Reverend Maren Tirabassi, author, United Church of Christ Minister, and Carleton Alum of ’73, presented a talk entitled “Opening Doors and Hearts- The Church and Gender Minorities” sponsored by the Chapel and Gender and Sexuality Center on Monday January 11. Rev. Tirabassi talked about her two recently released books, All Whom God Has Joined and Transgendering Faith.
Reverend Tirabassi became a minister of the United Church of Christ (UCC) after the first church in which she was working to be ordained passed a law forbidding gay and transgender people from becoming pastors. During her time at Carleton, Rev. Tirabassi dated both women and men. Although she stated she did not identify herself as bisexual as she has been married to a man for the past 37 years, Rev. Tirabassi did not feel like she could take part in a church that excluded the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community. “I’m an ally, an ally to the gender minorities,” she explained. Instead, Rev. Tirabassi started to work to become ordained in the United Church of Christ because of their more welcoming and inclusive values.
Over the years, Rev. Tirabassi has written over 16 books about social and spiritual issues regarding gender minority issues. Her two most recent books, All Whom God Has Joined and Transgendering Faith, specifically offer advice and support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals who wish to find a happy, accepting balance within their faith communities. Transgendering Faith contains prayers and resources for churches or families to utilize to become more supportive for transgender members of a community, whether they are in the “borderland” between male and female or are in the process of transitioning. Rev. Tirabassi also had suggestions for changing the inclusion of transgender people in places of worship. “Churches could have non-gendered bathrooms or ministers could include transgender in their sermons and hymns,” Tirabassi proposed.
Reverend Tirabassi’s other book, All Whom God Has Joined, is “50% for people who are wanting to find marriage and 50% for people who want to learn about marriage”, she explained. It covers various topics, inclusive for all couples, who need guidance for various issues regarding marriage ceremonies. For example, “How do you make an invitation list when you know someone is going to be hostile? Do you have to invite your aunt, that you know is going to be difficult and unaccepting, if you’ve invited your cousin?” Rev. Tirabassi asked, “The answer is no. No you don’t.” Throughout her book, she covers many social situations of the same genus. Rev. Tirabassi shared her advice on how churches and other places of worship can become more accepting of gender minorities. As she said with her ending words of advice, “The way to opening the heart, really, is by opening the church doors.”