Rev. M. Barclay, a transgender individual who doesn’t identify with a particular gender and prefers the pronoun “they,” was recently appointed by the United Methodist Church as a deacon. Methodists make up one of the largest denominations in the United States.
Barclay, who spent 12 years studying theology and training to become a member of the clergy, was made a deacon last week. Barclay initially thought they were a straight woman, and then a lesbian, and ultimately realized they don’t fit in entirely with any gender.
Barclay’s appointment didn’t come easily. They fought since 2012 to get ordained in Texas, but they weren’t approved there.
“I really struggled for the next year about whether I was going to stay in the church at all. I struggled with how much harm the church had done, not only to LGBT people but to other marginalized people. I wasn’t sure I wanted to be a part of that… My faith was still there. It was just really hard to imagine the church living out what I think God is trying to do in the world right now… I understand the rules of the church… But here’s the truth: I’m queer, and I’m called to this. I tried to walk way.”
“There was a conversation of 400 clergy in Texas about whether or not they could prove I was having sex… It was terrible. It was terrible.”
They eventually moved to Chicago and came out as not only queer but also transgender. It was there that a local board “enthusiastically approved” their candidacy. Barclay now expects to be ordained by 2019, following a standard two-year provisional period.
This is a huge win for the LGBT+ community, as the commissioning of a transgender Methodist deacon has the potential to inspire other sects and foster an environment for equality within religious institutions. Since Christianity and other Abrahamic religions have traditionally oppress gay and trans people, it’s nice to see such acceptance coming from this particular group of believers.
Let’s just hope that other Methodist groups, other denominations, and other religious faiths follow suit and promote equality among the clergy. That remains to be seen, but there’s hope.
(Image via Facebook)