A Roman Catholic apostolate to support the dignity and inclusion of transgender laity.

Posts tagged ‘transsexual’

Transfigured, a course on transgender theology

Fr. Shay

When I started my transition I desperately wanted to find stories in Scripture that resonated with my experience, but no one was really doing transgender theology back in 2008. So as I continued on my gender journey I also started doing theology from this unique perspective. When I shared the work I was doing I found that it resonated deeply; not just with other trans folks but with straight and cisgender folks as well! 

Better understanding the lives and journeys of trans and nonbinary folks can open up and expand your understanding of your own gender and your faith as well. This will help you to advocate more deeply for trans inclusion as well as enrich your own faith. 

Even though I’ve been doing this work for over a decade now, the field of trans theology is still pretty new and much of what is available is either geared toward explaining gender identity (and making a case for trans inclusion) to cisgender folks OR is academic in nature. 

At QueerTheology.com we think there is a middle way: theology anchored in the lives and experiences of transgender and nonbinary people that is also accessible to folks outside of academia. We believe that trans and nonbinary folks have unique insights into Scripture and faith and when they share them ALL people can benefit (not just trans folks). 

In Transfigured, a course on transgender theology, we dive in to the differences between queer and trans theology, provide a Scriptural basis for doing trans theology, and then dive into ways that texts can be interpreted through a trans lens. 

There is a track for cisgender folks and a track for trans folks. Each track has overlap but is also designed to take you deeper in your journey. There are lots of reflections and prompts to guide you through your own work.

We believe this work is vital to the faith of trans and nonbinary folks and our straight/cisgender supporters. We hope you’ll join us. 

Registration will open on October 13th through October 22nd and the optional kick-off call will be Sunday, October 24th at 4:00pm EST/8:00pm GMT/ 5:00am Oct 25 AUS 


2017 DATES: February 23, 2017 (Youth Day) & February 24-26, 2017
2017 RECongress Theme: “Embrace Trust”
Held at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California

TransCatholic members will be at the Catholic Ministry with Lesbian and Gay Persons

Booth #464

And as featured panelist in:

6-09  Transgender in the Family: One Bread, One Body   

Saturday February 25th – 3:00 -4:30

Gender identity and transgender issues have become hot topics in media, politics, schools and other religious and social Arenas. In this session, a panel moderated by Dr. Arthur Fitzmaurice will speak from lived experience to help us be sensitive, loving and supportive of transgender Catholics and their families in the midst of transition. Fr. Bryan Massingale will offer theological reflection and respond to the witnesses of transgender Catholics and family members on the panel. Attention will be given to exploring best practices for integrating gender-diverse families in our parishes, schools and health-care systems.

Arthur Fitzmaurice, PhD

Freelance speaker and minister Dr. Arthur Fitzmaurice has served a decade in ministry with LGBT Catholics. He has spoken at various gatherings, including the Religious Education Congress, the Faith Formation Conference, the Catholic Association for Lesbian and Gay Ministry, and the Gay Christian Network. Dr. Fitzmaurice appears in several YouTube episodes produced by the Ignatian News Network. He has also received the Archdiocese’s Lumen Christi and the Cardinal’s Young Adult in Ministry awards.

Fr. Bryan N. Massingale, STD

Fr. Bryan Massingale, a priest of the Milwaukee Archdiocese, is Professor of Theology at Fordham University in New York. A noted authority on Catholic moral theology and social ethics, he has lectured extensively on ethical and racial justice issues throughout the United States and internationally. A previous Religious Education Congress Keynoter, Fr. Massingale is a former President of the Catholic Theological Society of America and has been a leader of the Black Catholic Theological Symposium.

Let us know if you are going to be there.


RECongress is the largest annual gathering of its kind in the world. The four-day event is held at the Anaheim (Calif.) Convention Center and is sponsored by the Los Angeles Office of Religious Education. Begun in 1968 as an “institute” for religious education (CCD) teachers, RECongress has grown to include people of all vocations and different faiths.
Youth Day (February 23, 2017) – Congress opens on Thursday with a day-long event for high school youth. This is an opportunity for students – not only from the Los Angeles Archdiocese but throughout California and the western states – to come together and share in Liturgy, workshops, entertainment and to experience the energy of a Youth Day Rally. See our Youth Day page.
Congress days (February 24-26) – The remaining three-day weekend is open to adults and young adults and offers more than 200 speakers presenting over 300 workshops, in addition to lunchtime entertainment, evening concerts, 16 Liturgies in a variety of characters, the Exhibit Hall and much more.
Free Exhibits (open to Registrants only) – One of the perks of Congress is the Exhibit Hall – held Friday through Sunday – showcasing over 200 companies ranging from religious art to music, and from publishing houses to educational institutions, in addition to our own represented Archdiocesan ministries. See our 2017 Exhibitor Listing.

Togetherstyle goes Not-for-Profit

I have to admit that I started this place when I was out of work and looking for any avenue to add income to to my freelance life. Since then, I have become both fully employed in my creative field and deeply involved in non-profits as a political and religious activist. Togetherstyle has always been about the empowerment of transgender women though image consultation for greater success in this increasingly visual world. So today I want to make it clear that for individuals I provide image consulting on a sliding scale based on your ability to pay and for free to those who are working as activists for gender rights. I believe that our community is best represented by people with confidence and professionalism in their presentation and personal branding.

If I can be of service, please let me know.

Otherwise this will also be a place where I will keep you posted on my involvement in gender social rights and transgender spiritual well being.

To be or not to be: A Catholic Transexual Speaks Out

I have been asked to put the full article I wrote for Conscience magazine a publication of Catholics for Choice for view on the web rather than download.

“Blessed” by our creator with male genitalia and a female brain I struggled to relate to a society that saw me as male until age 40 when I transitioned to live as a woman. It was a authentic mid-life transition to integrate my mind and body that many who knew me supported and even called courageous, inspiring, and ethical. But this uniquely personal act though the eyes of the 99.5% of people who are blessed to have their gender and sex match has been seen as a political act, psychological disorder, character flaw, weakness, perversion and sin.
In the Catholic Church, as a transsexual woman, I don’t exist officially. Officially the Catholic church does not have a policy on the range of gender expression and considering their policy on gay men, lesbian women, divorced women, women priests, and women who abort I should count myself as lucky. But the popular assumption that I will be treated poorly by the institutional church hierarchy is born out in news reports of a secret document to bishops, and the Pope’s own words. As Jeff Israely reports in Time Magazine December 23,2008 article: The Pope’s Christmas Condemnation of Transsexuals

‘Without actually using the word, Benedict took a subtle swipe at those who might undergo sex-change operations or otherwise attempt to alter their God-given gender. Defend “the nature of man against its manipulation,” “The Church speaks of the human being as man and woman, and asks that this order is respected.” The Pope again denounced the contemporary idea that gender is a malleable definition. That path, he said, leads to a “self-emancipation of man from creation and the Creator.”

Respecting the order of men and women is very important to an organization that is controlled solely by one gender. But the Creator does make transsexuals (mind/body incongruity) and inter-sexed (anatomic incongruity) people and the manipulation of medical science allows us to lead more normal lives with the 99.5% that have such trouble understanding this variation. Beyond anatomy, rigid gender stereotyping is important to a controlling patriarchy and so accepting any transgender expression, (cross-dressers, transvestites, Drag queens, drag kings, androgynous, bi-gendered, and gender queer) is unacceptable for organizational reasons, not morality.

The problem with a secret position on transgender people is that the church hierarchy are empowered to follow the most reactionary course in their words and deeds on the subject. According to John Norton of the Catholic News Service in his Jan-14-2003 article titled
“Vatican says ‘sex-change’ operation does not change person’s gender”

… the document instructs bishops never to alter the sex listed in parish baptismal records and says Catholics who have undergone “sex-change” procedures are not eligible to marry, be ordained to the priesthood or enter religious life, according to a source familiar with the text.’
“The key point is that the (transsexual) surgical operation is so superficial and external that it does not change the personality. If the person was male, he remains male. If she was female, she remains female,” said the source.

Those familiar with transsexuals will see the irony of truth in the ‘key point’ except in reverse. Transitioning allows us to share with society the gender personality that we have been from the start and avoid the false-selves developed to live as others expected us to based on our external bodies. Any United States transsexual that gets a surgical procedure does so after psychological evaluation, much soul searching and living at least 2 years in their perceived gender. The vast majority of transsexuals never have surgery because of its expense that is only covered by a handful of healthcare policies. Surgery does not define ones gender for passports or many states drivers licenses but a doctors psychological evaluation does. However, the sources assertion that one’s genitals are superficial could only have come from someone committed to celibacy.

Those armed with the secret document and their own transphobia have: expelled a music minister, a priest, a nun, a lay counselor, a college student, a parochial school student and even a church cleaning lady. They have also torn families apart by teaching that transsexualism is a psychic disorder. Parents are counseled to suppress transgender children and to reject transitioning adult children. Transexuals are forbidden the sacrament of marriage (to anybody), religious life, and priesthood. Some bishops even wrote congress to oppose the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) that would add gender identity and sexual attraction to the protected classes in employment law. This secret position emboldens the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishop’s Office for Film and Broadcasting in their review of the film TransAmerica to state:

“Director Duncan Tucker soberly handles the sensitive subject matter with humanity and a fair degree of delicacy and humor. But the film’s affirmative depiction of transsexualism is unequivocally incompatible with church teachings on human sexuality and gender identity. Furthermore, Stanley’s sex-switching procedure conflicts with Catholic proscriptions against “directly intended amputations, mutilations or sterilizations” spelled out in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.”

It is a hateful position that can twist this AMA approved surgical intervention for a birth incongruity into a “mutilation”. Like all the church policy that flows from the precept of ‘Natural Law’ (sex exists only for procreation) we find that this policy follows neither nature (as science shows) or law (as an equal protection).

It doesn’t have to be this way. As readers of this magazine would know, our theology calls us to follow our conscience, accept mystery, and love one another without exception. Reaching out to my marginalized extreme minority is not only possible but enriches your spiritual life.  Re-constructionist Judaism, Reform Judaism, and various Quaker groups openly allow transgender worshippers in their congregations. Certain Christian denominations, including the Presbyterian Church (USA), Ecumenical Catholic Church, United Church of Christ, Metropolitan Community Church, and the Unitarian Church openly accept transgender individuals.
Even the “secret Vatican document” (according to the 2003 CNS article referenced above) provides for:

  • Priests who undergo a sex change may continue to exercise their ministry privately if it does not cause scandal. (Women priests? Sounds scandalous.)
  • Surgery could be morally acceptable in certain extreme cases if a medical probability exists that it will “cure” the patient’s internal turmoil. (Far from extreme, transition is the only medically approved treatment for people diagnosed as transsexual. Reassignment surgery is the final step in the process and provides for a patient’s social integration and personal safety.)
  • An affirmation of the validity of marriages in which one partner later transitions. (A Catholic affirmation of a same sex marriage?)

I hope that Catholics would look at the body of scientific and medical evidence to develop a loving acceptance of those of us with this variation. The intentional eucharistic community I belong to has. My priest has noted the unique perspective I have on gender issues that come from seeing life from both sides now. He has noted how my path to my true gender has parallels in Ignatian discernment to understand God’s desire for us.

I understand that my journey, though personal, touches that which is universal about gender for everyone. Perhaps your notions of father, mother, brother, sister, husband, and wife get opened a little by meeting someone who has been all of those at different times in her life. Maybe you can take it from someone who has been there that looking at everything in us & them, black & white, male or female is limiting and dangerous. Ultimately, welcoming the mystery of diversity in God’s plan is the healing for our church  that I most hope for.

Your comments are appreciated.

A Catholic Transsexual Speaks

Only my second post and I am just a little off topic. I wanted to share with you an article I wrote for Conscience magazine a publication of Catholics for Choice.
It came about from serving on a strategy group for the Arcus Foundation that seeks to build a pro-LGBT movement within the Catholic church. The strategy is formed now and grants are being considered for non-profits who can join us in this mission.
To Be or Not To Be: A Catholic Transsexual Speaks (download)
Is part of a series of articles on how the institutional catholic church affects many marginalized people today. The Catholic bishops have been very active opponents of LGBT equality of late but a majority of lay Catholics (exercising their conscience) have no moral objection to homosexuality despite the teachings of the institutional church according to a Pew Research Center survey.

Your comments are appreciated.

Speaking at GWU

In the TS community, the Department of Speech and Hearing at George Washington University is well known for their vocal training for transsexuals. On Monday October 18th I’ll be speaking to their clinicians about TogetherStyle’s unique service that has already helped one of their clients. They believe that image consulting can help their clients in ways that they don’t and hope to be able to refer people to me. I’ll be talking about my background in the theatrical and design fields that qualify me for this service and about the progress of their client through my consultative  process that took place this summer.

If you are in the transgender program at GWU please let me know and (our readers) what the program has done for you. I transitioned before coming to the area and got my vocal training on the west coast.


Image Analysis
Everybody’s path and needs are different. Your first session is a detailed assessment of just what your goals and needs are. I don’t try to fit people into a stereotype or look. I look at your unique gifts and challenges to chart a course to the style and quality you want to achieve. It’s all about improving your self-esteem and surrounding you with fashion that shows who you really are in the best light possible. I have always been blessed to see the best in people and it is my gift to bring it out for all to see.

Fashion Styling
Working from your body and coloring I can review your wardrobe and coordinate and plan restyling. Creating shopping ‘rules’ and color palettes for you to keep, and live by. Personal shopping services, or hosted shopping events are a practical way I assure that you are getting valuable investments in coordinated, classy, right for your body fashions.

Beauty Analysis
As a color expert I evaluate, teach and refer you to experts in skin care, makeup, hairstyle, diet, fitness. Supporting you in developing a regimen that works for you.

Behavioral Coaching
Evaluating and developing your feminine voice, grammar, and vocabulary. Coaching your body language, walk, posture, and poise as a woman. Etiquette, social graces, and dinning supported in a positive and caring environment. Your together style is more than just a look. Its about a complete expression of your feminine self in public.

Public Speaking and Writing
With my poise and positive, caring communication I am able to represent our community on religious and political topics and welcome opportunities to educate and  persuade on behalf of transgender people.

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