Over the last few days, I have been thinking over the process that has brought me to where I am. From my own experience, I realize that there must be others out there that were raised as religious conservatives who now identify as transgender. Coming to peace with a transgender lifestyle often means setting aside long-held religious convictions. In my case, I have been a strong member of the Mormon faith all my life. At times, some of happiest moments have come because of my faith. For example, I served for two years as a Mormon missionary in Quebec, Canada in the mid 1990s. For those not familiar with Mormonism, it is common for Mormon youth, typically ages 18-early 20's, to spend 2 years spreading the word. Missionaries are assigned to a place of labor somewhere in the world by Church leadership, and are frequently required to learn a new language. The missionary also pays his own way. I realize it's often seems inconvenient when the Mormon missionaries show up at your door, but the missionaries are sincere. The work can be very hard - in my case, there was a lot of rejection, and rudeness. However, the work does grow on you in incredible ways. The spiritual growth I experienced, far outweighed any negative experiences. I learned an incredible amount about my faith, and also myself in what became an incredibly short 2 years. Indeed, I was last most happy while a missionary.
So, now I am middle-aged, and recently came out as transgender. I have struggled with gender identity all my life. Once I admitted to myself that I was transgender, much of those internal feelings I have had for years began to make sense. In some ways, I am grateful to finally know who I am, and I count myself fortunate to be transgender.
The biggest conflict that I now have is to resolve my new gender identity and my faith. While the Mormon faith has not yet made policy on transgender members, there is a good chance that I could be disciplined or even excommunicated as I proceed with my transition. It's difficult, but a choice I've already made. I've begun to live a a female in certain settings (work, in the community), and I finally feel right as myself. I do feel that God has had a hand in my recent self-discovery; it has probably saved my life in light of my struggles with depression.
So, I wanted to make an open appeal for input on this issue: What has your experience been with long-held religious beliefs and your gender identity? For those of you from more conservative faiths, how have you resolved the obvious conflicts?
Please try to be sincere. This is a sensitive topic for many.