Good morning. My name is David Carl Olson, and I am the Minister of the First Unitarian Church of Baltimore.
Unitarian Universalism has long engaged a conversation about gender, social relations and justice that brings us today to a position of strongly supporting transgender people and their interests. In the 1970s, our congregations began to seek the inclusion of women at all levels of our association, and this resulted in rich learnings about the social construction of gender. We established an office of gay and lesbian concerns that helped us think about sexual and relational orientation. We developed an early curriculum on human sexuality that viewed gender and sexuality as sacred gifts that might be practiced ethically and morally. Our congregations began to name themselves “Welcoming” so that all people, without regard to gender presentation, might be included among our faith.
A decade ago we revised our Welcoming materials to more directly address questions of gender identity and, with our partners in the United Church of Christ, developed “Our Whole Lives” a comprehensive sexuality curriculum that addresses sexuality and gender in age appropriate ways throughout the human lifespan. We, people of faith, take gender identity and presentation seriously; we invite into our congregations people of all gender identities, and find a blessing in people who have questions about their own gender. We celebrate the diversity of the human family, and we are prepared to accompany our own transgender members and their allies in the struggle for gender identity protections in City Hall, at the State House in Annapolis, and at the federal level of government.
This weekend, we will be proud to host the Baltimore Region Transgender Days of Celebration and Remembrance. On Saturday in Enoch Pratt Parish Hall
at 514 N. Charles Street, we’ll open the doors for a celebratory luncheon at 11:00 a.m., followed by a Trans Town Hall and an afternoon of workshops, classes and small group encounters. We will be proud to host an interfaith prayer service of remembrance on Sunday evening at our historic temple on the corner of Charles and Franklin Streets in Baltimore. We will be proud to welcome all people, with magnificent music, heartfelt prayers from the world’s religious traditions, and simple acts of lighting candles and reading the names of transgender persons killed because of the bigotry of society.
By such religious service, we hope again to proclaim our solidarity with and care for the transgender persons of this region; and to renew our promise to walk with them in ways that are just, and free, and filled with love. Thank you.