How to Find a Welcoming Faith Community for Your Family
Jan 30, 2018
For parents of Gender-expansive youth, faith spaces like synagogues, churches, and mosques can feel a bit scary. Many of us have heard horror stories about faith leaders rejecting LGBTQ+ people, and some of us may have actually experienced this rejection personally. But you may be encouraged to know that, according to the 2015 US Transgender Survey Report, 42% of trans folks who had experienced rejection went on to find an affirming faith community that actively supported them.
So how do you go about finding one of these supportive communities? Let’s break it down by faith tradition.
Acceptance of gender diversity within Jewish communities varies. The Union for Reform Judaism was the first religious group ever to put forward a sweeping and in-depth welcome to Transgender people with the publication of their Resolution on the Rights of Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming People.Two years later the Conservative Rabbinical Assemblypassed a similar but less detailed document, the Resolution Affirming the Rights of Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming People, in 2016. This was quickly followed by the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association’s Resolution Affirming Full Inclusion of Transgender and Nonbinary Jews. Of Judaism’s main branches, the Orthodoxcommunity is the only one that has not put forward an official welcome. Because there has been no official statement from this branch, some individual Orthodox communities do welcome gender-diverse people.
If you’re looking for a welcoming Jewish community, there are several organizations that can connect you. For a welcoming Orthodox synagogue or school, check out the Welcoming Shuls Project. For welcoming communities in Reform, Conservative, and Reconstructionist denominations, head over to Keshet’s Equality Guide, which also includes options to search for welcoming rabbis, camps, and JCCs.
Of course, for some families, physically walking into a new community right now might not be an option. Still, if you’d like to be involved from a distance there are several communities that broadcast their services online! Congregation Beit Simchat Torahin New York City is the largest LGBTQ+ synagogue in the U.S., and they stream their services every week via Facebook. Beth Chayim Chadashimin Los Angeles is the oldest LGBTQ+ synagogue in the country, founded in 1972, and they also stream their weekly services on their website. For more organizations and resources for gender-diverse Jews, don’t forget to check out Gender Spectrum’s Faith Resource page.
Because there are so many denominations within Christianity, finding a community that affirms transgender people can feel like looking for a needle in a haystack. Thankfully, almost every denomination has a LGBTQ+ advocacy group that can help find a church near you. Check out the following organizations for more information:
TRANSformative Church– Metropolitan Community Church
Disciples LGBTQ+ Alliance– Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Open and Affirming Coalition– United Church of Christ
ReconcilingWorks– Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
More Light– Presbyterian Church USA
Room for All– Reformed Church in America
Integrity– Episcopal Church
Reconciling Ministries Network– United Methodist Church
Call to Action USA– Catholic
Dignity USA– Catholic
Fortunate Families– Catholic
New Ways Ministry– Catholic
Alliance of Baptists– Baptist
Accepting Evangelicals– Evangelical
The Fellowship– A group of Evangelical churches concerned with racial and LGBTQ+ equality
Kinship– Seventh-Day Adventist
Supportive Communities Network– Mennonite
Axios– Eastern Orthodox
Affirmation– Mormon (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints)
Friends for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Concerns– Quaker (Society of Friends)
Welcoming Congregations– Unitarian Universalist
But what if you’re not too concerned about denominational affiliation? What if you’d just like to find the nearest trans-inclusive church to you? Then check out the Believe Out Loud “Find Your Community” map, and the Affirming Church Directory at GayChurch.org. Both maps allow you to search by city, state, or zip code, and to filter by denomination if you’d like to.
If you can’t get to church for a service, or if you’d be more comfortable checking out a community online first, there are quite a few trans-inclusive churches that stream their services on their website.
Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church – San Francisco – Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Cornerstone Metropolitan — Mobile, AL — Metropolitan Community Church
Gracepointe Church – Nashville, TN – Nondenominational
Madison Avenue Baptist Church – New York City – American Baptist Church
Marble Collegiate Church – New York City – Reformed Church in America
New York Avenue Presbyterian Church – Washington DC – Presbyterian Church USA
The Riverside Church – New York City – United Church of ChristAND American Baptist Church
Victory Church – Stone Mountain, GA – Nondenominational
And don’t forget—if you’re looking for more books, media, or other resources, check out Gender Spectrum’s Faith Resource page!
The number of LGBTQ+ inclusive mosques in the United States is still fairly small, but the community is growing every year. As with some Christian and Jewish denominations, because most Sunni and Shia legal bodies haven’t ruled strictly on the inclusion of transgender people there’s a wide range of welcome. Communities that are absolutely welcoming of trans people include:
Masjid al-Rabia– Chicago, IL
Haven: The Inclusive Muslim Union of Philadelphia– Philadelphia, PA
Noor: LGBTQ+ Muslims of Seattle– Seattle, WA
Queer Muslims of Boston– Boston, MA
Muslims for Progressive Values Meetups in…
For more resources, don’t forget to check out Gender Spectrum’s Faith Resource page!