This Interview: Andrea Hawkins-Kamper
In my position with RMN, I have the joy of being gifted with connection to individuals within the RMN community—particularly, to transgender and gender-diverse folks who are willing and moved to reach out. This gift of community affords me time and space for the deeper aspects of my work: seeking and vision-crafting ways to build deeper community among and between us. Through these encounters and ongoing relational conversations, an idea has emerged.
What if we shared some of this ongoing dialogue with you? From this, the idea of a question-answer, interview blog format was born. And, here is the first offering of an extended dialogue between me and a member of our gender-diverse community, Andrea Hawkins- Kamper!
Andrea, like me (and others), has discerned a call to ministry and is currently attending Meadville-Lombard Theology School. Although she was raised Methodist and still considers herself Christian, she is seeking ordination in the Unitarian Universalist denomination. Related to her study, Andrea currently services as an intern with the Environmental Defenders of McHenry County. In life outside of seminary, she is an author, poet, artist and story-teller. Andrea is a happily partnered trans woman and lives with her wife, their two cats and a Chihuahua (all rescues) in Woodstock, Illinois.
Below is Andrea’s answer to our first question. I hope you will find her words of deep sharing as enriching and inviting of reflection as I do. Keep an eye out for Andrea’s answers to the other questions we have considered together. And, as always, if you would like to participate, please email me and let’s start talking.
Question: What is your understanding of spiritual transformation – in the context of your experience as a transgender person of faith – both in theory (theological context) and in practice/experience?
Spiritual transformation, for me, has been a process of discernment, refinement, and evolution.
The discernment came in terms of reclamation – the idea that reclaiming my authentic self must not only be a physical process, but one that was holistic, incorporating the mental and spiritual aspects of my identity. The mental part of that was asking a simple question: “What is it that I hold most true, and how do I live a life that sustains and nourishes that ideal?” In this profound inner work, I found Persig’s “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” especially helpful, specifically in creating a mental structure of awareness to move from one moment of pure experience to the next moment of pure experience.
This idea, this essential concept of knowing you are in always in motion, always sidling up next to the future and seeing it as a projection of the past, is not nihilistic – it is liberating.
Because I know, and love, the person I was, I understand how it created the person I am, thus I can see the person I will become – and from there, recognize the grace of God as it intersects the entirety of my life. All of our life is Process, no stream may be crossed twice, and I see this as innately transformative. As Manning said in A Furious Longing for God, “There is nowhere God won’t go to find us. No country too distant. No terrain too treacherous.
No risk too great.” Wherever I go, there is God; and whatever experiences I move through, there is God.
As I built unity between mind and body, my heart opened to see myself as a critical component in the constructive deconstruction of my history. The more I sought that inner light, the more I opened to the outside world, vulnerable, defiant, confident that I am who I am supposed to be.
That I was created in the image of God as God intended, and not as man understands the intention of God. I am a child of the Divine – perfectly imperfect, imperfectly living eternally in the grace of Creation.
This, to me, is the grace of God, an unexpected boon that comes from living an imperfect life perfectly, where the mundane and the sacred intersect whether or not I intend it. A gift such as grace is a sustaining and transformative gift. A gift such as this is a gift of reclamation, discernment, and evolution.
Liam invites you to share your stories, wisdom, and experience with him directly: Please email him at liam