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A Transgender IndividualPicking a new name can be a pivotal moment in a transgender person’s life. Often, much care and deliberation leads up to the final choice, including taking some time to mentally “live with” the new name. For many transgender individuals, it is also a rite of passage worth commemorating in some fashion. Religious individuals who are part of an accepting denomination or house of worship may turn to their spiritual leaders for help. In response, new options are being offered that allow trans people to celebrate their emergence as new selves among family, friends and fellow faithful.

Second Baptisms Offered by Some Churches

Depending on the type of faith observed, a trans person who was originally baptized as the name and gender assigned at birth may desire to be baptized again under the new name and gender. Some churches are accommodating, especially those dedicated to accepting LGBTQ people already shunned by mainstream denominations. For example, Pink News reported in January 2016 about a church in Manchester, England that has begun offering baptisms for trans people. Pastor Jean Clements of the New Chapel, a Unitarian and Free Christian church, said she started offering these baptisms after the family of a local transgender girl came to her for help. However, for many sects, the mere acceptance of trans people is still an issue of contentious debate, much less whether a second baptism is offered or not.

Renaming Ceremonies Affirm a Trans Person’s Name and Identity

Within some sects, naming rites and liturgies have been developed in response to the growing number of religious trans people seeking to honor the significant milestone of selecting a new name. Additionally, these ceremonies give their friends and family the opportunity to celebrate with them, offering love, affirmation and support. Churches offering these rites are leading the way in not only striving for greater inclusion in their ministries, but also sending a strong message of their acceptance of trans individuals into their flocks.

In a few cases, renaming ceremonies were created in response to requests by transgender individuals to be baptized again. Denominations that are even willing to consider the question often must deal with theological questions surrounding the nature of baptism, and whether a second one is needed or appropriate. The Guardian reported in a May 2015 article that the Church of England is considering instituting a naming ceremony based on the original rite of baptism. Meanwhile, some Anglican churches are already performing rituals designed to affirm transgender individuals’ new identity and reintroduce them to God and their communities of faith. 

Other progressive churches, including those in the United States, have begun creating their own versions of a renaming rite for trans people. The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation described the efforts in a June 2014 blog post, mentioning several ministers and organizations that have written liturgies and ceremonial texts for this purpose. A Unitarian Universalist minister, Reverend Fred L. Hammond, developed one and made it publicly available on his own blog. Additionally, many other versions are freely available online. For example, Reverend Dr. Cameron Partridge created a version for Black Christian social justice organization Many Voices, and House for All Sinners and Saints founding pastor Nadia Bolz Weber shared her own text online that she used in a renaming ceremony for a young transgender man.

The Inclusion of One’s Faith Can Add Meaning to Choosing a New Name

Many individuals experience the deep psychological, spiritual or emotional need to commemorate events in their lives. For transgender individuals, selecting a new name is a significant milestone in their journey toward living authentically. Baptism or renaming ceremonies are being offered that affirm trans peoples’ new identities, as well as include their loved ones and communities of faith in their celebrations.


Category: Universal Life Church Ceremonies

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