For nine years, the Center for LGBTQ and Gender Studies in Religion, the Freedom Center for Social Justice, and the National LGBTQ Task Force have sponsored a program for transgender, nonbinary, and gender non-conforming seminarians in the United States. The program’s goal is to encourage trans students during their training for religious leadership to complete their degrees, follow their vocation, and embrace the fact that their impact as faith leaders can and should extend beyond their chosen settings for ministry and service to include the welfare of the broader communities in which they live. This is the only program that we are aware of that addresses the unique challenges and gifts of trans seminarians.
Each year, we offer a cohort experience for six students engaged in training for religious ministry, providing mentorship, peer support, and the opportunity to attend conferences and retreats sponsored by each of our organizations. In addition to these three face-to-face meetings, the group connects through monthly phone calls and on social media. All the expenses to attend the programs are fully covered.
Said Rev. Nicole Garcia, Faith Work Director for the National LGBTQ Task Force: “I smile when friends call me a unicorn, because I identify as a queer transgender Latina in ministry. There are so few of us. As a member of the Trans Seminarian Leadership Cohort in 2014-15, I found community. I was surrounded by people with a deep connection to their faith and spirituality, many of whom shared my identity as a transgender person of color. Then, as a member of the faculty in 2018-19, I was able to mentor individuals who were in the same position I was in just a few years before. The Cohort gave me a brave space where I could explore and share my beliefs and not have to explain my identity but fully live into who my creator intended me to be. I firmly believe that my experience as a trans seminarian in this program has prepared me for my new position at the Task Force, which feels not only appropriate but a true coming full circle in my faith experience.”
In this intensive program, participants will attend and actively participate in 3 gatherings, build relationships with new and known colleagues, and journey deep into the meaning of what leadership means and feels like for people of faith who also identify as transgender, nonbinary, and gender non-conforming.
Cathy Renna, Communications Director, National LGBTQ Task Force, 917-757-6123, email@example.com
The National LGBTQ Task Force advances full freedom, justice, and equality for LGBTQ people. We are building a future where everyone can be free to be their entire selves in every aspect of their lives. Today, despite all the progress we have made to end discrimination, millions of LGBTQ people face barriers in every aspect of their lives: in housing, employment, healthcare, retirement, and basic human rights. Those barriers must go.