Uplift: Uplifting LGBTQ+ Experience Within and Beyond Unitarian Universalism

Community Support for Trans/Nonbinary People

By Adrian Ballou, Mylo Way


As we write, the ACLU is actively tracking 522 anti-LGBTQ laws in the 2024 US legislative session which does not take into account the hundreds that have been passed over the past few years, and the continued onslaught in the pipeline.

It can be a frightening time to be trans, and to love trans folks. There can be a giant sense of fear and overwhelm, which can make us feel like shutting down. We want to offer more ways to navigate these times. What if we didn’t let our own fears and isolation define our boundaries? What if we opened our arms and hearts wide to allow space for ourselves and for others to thrive?

In times like this, Unitarian Universalists have time and again chosen to show up for justice. This is a core part of who we are. Our history does not always have us choosing to side with love–sometimes we have betrayed the most marginalized among us, furthering causes that cause harm. This is a history and present we reckon with, across our UU history and here today, across the past and present of trans, nonbinary, and intersex rights and justice work in our faith.

And, we want to remind you that the heart of our UU theology is one of equity, is one of every single person being deserving of love and connection, of making sure that we all take care of each other, survive, and make space to thrive.

In order to survive, trans, nonbinary, and intersex communities need to connect and be part of communities of care. We know how to do that. We are Unitarian Universalists, people moved by our own understanding of interconnectedness and human rights. People who offer pastoral care to each other, people who plan potlucks and worship, people who show up to town meetings and volunteer at elections and food pantries and more. We are imperfect and learning together, and we can keep creating the beloved community we want to see thrive. We come with not only fear, but with a true belief that community care can save lives, and Unitarian Universalists are capable of creating that reality.

How are we showing up in our communities? Even now, there are Unitarian Universalist congregations coming up with creative ways to share their resources, their influence, and their love. How might you engage in that? We believe in US, we believe in YOU, and we believe in a future where we all are able to live into our whole selves.

Included are some context and ideas for how you and your communities can take action for trans liberation today. We hope we’ll see you at the Organizing for Trans Liberation Cohort and taking part in working with us to have an impact on trans/nonbinary/intersex+ lives!

Your actions matter. You have power to change the material and emotional realities of so many affected by these laws. With all of us together, there’s so much we can do!

We love you,
Adrian and Mylo

Community is How We Survive!

In community offer one another recommendations of doctors who provide nondiscriminatory healthcare. We refer each other to fair and equitable housing and jobs that offer a living wage. In community, we strive to take care of each other and keep each other safe.

When laws and environments become too treacherous, we are forced to flee the communities that keep us safe, where we feel at home, where we have support. When we are forced to move to a new place, finding employment and housing, establishing care, and finding community to help navigate all these challenges can become nearly impossible.

This is a difficult time for all people in the trans, nonbinary, and intersex communities. So many are struggling! Most of us in this community have additional experiences of oppression that multiply our hardships. We want to tell you more about some of these to help get you thinking about some of the additional challenges trans people face that might not come to mind right away.

Here are some of the many examples of intersecting challenges we may face:

  • Disabled trans people face barriers in finding accessible housing, transferring benefits and community care, employment that meets our needs, and more. Some states are also passing laws banning disabled trans people from accessing healthcare. Helping to increase accessibility, create support for additional needs and funds, and provide logistical help and emotional labor for the processes of moving or staying will help disabled trans people survive.
  • The South is the only/main part of the US where the Black population is 25% or higher–which means more safety and support for Black people. Black trans Southerners are in a position where they are losing legal rights in these communities, and where moving to a place with much less Black people may not mean an increase in safety. Supporting trans, nonbinary, and intersex rights in Southern states is vital–as is supporting Black lives everywhere.
  • Fat trans and nonbinary people experience discrimination accessing trans care across the country–some of the worse limits are in “trans friendly” states. It’s estimated that surgeons refuse to treat at least 25% of trans people who visit them–just on the basis of weight! Denial of healthcare based on body size is not something that is based in concern for patients’ health–fat people do access emergency surgery safely all the time. The result of this is that sometimes people move to legally “safer” regions, but are actually LESS able to access healthcare than before.

Because trans folks face housing, employment, and medical discrimination obtaining employment, renting an apartment, and having a positive credit history are extremely challenging.

Community is How We Stop Anti-Trans Hate!

Congregations located where anti-trans hate laws are passing - how are you working to effect change locally? Trans, nonbinary, and intersex communities, as well as the LGBTQIA+ community more broadly, need you!

With many people fleeing and more people hiding or being forced to conform to cisgender, endosex social norms and expectations, our cisgender, allosexual, endosex, heterosexual allies now play a more important role than ever.

You don’t need to be experts and you don’t need to run things–but you do need to take the lead on organizing your communities, if there aren’t trans folks that you know of in them. Do this alongside trans leadership outside your congregation as needed, while creating opportunities for community members of all gender modalities to get involved!

You can offer resources of space, time, food, logistical support, money, fundraising, advocacy, and more. Encourage your cisgender members to engage with city councils and school boards to challenge local ordinances and thank the members who are working towards justice. Offer rooms in your building for trans organizers to hold meetings or just gather for a sense of community.

Community is Sanctuary!

Congregations located where anti-trans hate laws are currently being defeated - what are you doing to be a welcoming landing place? Those living in states that are more legally safe may feel that the fight is happening far from our doorsteps. But nothing could be further from the truth. Anti-trans hate legislation is being proposed locally and at the state level where we live too–right now, the risk is just lower that it will become law. We hope that this won’t happen, but it’s possible for protective laws to be overturned by later state legislations or by the federal government that are hostile to trans-inclusive.

Sanctuary is not guaranteed.

As terrifying as this is, we have relative safety now. To be a sanctuary we must create spaces to welcome people fleeing to us. Talk to landlords in your congregation and see if they will rent units at cost to trans people fleeing to your state. If you have a spare room or rent out property yourself, think about what you can share. If you have work connections or influence with your employer, encourage them to start a program to hire trans people, or review workplace policies with them to be more trans-inclusive.

Community is Hope! 

Set up mutual aid, a welcoming committee to provide practical support for trans folks moving to the area. Right now, many trans people end up homeless when they move to new states. I know that Unitarian Universalists can change this reality.

We Can Do it!

There are so many Unitarians Universalists across the country already mobilizing for change–we see you and we’re so glad to be part of this effort together. Please visit the following links to learn more about what you can do to support trans people.




Mutual Aid:

And… remember you can always reach out to us. We’d love to chat and help point you in the right direction for the kind of work you’re hoping to do. Looking forward to building together!

For more resources, visit Resources of Support for Transgender and Non-Binary People, which is a deeper dive into more ways you can learn, connect, and take action.