Sunday, October 17, 2010

"Call Me Malcolm" study at United Christian Church

"Call Me Malcolm" is a documentary about a transgender UCC seminary student that our church has chosen to study. We held a viewing of the full film over the summer and had about 20 or so folks attend. The discussion then was very good and we decided to move on with the 6 week study.

As you may or may not know, LGBT issues, and specifically the T in that alphabet soup, are important to me. So, this seemed a natural outgrowth of my activism in that arena.

Our first class was last Thursday, and I intended to blog about it prior to that date but clearly did not. We had 10 people come to the class and watched the first 32 minutes of the film. Then we discussed the following questions:
1. Have you made a significant change in your own life? How did your family and friends react to your change?
2. Malcolm talks about how his parents reacted to the gender change in his life. Everyone
experiences many different changes throughout their lives. Has someone close to you made a significant change of any kind in their life? How did that affect you?
3. Sometimes family and friends can support changes, but still grieve the loss of who you used to be. How can people show support, but still acknowledge their grief or sadness at the loss of what was?
4. Malcolm spoke with Dr. Tinker about the way his culture looked at gender. What did you learn growing up from your culture about gender?
5. Malcolm was able to find resources at a nearby Gender Identity Center. Where can transgender people go in your community to learn more about transgender issues and resources?
Theological questions
1. Malcolm’s minister said that, in her theology, transgender people embody what it says in Genesis1:27, that human beings were made in the image of God, male and female. Given your experience of The Divine, what is your image of God and does it include gender?
2. Malcolm felt called as an ordained minister. All people of faith are called to use their unique gifts and talents to do God’s work in the world. How are you called?

We had a really great discussion and I hope that the rest of the meetings will be as well attended and frank.

My ideas on those questions? Well, I have a personal connection to the Trans community and learning about transgender issues has been a steep learning curve since E came out and began his transition. My personal reaction to his statement, "I'm transgender" was one of, oh, that makes sense. It answered questions for me and sparked many more. One of the things we (Eldest and myself) did early on in this process was invite E and his mother to a UCC Coalition for LGBT Concerns workshop. Shortly after E made his announcement, I found out the the Coalition was holding a workshop on the T in LBGT in a nearby city. We signed up almost immediately. On the way home, E's mom made the statement "God doesn't make mistakes."

Now, she meant this as a rebuke. Despite sitting through the same workshop that I had, see came away unmoved and adamant that her child couldn't be male since he had been born female. Thus, the statement. Well, I believe that the statement is true - God doesn't make mistakes - but not in the way she meant it. In fact, in just the opposite. E is not a mistake. His realization that he is transgendered isn't wrong. The changes in him, more than just the obvious physical ones of facial hair and deeper voice, are profound. He's happier and more confident. Who he was before was a profoundly unhappy and angry person. Someday, I hope his mother sees the change in her child as a positive one.

The fact that I could lead this study group at my church speaks volumes about the congregation and clergy. The church was very proactive in spreading the word amongst the LGBT community here in Austin about the class. We're speaking openly about issues that are very uncomfortable for many people. United Christian Church of Austin is an amazing place.

If you're in town on Thursday night at 7PM, feel free to join us. If you can't make it, the film is available at Netflix for rent and the study guide can be downloaded online.


LeftLeaningLady said...

If God had made a mistake, E would not have the realization of what needed to be done to attain satisfaction and (hopefully) happiness in this world. Thank you for sharing and tell E that even those who do not know him are cheering for him.

Ahab said...

That sounds like a fascinating film, and I'm glad that your church is attuned to LGBT issues. Are you familiar with the documentary FOR THE BIBLE TELLS ME SO?

True Blue Texan said...

@Ahab- I have heard of that film but I've never seen it. I just finished watching "Bob Roberts" on Netflix. Tim Robbins nailing the Tea Party 20 years before they were "born". Off to see if Netflix has "For the Bible Tells Me So."

@LLL- Thanks for the support. See you in DC!

Suzan said...

Nice blog!

I found you at Southern Beale.

May I blogroll you?