An important event took place for trans people studying to be religious leaders from August 22nd to August 25, 2013, the event was Trans*Formation: A Retreat for Transgender Students Training for Religious Leadership held at Holy Wisdom Monastery in Middleton Wisconsin and was organized by the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry at the Pacific School of Religion. In many ways this was a way for us to come in from the wilderness that is the isolation of being trans people in seminary and training to be religious leaders. A recurring theme that came up during discussions was that we all feel our isolation to varying degrees. There was also recognition of the isolation that those who are genderqueer and trans women face in particular. As one person said, they had no idea there were other trans people who felt a call to ordained ministry.
The retreat consisted of two days of formal programming with evenings and travel days providing time for participants to get to know each other in an informal setting. The formal agenda was such that the participants had the opportunity to get to know each other, their backgrounds, current place in their journeys and where their journeys are leading. Participants also shared stories that were very personal and moving. There was also discussion about an ongoing curriculum and future retreats for trans people studying to be religious leaders. Participants were asked a number of questions regarding what should be included in a curriculum, challenges and barriers to becoming religious leaders, as well as what the ideal would look like. Overall there was a general consensus that participants were just getting to know each other and really starting to discuss various issues in an in-depth way when the retreat ended and it was time to leave.
This retreat was, hopefully, just the first of many to bring trans religious leaders and those training to be religious leaders out of the wilderness and into a diverse community of mutual support, education and fun.