“Transition” describes everything about my past twelve months. In late December 2014 I had decided that I had to try the Real Life Test—living full time as a female—to finally know what that would mean for me. I began that transition on New Year’s Day. The first weeks went well but, in February, my brain resumed its old struggle and I returned to living as a male.
By the end of April, after the therapist session I had in which I spent the entire hour in tears, angry at every last thing in life because all was in turmoil, I took note that it was the two year anniversary of my being in therapy and it seemed as though I had made ZERO progress. I finally was moved to go public with my gender dysphoria.
Being public created its own transition: I would never be viewed the same. Many were generous with their kindness and concern. Some could not take this disturbing revelation and left me without a word. Many folks came into my life, some to whom I grew very close over the year.
I came to say that if I had given people a sheet on which were written all of the possible things that I had been keeping secret—perhaps I was dying from cancer, or I had won a huge sum in the lottery, or I was addicted to heroine, or even that I had killed someone—people would have found everything a possibility until they had only two items left on the list, two items they found unfathomable to be my secret: being a pedophile or being transgender.
That’s how much of a shock this was to so many. That’s how low a view scads of folks have of transgender. That’s the main reason I took to the Internet with my story: To educate. Besides, as much as I never wanted to be this way, I am not ashamed. As with cancer, gender dysphoria can happen to anyone.
Over the past two years, Julie and I transitioned from parsonage dwellers, to renters, to home owners. Both of us had at one time owned homes, but neither of us had purchased a house the typical way. What a job! We drove all over Indy, checking out neighborhoods. When we finally toured a few houses, we easily knew we found our place. Learning that Mary Moss had been the previous owner, I dubbed our new home “Merrymoss.” Seven months into living here, we could not be happier with the house, the neighborhood, and the area of town.
We moved in June 3. I was again at war with myself. I so wanted to remain male but was falling apart. In my mind, I would be the hero if I could “beat this thing” as I am prone to saying. Soon, my article on gender dysphoria would be published in a magazine for Missouri Synod Lutheran young people. I wanted that article to both educate my church body and to be a building block on which to stand in my fight to remain male.
I also wanted to remain a minister in the Missouri Synod. Sure, I was retired, but I could fill in for pastors. I longed to preach the Word. I thought that I might catch on with a congregation in a part-time capacity.
When I resumed the Real Life Test in July and it was going so well, I knew that I would not be able to keep it a secret. I had to be honest with everyone and, even though I had no idea whether it would stick this time, I could not in good conscience change my public identity to female and remain on the clergy roster of the LCMS. At the time I changed my online name to Gina, I resigned from the ministry. Where I never thought I would call myself a transgender woman, neither did I ever see myself transitioning from clergy to lay person.
By autumn, I transitioned into a trans advocate. The foundation was laid in January as Julie and I attended our first trans support group meeting. New friendships took root. Getting to know people opened the doors to the places I am now active, being a panelist on Q & A sessions at Indiana University, an opportunity to speak at the Transgender Day of Remembrance, working for trans civil rights, and soon to have my first article published in a magazine for public consumption.
I feel like I am building the new career of which I assured everyone I was confident the Lord had in store for me. Retiring at the young age of 57, healthy and full of life, so many failed at understanding how I could retire. Now, everyone knows why.
Things are coming together. As in 1992 I had to give up my first good career—a job where I was an up-and-comer and my income had finally reached respectability—to go back to school and start over, once again I had to give up another good career—work that I loved, in which I had job security, a good income, and a community I adored—to, in a very real sense, go back to school to prepare for a new line of work.
So here I am, 58 years old and an adolescent trans woman. How crazy is that?
Everyone’s life is a constant series of crazy: Ups and downs, changes and transitions. Thankfully, my Creator and Savior, Jesus Christ, is constant and reliable, come what may. Psalm 27:1: “The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?” Hebrews 13:8: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”