Affirming Transgender Members: Creating Celebratory Ceremonies
One of the most supportive things a congregation can do is honor and celebrate the steps a member takes to affirm their authentic gender identity. There are many different land marks or decisions that a transgender person might make in order to authentically live into their gender identity—for example, changing their name, changing the pronouns they prefer, changing their gender marker on legal documents, undergoing some form of medical intervention, or even just the act of coming out to a particular community of people and naming their true gender identity.
Many congregations have held special ceremonies for trans members, such as renaming ceremonies or gender affirmation rituals. Most have created these ceremonies from scratch in collaboration with the member being honored.
There is a sample renaming ceremony and a name change affirmation and blessing that appear in the UUA’s 2003 publication Crossing Paths: Where Transgender and Religion Meet, available for free online. Crossing Paths also contains writings by transgender people of faith, family members, and allies about transgender identity and spirituality, and a three-part workshop series that anyone can lead on gender and transgender identity.
Has your congregation held an affirmation ceremony for a transgender or gender nonconforming member? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and share your ceremony so that we can lift up your story and inspire and aid others in creating similar rituals!
Thank you for standing on the side of love with people of all gender identities and gender expressions!
More resources on transgender welcome, inclusion, and affirmation:
-Crossing Paths: Where Transgender and Religion Meet
-Transgender 101: Identity, Welcome, and Resources
-Transgender Welcome and Ministry, a 2011 General Assembly workshop
-Beyond Inclusion: Creating Trans-Celebratory Faith Communities, an upcoming workshop at the free Philadelphia Trans Health Conference
-Resources for Hosting a Transgender Day of Remembrance Event