There is simply no healthy future for faith and spirituality without trans (and other TLGBIQ) people - because we are not only central to their future (it is after all ours!) but as we are already present to it and waiting for others to catch up (with patience when we can, but too often with continuing deep frustration). Sadly there are times (too many of them) when it is very tough - not so much to cope with the obvious enmity (though that is hard enough), but, for Christians, the 'polite silence' and 'passive' inclusion of parts of Churches who say they are, or trying to be 'inclusive' and 'affirming'. It does often feel like 'shouting into the silencing vacuum'. Thank God for those who really get it, and who are with us and, actively, help us into speech. Let those who have ears, hear...
As Melissa M.Wilcox put it, in 'Religion is Already Transed: Religious Studies is Not (Yet) Listening':
'Many of us, in various ways, have had the experience of shouting into the silencing vacuum of active ignorance: the practice by which others actively ignore, and thereby choose to remain ignorant about, our lives and the lives of those who struggle.
Sometimes, the vacuum is incomplete; enough air remains in the space to carry the sound waves of our speech and allow us to be heard. Sometimes, eventually, we may even be celebrated for our efforts. But such work can come at great cost, and for every one of us who kept standing there, shouting into the vacuum, at least five others have walked away...
We must stop the polite silence and gentle questioning that still attends the preaching of transphobia...
We have an obligation, all of us, not only to listen for the voices shouting into the vacuum but also to actively disrupt the anti-trans, anti-genderqueer, and blithely cisnormative voices that created the vacuum to begin with. We have an obligation not to be those voices and not to let them go unchallenged. We have an obligation to fill the vacuum with air so that even a whisper can be heard.'
Delightful day yesterday with fellow researchers Ann Edwards and Katelyn Goopy (speech therapists from the ACU School of Allied Health), bringing together the main themes of findings from interviews recently with different gender diverse people - exploring what they/we themselves want for their/our voices and what voice means to them (personally, professionally, spiritually etc). Sadly - on a subject so important to many (and not just those trans women who suffer the pains of puberty voice change) - there has been so very little work done anywhere in the world based on gender diverse people’s own experience and hopes. Consequently professionals continue to miss the mark - as with other sections of society which presume to know who and what gender diverse people are and require.
After further consultation with the terrific participants who shared their voices in this study, we hope the published results may help bring some change in both approaches to, and content of, much voice therapy - and, most of all, strengthen gender diverse people’s own advocacy and agency. 🙏
We continue to thank those who have contributed so helpfully to this small but significant study. May gender diverse people continue to evolve and express our gloriously diverse voices, and may we be heard and empower others in doing so ❤️
(photo from transgender people-led workshop at the Equal Voices conference in Melbourne 2018)
The Revd Dr Jo Inkpin: