Virginia Wesleyan Hosts Transgender Identity and Faith Dialogue

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Juji Bea of Norfolk speaks while Taryn McLean looks on at recent transgender and faith dialogue held at Virginia Wesleyan University. (Courtesy: Kathleen Casey, Ph.D.)

Over 100 persons attended the Nexus Interfaith Dialogue program “Trans Identity and Religious Faith” held Monday evening at Virginia Wesleyan University.

More than 100 persons attended Monday’s panel discussion at Virginia Wesleyan University. (Courtesy: Kathleen Casey, Ph.D.)

The panel presentation explored the challenges related to transgender identity that face both religious institutions.  Panelists included Juji Bea, a native of Virginia Beach, who is currently a student at ODU and an adjunct piano instructor.  She also serves as co-chair of the Hampton Roads Pride Transgender Advocacy Committee.  The other panelist was Taryn McLean, who openly serves in the U.S. Navy as a Yeoman Second Class Petty Officer (aviation warfare).  McLean serves on the Board of Hampton Roads Pride and volunteers for Veterans Affairs and is a member of Service Members, Allies for Respect and Tolerance for All (SPART*A).

The panelists spoke about their own experiences with faith and engaged with attendees during an extended question and answer session.  Among the topics explored included the tension between transgender persons and their faith, how transitioning shapes one’s faith and how family members navigate/reconcile religious beliefs with their perspectives on gender identity.

The interfaith dialogue is one of several events happening during Transgender Awareness Week in Hampton Roads.

Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) 2018