Norwegian church holds name change ceremony for transgender person

A Lutheran church in Norway held a name change ceremony for a 49-year-old transgender person, which officials say marked the first such event at a place of worship in the Nordic country.

Elin Stillingen lived the first 40 years of his life as a man and legally changed his name and gender last year.

She marked the occasion during Saturday’s ceremony at medieval Hoff Church north of the Norwegian capital, Oslo.

Ms Stillingen said it was especially important to her that the event took place in a church.

I know so many people are grateful that this event has come true because it goes deep into people’s lives

Pastor Stein Ovesen

“I am a member of the Norwegian church and am also about to come out ‘out of the closet’ as a Christian, so this ceremony is important to me,” Ms Stillingen told Norwegian TV station TV2 ahead of the ceremony. of Saturday. .

The occasion was led by Pastor Stein Ovesen who planned the ceremony with the Stensveen Foundation, a Norwegian non-governmental organization supporting people with gender identity and sexual orientation issues.

“I know so many people are grateful that this event has come true because it deeply touches people’s lives,” Ovesen told TV2.

However, Mr. Ovesen admitted that not everyone in Norway approves of the celebration of such an event in a church.

“In the conservative wing you will find priests deeply concerned about what we are doing today.

“But for me, it’s an important act that expresses the grace and openness that God is showing me,” Mr. Ovesen told TV2.

Video footage from TV2 showed Ms Stillingen kneeling in front of Mr Ovesen in the church filled with friends and family.

After the ceremony, Mrs Stillingen said “it suits me very well” and “I am very, very happy”.

Norwegians, like their Nordic neighbors in Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Sweden, are predominantly Lutheran.

The liberal-minded Nordic countries are strong advocates for LGBT rights and women’s rights.

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