Celebrating Transitions – A Gender Affirming Ceremony

As a celebrant, I have the privilege of supporting people through many of life’s transitions and not just weddings! I believe it’s important to create the space for people to honour transitions – whatever they represent. Throughout history, ceremonies have given humans the opportunity to honour our individual and collective journeys including gender affirming.

Last year I invited to support a very courageous person through a gender transition. As a very private person my client has asked that I keep all personal information confidential. For the purposes of this blog I will call them Sun – because that’s how I see them – pouring light into the seeming darkness.

It was a very emotionally charged ceremony which gave Sun and their chosen family the opportunity to honour what had been and embrace what is to come.

Journalling has always been a central part of Sun’s life – giving a private place to reflect and process. These journals became the inspiration for the ceremony we co-created together. The qualities of fire and water were also central to the ceremony. Taking place on a secluded beach at dusk we gathered around a fire. I invited each person present to share a little about Sun’s journey so far – reading carefully selected passages from journals.

In preparing for the ceremony it was clear to me that Sun wanted to release some of the journals that held painful memories and hold on to others. After each reflection Sun threw pages (and entire journals) into a fire and watched as they burned away into smoke and flew across the skies – symbolically released from all the pain.

I then invited Sun to embrace their new journey and share what this next step meant to them together with ideas about what their new name meant to them. Drawing on the properties of water and as a form of baptism we, took off our shoes and socks, locked arms and walked into the water around Sun as they crouched down in the waves and let the water gently wash away their past and embrace their new self. Highly symbolic and a gentle moment of silent reflection for all present.

After leaving the water and drying off, we gathered around the fire again with mugs of hot tea. I also presented Sun with a new journal to support them on their new journey.

I share the outline of ceremony in somewhat crude terms here without getting too into the detail simply to show that as celebrants we support individuals and groups through all sorts of transitions. No two ceremonies are the same. So it’s unlikely that – if I were invited to do a transition ceremony for another individual – it would take the same form. It depends on the wishes of the individual.

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