“Being an open transgender minister, especially in smaller communities, is not an easy thing to do,” Anthony Kirk, the pastor of Klamath Falls Friends Church, confides, but “I know this is what God asks of me and wants me to do.”
One of the touchstones in Anthony’s spiritual journey has been the 139th Psalm. “[It’s] brought so much comfort to me and so many people in my life,” he says. “It’s the beautiful reminder that… God knew us and loved us and created us long before society put labels on us and made assumptions, for all of us are fearfully and wonderfully made, and whatever our gender expression or identity, we are made in the image of God, too.”
“Wonderful are Your works,” the Psalmist says; “that I know very well.” How can Friends, individually and in our meetings, honor that message in their encounters and relationships with people of all gender identities? Share your reflections in our comments section.
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So being an open transgender minister, especially in smaller communities, is not an easy thing to do. I see it as a personal calling of mine to be open and out everywhere I go, especially as I feel called to be in small communities, and that is something God gave me and called me to do and I trust that, but that does not make it easy. While it is not an easy journey and it’s not easy to be true to who I am, as there are many risks in doing that, I know this is what God asks of me and wants me to do, and I wouldn’t want to do anything else.
Made in the Image of God: On Being a Transgender Quaker Pastor
My name is Anthony Kirk, I use he/him pronouns. I live in Klamath Falls, Oregon, and I am currently the pastor of Klamath Falls Friends Church.
I was actually raised in an agnostic home. I hadn’t been to church really at all. Occasionally I would go to church with friends for occasional social time. I would go to vacation bible school at a Wesleyan church because I lived in a rural town it was just the social thing to do. I didn’t really remember a lot, but I was always drawn to the bible in some way. But in 2012 in February I had an experience with God that changed my entire life. I was walking in the courtyard of my school — it was a warm February day, not a cloud in the sky, and I looked up to the sky and I heard God tell me that they existed. Just as soon as that happened I was instantly a believer– there was… I just knew that was God and that was it.
Spirituality and Gender
My journey with religion and spirituality has been completely interviewed in my relationship with my gender identity and coming out as transgender. It was, in fact, being in a religious setting (at the time Unitarian Universalist) that set me free and told me you are who you are; you are who you say you are and that God has made you the way you are. It was religion that helped me feel supported, that helped me see my worth and value as a person, and that I had something to offer as I explored my gender identity and lived into the person that I always have been but didn’t have much of a place to explore or experience or be at the time. And a big reason I am religious is because I came out in the church, and church has been I would say the most important part of my life as a trans person and what has helped me keep going so much in my life.
And also in my spiritual journey there’s actually a Psalm that has really helped me. I reflect on it a lot: I use it for Transgender Day of Visibility events, and I share it with those who are exploring their identity, exploring their gender, their sexuality, and wondering, “Well where do I fit?” The scripture that I use comes from Psalm 139: 13-16 from the New Revised Standard version:
For it was you who formed my inward parts;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
that I know very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes beheld my unformed substance.
In your book were written
all the days that were formed for me,
when none of them as yet existed.
And that’s brought so much comfort to me and so many people in my life. And it’s the beautiful reminder that God knew us since our conception, as we were formed. God knew us and loved us and created us long before society put labels on us and made assumptions, for all of us are fearfully and wonderfully made, and whatever our gender expression or identity, we are made in the image of God, too.
- 1) Is there a part of scripture that brings you comfort? If so, what is it and what does it mean to you?
- 2) Regardless of your gender identity or sexuality, do you feel it relates to your spirituality or spiritual journey? How so?
The views expressed in this video are of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Friends Journal or its collaborators.