the OUUC spark
April 27, 2023
Answering the Call of Love: Transgender Rights and Inclusion - Rev. Sara Lewis
Last week many of us from OUUC joined a rally to support Trans Rights, which are under attack all around the world, including here in Washington State. As Unitarian Universalists, we hold that in our faith all bodies are divine and that the spiritual path is a path of becoming ever more whole and authentically true. Affirming, protecting, and including trans folks in our communities is part of how we create the beloved community where all are liberated and loved.
We have never reached this vision of true Beloved Community, and as a nation the situation remains very dangerous for trans people. There is a slew of anti-trans legal effort, common discrimination, and the combined effects of all of this lead to increased risk of suicide, homelessness, and an overall shortened lifespan. All of this is tragically wrong.
To answer the call of love, we have work to do. We have work to do to make our own congregation a place of love, support, and inclusion for all gender identities and gender expressions. And we have work to do to show up to support gender affirming healthcare, education, and legal protections for all. Together, let us continue to create more love in this world.
Here are 10 tips, copied from the UUA website:
Avoid making assumptions about gender identity or sexual orientation.
Respect a person’s identity and self-label, and respect a person’s chosen name and pronouns. Practice offering your own pronouns when you meet new people.
Do not assume a trans person wants to speak about trans issues and only trans issues. Engage them in conversation and get to know them as you would anyone. Learn more about transgender identity and gender diversity on your own (consider starting with the resources below).
Recognize that “transgender” is not a sexual orientation and educate yourself and others on the distinctions between sexual orientation and gender identity/expression. Don’t say “lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender” if you are only taking about sexuality. Recognize that a person can identify with more than one of those labels.
Use terms that encompass all genders rather than only two (e.g., “children” instead of “boys and girls”; “people” instead of “women and men”; “siblings,” “kindred,” or “brothers and sisters and siblings of all genders” instead of “brothers and sisters”).
Review your congregation’s policies and procedures. For example, are gender-exclusive groups inclusive of trans men and women? Do people with non-binary identities have a way to be involved? If you use forms that ask for gender, is that information necessary? If it is, make it an open field if possible, and if not, include the option “Transgender” as well as a fill-in-the-blank box, and allow people to check more than one box. Look into your congregation’s policies for youth gatherings, your Safe Congregation Policy, and more.
Talk to children about gender diversity. Provide age-appropriate education around understanding one’s gender identity and how gender roles and norms play out in our society.
Designate gender neutral bathroom(s) and label all bathrooms in a welcoming way. Make sure your signs throughout your space point the way to all bathroom options.
Do continuing education for your congregation specifically on transgender issues and gender diversity. You might consider using one of the recommended curricula below, a film showing and discussion, a panel discussion, and/or a sermon on the topic.
Learn about local and federal laws and how to change them if they are not inclusive (e.g., non-discrimination policies around employment, housing, credit, school and college admissions, and public accommodations; name changes; and gender marker changes). Follow the leadership of local and national transgender organizations.
Learn more and Find Ways to Take Action:
The Tiny Little News Show
The online auction opens Sunday!
Get ready to bid! OUUC’s online auction opens April 30 at 8 am and closes May 7 at 5 pm. Peruse the catalog and see which great items, home-made goods, dinners, classes, or outings you plan to bid on! Visit auctria.com/auction/OUUC.
Event ticket holders can use their Bidder Access Code or the email used to purchase tickets to bid. Anyone not attending the live event will need to register. Register at auctria.com/auction/OUUC.
Get your auction event tickets for the May 6 live auction community event now before it is too late! The live event is at OUUC from 5-8 pm on Saturday, May 6. Event tickets include tapas-style food and a chance to bid on a fabulous line-up of items only offered in the live auction. Visit the auction website and go to the “Live Auction Preview” to see what items will be available.
It’s a Party!
OUUC has three staff members who are celebrating many years of service. Rev. Sara Lewis and Anissa Bentlemsani have served this community for 15 years, and Marie Arensmeyer has served for 10 years. Let’s help them celebrate!
We’ll gather on Sunday, May 21 for festivities and dessert after the congregational meeting (estimating at about 1 pm). We’ll be onsite at OUUC in the Commons and on the patio. Please stop by to offer your congratulations and gratitude!
Olympia Unitarian Universalist Congregation
Tuesday - Thursday, 10:00 am - 2:00 pm