A Historic Occasion: First-Ever Retreat of Unitarian Universalist Trans Religious Professionals

retreat selfie

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

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A Message on Transgender Remembrance Day

Today is a day of mourning and remembrance for transgender people who have been killed by hate, cruelty, and ignorance.  As we mark this day, let our grief resolve into action.  Here are three simple things any of us can do to make our religious communities more hospitable and life-saving spaces for transgender people: Continue reading

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Newly adopted Vision and Mission Statements for TRUUsT

Our Mission

TRUUsT advocates for the gifts, safety, liberation, and leadership of transgender religious professionals in Unitarian Universalist ministries and institutions.

Our Vision

Born out of commitment to the gifts, safety, liberation, and leadership of transgender people, TRUUsT is at the center of a new spiritual awakening that transforms UUism through worship, pastoral care, theology, education, and community to the end that transgender ministers and their ministries are thriving, and a new culture of solidarity and common purpose among Unitarian Universalists committed to countering intersecting oppressions is flourishing.

TRUUsT’s countering oppression work includes but is not limited to: racism, sexism, ableism, heterosexism, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, classism, sexism, ageism, colonialism, sizeism.

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Rev. Sean Speaks at Rally on Utah Capitol

Remarks for the Rally for the Common Ground Inititative
January 24, 2009
Rev. Sean Parker Dennison

I am a religious leader, a minister. I am also a transgender man. To many, those two things seem to be at odds. But for me, they are deeply intertwined. My faith is at the heart of my story and at the heart of why I am here, looking for common ground with others in protecting the civil and human rights of people like me. Continue reading

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Excellence and Oppression

–a commentary by Rev. Sean–

Clearly, Rev. Christine and the event she attended about “Excellence in Ministry” got me thinking. Today’s thoughts revolve around the ideal of excellence and how oppression works.  If, by virtue of being part of an “historically marginalized group” I am seen as very different from the image  of the “ideal minister,” how will that affect perceptions of excellence?  For example, as a transgender man, my very identity causes anxiety in many congregations and search committees.  I am often perceived as a “risky” candidate–not because of the quality of my ministry, but because of worries about my identity.  Those worries are not something I create, but are created to serve the status quo–stigmatizing, punishing, and planting fear of any who differ from the norm. Continue reading

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Mr. Barb Greve Featured in the Daily News of Newburyport

In the article “As Part of Annual Service, Transgender Minister to Speak,” the Daily News of Newburyport, Massachusetts, reported in April on Mr. Barb Greve’s visit to the First Religious Society, Unitarian Universalist, of Newburyport. Barb delivered a sermon entitled “Courage from Necessity.”

Kristine Murphy, chair of the congregation’s Welcoming Congregation Committee, shared that this was the first time a transgender person has spoken at First Religious Society.

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Mr. Barb Greve and Rev. Sean Parker Dennison Present at the Transgender Religious Summit

At her blog Crossing the T, Rev. Allyson Robinson reported in January on her experience attending the second Transgender Religious Summit hosted by the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California.

In a post entitled “Transgender Religious Summit Themes – Relational Education,” Rev. Allyson described a session led by Mr. Barb Greve and Rev. Sean Parker Dennison on relational organizing and education models that can increase affirmation for the transgender community.

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Rev. Sean Parker Dennison Featured in UU World

In November, in the article “Congregations Welcome Transgender People,” the UU World reported on welcoming experiences many transgender people have in Unitarian Universalist congregations.

The article included a discussion of Rev. Sean Parker Dennison’s experience being called as the minister of the South Valley Unitarian Universalist Society in Salt Lake City, Utah. John C. Hilke, co-president of the congregation, is quoted as saying, “Calling Sean as minister helped get our message out that we are an intentionally diverse congregation. … We wanted someone who would be a good speaker, who would do all the things a minister is supposed to do. As far as I know gender was beside the point. This is consistent with the way the congregation has been positioning itself for some time. This is all positive for us.”

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Looking for a Logo–*Contest*

Hello!  One thing that this website needs is a logo.  So I am announcing a logo contest.  The prize will be a basket of trans-related resources for you and/or your congregation.  There will be books, DVDs–even children’s resources! To enter, send the logo–with your name, address, email, and any other relevant contact information to dre.barb@gmail.com.

There are a few things we’re looking for and a few things we’re NOT looking for.  Here is what I remember of our conversation about what we’d like: Continue reading

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TRUUsT is Born!

Transgender Religious Professional Unitarian Universalists Together (TRUUsT) is a newly forming organization within the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations (UUA) that serves as a touchstone for transgender policy issues within the UUA.

TRUUsT’s steering committee held its first meeting April 22-25, 2008 in a retreat setting where the participants started developing working relationships, uncovering transgender history in the UUA, and planning for future meetings. Membership on the steering committee has been by invitation.

Membership in the TRUUsT organization is open to any Unitarian Universalist transgender or transgender ally who is a member of either the Liberal Religious Educators Association (LREDA) or the Unitarian Univeralist Ministers Association (UUMA). The organization plans to hold an annual membership retreat for transgender religious professionals and their religious professional allies (date to be announced, possibly beginning in 2012).

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