For the last several years, CLGS, the Freedom Center for Social Justice and the National LGBTQ Task Force have sponsored a program for transgender and genderqueer seminarians in the United States. Our goal is to encourage trans* students during their training for religious leadership so that they complete their degrees, feel equipped to follow their vocation, and also embrace the fact that their impact as faith leaders can and should extend beyond their chosen settings for ministry and service to include the welfare of the broader communities in which they live. This is the only program that we are aware of that addresses the unique challenges and gifts of trans* seminarians.

Each year, we offer a cohort experience for five to eight students engaged in training for religious ministry, providing mentorship, peer support, and the opportunity to attend conferences and retreats sponsored by each of our organizations. In addition to these three face-to-face meetings, the group connects through monthly phone calls and on social media. All of the expenses to attend the programs are fully covered.

In this amazing and intensive opportunity, participants will attend and actively participate in 3 powerful gatherings, build relationships with new and known colleagues, and journey deep into the meaning of what leadership means and feels like for people of faith who also identify as transgender or genderqueer.


Members of the Trans Religious Leadership Cohort will enter the program:
  • Grounded in their own faith and theology while sincerely open to and accepting of people of differing faith traditions and theological positions;
  • Open-minded and excited to encounter the diversity of the Cohort and the communities they will encounter throughout the year; with a commitment to inclusivity and justice;
  • Prepared through some foundational work that addresses the impacts of institutional oppression and personal prejudice based on race, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, ableism, immigration status, economic class, etc;
  • Eager to be a part of the group experience of the cohort, including awareness of group dynamics, a commitment to ongoing presence with the group, and a willingness to connect between meetings as appropriate;
  • Energized to fully engage this experience.


By the end of the year, the members of the Trans Religious Leadership Cohort will:
  • Build solid collegial relationships with other members of the cohort and with the broader trans communities, grounded in respect, justice, and compassion;
  • Be able to articulate the experience and distinct nature of trans religious leadership, including identifying how this impacts their own leadership style;
  • Have examined the relationship between their trans identity and their faith experiences and traditions, reflecting theologically on the intersections between them;
  • Be well prepared to speak effectively about the trans experience and trans-related theology to individuals and faith and other groups to increase understanding and promote dialogue;
  • Develop additional skills for faith-based leadership, as appropriate to the individual path of each Cohort member, such as preaching, pastoral care, health and wellness, etc.


I. Participants will be expected to attend specific Trans Religious Cohort sessions, as well as take an active part in  these three programs (all travel and program expenses are covered for cohort members):
  1. A Trans Seminarian Cohort Retreat
  2. The Creating Change Conference.  This National Conference on LGBTQ Equality is hosted by The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
  3. A Transgender Faith and Action Network Conference hosted by The Freedom Center for Social Justice.

II. Participants will be responsible, with support and direction from Trans Cohort faculty, for developing and leading a conference workshop at one or more of these national conferences.

III. At the conclusion of the Trans Cohort year, prepare a personal reflection on the experience and its impact on the individual’s life that can be used to encourage others to participate in the Trans Cohort experience in the future.


Each Spring we call for applications for the following academic year.

This leadership development experience is sponsored by Pacific School of Religion’s Center for LGBTQ and Gender Studies in Religion (CLGS), The Freedom Center for Social Justice’s Transgender Faith and Action Network, and The Institute for Welcoming Resources at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

For more information, please contact Rev. Jakob Hero-Shaw, Coordinator of the CLGS Transgender Religious Roundtable.