OtherWise Christian in Idaho

It is exciting to learn how OtherWise Christian: A Guidebook for Transgender Liberation is having an impact around the world. I got a royalty report from one vendor that says I’ve sold 9 books in the UK, though I don’t have more details.

When I sell books directly, it’s easier to ask about what’s going on! With their permission, I want to share what I’ve learned about the Rainbow Connection, which is meeting around OtherWise Christian in Idaho.

Our group is called Rainbow Connection. The group began as a informal dinner group within the Cathedral of The Rockies First United Methodist Church in Boise, Idaho. Two years ago, two of our members sought to expand the group’s purpose and started the book/bible study group. So, we are beginning our third year of study in this way.

We meet on Wednesday nights for two hours. The first hour is dinner and fellowship and the second hour is discussion about the book we are reading. The discussions are facilitated by whomever wants to do so. We begin the evening with prayer and end the evening with open sharing followed by a closing prayer.

We have people from all walks of life and all ages. Gay, Lesbian, Bi, Trans, Non-binary and Straight. Our members come from all religious backgrounds including no faith history, LDS, Catholic, Methodist, multiple other Protestant denominations, students, retired persons, married, single, committed relationships, same sex marriages, hetero marriages. Some of our members have a history of growing up in very conservative, evangelical homes. Some are still healing from past experience with the Church. One of our members is ordained, one is a former Catholic priest, one leads music worship at an area church, others work in healthcare, retail, and other types of work.

We have no prerequisites for joining our group. You don’t have to be a Christian, or even a believer, we want each person to have a loving, safe place to be themselves. Our group values and covenants are confidentiality and maintaining the group as a safe space for everyone.

All people are welcome. If they can’t afford a book, the group will ensure they have a book. If someone can’t bring something for the meal, they are welcome. If someone didn’t read the assigned chapters, we want them to come anyway.

This year, we are offering child care. We are committed to eliminating any type of barrier to anyone that wants to attend.

This past spring the Rainbow Connection (connected to both the Collier United Methodist Church and Cathedral of The Rockies First United Methodist Church) was recognized as a Reconciling Community–and as far as I know, one of only three Reconciling Ministries recognized groups in Idaho.

The group discussion about OtherWise Christian is being facilitated by Liz, who is a late transitioning, trans woman who is a still married, parent and grandparent. Liz is a registered nurse, retired from the Air Force, and facilitates a LGBT group at the local VA hospital.

I believe that there are systemic reasons for anti-trans bigotry. Prior teaching and both deliberate and non-deliberate miss- information, much of that attributed to incomplete or deliberately biased use of the Bible. I believe that ignorance leads to fear, and fear leads to bigotry, bigotry to hate, and hate to violence. Though accurate and complete information available to the public about trans people has grown in both amount and accuracy in the last few years, we remain a mystery to many, if not most of society. My personal mission is to demystify what it is to be transgender. My approach to demystification is to live my life authentically, openly, accessibly and approachable way.

Liz had ordered books and downloaded the OtherWise Christian Group Discussion Guide in preparation for their first meeting. She wrote after making a second order of books, saying that all of the first batch of books were taken on the first night! We’re talking about setting up a video chat some time, after they’ve made some progress into the book, so I can answer questions that may come up.

It’s been lovely for me as an author to feel connected to a group that is using the book! I would love to hear any stories that you might have about making use of OtherWise Christian!

Compiled by Mx. Chris Paige on September 25, 2019.

Note: This blog is intended to be an on-going work in progress. Please contact us if you have corrections or are able to contribute further context or reflections.

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