Several years ago I temped for a few months in a church office, while continuing to look for a social work job. I attended services there sporadically, but never became a member.
After I moved on, the monthly church newsletter continued to arrive. I'll never forget the night I opened it up and read the customary letter from the minister to the congregation.
She expressed hope for a new year that was almost upon us. The letter then became a "thank you" to the church for their acceptance of her intent to become a man, and her request to be called a new name.
I was stunned. Over the years I had attended some drag shows at gay bars in which men impersonated women, or vice versa, on the stage. I'd certainly heard the word "transgender." But I'd never known anyone personally--to my knowledge, at least--in that category.
Though I hadn't known the minister well, I was deeply disturbed. She was firmly labeled in my mind. Minister. Lesbian. Wife. Impressive speaker. Activist.
I simply could not wrap my mind around her plan to leave womanhood.
A few days later, at a holiday concert, I shared the story with a friend during intermission. I continued to feel shock, disbelief, and discomfort.
Then I gasped. There was the minister herself, on the other side of the large sanctuary, wearing a tie.
Here's a video I found at Queers United. It's short. Please watch.
Today is the Transgender Day of Remembrance, held to memorialize those who have died due to anti-transgender hatred, and to raise awareness of the issue.
I still haven't figured it out. I don't need to. Even so--I'm a transgender ally.