by Lisa (a pseudonym), who is a trans woman from the North of England.
When I agreed to tell this story, I was reluctant because this happened 20 year ago and I was unsure how much relevance it would have now. It is very sad that it appears to still be so; if anything, the Government’s views on conversion therapy (along with trans rights in general) appears to have become even less supportive than it was.
I was a very active member of an Evangelical, Pentecostal church. I had been to Bible college, was on the leadership team, regularly preached in my own church and others, led worship and was in charge of outreach for the church. No one suspected that I was anything different than what I appeared to them to be. Not the church members, or my family; no one. I am now so sorry for the hurt that hiding truths about myself caused, especially to my wife and my daughter.
I had been struggling with my gender identity all of my life, and now knew, after much counselling (secular) that I was trans. I didn’t want to be, but I was. I cannot start to explain the difficulty I had accepting this, but somehow I had kept it totally secret.
This was until one particular night when something changed.
I sat in my car and considering driving it very fast into a wall. The question was clear in my mind: “Do I go through with this thing and live as the woman I knew I was meant to be, or do I die?” The one thing that was impossible for me to do was just carry on pretending.
I decided to tell my wife, and her world and mine fell apart.
Once she knew that I was going to go through with this she immediately said that I could not transition and stay with her. Nor could I transition and see my daughter who I idolised. My wife rang the Pastor of our church, who was fully in agreement with her. He then wrote me a letter. It was 20 years ago and I can’t remember the exact wording of it, but it offered me two options: either receive counselling in order that I may repent, or leave.
Of course I knew full well that all the “repenting” in the world was not going to change me. Neither would exorcism, which I knew they would then try. So many times in the preceding years I had rebuked the Devil, I had begged on bended knee to be different, I had prayed and prayed, and failed. I could not try any more. I felt that I had let God down, the church down, my wife and daughter down. I thought that if being a Christian meant not transitioning, then I couldn’t be a Christian.
I left the church, I left my wife, and, hardest of all, I left my daughter. I also thought I had left my faith. I had no one and nothing. All my friends were in the church; all my life had been there.
A position came up with the company I was working for in a different part of the UK. I took it and a few months later changed my name and legally transitioned.
My wife was true to her word and I had a battle to be allowed to even see my little girl. After 12 months I was allowed supervised visits (my daughter is now 26 and after many years we have a good relationship).
In time I met a wonderful man. We fell in love, got married, got a dog (she is gorgeous!) and it has taken me the best part of that twenty years to realise that God made me this way and accepts me as I am. To realise that if Jesus died for anyone, he died for everyone: gay, straight, cis, trans, black, white. My faith has changed; I’m certainly not as bigoted as I once was. I think I’m a better person, but that’s the thing – even if I’m not I am certain that God loves me.