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For ten years, the Center for LGBTQ and Gender Studies in Religion, the Freedom Center for Social Justice, and the National LGBTQ Task Force have sponsored a program for transgender, nonbinary, and gender non-conforming seminarians in the United States.

The program’s goal is to encourage trans students during their training for religious leadership to complete their degrees, follow their vocation, and embrace the fact that their impact as faith leaders can and should extend beyond their chosen settings for ministry and service to include the welfare of the broader communities in which they live. This is the only program dedicated to addressing the unique challenges and gifts of trans seminarians.

Each year, we offer a cohort experience for six students engaged in training for religious ministry, providing mentorship, peer support, and the opportunity to attend conferences and retreats sponsored by each of our organizations. The cohort connects for three in-person gatherings, through monthly phone calls, and on social media. All the expenses to attend the programs are fully covered.

In this intensive program, participants will attend and actively participate in 3 gatherings, build relationships with new and known colleagues, and journey deep into what leadership means and feels like for people of faith who identify as transgender, nonbinary, and gender non-conforming.

“I smile when friends call me a unicorn because I identify as a queer, transgender Latina in ministry. There are so few of us. As a member of the Trans Seminarian Leadership Cohort in 2014-15, I found community. I was surrounded by people deeply connected to their faith and spirituality, many of whom shared my identity as a transgender person of color.

“Then, as a member of the faculty in 2018-19, I was able to mentor individuals who were in the same position I was in just a few years before. The cohort gave me a brave space where I could explore and share my beliefs and not have to explain my identity but fully live into who my creator intended me to be.

“I firmly believe that my experience as a trans seminarian in this program has prepared me for my position as Faith Work Director at the National LGBTQ Task Force, which feels not only appropriate but a true coming full circle in my faith experience.”

Rev. Nicole Garcia, Faith Work Director, National LGBTQ Task Force
Wayne Rocque, Rev Nicole Garcia, Rev Jakob Hero-Shaw, Rev Craig Cranston at MCC Tampa

Queering Faith

To create an equitable society for diverse LGBTQ people, we must continue to emphasize that people of faith are not our adversaries — and that equity and religious freedom are interconnected and mutually reinforcing.