Swedish church declares itself proudly trans-inclusive in powerful letter to its flock

Church of Sweden

The Church of Sweden has declared itself proudly trans-inclusive in powerful letter to its transgender members.

Published on the Vasteras diocese’s website, in a letter titled “Personal letter to you who are trans”, the Church of Sweden insisted that the “church is also trans”.

Penned by four priests, an author and the diocese’s communications officer, the letter reads: “We are writing to you from a church that is also trans.

“A church is made up of people. People are different. We have religious teachers, employees, churchwardens, elected representatives, non-profits and other parishioners who define themselves as transgender people.

“The church thus also consists of transgender people. Therefore, the church could be described as trans.”

The Evangelical Lutheran national church in Sweden told its trans members that it apologises “for how the media has treated you and we mourn the part of feminism that has fought for its rights and that now wants to limit yours”, and that it could “no longer be silent”.

The letter continued: “In recent years, we have seen how newspapers, radio and television, even those that claim to be serious [media outlets], have given space to opinions where you as a transgender person and your rights have been questioned.

“We have seen a conversational climate where you have become public property, where poorly substantiated theories may stand unchallenged and become the norm for what should apply to your life.”

The church said the media had “given way to a hatred directed at” trans folk, and added: “It is sad that groups, organisations and individuals who are responsible for this hatred have a place in front of the microphones, on the debate pages, in the cultural programs and on the TV couches. This contributes to the normalisation of trans hate.”

The letter, which has been signed by almost 1,000 priests, deacons and members, compared trans-exclusionary feminism to “radical right-wing Christian groups and right-wing populists”, and said that the trans community was “affected by words and actions that draw their nourishment from some of humanity’s darkest sides”.

It signed off: “Whatever you encounter and whatever others say, no one can take away your gender identity and your human dignity. God loves you, just as you are.

“We believe in a church and a God who welcomes people beyond power, national boundaries, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender and gender identity.

“A humanity in all the colours of the rainbow, absolutely fantastic and infinite in its diversity.

“We are different and that is good. And God saw that it was good.”

The Church of Sweden has long been committed to LGBT+ inclusion. It began performing religious same-sex marriages in 2009, and in recent years has instructed clergy to refer to God using gender-neutral pronouns and unveiled Sweden’s first-ever LGBT+ altarpiece.