We have a gathering in Manchester on Saturday 31 October about gender identity and faith – within Quaker Meetings and across other denominations and faith groups.
Quakers in Britain have just embarked on an exploratory reading of Quaker faith and Practice – a book of guidance for our spiritual life as well as the way we conduct our Meetings for worship and business. In the programme of readings, October is for chapter 21 – Personal Journey.
This chapter contains the section called ‘Knowing and accepting ourselves’ and is where Friends with variant gender identity or questions about themselves might look for acknowledgement and support. Hence the title for our gathering.
This of chapter 21 deals largely with the propensity of each of us for good and evil, and how to embrace our whole selves.
But perhaps the section could offer more on knowing ourselves in terms of our personal identity, who we are in a human and spiritual sense. This certainly embraces different experiences of gender identity, including those who have changed their sex and those who do not relate to either of the binary male and female and who feel positively non-binary or gender-fluid.
And it could indeed reflect the experience of knowing our personal sexual identity.
But the idea of personal identity goes further in terms of who we are, where we have come from and how that enriches our spiritual experience. Our identity relates to ethnic and religious future, to family, to gifts and afflictions we discover about ourselves.
Quaker Faith and Practice embraces many aspects of our spiritual lives and use of our gifts, but this section has great scope for acknowledging the huge depth and variety of self identity – who we really are, what we bring of ourselves to worship.