In spring 2018, TRUUsT and the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Multicultural Ministries office conducted a survey of trans Unitarian Universalists. The results provide unprecedented insights into who trans UUs are and their experiences within Unitarian Universalism.
Unitarian Universalism has long taken pride in being an LGBTQ-welcoming faith and welcoming people of all gender identities and sexual orientations. Yet the experiences of trans people in our congregations have not reflected the values and aspirations of this faith. For the first time, this report provides a snapshot of trans UUs and their experiences in Unitarian Universalism.
In the spring of 2018, a survey of trans UUs was conducted as a joint endeavor between TRUUsT (Trans Religious professional Unitarian Universalists Together) and the Unitarian Universalist Association (Multicultural Ministries office). 278 people responded, representing an incredible diversity of identities and experiences.
Who are trans Unitarian Universalists?
- The majority of trans UUs are non-binary (do not identify exclusively as women or men); are queer, pansexual, or bisexual; have one or more disabilities; are young adults; are white; and attend a UU congregation at least once a month.
- When compared with the Unitarian Universalist population as a whole, trans UUs are far more low-income (almost half do not have enough income to meet their personal needs), are more likely to have been raised UU, are younger, and are more racially diverse.
What are the experiences of trans Unitarian Universalists in our congregations?
- Lack of spiritual connection and care: Only 44% of trans UUs feel spiritually connected and nourished at their congregation—and only 15% feel strongly spiritually connected. Only about half of trans UUs who have a UU minister feel comfortable seeking pastoral care from them. A majority of trans UUs who attend a congregation feel responsible for education on trans identity or concerns.
- Lack of inclusion: 72% of trans UUs do not feel as though their congregation is completely inclusive of them as trans people. Higher levels are experienced by those who are most financially insecure (89%), people of color (85%), young adults (84%), and non-binary people (82%).
- Marginalization: 42% of trans UUs regularly experience trans-related marginalization in UU spaces. Higher levels of trans-related marginalization are experienced by those who are most financially insecure (74%), people of color (54%), non-binary people (53%), and disabled folks (48%).
- Reasons for leaving: Other than moving away, trans UUs have left UU congregations most often due to trans-related marginalization; other identity-related oppression such as racism, classism, ableism, and ageism; hypocrisy; unfulfilling worship/spiritual experiences; and abuse or bullying.
How can all Unitarian Universalists take action to support trans UUs?
- There are five key ways that UUs can take action to increase this faith’s inclusion of trans UUs: donate to fund trans UUs’ healing and survival, be an accomplice for trans UUs, hire trans religious professionals, engage in trans education, and engage congregations in taking action on their next move to increase trans access, inclusion, and affirmation.
TRUUsT (Trans Religious professional UUs Together) was founded in 2004 by Mr. Barb Greve and Rev. Sean Parker-Dennison. Its mission is to support UU trans religious professionals, advocate for each other and our ministries, and transform Unitarian Universalism and our world. TRUUsT takes a broad view of what it means to be trans and what it means to be a religious professional, in recognition that oppression has too often served as a barrier to trans people accessing traditional paths to credentialed leadership. Members of TRUUsT are genderqueer, gender fluid, agender, two spirit, trans women, trans men, and more, and include credentialed and non-credentialed ministers, religious educators, music directors, youth directors, church administrators, chaplains, and seminarians.