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Fired for being transgender

Posted by on Sep. 28, 2013 at 1:11 PM
  • 33 Replies

I'm Transgender-Masculine, a Lover of Men, and Living in Accordance With My Biblical Faith

I am a transgender professor who has served full-time as, variously, a professor of theology, a professor of church history, a professor of ministry, department chair, and university diversity council co-chair at a Christian university for 15 years, most of which I spent in treatment with female hormones and psychiatric medications for gender dysphoria and related symptoms of mental illness. Recent changes in diagnosis and treatment of transgender persons, along with a lifetime of research on the theology and biblical understanding of gender, have helped me live as one who is clearly sane by ceasing to fight my transgender-masculine identity. However, this has caused what has become a very public conflict with my employer, one that is being mediated with outside help and cannot be addressed any further here.

I've publicly commented on my personal chastity at this specific season of my life only to help clarify for this conflicted community that gender and sexual behavior are different, since that is not clear to all involved. However, it is equally important to me that I never even implicitly contribute to homophobia in this community. Therefore, I want to affirm clearly that I am not embarrassed to be a lover of men. Rather, I have been embarrassed by having my gender identity publicly confused with my private sexual conduct, and by the silence of those who could help clarify that misunderstanding. The only reason that this even embarrasses me is that my current private personal experience includes the breakup of a fraudulent marriage, with children involved, as an ordained minister and a person who chooses to live in faithful covenant with a particular faith tradition (Christianity). Therefore, for me personally, it is most appropriate in this season of my life to live and witness to my young adult students and my children a singleness of devotion to what is healing and nourishing in my present life: parenting, prayer, teaching, preaching, and personal recovery.

However, I also affirm in my spiritual life and my teaching that faithful sexual partnership grounded in covenant with God and community is sacramental, regardless of the gender of the couple celebrating that grace-filled sacrament. From the perspective of my biblical faith, I believe very much that God pronounces in the creation account in the first biblical book (Genesis) that it is not good for the human (ha'adam, a being not yet divided into two binary genders) to be alone, and that God thus blesses covenantal partnership between human beings. As a transgender person myself, a person who has characteristics of both of the conventional binary genders, I cannot help but embrace this biblical teaching not as a principle that exclusively upholds heterosexuality but as an affirmation of the importance and blessedness of human partnership. The socially constructed category of heterosexuality (a word that does not appear in the Bible) is an especially challenging fit for one who is transgender. For a transgender person who is a lover of men, like me, a Christian prohibition of "homosexuality" as a description of same-sex attraction would only preclude my intimacy with those gendered like me -- in other words, those transgender persons who were wrongly assumed to be cisgender females at birth but now are clearly recognized as transgender-masculine, who account for less than 1 percent of the general population.

Since other biblical scholars and theologians have written at length to help interpret rightly the commonly misunderstood biblical passages (only about three) that are most often used to defend Christian homophobia, I will only briefly review the central ideas that they have explained: The sin of Sodom and Gomorrah, according to the Bible's own explanations (in many of the books of the prophets, for example), was pride, idolatry, greed, and inhospitality. Indeed, because the Bible doesn't have a word for "homosexuality," nor did biblical people have a social construct equivalent to "sexual orientation," what biblical understanding of covenantal sexuality excluded was "unnatural acts." As a transgender person, it is clear to me that for the majority of people (who are cisgender and attracted to the opposite gender) that would include "a man lying with a man as with a woman" or women's equivalent, just as the Bible specifies. However, not having had a cultural category for queer identity and orientation at the time, the broader spiritual principle underlying this teaching wasn't made explicit in the Bible: We are not made for partnerships that are unnatural for us, in whatever way we are made. For example, we now know that many of us (though not the majority) are made neurologically, genetically, and hormonally "queer"; in other words, some of us are fearfully and wonderfully made with a gender and sexual orientation that falls somewhere in the LGBTQ spectrum from birth. For those of us who are naturally trans* to live as cisgender, and/or for those of us who are only sexually compatible with others gendered most like us, to partner with those we simply can't would be an "unnatural act" for us, just as performing a homosexual act outside a heterosexual covenant would be "unnatural" for a straight person. Loving one another in the ways that are God-given and natural for each of one of us as we are is the only love that is sacramental.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/h-adam-ackley-phd/im-transgender-masculine-a-lover-of-men-and-living-in-accordance-with-my-biblical-faith_b_4006863.html

Thoughts?

by on Sep. 28, 2013 at 1:11 PM
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Replies (1-10):
trippyhippy
by Gold Member on Sep. 28, 2013 at 3:12 PM

Very interesting read.  I would love to sit down with her and chat.  

CheesyKitty
by on Sep. 28, 2013 at 3:43 PM
I'm sorry but I am confused. Is the jist that he loves men? There is only a small segment about employment and it says he cannot talk about it.

I am nursing Abby sorry that I'm not getting it.
..MoonShine..
by Redwood Witch on Sep. 28, 2013 at 3:55 PM
1 mom liked this

While this is a very interesting read, I see very little of it that has to do with your title. 

cjsbmom
by Lois Lane on Sep. 28, 2013 at 4:29 PM


Quoting ..MoonShine..:

While this is a very interesting read, I see very little of it that has to do with your title. 

Thank Goodness. I thought it was just me. 

The only part I see about employment says she is unable to talk about it. 

OP, do you personally know this person and know that they were fired for being transgender?

purpleducky
by Silver Member on Sep. 28, 2013 at 4:48 PM
1 mom liked this
The story has popped up on my FB feed numerous times since I have liked many transgender pages and organizations. I thought this was the first story I read that was about the firing. I apologize. Kids got me sick (I subbed basically all last week in a school missing half the students due to being sick) and I mixed up the news stories. When I get out of bed again I will find the other article.
cjsbmom
by Lois Lane on Sep. 28, 2013 at 4:52 PM


Quoting purpleducky:

The story has popped up on my FB feed numerous times since I have liked many transgender pages and organizations. I thought this was the first story I read that was about the firing. I apologize. Kids got me sick (I subbed basically all last week in a school missing half the students due to being sick) and I mixed up the news stories. When I get out of bed again I will find the other article.

If you find the other one, please post it. I'd like to read it. 


purpleducky
by Silver Member on Sep. 28, 2013 at 5:27 PM
1 mom liked this


Quoting cjsbmom:


Quoting purpleducky:

The story has popped up on my FB feed numerous times since I have liked many transgender pages and organizations. I thought this was the first story I read that was about the firing. I apologize. Kids got me sick (I subbed basically all last week in a school missing half the students due to being sick) and I mixed up the news stories. When I get out of bed again I will find the other article.

If you find the other one, please post it. I'd like to read it. 


Here it is. Here is a snip-it

A Southern California theology professor was asked to leave his job at a Christian college after coming out as transgender.

The professor taught at Azusa Pacific University for 15 years as Heather Ann Clements, serving for some time as the school’s chair of theology and philosophy. But when the scholar returned to campus this fall, he asked the school to recognize his masculine gender identity and his new name Heath Adam Ackley.

The school promptly asked him to step down.

Ackley will stay on contract until the end of the academic year, but the university is trying to find a substitute professor to teach his classes in the meantime.

“I did not get a sense directly from the individuals with whom I was speaking that they had a theological problem with transgender identity,” Ackley told RNS. “I did get the message that it has to do with their concern that other people, such as donors, parents and churches connected to the university will have problems not understanding transgender identity.”

The professor also said that when he tried to seek hormone treatment and “top surgery” for his chest, his insurance was denied.

“They’re giving me privacy to transition but denying medical treatment to do that,” he said.

cjsbmom
by Lois Lane on Sep. 28, 2013 at 6:16 PM

TY!

Quoting purpleducky:


Quoting cjsbmom:


Quoting purpleducky:

The story has popped up on my FB feed numerous times since I have liked many transgender pages and organizations. I thought this was the first story I read that was about the firing. I apologize. Kids got me sick (I subbed basically all last week in a school missing half the students due to being sick) and I mixed up the news stories. When I get out of bed again I will find the other article.

If you find the other one, please post it. I'd like to read it. 


Here it is. Here is a snip-it

A Southern California theology professor was asked to leave his job at a Christian college after coming out as transgender.

The professor taught at Azusa Pacific University for 15 years as Heather Ann Clements, serving for some time as the school’s chair of theology and philosophy. But when the scholar returned to campus this fall, he asked the school to recognize his masculine gender identity and his new name Heath Adam Ackley.

The school promptly asked him to step down.

Ackley will stay on contract until the end of the academic year, but the university is trying to find a substitute professor to teach his classes in the meantime.

“I did not get a sense directly from the individuals with whom I was speaking that they had a theological problem with transgender identity,” Ackley told RNS. “I did get the message that it has to do with their concern that other people, such as donors, parents and churches connected to the university will have problems not understanding transgender identity.”

The professor also said that when he tried to seek hormone treatment and “top surgery” for his chest, his insurance was denied.

“They’re giving me privacy to transition but denying medical treatment to do that,” he said.


candlegal
by Judy on Sep. 28, 2013 at 6:39 PM

Good, so it wasn't just me.

Quoting cjsbmom:


Quoting ..MoonShine..:

While this is a very interesting read, I see very little of it that has to do with your title. 

Thank Goodness. I thought it was just me. 

The only part I see about employment says she is unable to talk about it. 

OP, do you personally know this person and know that they were fired for being transgender?


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