Louis Mitchell and I started corresponding after Bishop Yvette Flunder assigned us to lead the advocacy committee of TransSaints late in 2009. Louis and I then shared a room at a Fellowship of Affirming Ministries event.
I don’t think it was quite a brother-sibling relationship from the start, but we were certainly kindred spirits, who were somehow in orbit around one another at event after event (both TFAM and other faith-based spaces) that were collecting transgender volunteers.
Let’s just say that, by the end of 2010, Louis and I had already shared many frustrations in these various venues. We began discussing what it might look like to build an organization by and for transgender people–instead of continuing to volunteer for organizations whose interest in transgender leadership seemed… uneven.
I had inheirited the 501c3 structure from the Interfaith Working Group, so we were able to skip over the hassles of incorporating. Louis and I started working to expand the board of directors during 2011 and I was eventually named founding executive director of Transfaith beginning January 1, 2012.
Transfaith had been a website since 1999. Meanwhile, a constellation of transgender leaders had been working together informally under a number of different banners for particular events leading up to our 2012 launch. Transforming Transfaith from an informal group of colleagues to an organization allowed us to set our own priorities, though it came with its own challenges.
While we built an organizational structure and have pursued many projects, our strength has continued to be in the relationships that we have built, prioritizing multi-tradition, multi-racial, multi-gender collaboration. I stepped down as executive director of Transfaith at the end of 2017 and Louis Mitchell became executive director of Transfaith at the beginning of 2018.
Additionally, those relationships have informed pretty much everything about OtherWise Christian, from the content of the book itself to my perspectives on race, Judaism, and especially my self-understanding as a transgender person.
Compiled by Mx Chris Paige on September 14, 2019.
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