Many church ministries are going through a process to declare that they are Affirming—enabling the full participation of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities. Despite these efforts, stories of heartache and healing continue to unfold.
In 2011 a series of events were held to listen to the experiences of LGBTQ* people in the United Church. At one of these events a trans participant lamented, “after coming out I was informed that [the church] did not want me to stay… I had no opportunity to explain or attempt reconciliation or even to say goodbye. My head has adjusted - my heart is still torn apart.”
There are also healing stories. Rita tells her story of a local United Church response to her formal request to join as a trans woman, “The congregation voted unanimously to accept me, and they apologized to me for ‘ever having to think you had to ask’…” After facing so much rejection, to be accepted and believed without having to be understood was a healing experience.
Gender identity is self-determined and reflects our personal understanding of gender in regards to our own embodied experience. "Trans" is an umbrella term that refers to people whose gender identity and/or gender expression is different from their biological or assigned sex (transgender, transsexual, MTF/FTM, genderqueer, etc.).
The United Church of Canada affirms that all human beings are made in the image of God and welcomes people of all gender identities into full membership and ministry. God loves us all (Psalm 139, John 1:1–5, Acts 10:34–43).
We continue to listen to stories of trans people and learn how to become more welcoming. The resource Celebrating Gender Diversity, provides practical tools on gender identity and trans experiences for individuals and communities of faith. A series of webinars includes the stories of five trans people of faith, and an April 7 webinar animating the toolkit.
- See Gender and Orientation for videos such as Ruth’s Story, and other resources including Facebook groups
- Connect with Affirm United/S’affirmer Ensemble
- Support the Liberal government's gender identity bill (Bill C-16).**
Stay in touch with the latest church news related to gender justice - join the United Church Trans Network (for trans people and their allies). Email trans [at] united-church.ca your request to join.
* LGBTQ: lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer
** Updated September 2, 2016.