There have been at least 22 deaths of transgender and gender nonconforming people this year, most of whom have been Black transgender women. My heart is heavy with the knowledge that so many trans lives have been taken from their loved ones and this world. We mark Transgender Day of Remembrance each year so that we may bear witness to the appalling transphobic violence enacted against the transgender community, and in particular, upon Black transgender women.
We who are cisgender must recognize our responsibility to address anti-trans bias and make our communities more welcoming. Perhaps our most important role is to be accomplices to our trans siblings. As Brittany Packnett shared at the 2018 UUA General Assembly, allies can be self-congratulating and unreliable, while accomplices are in it for the long term. The Unitarian Universalist organization TRUUsT (Transgender Religious professional Unitarian Universalists Together) suggests many effective actions cis people can take to support trans people, from funding small survival grants to enhancing understanding and inclusion in our communities.
Unitarian Universalists are called to faithfully embody inclusive communities where all may find solace, solidarity, and safety. In our congregations and spiritual gatherings, we strive to offer transgender people and others of non-cisgender identities—and people of all identities and backgrounds—a place to find deep connection and spiritual growth. The UUA’s Five Practices of Welcome Renewal offers faith-centered ways to weave LGBTQ+ welcome into the spiritual life of all congregations, no matter their size or geographic location.
Despite experiencing disproportionate rates of violence, transgender people and others of non-cisgender identities are resilient, vibrant, and building a movement for true equity. It is hopeful and so inspiring to see this work in action. Consider supporting organizations like the Trans Justice Funding Project, a community-led funding initiative to support grassroots, trans justice groups run by and for trans people. Or the #BlackTransPrayerBook, an interfaith, multi-dimensional, artistic and theological work that collects the stories, poems, prayers, meditation, spells, and incantations of Black transgender and gender nonconforming contributors. Establish or deepen your congregation’s connections with transgender leaders in your own community and you’ll find many other movement building opportunities.
My prayer on this Transgender Day of Remembrance is for the senseless acts of transantagonistic violence to end. As a faith grounded in a love that is abundant, freely given, and available to all, I pray for courageous, bold action by cisgender Unitarian Universalists to grow understanding and inclusion in our communities. May our words and deeds serve to build up spaces where transgender people and others of non-cisgender identities feel celebrated and nourished, spaces where they take on the leadership that will nourish this faith for generations to come.
Yours in faith,
Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray
More information on how to support our UU Trans Community can be found here.
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