Trans Spirit Flourishing is the name of a new website I have produced, which seeks to shed light on transgender life & spiritual understanding and to help develop support and encouragement for trans people in our varied journeys. For spirituality is essential to human beings but we have often used it ignorantly.
The unnecessary and deeply hurtful Australian postal survey on marriage equality has sadly demonstrated how many Christians are still not aware of the devastating damage which has been done and which continues to be inflicted on LGBTI+ people by ideas and practices which we desperately need to leave behind. As a result the deep spiritual life and insights of so many LGBTI+ people is often neglected. For transgender and gender nonconforming people this is a particular tragedy as our journeys are so much bound up with exploring and expressing our deepest identities. Things are changing however, even if some of us will no doubt continue to bear the pain of the struggle. Trans spiritual flourishing for some sections of religious faiths may never happen, but who knows - God is amazing in surprises! However trans spirit flourishing can begin, or develop further, right and here and now, for everyone .
My hope is that this resource can add, and point, to sources of light and encouragement - both, and above all, for those struggling with gender identity themselves, and for allies and those genuinely seeking understanding.
We are living through challenging times, with many demanding issues of ecology, reconciliation, peacemaking, poverty, and care for refugees and other vulnerable people. Gender diversity has so often been a battlefield. May we make of it a source of grace for the larger journey of healing and wholeness for all.
This week I received an email from a lawyer and Anglican working for the human rights of LGBTI people in Jamaica. It was a reminder of how far we still have to travel together as a world and of the urgent need for solidarity. Whatever other differences they may have, Anglican world leaders have frequently called on governments to decriminalise private consensual same-gender intimacy and this is surely something all Anglicans must seriously consider supporting actively, for example in signing the following online petition here...
The terrible killings in Orlando seem to have a number of complex dimensions and even the FBI have a great deal of work to do in establishing the background and dynamics - not helped by Trump and co. It is a little difficult therefore (unless one is Donald Trump) to be too dramatic in reflection on it. Yet, as we shared a moving vigil last night in my regional community of Toowoomba - organised through the gradually emerging local LGBTI community - I was also left wondering whether this horrendous event may yet be part of a watershed.
I am struck, for example, by the way in which several US Catholic bishops have responded in a sensitive and humbled manner to LGBTI people. Maybe such awful carnage may bring some to at least slow the sex and gender wars? Certainly in my community, amid the sorrow and solidarity, there was a sense in which such an event cannot roll back the past but rather it will empower us to a new level, finally nailing homophobia, for example, as what it is - a (self) destructive mental illness afflicting individuals, particular groups and society as a whole.
In my community, this was only the second time the local council had also affirmed the LGBTI community publicly - lighting up a new central (Victoria Street) bridge in rainbow colours (and a good deal more easier to get permission this time round than for IDAHOT recently) - and I was impressed by the brilliant mutual networking at such short knowledge and the articulate confidence of some of our young people attending: light in the darkness for sure
Last week I heard Susan Cottrell, a strong US Pflag and LGBTI ally, speak about the journey she has made with the LGBTI community. Someone asked if marriage equality had made a positive difference in the USA - yes, she said, but also no: it had driven some hardliners into deeper denial and anger about their 'defeat'. Perhaps the Pulse killings are a symptom of that negative aspect. I suspect however that they may also be impelling a fresh decisive stage in the growing watershed of more compassionate change.
Jo Inkpin is an Anglican priest serving as Minister of Pitt St Uniting Church in Sydney, a trans woman, theologian & justice activist. These are some of my reflections on life, spirit, and the search for peace, justice & sustainable creation.