I straddle the worlds of academia/theory and practice, serving as the Board President of Trans Bodies, Trans Selves, a national non-profit organization that publishes a 649-page resource guide of the same name, by and for the trans*, genderqueer, and gender-nonconforming communities. Through this work, I connect with leading transgender and gender expansive scholars in medicine, law, mental health, social sciences, politics, and culture to collaborate on editions of Trans Bodies. I recently authored the Religion and Spirituality chapter of the second edition of the book, to be released in 2021, while managing a nationwide qualitative survey of 2,440 respondents, and editing several chapters.
I also co-authored the Religion and Spirituality chapter in textbook Gender Confirmation Surgery: Principles and Techniques for an Emerging Field, edited by Loren Schecter, released 2020. I review Protestant Christian, Buddhist, and New Age/Other Traditions’ theological responses to gender confirmation surgery, to improve bedside manner with surgical patients and caregivers.
In recent years, transgender people have become much more visible in pop culture and media. Despite the emergence of figures like Chaz Bono or Janet Mock, most people have never actually met a transgender person, not to mention a young transgender person. It is even more difficult for transgender people to come out within faith contexts. In a recent Human Rights Campaign survey of trans* and gender variant youth, only 8% of youth rated their church or place of worship as “very accepting,” with 22% rating their place of worship as “not at all accepting.” 53% of youth surveyed said they did not know whether their own place of worship was accepting of LGBT people. But it doesn’t have to be that way, and your community can be a part of creating a safe faith space for transgender and gender variant young people.
The purpose of this guide is to help religious educators, youth ministers, and other faith-based mentors resource themselves to fully include LGBTQ youth in their programs. Inside you will find a road map of what you may experience if and when a young person comes out to you as LGBTQ, with recommendations for how to use your theology, sacred texts, community values, and existing program guidelines to support them in their journey.
Thesis: Beloved Communities: Spiritual and Religious Issues in LGBT Community Centers
This project explores spiritual and religious engagement at lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community centers through reviewing literature on religion, spirituality, and LGBT mental health, a content analysis of 180 LGBT center websites, and a case study of an LGBT center with a built-in spirituality program. Best practices and a working definition of religious and spiritual competency for clinicians in this context are offered to support healing. If you would like a copy of this original research, please contact me.
Chapter author, “Religion and Spirituality,” in Trans Bodies, Trans Selves, 2nd edition. Edited by Laura Erickson-Schroth. To be published Fall 2021.