Someone once asked, “Do we have to know about another person in order to love them?” On the one hand, the answer is, "No, we can simply love everyone." On the other hand, when it comes to interacting with transgender children, youth and adults, there are innocent mistakes people commonly make that result in transgender individuals feeling devalued and disrespected. These innocent mistakes can also leave the parent, family member, friend or spouse of a transgender child or adult feeling like they and their loved one are not welcome in a spiritual community.
This is where the Transformation Journeys Worldwide (TJWW) team can help. Rev. Linda Herzer, author of the The Bible and the Transgender Experience: How Scripture Supports Gender Variance, empowers congregations, denominational bodies and seminarians to understand what the sacred texts of the Judeo-Christian tradition say about transgender people. In sermons, talks, trainings and presentations, she also shares her own journey of coming to learn about and advocate for trans children, youth and adults.
The second member of the TJWW team, trans woman Gabrielle Claiborne, has always had a deep connection to God. As a lifelong church leader, Gabrielle brings to audiences and congregations her personal story, including how she came to understand her gender identity in light of her relationship with God.
Topics that Rev. Linda and Gabrielle may cover in a sermon, talk, workshop, staff training or presentation include:
- What the book of Genesis says about the creation of gender
- The movement, within the Bible, from the exclusion of gender variant individuals to their inclusion within the people of God
- What Jesus had to say about gender variant persons
- Various theological perspectives on transgender people
- Cultural assumptions about gender and how they impact our understanding of trans people
- Research on biological causes of trans gender identity
- Transgender terms and identities
- The three aspects of transitioning for children youth and adults
- How to tell if a child is transgender, or “it’s just a phase”
- Tips for interacting respectfully with trans children, youth and adults, and their families and friends
- Suggestions for creating trans welcoming spiritual communities, youth groups and religious education programs
The TJWW team also offers an Embrace Your Truth Workshop. This interactive spiritual growth experience focuses on the steps all human beings have to take to embrace our own unique truths and fulfill our Divine purposes. The team uses Gabrielle’s personal experiences to illustrate steps to embracing one’s truth.
Gabrielle and Linda’s honesty and transparency deliver the message of embracing your truth to your heart. Workshop Participant
Some of the spiritual communities Transformation Journeys Worldwide has worked with include San Francisco Theological Seminary, The Wild Goose Festival, Unity Ministers of the Mid-Atlantic States (UMMAS), Call to Action, Georgia Association of New Thought Leaders, Atlanta Interfaith Sisters, Community of Spirituals and Mystics, Harnessing Your Divine Feminine, Central Congregational UCC, Unity Savannah, MCC of Albuquerque, the Weber Jewish Community High School and the (Anglican) Church of the Epiphany and St. Mark.
My church hosted Linda and Gabrielle and it was such a professional, moving and powerful presentation, helping folks understand, in a warm and welcoming way, the challenges transgender people face. The post-event chatter was so positive participants have continued to reference the workshop. We felt the Spirit move!
The Rev. Dr. Stephen Drakeford
Church of the Epiphany and St. Mark
I was deeply touched by the presentation Gabrielle and Linda gave this morning. I felt as if I was peeking through a window at a whole realm of life experience I'd never encountered before - the transgender journey. The message of strength, courage and compassion they shared is one that has meaning for all human beings, regardless of how we are "different".”
Author of Life, Love, and Lilies: Everyday Spirituality