Reluctant Leadership

One of the more interesting and more internal struggles that I have had to deal with relates to my studies and my journey of discernment towards ordained ministry.  This journey began when I was in my late teens and I discussed it with the rector of the church I was then attending.  Through the years I made brief starts to begin an ‘official’ process, but I wasn’t ready yet.  I hadn’t dealt with the minor little detail of my being trans* and my need to transition.  Once I had dealt with this I came to realize that it was time to continue studies and begin the process of discernment.  Probably the largest decision that I had to come to terms with was whether or not to try to be stealth and essentially deny my past (see: Denying One’s Past).  I decided that I would be open about who I am and that I would not deny my past and having lived as a male for many years.

This then introduced a new set of issues. First, that of being an openly trans* woman studying theology at a Roman Catholic University.  Second, I’m putting myself out in the open within the Anglican Church and thus becoming, whether it’s said openly or not, a symbol and a de-facto leader on the issue of acceptance of, and ministry towards trans* people.  There is also an ongoing worry that I will become the target of attacks by those who are transphobic.  At this point I would point out that so far I have had tremendous allies at school and at church.  To add to this is the fact that there are a lot of people who will place my identity as a trans* person over other aspects of who I am and what I do within the church and in ministry.  On the other side of the coin, people in the queer community will see me as the trans person who is becoming a minister.

There is a certain part of me that wants to run away from this and go do something else.  There is a feeling that I don’t want this responsibility, I don’t want to be a role model, I don’t want to be visible.

I also think about the number of people in the trans* and the broader queer and LGBT* communities who have told me that what I’m doing is important.  Then there are the allies who have commented to me about how brave I am.  These add to a sense of responsibility that I have, even as a student, to live up to the expectations and implied responsibilities and leadership that is implied.  There are times it is tempting to run away from it.

With all of this I think on what a priest once said to me about the call to ordained ministry, “when you feel the call, run away.  If God wants you God will get you.”  Well, I did run, for many years, both from my true self and from God.  I am now at a point where I have embraced both who I am, and God’s call.  The road has not, is not, and will not be an easy one, but it is and will be a rewarding one on many levels.

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