This article is provided by:
Rev. Brynna Dixon, D.D.,M.S. / UNTCI Pennsylvania
How do you hold together your trans identity and your life of faith?
My granny once told my grandpa to darn his own socks! This was a gender radical thing to do. She also rode motorcycles, and to many a baby she sang German lullabies while they drifted off to sleep. She had two books in her house, not counting cookbooks (of which there weren’t any). I found and read both of them as a curious child. A Piano Favorites primer, and a dusty dollar paperback by Roger Shinn called The Sermon on the Mount: A Layman’s Guide (a bestseller in 1954).
I have no idea what Roger Shinn would have said about “transgender Americans.” (That wasn’t a phrase we had then.) But after my granny died, I grew up to be one. And an ordained minister, now working in the national office that regularly teaches Shinn’s later work: the United Church of Christ Statement of Faith. In both works, Shinn cites the countercultural cost of discipleship. The context is international, not merely personal. Yet this idea—and some angels along with it—saved me from suicide and preserved my faith when I had to commit to life transition as a young adult, despite the judgment of everybody I knew.
I shouldn’t say it was a solitary road. It turned out to be the opposite—I was accompanied by numerous trans people, risk-takers, and world-changers. That company exists today partly in the church community and partly not. I’m all too aware that part of me is welcome in the church and part not. Yet I’m living out my vow as an ordained minister on behalf of Jesus—who went outside (up on a mountain) to proclaim who the blessed people are.
Because Jesus went that far, I believe, all the people inside all the churches are included too. Then and now and in ages to come. Even while we work on our “isms.” Racism, normalism, poor-people-don’t-matter-ism, sexism, and militarism. Oh—and bathrooms. Of which my granny had one.
— Malcolm Himschoot, United Church of Christ pastor who was featured in the 2005 documentary Call Me Malcolm, and author of “Practices of Spirit for Genderqueer and