Question: religion and gender

GeorgeAnne asks…

I want to feel like I can keep my faith while being genderqueer. So many queer sites show me how this is impossible; I am looking for information about how it is possible. Does anyone have any resources or faith communities to recommend?

Please post your response in the comments below.

» Ask Genderfork «


Posted by on March 28th, 2012 at 08:00 am

Category: questions 31 comments »

31 Responses to “Question: religion and gender”

  1. Katie B

    Of course, you can keep your faith and be genderqueer!

    Here are a few places to start looking (these are probably most helpful if you are a Christian, but they might be able to point you in the right place if they are not):
    http://www.soulforce.org/
    http://www.believeoutloud.com/
    http://mccchurch.org/

    Finally, my name is Katie Billotte. Feel free to find me on Facebook or Google. I am not genderqueer, but I know lots of LGBTIAAQQ (did I get it all!?) people of faith and would be happy to hook you up. x

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  2. Gabe

    If you ever wade into the mess that is reddit, we’d love to have you as part of r/OpenChristian, whether you identify as Christian or not.

    http://www.reddit.com/r/OpenChristian

    Without knowing what faith it is you’re wanting to retain, I can’t necessarily help with specific resources, though. I’ll work on the assumption that you’re referring to Christianity, though, as that seems to be the one that has the most seeming conflicts. I’ve been attending a Metropolitan Community Church worship service, and that’s been wonderful. There are also United Church of Christ congregations that are Open and Affirming, which means that they believe that “people of all sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions are welcome in the full life and ministry of the church.”

    You’re more than welcome to write me at malakhgabriel at gmail if you want to talk about more specifics.

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  3. Kyree

    From what I’ve seen, Unitarian Universalists are very accepting and affirming.

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  4. Cedar

    Speaking of Reddit, you may find these boards useful:
    http://www.reddit.com/r/genderqueer
    http://www.reddit.com/r/DualGender

    As for myself, I’m dual gender and I’ve never seen a conflict between my gender and my faith. Part of the teachings of Christ are that we should all love one another and treat each other fairly; Christ himself ministered and advocated for those whom society perceived as the downtrodden. I feel it is important to remember the lessons of care and compassion when dealing with issues of faith. I hardly feel that an all-loving God would turn away His children for gifts that He gave to them.

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  5. Anonymous

    +1 for Unitarian Universalism. It celebrates all sorts of diversity and faith traditions. There’s a big focus on living our faith through social justice programs. Our congregation, like most of them, has gone through a program to officially designate it as a “welcoming congregation” for LGBT folks. As a genderqueer person with a mixture of Christian, pagan, and eastern spiritual backgrounds, I fit in perfectly there. I even got nothing but smiles and compliments the first time I showed up in a skirt and earrings, so that’s all cool.

    See these pages for more information:

    http://uua.org/lgbt/
    http://uua.org/lgbt/welcoming/

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  6. radical/rebel

    I recommend Quakerism. Quakerism affirms the light of goodness in all people, whether they are queer, trans, genderqueer, agender, asexual, transsexual, etc. Quakerism emphasizes that every person has their own truth, and that all people have inherent worth and dignity.

    I highly prefer Quakerism as a tradition to Unitarian Universalism, although both are strongly accepting and celebrating of diversity and difference.

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  7. Taigitsune

    UUism all the way. A good share of congregations are so-dubbed “Welcoming Congregations” which have undergone a special curriculum that includes LGBT awareness.

    I myself am genderqueer and visit UU churches as often as I can manage.

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  8. radical/rebel

    Quakers, which are also known as “Friends,” have this organization: Friends for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Concerns. Here is their webpage: http://flgbtqc.quaker.org.

    Quakerism is also highly focused on social justice and not having a set of codified beliefs that someone must follow in order to be a Quaker. In essence, you may believe whatever you want and call yourself a Quaker, if you find resonance with the Quaker testimonies and the Quaker style of worship.

    If you need to talk to someone who finds absolutely no conflict between their queerness and their religion, I am your friend (pun intended). :-D

    I hope you find something that helps you!

    peace

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  9. Tree

    Looks like my fellow Unitarian Universalists have already beat me to it :)

    http://www.uua.org/visitors

    UU is all about being a community built up of many different parts. We accept all beliefs, so long as each person practices open-mindedness. In our churches/communities are a multitude of faiths,people,genders,sexualities and-well, everything!

    Of course, if a Christian oriented church is what you’re looking for (UU is Christian in origin, but now it is truly multi-faith, although the Christians within our congregations are encouraged and supported in their christianity) then I can’t reccomend Quakerism or Metropolitan Community Churches any higher.

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    radical/rebel replied:

    Quakerism is no more Christian-oriented than Unitarian Universalism is. bunk! please be more informed.

    “Quakerism is an experience-based religion meaning that everyone can have a direct encounter with the Divine. By tradition, Quakerism is non-creedal; there are no signed statements of belief or oaths. “

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    Gabe replied:

    As much as I love me some Quakers, whether or not they’re “no more Christian-oriented than Unitarian Universalism” really depends on which Quakers you come into contact with. Evangelical Friends and Conservative Friends will be much more closely aligned with Christianity, some even having structured worship resembling other evangelical churches, than will most Liberal friends.

    The Religious Society of Friends (the official name of the Quakers) grew out of a desire of George Fox and others to recapture what they thought were the practices of the early Christian church, and to teach that people can have direct experience of the divine without any sort of mediation. While there are a number of non-theist and otherwise non-Christian Friends, there are plenty of Christian Friends as well.

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    radical/rebel replied:

    I know my Quaker history, thanks.

    I just don’t think it’s appropriate to say Quakerism is a form of Christianity, because some Quakers are Christians.

    Quakerism had many “UU” insights first. Both traditions have members who identify as Christians, members with other primary faith alignments, and members who may not have any other religious affiliation besides to Quakerism or Unitarian Universalism.

    Yes, it depends on which Quakers you meet, but painting all of Friends as a Christian faith is not true.

    dayita replied:

    chill dude. Quakers are way more christian than say, Yoga. Just because the evangelicals have hijacked a word, doesn’t mean the oppressors win the semantic war, if ya get my drishti…

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    Anonymous replied:

    I posted the UUA links earlier. Email me if you want – rmmahoney at gmail – I’m curious to compare experiences across congregations.

    [Reply]

    Mae replied:

    I don’t currently belong to a congregation, but I grew up as a Unitarian Universalist and used to be pretty active within the national community. In my experience, there’s a lot of variety across different congregations.

    I also just wanted to point out that Quakerism and Unitarian Universalism aren’t exclusive of each other; there are some people who consider themselves both.

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  10. Leann

    I am a Catholic and I have no issues being transgendered and a Catholic. God made me this way and at the same time, He loves me. I have spoken to a Priest about my TGism and he was not concerned about it as long as it doesn’t cause me to otherwise sin. Any true Christian church would have the same views.

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    Mike replied:

    I love hearing about awesome priests :) I have a genderqueer friend who is also out to his priest who is equally awesome. I’m an altar server myself though I don’t hide my gq ness I just am who I am and let people assume how they want.

    to the OP I think this just shows how many awesome people out there who keep their faith or beliefs quite happily in tune with their gender status or non status or dysphoria or sexuality (etc etc). All I can say is, your faith is always there- it doesn’t go away in a puff of smoke just because people who have lost or have never had theirs say it should. When I was in my teens I used to get a lot of friends from various gender-dysphoria messageboards I went on telling me that I couldn’t stay a catholic because I was queer and genderqueer. Well funnily enough it doesn’t work like that! I can no more stop being a catholic and believing and having faith than I could become a heterosexual female.

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  11. J.D.

    I am a religious studies major specializing in the Abrahamic Religions (Christianity, Judaism, Islam). I am also on my way (hopefully) into ministry. I consider myself moderately conservative (I dress modestly, am abstaining from sex if I can help it, try to read the bible for at least a few hours a week, etc.) and I am also genderqueer. I’ve begun to keep a blog (okay, it hasn’t really gotten STARTED yet, but its on its way) about my experiences and theology if anyone is interested.

    The point is, I am very much non-heteronormative and very much faithful. There is absolutely no reason you can’t be both no matter what any website says. As my Hebrew professor would say: “Textual criticism forces us to take a somewhat less literal view of the text, but that doesn’t mean you have to become a raging atheist or agnostic – nobody is saying you have to give up your faith. Hold on to that.”

    When looked at critically, the Bible becomes a slippery slope, but its a slippery slope of beautiful ambiguities – just like my gender.

    http://thewaterfromtherock.wordpress.com/

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  12. Huu

    I’m in the atheist genderqueer bunch but I think this text was interesting to read about this subject: http://www.prettyqueer.com/2011/11/02/queerly-religous/

    [Reply]

  13. XauriEL

    …well, I suppose that depends on what you mean by ‘keep your faith’ and which faith you’re thinking of. If all you want is a supportive community of people who have faith in some sort of expression of the divine, I don’t see how that’s a problem, as there is a system out there for people who want to believe in pretty much anything. If OTOH you are part of a specific faith community which you know to not be open to gender expressions beyond the range of the usual or expected, and you want the community to make room for you, I would respectfully suggest that you are SOL. Faith communities are not known for their adaptability.

    [Reply]

    radical/rebel replied:

    this is pretty much not true. all of the abrahamic traditions, in the US, have queer groups fighting for acceptance and reform.

    faith communities absolutely adapt. feminist mormon women are fighting for their faith to change, queer muslims are organizing, etc.

    this “religion vs. queerness” conflict is old, tired, and false. don’t buy it.

    [Reply]

    J.D. replied:

    This is more than “pretty much” not true – this is completely not true. If faith communities were unable to adapt they would not have lasted this long – yes, they are slower to adapt, but they do – some quicker than others and in many cases just because the denomination at large is not “gay affirming” or “gay friendly” or even just if the denomination isn’t shouting it from the rooftops it doesn’t mean individual churches won’t be LGBTQ okay. I mean, you don’t need a pride flag hanging behind the altar to be accepting. A lot of places are coming along – even the Presbyterians have officially become (at large) accepting of gay ministers! Yes, that seems like a slow start to a small thing, but its a huge leap in the right direction. Faith and non-heteronormative gender/sexual identity are not mutually exclusive. And honestly, even in the places that aren’t totally okay with it, most of the time if you don’t make a big stink about it they won’t either. Even Christians can agree to disagree. (I can only speak for Christianity, as that is my faith tradition, but I also know for a fact that there are pro-gay/pro-LGBTQ Jewish movements though these might be harder to find)

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  14. Brett Blatchley

    I have a strong faith in Jesus. It’s been really tested, especially where my relationship with fellow Christians are concerned – I’m convinced that God has helped me to better understand myself, who and what I am, and that I am loved by Him without condition. Through this testing, I’ve grown closer to God and He’s returned the joy and trust I lost as a small child. Sadly a lot of my conservative brothers and sisters cannot tolerate me and would prefer not to try, but that’s not all of them by any means…

    As a “conservative” Christian myself, God has led me on a difficult journey to help me understand how He really views people with varied sexual orientations and gender identies. I’ve always wanted to accept and affirm all people, but could not reconcile that with my understanding of my faith. After the long process of coming to terms with my gender identity and faith, God then turned my attention to my LGB brothers and sisters. It’s been deeply humbling, in a wonderful way, to grow from my old ways (which I suspected were wrong all along). And I have lost some relationships in the process, yet gained more. I’m freer now to obey Jesus’ higher teaching of loving my neighbor as myself, as the best way I can demonstrate my love & gratitude for my Lord who gave Himself for me and shows me the tenderness of God.

    I’ve been blessed to discover a ‘Vineyard’ non-denominational Christian fellowship, and right-off, I shared my transgender status with the young pastor, who aready knew of me by reading some of my online writings. Our relationship is growing and he and his wife are enthusiastic about my efforts to demonstrate Christ’s love to my LGBTQ friends. God is bringing some who are in crisis, and we are so blessed to be able to go along side them to help them get through things, we are God’s tender but stout hearts, gentle voice and helpful strong hands and feet… You know, it’s not because we’re any better than anyone else, it’s that Jesus loved us when we didn’t even love Him; His love for us melted our hardened hearts and drew us into His open, forgiving arms – we’re not special, we’re not ‘good:’ He loves and desires everyone equally!

    Maybe one of the reasons I am transgender is so that I can help build bridges between people? I am starting to do that by sharing with other Christians what God has shown me about LGBTQ folks, even as I help love my fellow LGBTQ friends and acquaintances into seeing who Jesus really is and how much He loves and desires them…

    I hope all this ‘Jesus talk’ is not off-putting. I’m not one to share this sort of thing so openly and enthusiastically, but God has brought me through *so many* of my impossibilites that I can’t help but share that, because I want everyonr to experience that wonderful relationship and healing, everyone…

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    radical/rebel replied:

    Thanks, Brett. I think we all make ourselves vulnerable in queer spaces when we talk about having religious faith–there are many pressures from both sides to keep accepting yourself as queer and accepting yourself as religious from ever happening at the same time, but through a lot of work, conversation, and perseverance, it can happen…

    I’m really glad you posted and have the messages to bring that you do. Listening to each other’s lives speak, as Quakers say, is so important.

    peace to you!!
    -radical/rebel

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  15. Ari

    I use gaychurch.org, er, religiously, when I’m looking for a place to worship in a town I’m visiting. (It’s also how I found my home church.) I would caveat that even churches that are very welcoming of LGB folks may not have done their work re: trans* issues, and churches that have done education on binary trans* folk might not know about genderqueer/non-binary issues.

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  16. Cameron Joel

    A lot of other people have said UUism is awesome for queer people, and it totally is; i’m not denying that. But like Mae said yesterday, it definitely does vary by congregation. I’m 17 & have been going to a UU church in my area with my family since i was about 2; i came out there when i was almost 15. On the one hand, we’ve got the whole “welcoming congregation,” and there are some people who are really chill about queer stuff, and our interim minister is queer, and there is another young trans person who came out a year or so after i did, and there are out gay adults in the congregation. On the other, there are plenty of people who are clueless about trans* stuff, and our sex-ed thing (http://uua.org/re/owl/index.shtml) was not very inclusive of trans* people or bodies. I’ve known of other congregations where a trans* youth stopped going to church because his gender was not respected, and also a (pretty small) church that had four trans* youth at some point who came independently of their families. So, basically, UUism is a better bet than some other religions for queer inclusivity, but it’s not a guarantee.

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  17. Anonymous

    chopperhugs @ tumblr is a christian and theologian pangender person. her blog has a lot of stuff about queerness, non-binary gender and liberation theology. she’d probably be a good person to ask about reconciling queerness with faith and also the go-to person for academic stuff.

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  18. Sammie/Faerie/Fae

    Hey!
    I had found this website a while back called TransTorah.com. It’s a gender variant interpretation of the Jewish faith- it comes with prayers, theology essays, etc. I really loved it.
    I haven’t been there in a while, but if you’re interested, check it out :)

    <3

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  19. Dan

    +1 for believeoutloud.com My church is listed there. My church, like others, welcome you and love you as you are, were, and will be.

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  20. Another Nameless Face

    Honestly, I believe that religion shouldn’t have to come between you and your gender identity. If you wish to stay within your faith, just know that God loves you(or, that’s what I learned when I was Christian). If you go to a church and they ostracize you or make you change who you are, don’t go to that church. No one should feel like they’re doing something wrong when really, they’re just being themself. I hope this helped, if not informatively, then emotionally. Wishing you the best always.

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  21. Anonymous

    Hinduism, depending on how you approach it, I found to be fantastic (Shaivism for me, specifically).

    My Native American/First Nations heritage had worked really well for me to be accepting of myself, and to feel accepted by a group of people more so than most other groups.

    Then there’s the Flower Spirituality I’ve been looking into… you probably can’t find much about that- it’s kind of something I’ve been “led” to by Spirit.

    For me, all of these has allowed me to integrate my femininity together with my masculinity, all while being non-threatening toward my manliness. I’ve become MUCH more able to cope with having an intersex body that for most purposes is much more female than I’d prefer it to be, all while being able to see the masculinity that’s already there, and love them both. I kinda go from bigender to trigender sometimes. Once I find the term for it (besides Two-spirit), I’ll use it.

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