First Event is an annual regional transgender conference, organized by the Tiffany Club of New England -- http://tcne.org/?page_id=20.
For the second year in a row, my fellow ICTEr Rev. Cameron Partridge and I co-facilitated a workshop about transgender and faith. Cameron also facilitated a workshop about Michael Dillon / Lobzang Jivaka (an early trans and faith pioneer whose memoir Cameron has been working with), which I attended most of.
Transgender Faith, Spirituality & Religion
Mycroft Masada Holmes
Saturday, January 22, 11:00 am
Many transgender people and allies are people of faith, and members of faith communities.
Many faith communities welcome us, and support our equality; more all the time. Yet our
relationship with religion has been very painful, and much change is still needed. How do we explore and practice spirituality? Make faith communities welcoming? Partner with people of faith to work for transgender social justice? Share your experiences, thoughts and questions!
Michael Dillon / Lobzang Jivaka and Trans Narrative Practices
Rev. Dr. Cameron Partridge
Saturday, January 22, 2:00 pm
Michael Dillon / Lobzang Jivaka (1915 - 1962) is chiefly known for three inter-related contributions to contemporary trans communities and studies. First, he is known as the first person to have “fully” medically transitioned from female to male, a process he engaged between 1939-1949. Second, his 1946 book Self is identified as one of the earliest sources for the “trapped in the wrong body” trans narrative pattern. Finally, he is seen as a pioneer, particularly to transmen. Equally important, but unacknowledged, is the importance of theological reflection and spiritual practice to his transition and vocation.
Having grown up in the Church of England, Dillon was a serious student of theology and
philosophy and considered ordination as an Anglican deaconess before becoming a physician in the merchant navy. Ultimately he traveled away from both his faith and country of origin, framing his everyday struggles and the life narrative he finally composed as an ongoing process of spiritual wrestling and transformation.
This lifelong process led him to India in 1958, where he became a Buddhist, took on the name Jivaka, gave up all his possessions, wrote about Buddhism for Western audiences, and died suddenly in 1962 as a monastic novice in the Mahayana branch of Buddhism.
This workshop includes an overview of Dillon/Jivaka’s life, readings from his memoir Out of the Ordinary, which the workshop leader is currently co-editing for publication, and an opportunity for the gathered group to reflect upon questions and intersections of trans narrativity and spirituality in their own lives.
What role, if any, do/have writings of trans forbears play(ed) in your own reflection and discernment about gender and embodiment? What role, if any, have narratives — or particular images or categories -- generated by religious, spiritual, or philosophical traditions played in your life thus far? With what sorts of narratives — how coherent or incoherent, in what sorts of conversation with religious, philosophical and/or spiritual traditions, and/or in what sorts of conversation with our trans forbears — do we choose to make sense of our bodies and lives?
Mycroft Masada Holmes is a transgender leader specializing in faith, religion and spirituality. Mycroft is Chair of the Interfaith Coalition for Transgender Equality, Chair of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition's Training Committee, Emeritus Founding Chair of Keshet's Transgender Working Group (TWiG), and a board member of Congregation Am Tikva. Mycroft is also especially interested in fat / size acceptance.
Rev. Dr. Cameron Partridge is a scholar of religion and gender/sexuality studies and an Episcopal priest. He is currently serving as interim Episcopal Chaplain and Lecturer at Harvard. Among his current projects is the co-editing and publication of Michael Dillon / Lobzang Jivaka’s c. 1962 memoir Out of the Ordinary.