My children and I recorded an episode of Jada Pinkett Smith’s Red Table Talk in September. Jonathan and Jael joined me on the show. Jael was interviewed here in Colorado. The episode was released on Facebook on October 7. I thought everyone who worked on the episode did a marvelous job. Jada, Willow, and Adrienne were wonderful. They could not have been more supportive. Though we taped for almost two hours, the show was edited in such a way that virtually every salient part of our conversation was captured in the 27 minutes that ended up in the final edit. Everything was fairly presented, without bias. I am truly grateful. Red Table Talk is a transformative show, tackling difficult subjects with grace.
I’ve heard from a lot of people since the show aired. The usual group of fundamentalist haters has been active, but most of the comments have been supportive and thoughtful.
I have also heard from a lot of transgender folks who recently transitioned or are hoping to transition. Many of them would like to visit with me by phone or in person. I have had to tell them that I am not in a position to do so. I remember when I was agonizing over whether or not to transition, I wrote a few well-known transgender women and heard nothing in response. Because of my experience, I try to answer every single person who reaches out to me. If perchance you have contacted me and I have not returned your correspondence, I apologize.
For those who have a family member who has transitioned, I recommend my son Jonathan’s book, She’s My Dad, published by Westminster John Knox Press. It is an honest, engaging, redemptive story. Included in the book are responses I wrote to five of the chapters.
For those wanting to read a good memoir on transitioning, I recommend Jennifer Finney Boylan’s She’s Not There, Joy Ladin’s Through the Door of Life, Deirdre McCloskey’s Crossing, or Janet Mock’s Redefining Realness. All are excellent resources.
If you would like to know more about my own thought process as I went through my transition, I would encourage you to go back to the beginning of this blog and look at my entries from 2014. That is when I wrote the most about the journey from Paul to Paula. Throughout the last five years I have written about it occasionally, though there has been no rhyme or reason to the timing. This blog tends to be less strategic and more stream of consciousness.
I know it may be hard for some to understand, but at this point in my life, my transition no longer occupies a lot of space in my daily existence. I knew when I transitioned that as a well-known pastor, I had responsibilities. I could not just disappear into the crowd. I would need to be public about my experience. But nowadays, only about one in ten speaking engagements is about being a member of the LGBTQ community. The rest are about gender inequity, a subject about which I am very passionate.
I never speak for the other members of my family. Their story is theirs to tell or not tell. It is up to them. Jonathan has been pretty public about it all, but until Red Table Talk, my daughters stayed pretty quiet.
For those who would like to speak with me, I am truly sorry I am not in a position to do so. My work with Left Hand Church, my pastoral counseling practice, and my active speaking schedule keep me extremely busy, and I simply do not have the bandwidth for individual conversations. I do have plans to write a memoir in the near future. My agent is currently sharing my book proposal with editors. I will keep you informed of the progress.
In the meantime, thank you so much for your words of encouragement. My children and I were hoping the Red Table Talk episode would help families going through the experience we faced. We always knew that as a family we would make it through the dark night to the light of dawn. It is good to share that hope with others.