What do religious trans people think about their faith? For some, even their transition is a spiritual journey.
This new exhibition, Twilight People, challenges the notion that trans and gender-variant identities are inherently at odds with faith. Photographer Christa Holka combines images of religious and gender rituals while her trans subjects explain the importance of religion in their own words.
Christina: Doctor, reverend and writer
‘I like to quote my friend who says, “Transition is about spirituality from start to finish, because it is about making the outside reflect what is inside and what is inside is spiritual”.’
Sharon/ Shanon: Reverend, LGBTI activist
‘I have always known God. I don’t know a time in which God was not part of my life. Being fully and truly who God created me to be is very much part of my faith journey as much as it is part of my gender journey. The two go hand in hand.’
Surat-Shaan: Twilight People founder, trans campaigner
‘Realising I could be a transgender Jew was just fantastic. I couldn’t be just trans, and I couldn’t be just a Jew. It had to be both.’
Sabah: Queer Pakistani activist and writer
‘I want to be in a place where I can talk about parts of my identity as well as talking about faith, because I think that is still a taboo that needs to be broken in queer spaces and spaces for queer people of color. We just don’t talk about faith anymore.’
Harmonie: Identifies as Faerie and trans female
‘My transition gives me the ability to have a more spiritual outlook on life and not to be ashamed or embarrassed about what or who I am or who I believe in. I am here to live this life to find out who I should have been. I am here to help other people.’
Isabella: Partner at accountancy firm in North London, UK
‘Whilst I’m secular, I want to live my traditional Jewish lifestyle, and in my portrait I wanted to appear as someone who has a religious observance. It’s the Shabbat bride, and it sort of dawned on me that this is another stage in my journey. Shabbat is a day of rest and starting a new week at the end of the Shabbat is like opening a new chapter – that was my thought process.’
Jenny-Anne: OBE, Christian, trans rights activist, educator
‘My church, my faith and my spirituality are very important in my life, because
I believe in a loving God who welcomes everybody. Nature creates diversity; nobody is absolutely fixed in one gender or the other. We’re going to move these twilight people into the spotlight and show what their lives and their thoughts are really about.’
Peta: Training to be a pastor
‘Faith was always an ally of my gender journey. I knew that God was completely happy with me the way I was.’
Twilight People: Stories of Faith and Gender Beyond the Binary launched for LGBTI History Month in the UK and will be touring the country. Photography by Christa Holka.