David E. Weekley (photo above,) an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church, came out as a trans man almost 10 years ago. He had transitioned decades before, but felt it was time to let the church know. He believed that his faith community was ready. He hoped they would learn and grow into a community that embraced transgender people and opened up the church and the ministry to include all.
It didn’t exactly go that way. In many ways they failed the test he set before them. The road has been tough for transgender people of faith like David. In response, David decided to return to seminary to research how he could better serve the transgender community. He also wanted to create resources that would strengthen the faith experiences of transgender people and build community.
His new book Retreating Forward–A Spiritual Practice with Transgender Persons explores a retreat experience that David organized for a group of transgender and gender non-binary people. I had the honor of serving has a helper on the retreat, assisting David as he built community and opportunities. The book does an exceptional job of providing the background to the retreat and the theory behind everything he did. David had a vision and pursued it. Now he shares the insights he discovered.
David’s book is now available from Morningstar Press.
Transgender people are among the most marginalized and vulnerable populations in the world. Misinformation, lack of education, and lack of experience among cis-gendered persons often result in forms of violence and abuse directed towards those perceived as transgender or gender non-conforming. Such violence and abuse are not restricted to secular culture but expand into faith communities and essential forms of spiritual care and support. When transgender people of faith share the reality of their gender identity they often experience rejection by the very communities that should provide support, encouragement, and practical ministries of hospitality. Retreating Forward: A Spiritual Practice with Transgender Persons is an educational and practical resource for individuals, spiritual leaders, and faith communities seeking to provide practical and spiritual sustenance. The retreat model included in this text proved transformational for those involved.