TRUUsT is thrilled to announce that two trans ministers have been called to new Unitarian Universalist pulpits: Rev. Dawn Fortune and Rev. Otto O’Connor. Both have been called as settled ministers.
Rev. Dawn Fortune was called to the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the South Jersey Shore in Galloway Township, New Jersey. Rev. Dawn currently serves as interim minister at both Emerson UU Chapel in the St. Louis area and the First Unitarian Church of Alton, Illinois. They graduated from Andover Newton Theological School in 2015 with a Master’s of Divinity and are in the process of earning a Graduate Certificate in Sexuality and Religion at Pacific School of Religion. Rev. Dawn was ordained into the UU ministry in 2015.
Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the South Jersey Shore members participate in a laying on of hands to welcome Rev. Dawn Fortune. Photo courtesy of UUCSJS.
On June 24, 2017, delegates to the Unitarian Universalist Association’s General Assembly in New Orleans overwhelmingly voted to approve language to make Unitarian Universalism’s second source more inclusive of people of all genders.
Unitarian Universalism affirms and promotes seven principles, drawn from six sources of our faith. The current language of the second source reads: “Words and deeds of prophetic women and men which challenge us to confront powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion, and the transforming power of love.”
This language excludes most of TRUUsT’s members and a good number of our congregants. The proposal would change the second source to read, “Words and deeds of prophetic people…”, which is more inclusive of people who are genderqueer, non-binary, genderfluid, agender, intersex, two-spirit, polygender, and otherwise gender non-conforming.
Jami Yandle and Marcus Fogliano introduce the proposed change to UUism’s second source.
From April 10-13, the second-ever retreat was held of TRUUsT, Transgender Religious professional Unitarian Universalists Together, in Palm Harbor, Florida.
Twenty-seven trans leaders and two allied Unitarian Universalist Association staff gathered together for community, worship, and organizing to support the many varied ministries of trans people within Unitarian Universalism. Attendees were directors of religious education, music directors, youth directors, seminarians, and community and parish ministers; hailed from all corners of North America—from rural Ohio to the San Francisco Bay Area, from Portland, OR, to Montreal; and encompassed a broad diversity of race/ethnicity, ability, sexuality, and gender identity (including woman, trans woman, man, trans man, non-binary, genderqueer, agender, two spirit, polygender, gender fluid, and intersex).
In the coming weeks and months there are a number of opportunities for Unitarian Universalists to deepen their awareness of and advocacy for transgender people in our movement and beyond, several of which TRUUsT members are a part of.
Transgender Inclusion in Congregations: An Online UU Leadership Institute Course
Starting in late January 2017, Rev. Mykal Slack and Zr. Alex Kapitan, both TRUUsT members, will be teaching a six-session online UU Leadership Institute course on creating trans-inclusive and -affirming congregations.
This course is for everyone: from novices to trans identity to those with decades of life experience. In it participants will deeply explore the intersection of trans identity and UU faith and community, and gain the grounding, context, and skills to transform ourselves and our congregations. Continue reading
Today, November 20, is a day of mourning for the transgender community. On this day we grieve for those we’ve lost in the past year to anti-trans violence, a practice that started in 1988 in the wake of the murder of Rita Hester in Boston.
2016 was a particularly brutal year for us: in the United States alone, twenty-four souls were murdered, the majority of whom were Black trans women. Globally, Trans Respect Versus Transphobia reports 295 murders.
And now, in the wake of the presidential election, we fear that 2017 will be far worse. As trans Unitarian Universalist leaders we grieve today, rededicate ourselves to the struggle for survival, and call on our fellow people of faith to join us in the fight against hatred and violence—particularly against trans antagonism, racism, and sexism. Continue reading
As leaders within our Unitarian Universalist movement and in our other communities, TRUUsT members took to Facebook to respond to the outcome of Tuesday’s election. Here is a selection of the words and images that were shared in the first twenty-four hours.
There’s a hymn that Unitarian Universalists sing as a sort of peace vigil. That’s all I can hear right now. The words are simple: “When I breathe in, I breathe in peace. When I breathe out, I breathe out love.” Over and over until you feel like you can breathe, until you feel the love that surrounds you.
—Rev. David L. Helfer
I got up. Out of bed. I fed the cat. I took a shower. (A little longer than usual, tbh). I put on my collar and my “Love the Hell out this World” T shirt. I’m going to go find a rainbow ribbon to wear. I have my Black Lives Matter bracelet. I’m going to go out into the world and bear witness. I am already being transformed—being bolder, choosing to mourn and act at the same time. I don’t have a church right now, so I cannot pretend that my job is primarily to minister to them. My ministry is to the world. If all I can do is show up wearing my values on my body, that is what I will do. If you can, do the same today. You don’t have to know what to say. You don’t have to be all put together. You can go out into the world and weep. You can go out and say, I don’t know the way forward but I will not leave anyone behind.” It’s time.
—Rev. Sean Parker Dennison Continue reading
TRUUsT is excited to announce a partnership with the Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association (UUMA) on their new Ministerial Formation Program, which is being piloted from November 2016 through June 2017. Continue reading
Today the Steering Committee of Transgender religious Professional Unitarian Universalists Together, supported by the existing membership, has announced a change in the membership policy of TRUUsT.
Where before TRUUsT was inclusive only of ministers, religious educators, and ministerial candidates, membership is now open to all trans Unitarian Universalists who are living out a call to ministry within Unitarian Universalism.
Painting of Eli Clare by Riva Lehrer
TRUUsT is excited to announce a partnership with EqUUal Access, an organization of Unitarian Universalists living with disabilities, along with their families, friends, and allies, that works to enable the full engagement of people with disabilities in UU communities and the broader society.
TRUUsT and EqUUal Access are pairing up to bring Eli Clare—one of the foremost thinkers, educators, and activists working at the intersections of disability, sexuality, gender, race, and class—to General Assembly for a workshop on intersections between queerness, disability, trans identity, race, class, and more.
We need your help, though. Although the General Assembly Planning Committee and the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Multicultural Growth & Witness department are contributing funds to this effort, we don’t have quite enough to bring Eli Clare to Columbus this June, so today we have jointly launched a Faithify crowdfunding campaign to raise the remainder of the needed funds. Please contribute what you can and help us spread the word! Continue reading
Photo by Kate Bornstein
Last week marked a historic occasion. From Monday April 11 through Thursday April 14, fifteen Unitarian Universalist transgender and genderqueer ministers and religious educators gathered together in a first-ever retreat at the beautiful Asilomar retreat center in Pacific Grove, California.
They were joined by trans elder, author, and activist Kate Bornstein, who facilitated the gathering, and, for a portion of the retreat, two staff members from the Unitarian Universalist Association’s headquarters: Dr. Janice Marie Johnson, Multicultural Ministries and Leadership Director, and Rev. Sarah Lammert, Director of Ministries and Faith Development.
Attendees were UU religious educators, ministers, and ministerial candidates. More than thirty people were invited to attend; those who declined either had scheduling conflicts or were not fully comfortable being publicly identified as trans at this time—a requirement given the public and historic nature of this first retreat. Continue reading