I didn’t grow up with faith, but with hindsight I can see that God was always preparing the ground for me to find my own way.
At University I used to volunteer with friends from the Christian Union. I always joked that they wouldn’t convert me and in fact they didn’t — instead it happened naturally in my 30s at an evangelical church in Basingstoke. That church is still one I remember fondly, even though it was also the church that ultimately rejected me after I came out in 2001. The night the elders asked me to leave, I was heartbroken. I walked to a nearby field, and sat praying in tears….and then I heard it: “Do not be afraid. You are not alone”.
Knowing that, everything that followed became a burden I could handle. Divorce, transition, a fresh start and a new relationship followed, and eventually I found myself at the Metropolitan Community Church of Bournemouth. This is a church which has welcomed, challenged and taught me in so many ways. I’ve learnt to minister, read, run the A/V systems, consecrate and serve communion and even give the occasional sermon.
It’s humbling to minister with any church, but being part of one belonging to a denomination whose history is so intricately linked to that of LGBTQI+ people is a special responsibility. So many have been hurt by other churches and people of faith, and so much healing is so sorely needed.
I’m conscious that I’m as broken as the next person, but I’ve always tried to do what I can. It is hard though when every other pronouncement by the mainstream denominations seems designed to alienate LGBTQI+ people (not to mention everyone else) even more.
So here I am — a Christian trans woman in an affirming church, doing my best to learn, help, speak out and teach others.
Would Jesus approve? I obviously can’t say for certain, but I have a pretty good idea.
Footnote: this testimony was prepared for Ewa (the photographer who took the photo above) as a personal bio for a project on Christian LGBTQI+ people she is undertaking for her university course, but I thought it would also make a good blog post.