What has been the most frequently asked question I have received since moving to Indy? “Do you still have your old email address? I sent you a Facebook message because I didn’t know.”
Yes, I do. I hope I never change it. If you have it, please use it over Facebook messages, unless we are having a live chat. If you don’t have my email address and want it then, um, rats, ask me for it via a Facebook message.
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Q: How are you REALLY doing with all of this?
A: The Real Life Test is going so well. After the false start last winter, I could not have dreamed how well it is going now. Unless something happens which I cannot see right now, I suspect I will be fully transitioning. No more going backward. Every time I attempted to retry being a guy, I crashed worse than the time before.
Some external things remain tough. I have trans friends whose children rejected them and they no longer have relationships with their family members, and in many cases for those who transition many relationships remain fractured even as some of them are healed. So, the long run scares me. I miss my old relationships, how wonderful they were and how easy they were. Now, many are either strained or broken off. Because I gave up my job, our community, and everything that goes with those, loneliness has been my worst enemy. It is improving, I am getting more connected here in Indy, but it has a ways to go.
Since I have to live in my own brain, I won’t go back to trying to be a male to please others, which is what I tried to do for two-and-a-half years after this crushed me. I will continue to try to please others, but it will be as Gina—who, in personality, values, and faith, really is the same person they always knew and loved.
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Q: I am having a hard time switching names and pronouns, but I don’t want to offend you. What is acceptable to you?
A: Folks have a harder time switching pronouns than the name. The only people with whom I will have trouble will be those who are antagonistic toward me, as in, “I don’t care how he dresses, his name is Greg and he’s a man.” Most likely, they will no longer be in my life. For everyone who honestly struggles, I will never get upset.
It is a happy accident that both of my names begin with “G.” This has become a handy nickname. If it is easier for you to call me “G,” please do so.
For those pesky pronouns, all I can do is be patient. If you care enough about me to still be in my life, I will be patient with you. I promise.
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Q: Now that you have gone public as a female, what is your standing as a minister?
A: I was going to resign from the clergy of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) last January, having requested the paperwork. I was encouraged not to, that there was no rush. After I resumed my fight to be a male, I thought, who knows, maybe there remains hope for me in the LCMS.
Since the LCMS has a male-only clergy, and I have gone public as female and acknowledge that this likely is permanent, I cannot in good conscience remain a minister in the LCMS, even an inactive one. I had a couple of things I needed to do, and people to talk to and have now finished those. I mailed in my resignation, which took effect immediately.
This certainly is bittersweet. Two years ago, I would not have bet even a nickle on it. Now, it feels right.
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Q: So, then, where do you go to church?
A: We have a new church home, First Trinity Lutheran Church, of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). We became members, yesterday.
We had visited eight LCMS churches in Indy and settled on one last fall, until I completely fell apart. Because of where the LCMS is with transgender, it was not possible for Gina and Julie to worship there or, we came to believe, any of the LCMS churches in Indy. Even more, with the LCMS position on those who transition, and my failed efforts to get the door opened even a crack, I believe it would be hypocritical to remain a member of a LCMS congregation, even if one in Indy would have us.
When, in June, I began jogging in my new neighborhood, I ran past First Trinity, only a half-mile from Merrymoss. We checked them out online. For being a tiny congregation—average Sunday worship is fewer than thirty—they have a nice website, kept up to date. We went to worship the second Sunday in July. They welcomed us with open arms. After worship, they have fellowship hour, with volunteers hosting a nicer lunch than I ever bother to make on a Sunday. We went, were included in the conversation as if we were regulars, and we fell in love with everyone.
First Trinity has a lovely pastor, a retired man who calls this chapter in life his “reFIREment.” He preaches very good Law and Gospel sermons. The liturgy is traditional, but, get this: the congregation, in a multi-cultural neighborhood, is a nice split of African Americans and Caucasians, plus two Japanese ladies and a Filipino family, and the songs—both of the liturgy and the hymns—largely reflect an African American heritage. Some familiar songs are made new to us by their melodies. This is wonderfully refreshing.
The affection of the people is off-the-charts amazing. No one is not greeted—read that: hugged—during the peace greeting. For the Lord’s Prayer, we move into the center aisle, form a long circle, and hold hands to pray.
For you who know the ELCA and LCMS are not in agreement on some serious issues, I take none of them lightly. Our pastor already knows some of my concerns, and he, and most in the congregation, know my history. Julie and I are doing the best we can, and we consider First Trinity to be a marvelous blessing. Thankfully we do not worship church bodies; we worship the Lord.