Associate Professor of Social Transformation and Leadership Supported by the McVay Endowment 

Rev. Dr. Justin Sabia-Tanis is an associate professor and the director of the Social Transformation program at United Theological Seminary. He earned his PhD from the Graduate Theological Union in Interdisciplinary Studies in addition to a Master of Divinity degree at Harvard Divinity School and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary.

As a pastor, he served congregations in Boston, Honolulu, and San Francisco and was Director of Leadership Development for Metropolitan Community Churches; he is now with the United Church of Christ.

In his prior work, he served as Managing Director at the Center for LGBTQ and Gender Studies in Religion (CLGS) and directed communications for the Hawai’i Equal Rights Marriage Project, the National Center for Transgender Equality, and Out & Equal Workplace Advocates. He has taught at the University of Arizona, Pima Community College, Iliff School of Theology, and Pacific School of Religion. He lives in Minnesota with his husband, Henry, and their two dogs.



  • PhD, Graduate Theological Union, 2017
  • DMin, San Francisco Theological Seminary, 2003
  • MDiv, Harvard Divinity School, 1990
  • AB, Mount Holyoke College, 1987



  • Transgendered Ministry, Theology and Communities of Faith (Cleveland: Pilgrim Press, 2003; Wipf & Stock, 2018).
  • Injustice at Every Turn: The Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, Jaime Grant, PhD, Lisa Mottet, JD, and Justin Tanis, D.Min, with Mara Keisling, Jody Herman, PhD, and Jack Harrison (Washington, DC, The Task Force Policy Institute, 2010).


Chapters and Journal Articles:

  • “Grieving Together Through LGBT Bereavement Support Groups,” in Adrian Shanker, ed., Bodies and Barriers: Queer Activists on Health (Oakland, CA: PM Press, 2020).
  • “Holy Creation, Wholly Creative: God’s Intention for Gender Diversity,” in James K. Beilby and Paul Rhodes Eddy, eds, Understanding Transgender Identity (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2019).
  • “Nahum Zenil: The Virgin Mary Became My Mother,” in Joseph Goh and Robert Shore-Goss, eds, Unraveling Systems from Within (Routledge, UK, 2019).
  • “Transgender Experiences in the United States,” in Chris Dowd and Christina Beardsley, Transfaith: A Transgender Pastoral Resource (Darton Longman & Todd Ltd, 2018).
  • Book Review: This is My Body: Hearing the Theology of Transgender Christians, in Theology & Sexuality, Vol. 23: No. 3, September 2017.
  • “The Power of 41%: A Glimpse into the Life of a Statistic,” Journal of Orthopsychiatry, Vol 86 (4), 2016, 373-377.
  • “Philippians,” in The Queer Bible Commentary, Bob Goss and Mona West, editors (London, SCM Press, 2006).
  • “Eating the Crumbs that Fall from the Table,” in Take Back the Word: A Queer Reading of the Bible, Bob Goss and Mona West, editors (Cleveland: Pilgrim Press, 2000).


Research Interests

  • Social Transformation
  • Spirituality and LGBTQ Artists
  • LGBTQ and Transgender Issues in Religion, including LGBTQ religious history
  • Intersections of sexuality, gender, and religion
  • Theology and spirituality of immigration


Sample Courses

  • Sex and Religion in the Public Square
  • Comparative Religious Ethics
  • Leadership for Social Transformation
  • Religion and Popular Culture


Experts Guide

  • LGBTQ and Transgender Issues in Religion
  • Sexuality, Gender and Religion
  • Public Theology
  • Sexual Ethics