Authentic Selves Highlights Joy
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Boston, Mass. (May 9, 2023) – The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) is celebrating the publication of Authentic Selves: Celebrating Trans and Nonbinary People and Their Families by its publishing imprint, Skinner House Books. Skinner House Books publishes spiritual, religious, and theological books that sit at the intersection of progressive values and life’s biggest questions.
“As Unitarian Universalists, we affirm that our LGBTQIA+ siblings are sacred, whole, and divine and we understand the full expression of the diversity of gender and sexuality is a gift,” said Rev. Dr. Susan Frederick-Gray, the UUA’s president. “Authentic Selves highlights joy and community within trans and nonbinary+ families. This book recognizes that there are many ways to create a family, and celebrates both the chosen families and the families of origin of the contributors. We are painfully aware of the challenges that too many trans and nonbinary+ people experience in the current climate, and we want to encourage everyone to affirm their trans and nonbinary+ family members. Studies show that when people do so, it has a significant impact on reduced suicidal ideation and improves the ability of trans and nonbinary+ people to survive and thrive in the world. Reading Authentic Selves is one way everyone can learn about and celebrate the many ways we all can support trans and nonbinary+ communities.
We are proud of the contributors to this book, and of Skinner House Books for being a part of telling their stories. As a faith tradition, we are also proud of Unitarian Universalists’ deep commitment to justice for the trans and nonbinary+ community. We are honored to play a part in sharing these life-affirming stories,” said Rev. Dr. Frederick-Gray.
Authentic Selves features more than 40 trans and nonbinary people from across the country, and their families, discussing their experiences in their own words. In addition to exploring questions of gender identity, participants also touch on the intersection of sexual orientation, racial and ethnic identity and gender expression, religious faith, and familial relationships, among other topics. Among those featured are Rev. Louis Mitchell, a minister in the United Church of Christ; Delaware State Senator Sarah McBride and her family; community activist Anjali Rimi; Jozeppi (Joey) Angelo Morelli, a September 11th first responder and retired New York State police investigator and federal agent, and a member of his chosen family, Unitarian Universalist Chris Mohn; drag entertainers TAYLOR and SZN ALXNDR; and model and artist Lana Patel. The book, which was edited by Peggy Gillespie, also includes a foreword by Jazz and Jeanette Jennings, who were the subject of TLC’s documentary series “I Am Jazz.” Authentic Selves was created in collaboration with PFLAG National, The Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund, and Family Diversity Projects.
“If you are a young trans, nonbinary, and/or gender nonconforming person reading Authentic Selves, then you already have some access to support,” said Rev. Louis Mitchell. “Your support may not be in the town where you live, but it’s out there. Seek and find it! It’s essential to know that you’re not alone. You’ve never been alone; all of history sustains you being just who you are.”
“I am so grateful that I am trans,” said State Senator Sarah McBride. “And I am grateful to have the opportunity to talk about my authentic self and my journey in this book. What I want to tell young trans and nonbinary kids is that there is no one way to be trans. You are the best expert on who you are and what you need to be happy, healthy, and safe. And through the stories it tells, Authentic Selves demonstrates that truth.”
“This is a crucial fight for ourselves now as well as to allow future generations to be able to live authentically in their gender identity while enjoying the love and support of their families and communities,” said Anjali Rimi. “And to that end I welcome anyone, trans or not, who shares this dream to join us. I hope that Authentic Selves brings more people to support this effort.”
“I live by the philosophy that everyone, including myself, wants to be seen, heard, loved, and have the opportunity to thrive,” said Jozeppi (Joey) Angelo Morelli. “If I can do anything to facilitate that kind of life for any trans or nonbinary person of any age, I will. I hope those of you reading Authentic Selves will join me in the challenge and joy of creating compassionate, safe places that honor diversity and equality, places where no human must live in the margins of society.”
Founded in 1976, Skinner House Books has published hundreds of titles for more than four decades. Major titles include Mira and the Big Story by Laura Alary, illustrated by Sue Todd; Swinging on the Garden Gate: A Memoir of Bisexuality and Spirit by Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew; Katha Sagar, Ocean of Stories: Hindu Wisdom for Every Age by Sarah Conover and Abhi Janamanchi, illustrated by Shanthi Chandrasekar; The Stonewall Generation: LGBTQ Elders on Sex, Activism, and Aging by Jane Fleishman; Trusting Change: Finding Our Way Through Personal and Global Transformation by Karen Hering; and Encounters: Poems about Race, Ethnicity and Identity, edited by Paula Cole Jones. Significant upcoming titles for the imprint also include Incantations for Rest: Poems, Meditations, and Other Magic by Atena O. Danner and Why Can’t I Fix It? The Questions We Ask When We Love Someone with Addiction by Nathan Detering.
Interest in Authentic Selves is high, and the book is already going into a second printing. Explore other Skinner House titles online. The UUA also offers a variety of online resources to support for transgender and nonbinary+ people.
About the UUA
The UUA is the central organization for the Unitarian Universalist (UU) religious movement in the United States. Our faith is diverse and inclusive and the UUA’s 1000+ member congregations are committed to Seven Principles that hold closely the worth and dignity of each person as sacred, the need for justice and compassion, the right of conscience, and respect for the interdependent nature of all existence.