New portraits and a special reminder to stand up for our trans siblings
Hello dear backers,
We have several new portraits that are in progress. Here's a gorgeous new watercolor that was just finished.
Bishop Yvette Flunder
This is the phenomenal Bishop Yvette Flunder from the City of Refuge church in Oakland, CA. Her credentials are impressive--she's a third-generation preacher, has a masters and doctorate from the Pacific School of Religion and the San Francisco Theological Seminary, she's the presiding bishop of the Fellowship of Affirming Ministries, and she has a gorgeous singing voice made famous through her gospel recordings with Walter Hawkins and the Family, the City of Refuge Choir and Chanticleer. So incredibly thrilled to be bringing her story to children soon. This beautiful painting was just finished by Robert Liu-Trujillo, also from Oakland.
Sister Simone Campbell
Here is the in-progress painting of Sister Simone Campbell from the inspiring Nuns on the Bus initiative that advocates for social justice initiative by literally getting on a bus and traveling the country. They were influential in getting the Affordable Care Act passed (it's why my family has healthcare today since we independent creatives with a non-profit bent had a darn difficult time affording healthcare previously.) They are back on the bus right now, by the way, this time on a Tax Justice Truth Tour.
This paining (in progress) is by Allison Adams of the Groudbreaking Girls series. I asked if I could share this in-progress painting with backers, and she said yes, but with the caveat that it might end up looking entirely different!
33 artists at work right now!
Right now there are 33 artists who are working on portraits for Holy Troublemakers & Unconventional Saints, which is incredibly exciting if a tad overwhelming at times on the project management front! Thankfully I now have a very handy Excel spreadsheet keeping me coordinated. I absolutely love the diversity of styles that will be represented in this book. Have I mentioned lately that I love artists?
Speaking up for Trans and Intersex Siblings
I also wanted to reach out to this community to encourage us all to step up, speak up, and be extra visible right now more than ever as our transgender siblings are especially afraid given the news of a memo circulating in the Trump administration to strictly define sex in a manner that would effectively define transgender people out of existence. From this NYT article: “The agency’s proposed definition would define sex as either male or female, unchangeable, and determined by the genitals that a person is born with, according to a draft reviewed by The Times. Any dispute about one’s sex would have to be clarified using genetic testing."
Trans people (and intersex people) would be negatively impacted in all situations from schools to prisons to social agencies to healthcare. This goes against all major medical and psychological accrediting bodies research and advice not to mention the experiences and stories of actual transgender people.
Maryam Molkara, holy troublemaker and unconventional saint extraordinaire
Several transgender people are being featured in this book as both modern-day and past holy troublemakers and unconventional saints, including the incredible Maryam Molkara who literally walked in Ayatollah Khomeini’s office in 1987 to ask for the right to live openly as a transgender woman. His guards attacked her, but eventually she was able to share her story, and she won the right to live freely. Iran today continues to have some of the most progressive trans rights of the region thanks to her pioneering work and advocacy. Here's her incredible portrait by Justine Lecouffe.
We honor the example of Maryam by showing up at times like this. So, let’s contact our elected representatives. Let’s show up for rallies. Let’s speak up. And let’s vote. And get our friends to vote.
One small step personally
I just put up a yard sign in our yard for the progressive candidate running to be the congressional representative from our district. We live in one of the most flippable districts in the country.
I’m not one who likes a yard sign advertising to my neighbors my political affiliation. It definitely isn’t something I’ve done before (ever) despite my other advocacy. But I also remember when we moved here two years ago, knowing it had been a longtime GOP district, seeing a fair number of yard signs supporting the more progressive candidate helped me feel like I wasn’t alone.
I hope that in our neighborhood, any neighbors who might feel especially threatened by this administration whether because of their immigration status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or other reason will feel that sort of hope and connection that I felt two years ago. I think the stakes are high, and making myself feel a little awkward and vulnerable with a yard sign is truly the least I can do.
Love and thanks to you all for making this book possible. I can't wait to share these stories with the children in our lives. (By the way, it turns out we are on-trend. This recent Publisher's Weekly article talks about an uptick in children's religious titles, especially titles from perspectives previously under-represented.)
Let’s keep making holy trouble in our own ways,
P.S.S. We just had our first board meeting for our new non-profit that will be publishing this book, Watchfire Media. Our hope is that this is just the first book of several resources to help progressive-leaning families of faith as we try to raise children who walk comfortably with the big questions and love the diversity of the world and her people. More about all that soon.