The Methodist Church in Great Britain has its first transgender minister.
Joy Everingham, a chaplain at the University of Kent Canterbury, has two sons and a wife named Ruth. The 46-year-old minister also is undergoing a transitioning process that involves hormone therapy and wearing women’s clothing full-time — all approved by church leaders.
“People sat down and started reading [my letter on transition], and then I could see them looking up and around,” the minister said, Kent Online reported Friday. “I was scared to death, but people kept coming up to me and saying ‘well done.’ A couple of people didn’t speak to me for a bit, but they had to work it out for themselves. I was expecting it to be a long hard trek to justify who I was, but it’s not been like that.”
The decision was 22 years in the making, which included years leading a double-life, a gender dysphoria diagnosis by health care professionals, and battles with depression.
“I tried running away from it, but I couldn’t resist it any longer,” the chaplain told the newspaper. “Sometimes I felt like God had cursed me, but I had to trust in a God that loves me, whatever I am.”
The Methodist Church in Great Britain’s welcoming stance follows that of its American cousins in the U.S.-based United Methodist Church. The UMC accepted transgender Rev. David Weekley’s coming out in 2009, along with deacon M Barclay’s “non-binary transgender” status in June, the U.K. Telegraph reported Friday.