November 20th is Trans Day of Remembrance–a day we honor and hold in prayer those who have lost their lives due to transphobia and anti-trans hatred, draw attention to continued acts of violence endured by trans people, and commit to making the church and world a place where trans, non-binary, and gender diverse people can thrive.

A special joint Trans Day of Remembrance worship service led by Rev. Ainsley Herrick, Rev. Joy Warren and Michael Leslie was held November 14, 2021 and broadcast on Facebook live. You can watch the service here.

Transgender people face hate, violence and suicide at extremely high rates. Globally, more than 409 trans, gender-diverse and non-binary lives were taken through violence and hatred in the last 12 months.

We call on members and leaders throughout the Cumberland Presbyterian Church to love, befriend and embrace our trans, gender-diverse and non-binary siblings and stand together against discrimination, violence and hatred.

The Cumberland Presbyterian Confession of Faith persuades us to respond to the violence against trans, non-binary, and gender diverse people by honoring their inherent dignity, advocating for victims and seeking to end the violence perpetrated against them:

  • “The covenant community, governed by the Lord Christ, opposes, resists, and seeks to change all circumstances of oppression–political, economic, cultural, racial–by which persons are denied the essential dignity God intends for them in the work of creation.” (6.30)
  • “In her corporate life and through her individual members, the church is an advocate for all victims of violence and all those whom the law or society treats as less than persons for whom Christ died.” (6.31)
  • “[The church] seeks to embrace each person and all groups of persons within the family life of the covenant community.” (6.16)
  • “The church, corporately and through her individual members, seeks to promote reconciliation, love, and justice among all persons, classes, races, and nations.” (6.32)

To our trans, gender-diverse and non-binary siblings, know that more and more of us in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church are waking up and more and more of us are blessing you as persons made in God’s image. Our hope and prayer continues to be that you will know that you are loved by us and by God. We pray that God’s love may transform the church and world in ways that make life safer for all and the future a place where each person is seen, valued, celebrated, and protected.

Ministers and congregations who want to begin to understand and/or welcome and care for transgender people into their congregations and lives, consider these resources:

  • Trans Affirming Churches: How to Celebrate Gender-Variant People and Their Loved Ones by Christina Beardsley and Chris Dowd. Churches can improve their relationships with trans people by using this guide based on first-hand interviews, the authors’ own experiences and scripture analysis.
  • Transfaith: A Transgender Pastoral Resource by Chris Dowd and Christina Beardsley. This book provides a theological and biblical framework as well as a series of insights that support the pastoral care of transgender people, their families and friends.
  • Transforming: The Bible and the Lives of Transgender Christians by Austen Hartke. Stories of Bible characters and contemporary transgender Christians help equip readers to build a more inclusive church. The author is creator of the YouTube series Transgender and Christian and graduate of Luther Seminary’s Master of Arts program in Old Testament/Hebrew Bible Studies. Published by Westminster John Knox Press, 2018.
  • Transgender, Intersex and Biblical Interpretation by Teresa Hornsby and Deryn Guest. Biblical affirmation for LGBTQI people is presented by two well-known Bible scholars. They show that in the Bible, gender identity and sexual orientation are always dynamic categories that do, and must, transition. The book examines familiar (e.g., Gen 1; Revelation) and less familiar (2 Sam 6; Jer 38) scriptures to reveal the bias that makes heterosexuality and a binary two-gender system seem divinely ordained. They critique how biblical texts are used in Christian positional statements on transsexuality and provide statistic on violence against trans persons. Teresa Hornsby is religious studies professor at Drury University, Springfield, Missouri. Deryn Guest is lecturer in Biblical hermeneutics at the University of Birmingham, England. Published by SBL Press (Society of Biblical Literature, founded 1880).
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