A Ceremony of Transition Affirmation for Mike and His Parents
©REV. LOIS E. VAN LEER
There are many things that we human beings seek to be: kind, generous, open minded and open hearted, compassionate, loved and loving to name just a few. But what I think we long for is to be authentic and whole, who we were always created or meant to be; coming into our own. What that means for each person is different. For some of us it is a relatively easy process. For others it is hard fought and won.
Being comfortable in our physical bodies is a difficult task for most folks. It is the rare person who is totally at home in and accepting of their body. We are always messing with them in some way or another- through our costuming, through make up, body art and piercings, through diets, through surgery, through postures and personas we adopt- trying to “get them right.” But whose standards are we using? Growing into a self that has always been, allowing it to emerge, take shape, and continue to form and mold frees folks up. It is an act of courage and self love to be able to welcome and claim the body, mind, heart, and spirit that lay dormant or fallow, rising up and then retreating, sometimes held captive to fear and rejection, sometimes brave and willing. In M’s case, it has meant bringing forward what was hidden away in darkness out into the light. Now M makes his way in the world with the power of one who is learning to live into his fullest self.
Mike and Sharon and Patrick all agree that there has not been a better time in human history for Mike to transition. Awareness and acceptance of transgender folks is at an all time high. A transgender person can see themselves reflected on the cover of a mainstream news magazine or as a sympathetic rather than a pathetic character in film or on TV. Even the insurance industry, the carpetbaggers of our time, is covering surgeries, hormones, and other health care for transgender persons. Though resources for trans folks making their way are better and more accessible than ever before, there is still much work to be done.
But what gives me hope is that trans children now know that there is a word that describes who they are and what they are feeling. And that parents now know who their child is and is becoming. No one has to walk this journey alone.
Sharon and Patrick have met their child, with love and acceptance every step of the way. That is not to say that it has been simple or easy or even that they fully understand what all of this means at times. But then, neither does Mike! This is all a transition and a continued transition within a transition.
When Sharon was pregnant, what she and Patrick wanted was a healthy baby, a child that is happy and healthy, and lives a long time. Mike has struggled with health and happiness. Mike’s process of becoming his true self is every day tilting the balance toward regained health and happiness.
Even though today has been talked about as a ritual of transition, it is but another step on what is for so many transgender persons, a mapless journey. There is no one way of knowing what it means to transition from male to female or from female to male or to claim something in the middle, something not so binary when it comes to gender. Though M may be accompanied on this journey of self discovery by family, this community, and others who identify as trans, it will still be his unique journey.
Mike, today we honor who you have been, who you are, who you are becoming, and all the parts inbetween. So much of you is in transition. You have known yourself as she-lesbian-it-they-that person- he-gay-he and who knows what is next. But whatever it is, may it finally fit for you. May you have an identity that fits for you.
Mike was never baptized or dedicated as a child. So it is appropriate that Mike’s emergence as Mike be witnessed in the context of parents and community. And so I remind all of us of the words of the song found in our teal hymnal:
“For each child that’s born a morning start rises and sings to the universe who we are… we are our grandmothers’ prayers, our grandfather’s dreamings, we are the breath of our ancestors, we are the spirit of God…”
Mike, we stand here with you today to celebrate the morning star rising who is you, who is singing in your truest voice.
Would Patrick and Sharon please come forward and stand with their hands on Mike? And will the community please form a circle holding hands around the family?
Sharon and Patrick, by what name was this child known when it was born?
Mike, by what name shall you now be known?
Mike, I touch your head with water. It is symbolic of the water which held you as you formed. Water is such a symbol of birth and rebirth and life. This water represents all the waters that have and will continue to sustain your body, your soul, and your spirit on this journey of becoming. May you go forth knowing and being called by your true name.
We offer you this chalice, symbol of so much and the symbol of our Unitarian Universalist faith. May it cast a light before you in times when the way is unclear. May it be a reminder of the home of your soul.
Blessing: Mike, may you understand that you are a blessing- that you have been and will continue to be so. May you be blessed with a wholeness of being. May the blessings of an understanding and compassionate heart, strength and integrity of purpose, and love received and given, be yours and remain with you as you go forward into an ever fuller life. Peace be with you and upon Judy and Pete, and all those gathered here today.
May it be so, so be it, blessed be.