I was guilty of judging my brothers and sisters for how they came to church.

I did not wear pants to church last year. I apparently missed the memo, and I was frustrated that I did not have the chance to stand with my sisters. This year, I plan to wear pants to church with a shiny purple top. I am excited for this day. I am also afraid for this day.

I have been asked why I would want to “be like those people” who don’t come to church appropriately dressed. I have been asked why I would want to upset the order of things. And I have thought long and hard about my true reasons for wearing pants to church.

I am a born and raised Mormon. I have spent a lifetime in the Church and know what is expected of me as a Mormon woman. I spent the first thirty years of my life like most LDS women I know. I wore my Sunday best each week and went to church where I visited with my friends and served in my callings. When a woman came to church in pants, or a short skirt, or a skimpy top, I judged her. When a man came to church in grubby work clothes or jeans, I judged him. When new people came, I gave them a grace period of adjustment where I figured they just “didn’t know better” yet. When a previously active member became less active, I judged them for not being faithful. I was guilty of judging my brothers and sisters for how they came to church.
And then I became that woman. I was the woman who didn’t attend church every week. I was the woman walking the line by participating in what the Bishops handbook “strongly discouraged.”  I was the woman who “knew better,” but still chose to follow my own path. I hate to believe that I never realized the judgement I passed on others until I became other. But it is what is true.

I wear pants to exemplify the other. I wear pants to show that if I can choose to belong with the homogeneous “us” or stand apart with the varied and often unaccepted “them,” I will choose “them.”I will stand as a follower of Christ, who said “love one another” and invited all to sit at his table.
And if it takes wearing pants to open the eyes of my brothers and sisters who don’t know how to see beyond the “us,” I will wear pants. And if they still do not see, that is all the more reason to wear pants.

-Emily

I am a convert to the church and am very conscious about how it feels when you do something that bothers some very strict “born in the church” members

I did not know about this day. I will support it specially because I am a convert to the church and am very conscious about how it feels when you do something that bothers some very strict “born in the church” members. My sister left the church because of members who said insensitive things to her. She is still inactive. She is a very loving and kind person and should be enjoying the blessings of the church. But she is a lot on the wild side and did dress a bit inappropriate. So when ladies join the church and I see them feeling “left out” I become their friend and certainly care less if they wear pants or not. Our dress changes gradually as we enjoy friendships and try to fit in with the group. We are smart enough to do so on our own. We do not need people lecturing us specially when we are just starting to feel the spirit of God after baptism.

-Iris

I wore pants today

Carole posted last year about why she wore pants:

I was pretty ambivalent about Stephanie Lauritzen’s call to wear pants in support of gender equality. But something changed when I started to read all the negative comments to Stephanie’s Face Book event. It wasn’t the “those women should be shot in the face” comment from a BYU student that put me over the edge, it was the comment from someone named Cheryl who said, “if some women have a problem wearing a skirt to church, they should just stay home.” She had time to re-think that extremely judgmental, less than empathetic comment, but she reiterated it again. Fill in the blank and see it for what it is. If someone has a problem, no matter what it is, that isn’t fitting with the typical Mormon, they should just stay home. Stay home, is not the admonition from our Savior. “Come unto me, all  ye that labour and are heavy laden and I will give ye rest.” Brigham Young didn’t tell folks to stay home either, he said that our “chapels should smell like a tavern on Sunday morning.” And of course there’s the idea that the church isn’t a showplace for the perfect, but a hospital for sinners–which includes all of us. But then wearing pants isn’t a sin at all. It’s not even church policy for women to wear a skirt, rather it’s a pretty strong cultural norm. So once I read Cheryl’s over-the-top judgmental comment, I knew that I had to wear pants, at least for a day. Read More

We without them cannot be made perfect.

As we have worked on the messaging behind the Pants to Church Day event, we have faced criticism that we’ve strayed from the gender equality message from last year. The truth is that it’s not just women that feel marginalized in the LDS church. Our LGBT brothers and sisters fight a similarly difficult battle for equality. People of Color have a difficult history with the LDS church. Single parents; divorced parents; childless men, women and couples are all struggling to fit into an impossible mold.

A Mormon feminist ally, Edward, writes on his blog:

The Mormon church will not achieve the ideal of Zion until it comes to value women and LGBT people as equal members. That is its great challenge. Although LGBT folks could theoretically be included in the church without helping women achieve equality, that would not be Zion. We without them cannot be made perfect.

How can we help our Mormon feminist siblings? We can recognize and value the feminine within ourselves. We can notice how we consciously or unconsciously discount the words and contributions of women. We can examine our churches, workplaces, and families for imbalances of power. We can seek a relationship with our Heavenly Mother, the source of the divine feminine within each of us. We can seek out our feminist sisters and brothers, join their groups, come to know and love them, and thrust in the sickle with them.

The church is an important instrument of salvation. But one day—having fulfilled its function—the church will cease to exist and we will stand naked before the judgment bar of our Heavenly Parents. In that day, the only thing that will matter is whether we held up the hands that hung down.

Please consider joining us on December 15 in a celebration of inclusion of all people within the Mormon church. We need each other. We are stronger together.

what was the big deal?

I remember thinking last year that wearing pants to church seemed like a trivial or insignificant gesture. I mean, I wouldn’t care what a person wore to church, so what was the big deal?

Well, as I watched the day approach, I saw comments directed at the pants-wearers (by otherwise faithful LDS members), heat up and become vitriolic and judgmental. Then I saw, if something as small and inconsequential as Sunday wardrobe could inspire such unkindness…how must the women who feel “different” in other ways feel? How are they received on Sunday?

So, for me, wearing pants on Sunday is a way of showing anyone who feels “other-ized” that they have a friend in me.

– Corey

Wearing pants to church was a small sign to show that I recognize the pain of feeling unwelcomed or undervalued at church.

December 16, 2012

I wore pants to church today.  There are no rules against women wearing pants in a Mormon church, but culturally skirts and dresses are definitely the norm.  I can remember only one other time, when not camping, that I wore pants to church in all my 30+ years of attending church.  For an explanation of the issues and history see here.  I think this post matches my feelings and motivation.

It was an interesting Sunday, atypical in so many ways.  Lonnie had to go out of town for work, and we decided to come along with him and enjoy a change of scenery.  On Saturday we drove the 6 hours from Auckland to Napier.  Lonnie had to work on Sunday morning, which thankfully only happens maybe once a year, and we were left without a car.  While I had initially thought I could walk with the kids to church, after seeing that it would take an adult more than 40 mins to walk I decided it wasn’t very smart to try and get my two 4 1/2 year olds (Max and Maya) plus my 18 month old (Trent) to walk that far.  Even with the pram we would have arrived grumpy and sweaty.  So I decided to call a taxi (I had never before taken a taxi to church).  I arrived at an unknown ward, in a taxi, as a single mom (for the day) of three young kids, wearing pants. Read More

I didn’t ask to be this way. God made me this way.

I grew up in a very active and devoted Mormon family. Throughout all of my childhood years, I was frequently reminded of my gender identity as a girl because gender is very important to our eternal identity and purpose. The only problem was that my inner gender identity did not match my outer gender identity. I self identified as a boy, but my body is a female body.

I attended church every Sunday feeling very awkward in my dress. Imagine a boy you know being asked to wear a dress in public every week even though he knows he is not a girl. It would be humiliating. I was humiliated every single week. I hated my gender identity. I hated being grouped with the girls. I hated being denied opportunities in the church because I lacked the wrong reproductive organs.

As I grew older, and matured, I felt deep depression because of my gender dysphoria. Spending eternity as a woman felt like a personal hell. I felt completely out of place and like a stranger while attending Young Women’s and Relief Society.

The church has no doctrine regarding gender that suits my nature. The church has no doctrine to satisfy the questions in my mind regarding gender dysphoria and its resulting consequences. I tried to fit in for many years, assimilating to the female expectations in my church life, but I felt a great deal of crushing depression because denying my identity was not healthy for me mentally, spiritually, or physically.

I now accept who I am and I am happier than I ever have been in my life. I am a gender queer woman. I am in a homosexual relationship and it fits me perfectly because my inner identity as male needs to be with a woman to feel complete. God did not intend for me to be miserable. He did not intend for me to feel lonley and isolated because of my gender dysphoria.

I will be wearing pants to church because I want people to know that gender dysphoria exists, and that I am a Mormon man on the inside, with a woman’s body on the outside. I didn’t ask to be this way. God made me this way.

I’m going to wear pants to remind church members that there are people in the church that are not represented in the general population, and they need a voice and recognition. Denial and silence  does real damage to people’s lives. I want others to know that they are not alone in feeling awkward and out of place within the religion that they cherish.

– Anonymous

Our words are not enough anymore. Our words are empty.

I am a Mormon woman. I attend my ward every Sunday where I serve as the ward chorister. I also attend the sacrament meeting of our local Spanish branch to fulfill my calling as sacrament meeting accompanist. I attend the temple regularly and enjoy my worship there.

While my church attendance and service look like those of a mainstream member of the LDS church, I also have a husband who openly struggles with addiction. I have made choices that have required the intervening power of the Atonement. I have family members who have made very public choices that don’t fall in line with church culture. I currently wear pants to church every Sunday and have been the subject of judgment and ridicule for doing so. Several years ago, I stood outside the doorway of a roomful of women who were supposed to be my Relief Society sisters and heard them say some pretty nasty things about me. I think my current bishop, as well as any and all of my former bishops, will agree (several of whom will likely read this) that I am a challenging member of our ward.

Nobody knows how painful all of that is for me and I don’t post it here, in this very public way, to garner sympathy. I don’t need sympathy or empathy or anything; I’m tougher than that. Most of the time.

However, there are millions of women (and men) who attend the Mormon church and wonder if they belong. They wonder if they have a genuine friend in their ward. They attend, hoping to make a connection with someone. An unacceptable percentage of these brothers and sisters will leave the Mormon church because they don’t feel like they have an ally.

It’s a shame that in a Christian church, people must resort to a choice in clothing to send the message, “I can love you as you are. I want you to be here” because our words are not enough anymore. Our words are empty. It is time for pants.

– Jerilyn

What is the Fourth Annual Wear Pants to Church Day?

Mormon feminists, women and men, wore dress pants and the color purple to their local LDS Church services on December 16, 2012, December 15, 2013, and December 14, 2014. People wore pants for many different reasons, but many of those who participated were concerned about gender equality in the LDS Church.

This year, Mormon feminists will be wearing dress pants and/or the color purple to LDS Church services on December 13. We are wearing pants to celebrate inclusiveness in the LDS Church. We believe that everyone is welcome at church.

and he inviteth them all to come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile (2 Nephi 26:33)

What is the goal of the Fourth Annual Wear Pants to Church Day?

We are active and faithful Mormon feminists who want to show that there is more than one way to be a good Mormon woman. We believe that everyone is welcome at church.

Relief Society and the gospel should embrace every woman. Every one of you is welcome and needed whether you are eighteen or eighty, married or single, speak English or Portuguese, live on an island or in the mountains, have children or simply love children but have none of your own, have an advanced degree or little formal education, have a husband who is not active or are married to a stake president, have a testimony or are struggling to receive one. You belong here! You and your talents, strengths, and contributions are needed urgently in the Church. (M. Russell Ballard, “Equality through Diversity,” November 1993)

Is this a protest?

No. This event is not about being critical of the LDS Church or changing Church policy. We want to emphasize that there is more than one way to be a good Mormon woman and encourage changes in Mormon culture to support that idea.

Wearing pants to church on December 14th is an act of solidarity. We want to show our commitment to Jesus Christ, the Gospel, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We want to show our belief that God speaks to us through a living prophet.  And ultimately, we want to show that we believe that “man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

Wherever you are, whatever you are wearing, whatever language you are hearing, you [women] are part of a powerful force of joy, peace, and goodness. We are here to rejoice together. . . . Rejoice in the diversity of our sisterhood! It is the diversity of colors in a spectrum that makes a rainbow. It is the diversity in our circumstances that gives us compassionate hearts. (Chieko Okazaki, First Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency, 1993)

Are women going against LDS Church policy by wearing pants to Sunday services?

No. Scott Trotter, an LDS spokesman, responded to last year’s event by saying “Attending church is about worship and learning to be followers of Jesus Christ. Generally church members are encouraged to wear their best clothing as a sign of respect for the Savior, but we don’t counsel people beyond that” (Dec. 11, 2012).

Who is organizing the Third Annual Wear Pants to Church Day?

Jerilyn Hassell Pool is a wife of one and a mother of five. She lives in Oregon where she has served as a Primary chorister, a Gospel Doctrine teacher, a Sunday School teacher, a member of Primary and Young Women presidencies and currently serves as the accompanist for the local Spanish-speaking branch.

Nancy Ross lives with her husband and two children in Utah. She has served as a counselor in the Primary presidency, a Young Women’s secretary, an Early Morning Seminary teacher, an Activity Days leader, a Primary teacher, and a Relief Society pianist. She currently serves as a Sunbeam teacher in her ward.

When will this event be happening?

Sunday, December 13

Who can participate?

Everyone can participate in this event.

How do I participate?

You can participate by wearing dress pants and/or the color purple to your local LDS Church services on Sunday, December 13.

I was so hurt, so angry, so in utter disbelief that people could get this upset over an extra seam in the fabric between my legs

I wore the pants twice. Once, on “protest day.” The other was a few weeks later, on a day when it was -13 degrees outside. I decided that since it was not a big deal for anyone the first time, and since it was freaking frigid outside, I would wear them. Both times, I chose an outfit that I wear to church often, subbing in a black pair of dress slacks in place of the black skirt I would wear. I went about my Sunday mornings the same as I always do, preparing as reverently as possible with four kids in the house. I felt that I looked nice, that I was wearing some of my best clothing, and that I was ready to participate in the sacred ordinance of renewing my covenants. Again, it was uneventful. Mostly, people seemed not even to notice. I say this, not because I was expecting or waiting for a big response, but for the sake of illustration. I had honestly hoped that there would be no response at all. In my extremely conservative Lehi ward, that seemed like a tall order. Read More