I am transgender; I am non-binary; I am queer; I am a holy child of God.
I am baptized; I am confirmed; I am on the candidacy pathway for ministry; I am a holy child of God.
These two streams of my identity are inextricably linked because God planned it that way. It has taken me a long time to be comfortable combining these streams and confidently announcing one in parallel with the other. Being visible in this way has brought me more joy than I can put into words. I feel closer to myself than I ever have in the past, and closer to God than before I began transitioning.
Being visible has also caused me much loss. I’ve lost my mother, father, grandmother and uncle. The people who were closest to me abandoned me for the sole reason of my transness. I’ve lost job opportunities, and I’ve had to change medical professionals more times than I can count simply because they do not know about transgender health care.
The human experience is full of pain and hardship — Jesus exemplified this. Most everything I know about love is through church. I knew it as a child: the first trans people I ever met were in the church. The first lesbians I met were in church. The first gay man I met was leading the regional retreats I went to. I didn’t meet a queer person outside of the church until I was around 16 or 17.
Queerness and queer love (for the self or for another) paves a way to understand God. I don’t know if I knew of my queerness as a child, but in the very place where I was learning what love was about, God surrounded me with people who would show me. My transness and my queerness are inseparably tied to my faith and my call to ministry.
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My being visible and out potentially opens a path for others who aren’t. I live my life out and visible in spite of how hard it is or how many losses come from it. God has called me into transition, in the same way as I am called into ministry. I discern my gender every day the same way I discern my call to ministry: I pray; I think; I reflect; I take in my surroundings; I listen for God’s message. Transition is a holy and blessed experience that, for me, is never ending. I will always be in transition — that is my beauty in being non-binary.
With my ministry, I imagine I will move from space to space in much the same way: what is God’s message, and how can this community be the most comfortable place to hear that message? I bring my full and queer self to church — to the front of the church — to show that this is the church God wants.
Julian Munro is a master of divinity student, drag clown, Affirm United board chair and lifelong United Church member. They live in Toronto.
This piece first appeared in Broadview’s January/February 2022 issue with the title “Transition is holy.”
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