Celebrate the Transgender Day of Visibility with the UUYO church of Youngstown, Ohio.
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Today is the Transgender Day of Visibility. A day in which we celebrate the diversity of the Trans Community. This Community encompasses those who define themselves outside of the traditional gender binary—such as gender nonconforming/trans and non-binary.
The Unitarian Universalist Church began supporting what was then called the LGB Community in 1970 in accord with the first principle which states the respect for the inherent worth and dignity of all people. In the late 1980s a committee of UUs explored how welcome LGB people felt in their congregations. To their dismay they found great prejudice, ignorance and negative attitudes resulting in their being excluded. To address the issue of exclusion, in 1989, the UUA General Assembly voted to begin the Welcoming Congregation program. This program provided a handbook for congregations with steps to take to become truly welcoming of people of all sexual orientations. At approximately the same time, UUYO was hosting PFLAG, a support group for family and friends of LGBTQ people.
In 1999, the handbook was revised to include transgender identity. In the same year, the UUYO housed the PRIDE Center of the Mahoning Valley. Finally, in 2006 the UUYO formed a Welcoming Congregation Committee under Reverend Susan Frederick Gray with the objective of being an ally and advocate for the LGBTQ Community. We became a public sanctuary performing marriage ceremonies, lobbying for equality in work, marriage, and housing. For 5 years we sponsored Cocoa Mocha, a youth group that met monthly to provide social functions and support in a safe space for adolescents and tweens who identified as LGBTQ.
Today, as a Welcoming Congregation we collaborate with the Youngstown Area PFLAG, the YSU Campus LGBTQ Group, and the Full Spectrum Community Center. We march in local Pride Parades and participate in the Pride Festival by having a table in which we publicized our Religious Education program in which LGBTQ people are fully accepted as valued members of our community.
We hold services in June Pride month, and in October to acknowledge Coming Out Day. We offer our space to Full Spectrum for World Aids Day and for Trans Day of Remembrance.
Along the way, Transgender and gender nonconforming people have challenged us to see past male/female stereotypical feminine transgender women and masculine trans gender men.
As mother to a transgender woman who is also a P O C, and challenges the hetero-normative stereotype of what it means to be a woman. I am grateful the openness and acceptance of this Congregation.
May 29, 2020
PFLAG National was proud to sign on to the following joint letter (also linked here, where the list of signing organizations continues to grow), committing our movement to make "explicit commitments to embrace anti-racism and end white supremacy, not as necessary corollaries to our mission, but as integral to the objective of full equality for LGBTQ people." PFLAG National's Board of Directors created a Unity and Inclusion Policy, back in 2016, which did indeed make this work integral to our direct objectives, mission, and vision. We will continue to do that work.