Even if, at least privately, I have never really identified as a male, I feel blessed by so many men with whom I have shared my life and not least those who have nurtured and enriched me. I will try not to embarrass too many, but maybe, as they had the love and courage to marry into my family, my sons in law will forgive me for mentioning them for a moment. For the shape of healthy masculinity is once again under consideration, especially with recent Australian media focus on the relationship between certain religious themes (not least 'headship') and domestic violence. These are weighty and rightfully necessary matters to address. Hopefully however they will strengthen the many men who both show us the beautiful strength and blessings of masculinity and work to overcome its darker manifestations. My sons in law are for me lovely examples of the former. Indeed perhaps the most life-giving picture I have carried with me in recent days is that of my first grandchild resting peacefully with his father. It seems this recent arrival is rightly calmed by his father's presence, held both safely and tenderly, and bound in a bond of love which brings comfort and heart to all. What a gorgeous portrait of what a man can be for others and receive from others. We have so many marvelous icons of mother and child, but - like that of the mutually enriching love of both my sons in law for my daughters, and through that for others - this living icon is one we need to treasure, affirm and multiply much more. With special thanks to my own father as we journey on...
Better late than never? Today I am coming out fully as a transgender person. It has been a lifelong journey to this point and I am sure there are more struggles to come of a different nature. Tonight however I feel the deepest sense of joy and freedom - like that of Paul in his letter to the Galatians (more reflections about that and other wonderful trans affirming parts of the Bible and Christian Tradition in due course) - and I know that I now stand more clearly in the imperishable image of God in which I am created. I feel greatly blessed by this moment and all who have inspired, gone before, supported and/or stood by me. Thank you to anyone reading this who has been part of that :-) For my coming out has profound spiritual dimensions for me which I believe are sources of healing, strength and renewal for us all. Like my little grandchild cradled in my arms in the photograph (see left) I feel more intimately part of God's 'new creation', a little child cradled in the love of God.
Below is the letter sent (with the kind support of my archbishop) to my fellow clergy today in the Anglican Church Southern Queensland, together with just a few resources which may help our mutual understanding and growth. Together with the archbishop and my college principal, my loving partner and I pondered and prayed hard about the best way to share my news, aware both of the current contrasting levels of knowledge and care in our churches and also seeking a path of healthy transparency without causing unnecessary reactions in some quarters. I therefore hope and pray that this may be part of our continuing journeys into wholeness and joyful life for us all...
Jo Inkpin is an Anglican priest serving as Minister of Pitt St Uniting Church in Sydney, a trans woman, theologian & justice activist. These are some of my reflections on life, spirit, and the search for peace, justice & sustainable creation.