The assaults of misinformation that are in opposition to our dignity and well-being and are creating terror in our community and the whole of Cis/Het siblings in the Church.” - Vicky M.
“The use of trans and nb people as political wedge issues — increasingly targeting trans youth and especially trans girls— which has a huge emotional and spiritual impact on the trans and nb community, including our families. It is part of a widespread and evolving culture of violence seeking our eradication.” - Rev. Cameron Partridge (he/him)
We invite further responses to these two questions in the comments: What does it mean to you to be out as a trans/non-binary person and as a person of faith? What do you see as the most important and pressing issues facing your community/communities?
On this coming out day, we remember that coming out can be a lifelong process, full of both the joy and exhilaration of living as your truest self as well as the fatigue and fear of having to disclose time and time again. For many trans and non-binary folks, coming out is not a one time thing. For all those who are out - balancing visibility and vulnerability, as well as for those who are not or cannot come out, we pray on this day, asking God to embrace them with love, strength and support and the knowledge that each one of us, in all our splendid gender diversity, is a reflection of God’s divine image.
In closing, we offer this prayer by the Rev. M Jade Kaiser:
Not so much an unveiling of a hidden static treasure,
nor a final declaration or destination.
Not so much a correction of the past, now properly amended,
nor solely a discovery of a word for difference long felt.
An impermanent clarity about the self in community.
A fleeting certainty about a something always uncertain.
A question of what politics to pursue.
A constant reconstituting.
A holy reconfiguration.
A reconstructing sexuality, gender, race, what it means to be human –
Creating on different terms, with different values.
A resistance to white supremacist cishetero patriarchy.
A development of friction on purpose.
A slow work.
It is a forever-practice
to actively dis-entangle from the web of destruction,
to become something otherwise.
It takes so much intention
to become queer –
to seek the identity of an ever strange(r) thing,
to create ourselves over and over and over again
as power and proximity to normalcy changes or evolves.
To call each other home
when the way is nomadic.
It unsteadies Histories.
And calls forth futures unfixed.
Turning away from essentialist temptations,
it refuses to be reconciled
while so much is still broken.
What do we hope to become?
Not a thing to be accepted,
but a location of solidarity from which the world is built anew.
– Rev. M Jade Kaiser, enfleshed (https://enfleshed.com/liturgy/lgbtq-related/) – inspired and deeply influenced by Shane Phelan’s essay (Be)Coming Out in Getting Specific, Postmodern Lesbian Politics (University of Minnesota Press, 1994).