Ryot.org: How a Buddhist Transgender Male Found Inner and Outer Peace in Iowa

The son of Kodo Umezu, a Japanese immigrant and bishop in the Buddhist Churches of America, Norio Umezu’s Buddhist upbringing affected his transition by providing a framework for understanding non-binary identities.

“My dad gave a sermon on how we label things and how our vocabulary isn’t really perfect in explaining the world as it is. As I’ve experimented with sexual orientation and gender identity, I’ve learned not to be so attached to labels,” Umezu said. “I remember my dad gave me a paper and he asked ‘what is the front of this paper’, and then he turned it around and said ‘are you sure that’s the front? What about now?’”

Read the whole thing at Ryot.org.

Of note, the Buddhist Churches of America, referenced in the article, performed the first known Buddhist same-sex weddings in the United States, as early as the 1970s. A more comprehensive account of same-sex marriage in Jodo Shinshu Buddhism in the U.S. can be found in this academic article. (Thanks to a trans*Buddhist sangha member, tree, for first bringing this aspect of Buddhist history to my attention!)

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