Congregation Embraces Transgender Minister

When he learned as a teenager about sexual reassignment surgery, he said, "I knew I had to go through that as soon as possible. From my perspective, I had no choice."

In 1972, he began taking injections of the male hormone testosterone. In 1974, as young woman, he underwent his first surgery, a phalloplasty to construct a penis. Three months later he had surgery on his chest to remove his breasts.

Ten years after beginning his transition, Weekley became an ordained minister.

But it took the events of this year, particularly a project he and his predominantly Japanese-American congregation undertook to study the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II that helped him decide to come out.

Weekley was further prompted to disclose his gender status to his congregation when he learned he would be receiving an award for an anonymous blog he wrote for Reconciling Ministries, an organization that ministers to LGBT community.

Transgender Minister Comes Out to His Congregation

Though he waited 27 years to disclose his secret to a congregation, Weekley said he did it in "God's time."

"The timing just seemed right," he said. "There are many people hurt and discriminated against and too often that takes places in the church. This is God's time to be talking about these issues."

His congregants are not the only people who have recently learned about Weekley's gender. He only told his children, aged 39 to 21, four months ago.

Though it would seem that some congregants would be upset that they bore their secrets to Weekley who withheld his from them, the minister says they are not angry and he doesn't believe he was dishonest.

"I never thought I was being dishonest," he said. "There's a lot of things people don't talk about when it comes to corrective surgery or medical procedures. Most people don't necessarily share everything about themselves."

Weekley said there is a message in his experience: "As a person of faith, I believe God creates people with much diversity. Doing his work means accepting all of those people."

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