November 17, 2017
As we raise awareness of transgender individuals in our communities, let’s not forget about those training to be religious leaders.
The growing number of transgender and gender nonconforming students in divinity schools and seminaries are changing the way religious leaders are educated and sent out into the world. These students offer rich perspectives about faith, gender, and sexuality.
Here’s a spotlight on three transgender seminarians or recent graduates.
“Current rhetoric surrounding trans issues reifies the gender binary, stokes the cognitive dissonance, and alienates trans people like me.” Read more of Erica’s thought on the “Voices of Today” testimony she presented at Wake Forest Baptist Church. Erica Saunders is CFT’s 2017 Nancy A. Hardesty Memorial Scholarship recipient.
“My work focuses on black transwomen, and deals with an understanding of sexuality and gender espoused within the Christian community in response to the abhorrent violence visited upon black people in the United States.”
“Plant aims to work as an advocate and educator on LGBT issues in faith communities. But before seeking full-time work in community organizing, he hopes to finish a video and book project to educate religious people on such topics as gender diversity in the Bible.”
Support the schools and programs that encourage positive views of sexuality and gender.
The Religious Institute works with seminaries, divinity, and rabbinical schools to help them become more sexually healthy institutions and publishes a list of schools who meet the criteria of a “sexually healthy and responsible seminary.” Learn more and check out the list.
The Center for LGBTQ and Gender Studies in Religion, sponsored by the Pacific School of Religion, offers a year-long leadership development program for trans and genderqueer seminarians.
“Our goal is to encourage trans* students during their training for religious leadership so that they complete their degrees, feel equipped to follow their vocation, and also embrace the fact that their impact as faith leaders can and should extend beyond their chosen settings for ministry and service to include the welfare of the broader communities in which they live. “