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Profile: Finn Schubert of trans*Buddhists


1. How would you describe your spiritual or philosophical perspective?

I am a Zen Buddhist. My aspiration is to meet everything I encounter - internal thoughts, external situations, people, things - with generosity and an open heart.

2. How has your spiritual or philosophical perspective evolved over time? What kinds of opportunities and challenges have shaped your perspective?

I used to believe that rules and discipline were not very important, but the Buddhist community to which I now belong is quite structured. I have learned to have more respect for the choices presented in each moment. I can stay up late or I can be rested to sit zazen early in the morning. If I think I can do both, it won't work out very well -- and suffering arises. This is a very simple example, but I have learned a lot from letting go of the idea that we can "have it all" and instead developing clarity about my aspirations and what actions are in accord with those, while developing the discipline to carry out those actions.

I was early in my transition when I began practicing in my community, and I felt very alone in my experience of being trans and practicing Buddhism. It was difficult to not have anyone else in the sangha who shared this experience with me, and I often felt angry and resentful towards other sangha members, whom I perceived to "have it easier," because I thought they had more in common with one another than I had. As I've become more comfortable with my trans identity, I've been able to open myself up more to hear other sangha members' perspectives - and I certainly no longer assume anyone has "more in common" with anyone else. We all have our own experience.

I was fortunate to come together with some other trans*Buddhists from other traditions, and we co-founded transbuddhists.org, which is how we met other trans*Buddhists from around the country and the world. Connecting with other trans*Buddhists also helped me to feel more secure and affirmed as a trans*Buddhist, and more able to speak up about my needs. We co-created Developing Trans*Competence, a resource and information guide for Buddhist centers seeking to be more trans*-inclusive, which serves as an entry point for sanghas learning to be more trans*-inclusive.

3. How do you see your work (vocation, calling, advocacy, role, etc) in the world? How does your spiritual or philosophical perspective relate to your work?

In my professional life, I hold a master's of public health in epidemiology, which I understand as the study of causation - trying to understand complex relationships between factors related to disease and wellness. Buddhism can also be seen as a study of causation - the study of suffering and the causes of suffering, and happiness and the causes of happiness.

I never expected to work in quantitative research, but I think that by becoming more comfortable with the unknown through my spiritual practice, I simultaneously became more comfortable with that which can be quantitatively known.

Another area of my work is on the transbuddhists.org website, which I co-founded with Audrey Renson and Chance Krempasky. Thousands of people have viewed our guide, and dozens of trans*Buddhists have connected through our online hangouts. We are excited to expand and build this resource for our community.

4. When do you feel the most vibrant and alive? What resources or practices do you draw on to nurture your own resilience?

I sit zazen every day. Lately, I've also taken up doing a brief morning liturgy at my altar, offering a chant and stating my intentions for the day. These change every day; I look in my heart and say what is there.

5. What kinds of issues or concerns do you think need more attention in the world?

I think that concerns in the world today are limitless. Racism, climate change, and gender-based oppression certainly come to mind. I came of age as an activist in the reproductive justice movement, where we very explicitly looked at the connections between people's ability to control their reproductive options and all other justice issues, from racism and disability justice to climate change to anti-war activism. So I think that any justice issue, taken up in a wholehearted way, can have a positive impact on any other issue.

More about Finn on trans*Buddhists website

An Interview with trans*Buddhists founders

Website for trans*Buddhists


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