On July 8, TransLutherans was announced as a new affinity group in ReconcilingWorks: Lutherans for Full Participation at our assembly in Washington, D.C. Thanks to the board for approving the formation of this group at its 2012 spring meeting in Minneapolis. TransLutherans has been a long time in the making. A word or two about the history of this process is in order.
- increase transgender and bisexual training opportunities for board, staff, and Regional Coordinators,
- to create a national speakers bureau qualified to provide education,
- to commit the Legislative team and trans/bi/queer communities to work together to create resolutions for synod and church wide assemblies.
TransLutherans will support a network of people who will help to carry out this important work.
Several years ago, two related personal experiences deeply affected the course of my advocacy and the carrying out of these sacred tasks through ReconcilingWorks as transgender representative and board member.
Twenty-five years ago I distanced myself from the Church. My faith life was mired in a valley of despair and was slipping away as my gender identity, first sensed at age 3, welled up within me and began to fill my consciousness. I was overwhelmed with fear of losing everything I held dear, including my very life, were I to come out as a trans* person. When I finally did come out to myself, then to my wife and some close friends, a feeling of relief began to creep back into my life, and my faith life was slowly restored. Many months later I sought to reestablish my ELCA church home and arranged a meeting with my pastor.
After reintroducing myself and explaining to them that I was in the midst of my gender transition, I shared how I very much wanted -- needed -- to feel welcome once again in my congregation, from which I had distanced myself after many years of faithful service. They looked at me for a few moments with furrowed brow, and finally said "JamieAnn, I think you might be welcome in one, maybe two churches in town. Certainly the Congregational church would welcome you, and there may be one other." It was at this moment that I began to understand that people like me might not be considered children of God and a part of the marvelous Divine creation of humanity. I subsequently sought out a Reconciling in Christ (RIC) congregation in a nearby town and the first worship service I attended as my true self transformed my life. I began a life of advocacy for all LGBTQI people, working at the intersection of oppressions in faith and secular communities.
- to lift up and provide support for transgender and gender non-conforming people;
- to call out to the people of God to welcome us as part of God's sacred creation;
- to educate others about transgender and gender non-conforming people and the issues we face;
- to advocate for welcome and full inclusion of transgender and gender non-conforming people in the life of the Church.
Please pray for this newborn affinity group and for our work among us. God continues to call all of us by name -- there is a place at the table for all of us, no exceptions. Let us all be reconciled with one another through Christ, whose love and mercy and grace are infinite.