Task Force active in TransFaith in Color 2012

By the Rev. Rebecca Voelkel, Task Force Faith Work Director and Barbara Satin, Task Force Faith Work Associate

To paraphrase Barbara Smith, there exist two devastating and intertwined myths: All the LGBTQ folks are white and all the people of color are straight; and All the LGBTQ people are anti-religious and all the religious people are anti-LGBTQ. In many ways, these myths haunt countless individuals who are transgender, lesbian, gay, bisexual and queer. And they immobilize and misdirect far too much of the energy of the LGBTQ movement. But this weekend, one of the most powerful, myth-busting, life-giving gatherings we know will take place.

More than 250 transgender people of faith, most of whom are people of color, will gather starting today until August 19, in Charlotte, N.C., for TransFaith in Color 2012 to work as grassroots activists and opinion leaders around issues of gender and sexuality within their respective faith and general communities. And, in so doing, they will embody the real reality that part of God’s creativity and joy in the world is that there are transgender people of color who practice in every religious tradition on the planet; they will embody the real reality that there are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people of color whose cultural and ethnic traditions celebrate their sexual orientation and gender identity; they will embody the real reality that good religion celebrates all of God’s children.

And the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force will there as an active presence, both as a sponsor of the conference as well as workshop presenters and keynote speakers.

A La Familia, a guided conversation for the Latino/a community about families, the Bible, sexual orientation and gender identity will be a centerpiece of the conference.

The curriculum project is the result of a collaborative effort by the Task Force, the Human Rights Campaign and Unid@s. Nicole García will highlight the project during her Friday luncheon keynote address and then will co-lead a workshop on A La Familia with Lisbeth Meléndez Rivera.

Task Force Deputy Executive Director Rev. Darlene Nipper will moderate a panel discussion on Building a Better World: How to Impact Policy & Laws.

Meanwhile, Jack Harrison, Task Force policy analyst, will present the results of Injustice At Every Turn: A report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey.

Also participating in the conference will be Rev. Rebecca Voelkel and Barbara Satin, representing The Task Force’s faith work program the Institute for Welcoming Resources. Rev. Voelkel was one of the lead coordinators of the A La Familia project.

The TransFaith in Color conference is presented by the Freedom Center for Social Justic, which recognized that while there is great work being done by many within the faith community and beyond, transgender people of color have often been underrepresented.

According to Bishop Tonyia Rawls, executive director and Founder of The Freedom Center, “Trans Faith in Color has become an important way to empower members of the transgender community to engage with broader segments of the LGBT movement and beyond.”

Initial planning for this effort began with a group of transgender people of color from across the country who gathered in 2009 to lay the foundation for TransFaith Summit 2010 and subsequent TransFaith In Color Conferences. The conference is a racially, culturally and spiritually diverse dynamic environment that welcomes transgender people from a range of faith communities and spiritual traditions.

The Task Force has been involved with TransFaith in Color since its inception. For more information, go here.