I’m Nona. I’m trans. And I’m a Christian.
Church to me has always been an important part of my life. A place for learning, for sharing, for giving, for community. It was a one constant in a world that seemed to forever be changing. Growing up I found labels to be confusing and I often felt out of place, but I didn’t really understand why. Things were labelled as for boys and for girls. That was it. There were no other options. As I grew older, I felt a dissonance between the different parts of me that I was growing into.
My gender identity and my identity as a Christian seemed to grow further and further apart. This was further emphasised by the fact I realised at the age of 14 that I was in fact bisexual. I felt a comfort in a belonging to my sexual identity but confusion over my gender. In church we didn’t discuss LGBTQ+ identities and the questions I wanted to ask went unanswered. As I grew older and moved to university, I started to discover those who could offer answers to these questions. I started to meet people like me who didn’t feel like either gender or who felt different to the gender they were given at birth. I flourished within this community learning about others and myself and to celebrate who we were. But I still had questions. I wondered why God had made me this way and why some Christians didn’t welcome us.
Last year I experienced a particularly difficult time when I was confronted with those who believed you cannot be both trans or gay and Christian. This left me to further question my faith and myself. God was telling me They loved me but those around me were telling me who I was wasn’t okay.
The first time I walked into Inclusive Gathering Birmingham and saw the words LGBT and Christian and Trans and Christian, it was a very powerful moment. It felt like a beacon of light in the dark and God was telling me, here is a place of safety here is a place of refuge. You are loved just the way that you are, trans and Christian. Not separate but together. For the first time in my life I felt what was two very separate parts of my identity join together as one. I no longer felt fractured but whole in the love of God but also those around me. I was not standing in a room of strangers but friends, allies and supporters.
My favourite bible passage is psalm 139: 14 “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful; I know that full well.” Speaking those words as a trans, bisexual Christian who no longer felt like they had to hide who they are was a moment of liberation. I felt and still feel joy in my identity and worshipping of God. Church, as I have found, can sometimes feel like a hostile place for those who are trans or LGBTQ+. It can feel unsure as to whether this space will be safe for us to be in and be a part of. Inclusive Gathering is based on God’s radical inclusion and on who is included not who is excluded. As a trans Christian I want to be visible for other trans Christians who feel unsure or like they don’t belong. To welcome them to share in God’s radical love. To join us in questioning and to trying to find the answers to those questions so many of us have.
It is over a year since I joined Inclusive Gathering Birmingham and I am grateful that my relationship with God and with Jesus has grown stronger and stronger. As I grow older, navigate new parts of my identity, transition and change there is always that constant reminder of God’s love. And now I feel I have people to share it with, shout about it with, laugh about it with and be joyous in it with.
This week is Trans Awareness Week a time when we raise awareness of trans community and the issues we face. As a trans Christian it feels especially important for me to visible. As trans people we often face discrimination, transphobia and sometimes violence just for being who we are. My calling from God is to share my story in the hope it may help others and to have the courage to live fully as the person God intended me to be. That we as trans people are a gift made by the glory of God. As is said in 2 Corinthians 5:17 “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
Nona is hosting an IGB Zoom event for Transgender Day of Remembrance on Friday, 20th November at 7pm. Read more about it here.