I took an August break from my blog. It wasn’t planned. It just kinda happened. I’m good with it.
Part of the reason is that I have had a lot of wonderful things happening. The film production company with which I am working has contracted with the screenwriters for the movie about my life, and I’ve spent some time talking with them. Last week, we talked about 2013 and 2014. That wasn’t easy. The human mind has a marvelous way of tempering one’s memories of difficult times. Pulling those painful memories from their place in deep storage was difficult. I am meeting with the writers and the memories again when I am in LA this week.
The main reason I will be in Los Angeles is to appear, along with Jonathan, on the Red Table Talk television show. We’ll be interviewed by Jada Pinkett Smith and her family. The show came to Colorado last week to film my daughters and granddaughters. The conversation will be about how my transition affected our family. I do not expect it to be an easy interview. We tape on Wednesday. I have no idea when it airs.
Friday evening I returned from a speaking engagement with the Levi Strauss & Company at their headquarters in San Francisco. I spoke for over 200 employees about gender inequity. It was their second annual Viola Women’s Conference. The people at Levi’s were wonderfully responsive. I am always amazed that some of the best work on issues of gender and racial equity is happening at the corporate level, not with religious institutions, as one might hope. Unfortunately, a lot of conservative religious institutions bring up the rear on issues of social justice.
Saturday I presented a keynote at an LGBTQ event in Denver. Sunday I spent the day with other presenters who will be speaking together this fall. I’ll let you know about that as soon as I am able.
A couple of weeks ago I was in New York City for a board meeting and had a chance to visit with Jonathan. I said, “I’m not sure how I feel about doing more and more public speaking. Every time I get on a plane, it is because I am transgender. When I am at Left Hand, I’m just me, Paula, talking with our people about our common spiritual journey.” Jonathan understood. He said, “Every time I get on a plane it is because you are transgender, so I get it. But whether you like it or not, there is another call on your life in addition to your church and your counseling practice.” I know he is right, but I’m having a hard time making peace with it.
As I listened to my daughters talk about their experience being interviewed for Red Table Talk, I was reminded once again of just how much my transition has affected all of their lives. I exploded the family narrative, and still, years later, there is so much for all of us to work through.
We all understand that it is hard enough for a family to struggle through the transition of a parent without the problem being exacerbated by a religious community that rejects the person who transitioned and treats the rest as if they no longer exist. Cathy and my daughters have rarely heard from anyone from our old denomination, a place in which both girls served as children’s pastors. The longer I am away from the evangelical bubble, the more I realize just how uncompassionate it is toward those who dare to challenge its points of fear.
In the first couple of years after my transition, I worked a good bit with progressive post-evangelical churches creating a new movement of congregations that share the governance and worship style of evangelicalism, without the fundamentalist doctrine. The With Collective and Launchpad are two of the organizations with which I have had the pleasure of serving. With brings progressive churches together and Launchpad starts new churches. I serve as an advisor to With and serve on the board of Launchpad. The more I am working in the secular arena, the less time I have to devote to these two important ministries. Between my public speaking and preaching at Left Hand Church, I am a busy person.
On August 22 I flew from LaGuardia to Denver and saw an old friend from USAir at the Admiral’s Club at LGA. She still works for the company and recently relocated to New York. I reminded her that five years ago that very day, she had been the last human being with whom I had spoken while still presenting as a male. It hardly seems possible that it has been only five years since I began living full time as Paula. For the first couple of years, I was not sure I would survive. Now, I thrive.
It is an honor to share this journey with you. Your words of encouragement mean more than you could possibly know. I promise, now that fall has arrived, my posts will once again be regular. There is much I want to share as I count both the costs and the blessings of the examined life, lived authentically.