In 2013, California led the nation in banning Transgender exclusion in health care plans. This made it illegal for Health Insurance Companies to deny transgender people access to lifesaving healthcare. After years of organizing and struggle for access to healthcare, California insurance companies can no longer discriminate against trans people. This has opened the doors to access to health care that many Transgender Californians have never had before.
The Trans Spiritual Care Initiative was born when Sojourn Chaplains were approached by Trans members of their spiritual communities about challenging experiences with Chaplains. These experiences ranged from problematic at best to disturbing. Sojourn Chaplaincy’s chaplain training program was born during the epidemic as a ministry for people dying from AIDS. During these painful times, we learned how important justice rooted training is for Chaplains and Spiritual Care providers.
Here at Sojourn at the Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, we serve many trans and gender variant patients–some of whom are the most marginalized in the trans community. Training around gender diversity has become an important part of our Chaplain training. We are developing this curriculum to improve our care for trans and gender variant patients at ZSFG. We are also developing this training with the hope that it become a resource for Chaplains, Spiritual Care Departments, clergy and healthcare providers across the country who would like to improve their services and provide more culturally appropriate care for gender variant patients.
In a time when the trans community is facing so many challenges and an increasingly hostile political climate, we believe it is critical for the faith community to stand up and take leadership to support LGBT rights. We are hopeful that the Trans Spiritual Care Initiative will create critical new resources to help Chaplains and other spiritual care practitioners provide better care and develop deeper relationships with the trans community. As spiritual people, we know that relationships are powerful. As Chaplains, we know that bearing witness to the suffering of others can create openings for solidarity rooted in personal connection. We launch this initiative with a prayer for healing and justice for the trans community. May we be open to the divine gifts that are possible when we open to witnessing the pain and struggle of all members of our human family and work toward a more just world.