At the beginning of 2012, I decided to start looking for a new church home. I had given the nearby Methodist church a thought before, but was intimidated by the size of the building. I felt like I would just be another face in the crowd there and that forming meaningful relationships would be difficult. On a January morning, I decided that maybe it was time to give the church a try.

I soon came to find that the people were friendly and easy to get to know. I also found a way to get involved in this new church: music. I was happy to see that they had an orchestra program and even happier to sign up to take part in the annual cantata.

As the next few months passed, I eventually got added to the schedule to play piano for the service I was regularly attending. I was ecstatic to get a chance to play in front of the congregation. After a few Sundays where I played, the congregation started to love me.

I had found a church where I could be involved in activities which I enjoyed and was getting to know more and more people.

I was also going through a difficult period in my life. I was spending most of my time alone when I wasn’t at church activities or work. I spent much of my private life dealing with my feelings that I was meant to be a girl. I worked so hard to keep these feelings a secret. I was afraid of what would happen if people found out.

I turned to dating sites in hopes that finding love might help to get rid of my feelings. I was quickly roped in to a subscription site. I spent a lot of my time trying to craft the perfectly worded messages, only to have them ignored or met with outright rejection.

In the summer of 2012, I eventually reached a point where I was completely frustrated with my life. After a particularly difficult night, I decided it was time to come out. I started by telling a close friend whom I trusted. It felt good to get the feelings off my shoulder, but the process of coming out publicly still scared me.

I continued to go to my church uncertain of how my church family would take my eventual coming out.

I didn’t want to hide forever, but I also wanted to stay involved in the church which had become so meaningful to me. I spent a lot of time researching the stance of The United Methodist Church and fretting over how I would be treated based on what I was learning. I debated leaving right before I came out for a church which was openly affirming.

One particular Fall morning, the pastor’s sermon really spoke to me. The message made me feel comfortable with the idea of coming out to him. After the service, I set up a time for later in the week to meet with him.

The words were hard for me to get out, but I did it. I was relieved when I found out that the pastor was an ally and would support me in coming out to the church. He reassured me that the people in the church loved me and would miss me if I left.

I still had some doubts about the process, but my pastor’s reaction made me feel a little bit more at ease.

A few months and private meetings with the pastor later, we started on a plan to let the congregation know about my transition. We started by letting my fellow musicians and worship director know. I was met with a lot of support from the others involved in the program.

The worship director was more concerned that I was thinking of leaving.

At this point, I was starting on hormone therapy and was working out plans to present as female full-time. My transition got off to a rocky start as I was fired from my job just a couple months in. My church family did a wonderful job of supporting me through this difficult time in the best way they could. I had a few people help me out with clothing for replacing my wardrobe. Others provided much needed emotional support as I was trying to get back on my feet.

With time, I was able to get to a place where I was better off than before the point where I started coming out. Everyone started to see a happier me as I was able to more openly be myself. I eventually was able to get into the the full-time job where I currenly work. I have also been more able to form meaningful relationships where I can be myself.

It has been more than two years since I’ve come out to my church and I’m still as welcome as I was when I first started attending. I continue to play piano as well as in the orchestra on Sunday mornings. Having a supportive church family has made the transition process a lot easier for me.

Did you know that RMN has a transgender extension ministry? We’re the United Methodist Alliance for Transgender Inclusion (UMATI). Learn more about us on RMN’s website, or join our Facebook group.

Claire Brown

I am a transgender woman from the Midwest. I enjoy writing and music. I am active in my church as a musician who plays piano and trombone. I am currently a part of a Methodist congregation where I have found love and acceptance through transition.

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