HuffPost Live | Posted: 06/28/2013 2:19 pm EDT | Updated: 06/28/2013 11:39 pm EDT
Rev. David Weekley hid his identity as a transgendered person for 28 years, until he finally revealed his secret in 2009, becoming one of the first openly transgender clergy serving the United Methodist Church. He shared his story on HuffPost Live.
The reaction from Weekley's parish after he came out reflected many of the challenges the transgender community faces. "I received real mixed feedback from people -- colleagues, parishioners, just friends of the community," he told host Mike Sacks. "While I had a lot of support, there was a lot of pushback. There were attempts made to bring charges against my ministry--to have my ordination revoked."
Weekley, who authored the book "In from the Wilderness: Sherman," transitioned from female to male in 1975, at the age of 24. "When I went to seminary in the '80s, it wasn't safe to be out, whether you were LGBTQ -- those topics weren't talked about, only in negative ways. And so I decided to enter the ordained ministry, serve congregations the best I could, and let them have a chance to know me, then share my story. I thought that would make a positive difference."
But though a number of churches have begun to accept transgender people in the clergy, widespread acceptance is still a challenge, Weekley explained.
"The problem is, so often, even if the policy is open, for transgender people to actually be called to a church or have an opportunity to serve is a different story. Transgender people are just newer on the radar, and for a lot of us who transitioned years ago, we were told by the folks we worked with not to share our story."