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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

New Transgender Curriculum for Churches

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force


Pedro Julio Serrano
Communications Coordinator
(Office) 646.358.1479
(Cell) 787.602.5954
(e-mail to:pserrano@theTaskFor

New transgender education resource for churches from the Institute for Welcoming Resources

WASHINGTON, Feb. 13 — The Institute for Welcoming Resources (IWR), a program of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, today announced the release of transACTION, a new curriculum designed for churches and religious institutions to help congregants and members understand and welcome transgender persons into their congregations and faith settings.

“Too often transgender people looking for a place to worship can’t find one to call their spiritual home because most congregations and religious institutions are not ready to welcome them as their companions in faith,” says the Rev.. Rebecca Voelkel, Institute for Welcoming Resources and faith work director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

“Yet, many transgender people of faith are searching for the same things that other believers want: a loving community where worship and working for equality and justice are the focus of their faith experience.”

transACTION is designed to help churches and institutions address this issue of understanding and welcome by providing step-by-step training about the needs, apprehensions and fears of transgender people — as well as the wealth of gifts and graces they bring — while responding to the concerns of the church or religious institution.

The program can be used in three sessions:

How Do We Get to Understanding,
How Do We Get to Acceptance, and
How Do We Get to Welcoming.

All sessions include discussions and activities to go along with the information provided in the curriculum.

“We tried to make this a learning experience that would go beyond just the basics of gender identity and gender expression in order to give participants an understanding of the issues and concerns that transgender people have when trying to express their faith and spirituality in a church or any religious setting,” says Barbara Satin, author of the curriculum and a transgender advocate around issues of faith and aging.

transACTION is available for download from the Institute of Welcoming Resources Web site at
____________ _________ _________ __
The Institute for Welcoming Resources (IWR) is a program of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, whose purpose is to achieve the full acceptance and participation of all sexual orientations and gender identities in the life of the church. IWR, located in Minneapolis, Minn., provides resources and programs to support the welcoming church movement and develops coalitions to broaden the results of its work in a wide variety of faith groups.

The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from the ground up. We do this by training activists, organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and by building the organizational capacity of our movement.

Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies.

As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge. The Task Force is a 501(c)(3) corporation incorporated in Washington, D.C. Contributions to the Task Force are tax-deductible to the full extent allowed by law. (C) 2007 NGLTF

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
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Washington, DC 20005.

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(e-mail to: theTaskForce@ theTaskForce. org) .


Grandmère Mimi said...

Elizabeth, I'm glad to see this post, because the transgendered folks are, in many ways, the forgotten ones.

Muthah+ said...

Thanks, Elizabeth. I need this for my congregation. We have a woman in the parish who is married to a trans. We are also looking at the whole issue of Human Sexuality in the light of the theological doccument from the ELCA. I am afraid the parish is farther along than the document, but it is good that the whole church is forced to discuss the topic.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Here's the thing, Mimi, I think trans folk are doing more in terms of getting us to dismantle sexism than many of our women's organizations because they force us to consider gender roles and stereotyping in deeply profound ways.

Which leads me to ask, Muthah, have you really looked at the curriculum? I have a very progressive congregation which would be seriously challenged by it. I don't think I, even I, have seriously considered the issues raised by the curriculum.

I'm going to write more about it, but this is the best I can do right now. Off I go, to do my Mother's work.

Bill said...

Elizabeth Kaeton said...
"I don't think I, even I, have seriously considered the issues raised by the curriculum."

First, thank you for posting this.

Second, I believe that Jesus' warned His Disciples that they could expect to suffer should they choose to follow him. There will be suffering but then this is nothing new for those of us fighting for equality in the sex/gender/identity arena.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Bill, I think you're absolutely right about the suffering. This stuff touches the core of who we are as human beings with a gender identity which is shaped and formed more by cultural expectations than our DNA. If it were a simple matter of genetics or biology, it would be easier to address. Cultural biases are much, much more difficult to overcome.

As I said, I'll be writing more about this (I don't have to preach this w/e), but I have to spend a bit more time with this curriculum.

Matthew said...


Perhaps it is inappropriate for me to post this here, as its for Elizabeth, not Susay, but I do hope Elizabeth that you will post something about the ELCA material on your blog. My parish is considering using this curriculum as part of a study process, so I am intrigued by your comment. Also, I am the one, and the parish is the one that your responders considered in your first First Friday question.

Matthew said...

Sorry, Elizabeth. Thought I was at Susan Russell's blog by mistake.

Rebecca Martin said...

i can peak as someone rejected by 2 churches because i am transgendered and i can say that it has pushed me away form the church and form my father (God) it has made get tot he point where i would rather be outside a churches care and his love than risk being hurt by a church again.

I just hope this stops other people going through that because our god is a powerful god , a god of understanding a worker of miracles a god who loves all his children and rejects none, why cant his church be the same.

I feel alone at the very time in my life when i need to feel supported and loved by my sisters and brothers yet despite having served the church and god since i was 11 i am now terrified to try going back in a church as rebecca as Me and being that i am now trying to go full time this means im cut of form church.

How is the what god wants for any of his kids ?

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Hey, Rebecca - I am so very sorry for the rejection you have experienced. Some churches have no right to call themselves "The Body of Christ".

If you can't find a church that accepts you, start a community of faith on your own. Gather together some of your friends from across the spectrum of gender and sexual orientation and ask them to spend 20 minutes with you every week in prayer. See what happens. Watch what God will do.

Know that I will pray for you, Rebecca. And that God loves you beyond your wildest imagination.