It was with huge delight - among an amazing number of fabulous friends - that I renewed my baptismal vows in my authentic name (Josephine McDonnell) last Sunday, and then shared in a wonderful party to mark the anniversary of my Re-Birth Day. It has taken me a few days to recover - not just because I have been struggling with a bit of ill-health - but because it was such an affirmation, both of my self in all that I am and also of the gorgeous relationships in which I share. It has taken a little adjusting to: for my old 'male assigned' self would have hated the attention and probably beaten myself up a bit in the process, but happiness is so precious and not to spurned, and we need to celebrate what is good when these blessed moments appear. Not to do so is to fail to love ourselves and give thanks for the greater ever (re-)creating love in which we live, breathe, move and have our being/becoming. That is a vital reason why renaming and other affirmation rituals are so important and why it is so disappointing that they are not more actively welcomed and developed with us by religious leaders. How good it is that the Episcopal Church now has such official liturgy (see reflection here from TransEpiscopal) and that others of are at least working on them (see some other examples on my prayer resources pages). For my part, I drew together some of what I feel are beautiful elements of liturgies from across the world - for the full liturgy see here. This included some words of my friend Cathy Laufer which included prayers for my parents and godparents, recognising the integrity in which they gave me a baptismal name from which I have now rightly parted. Best of all however were the readings and actions which brought so many happy tears from across the gathering. Friends' readings of the astonishing promise to the eunuchs in Isaiah 56, of Kathy Galloway's marvelous poem Cross-Border Talks, and, above all, J Mase III's poem Josephine were particularly moving, speaking both of my own journey and of the renewing love we were releasing for all.
The Revd Dr Jo Inkpin: