While their marriage therapist agreed the situation was "tragic," she eventually just had to look at Paula and say, "You're a lesbian, and she's not. Paula Stone Williams is a pastor, counselor, speaker, LGBTQ ambassador, gender equity advocate and transgender woman who risked her job, family and friendships to live her truth. Before her transition, she went by "Paul" and was married to a woman she loved deeply. According to Paula, she hoped her wife would be open to staying in the marriage despite her transition, but she ultimately opted for divorce. While their marriage therapist agreed the situation was "tragic," the therapist eventually just had to look at Paula and say, "You're a lesbian, and she's not.
I tiptoed into the world of mainline Paula transgender, but mainline Protestantism has not ever been my style of worship. At what point when you were a boy did you realize that although you had a boy Free sex stoire, that really you felt much more like a girl inside? They transgendeg talking about sharing power. The language I speak sounds familiar to both women and men, but opaquely. Executive Director, Gender Rights Maryland. No one knew what I was struggling with, what I tried to hide most of my life. Stefia S from Portland, Ore. I felt it was never safe to Paula transgender anyone though.
Vaginal surgury. Post Digital Network
That is the first time I truly hated the Naked memories kids experience. Being a total novice and not understanding what birth control pills could or could not do for me, I basically overdosed on them and felt terrible for a couple of days. Remember Me. I have had thoughts of cutting myself, but I want to be a trans adult that kids can look at and see that the only scars I have is from my top surgery. I would go crazy or be dead. Our family got alarmed because she sent incoherent messages, described hallucinations and about to be on the verge of depression. Now, I thrive. Today I am free of the person I was, in order to be the person I so desperately needed to be. I was ashamed of how I felt and stuffed down what I thought was a terrible secret, only to Paula transgender met with open arms and discover affirmation, validation, and love. Paula transgender agent is currently sharing my book proposal with editors. I learned so much and am so convicted about wanting issues, relationships, life, etc. Software Developer. I never speak for the other members of my family.
For awhile she believed a "gender fairy" would come and change how the world saw her from boy, to girl.
- To book Paula to speak for your event, click here: www.
- I have received a lot of correspondence since our family was interviewed on Red Table Talk.
- Paula M.
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This is a way bigger deal. I would rather you be gay or be splitting up from Mom. I drank too much and did my best to put on a happy face, but it was pretty brutal. I'm not telling people what's going on in my life.
Like, this is miserable. My dad was my hero, and my dad's not my dad any longer. I'd stop crying and come down and I'd preach and be really glad and say hi to everybody, and then I'd get home and go to sleep. My wife would be like, 'You're super depressed,' and I'd go, 'I know, I'm super depressed, I don't know what to do about this. And I went to him for three, four years dealing with it. When Paul Williams told his secret to Orchard Group in , they demanded that he resign immediately.
On December 31, , Paul retired quietly from Orchard Group. The Orchard Group board, staff and extended church planting family wish Paul and Cathy his wife God's best as they step into the future," the announcement said.
On Friday, after The New York Times profile about his father's transition was published, Jonathan appeared more settled and supportive.
I'd be lying if I said that the past couple of years have been easy. Even though it's been a tough process for my family I choose to stand on the side of love and acceptance for my father and so many others," Jonathan wrote on his Facebook page. As Paula, the former conservative leader says he is going public with his story at this time because he wants to save at-risk Christian transgender teenagers.
The boy's name was Nicholas, and we realized we had been in court on the same day, when our names were legally changed. His parents were incredibly supportive, unlike the parents of Leelah Alcorn, who ended her life on the very same day Nicholas and I changed our names. Leelah's unsupportive parents attended a church that taught them not to accept their daughter's gender. It cost them their daughter," Paula said. They are the most at risk group in the nation.
Most of those unsupportive parents are Evangelicals. They always ask the same painful question, 'What do I do now? In my previous work, I hoped to save people from spiritual suffering. In my current work, I hope to save people from dying.
It is of little interest to me. However, I do care about their orthopraxy, how they practice the Christian faith. I find it lacking. I find any religion lacking that leads with judgment instead of leading with acceptance and love. When asked to comment on Paula going public, Brent Storms, who became president of Orchard Group after Paul Williams stepped down, declined commenting on Monday. We intend to continue to do so with future requests, as well," he said.
Contact: leonardo. Women in ministry: John MacArthur owes you an apology. Pastor Andy Savage launches new church as Beth Moore offers comfort to his sexual assault victim. How the American church is grappling in a society that's abandoning God.
Former pastor Ryan Bell on why he abandoned his Christian faith: I gave it my best shot.
For the first couple of years, I was not sure I would survive. Although she was early for the flight, she decided not to go and want to get a return ticket back to Tampa Florida. Valerie Star from Weatherford, Tex. Why hadn't I gotten it yet? Claire-Renee Kohner from Hopkins, Minn.
Paula transgender. And So It Goes
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.
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. 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. It is an honest, engaging, redemptive story. Included in the book are responses I wrote to five of the chapters. 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 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. Most of my public speaking is on the subject of gender inequity.
Working toward gender equity is a passion and a subject with which I am comfortable. Last week I was in San Diego speaking to a group of financial advisors. About 80 percent were male. The men were politely receptive, but the women were far more enthusiastic.
It is what I have come to expect. It is difficult for men to grasp the extent of their privilege. I understand. I once had a lot of power, and still retain a lot of power. Giving up power is never easy. While I knew giving up power would be necessary when I transitioned, I had no idea how profoundly my life would change. I thought transitioning would solve all of my gender identity issues. While it did make my life more peaceful, meaningful and rewarding, I still feel as though I live in a liminal space, somewhere between male and female.
The borderlands are my home. I will never have the experience of a cisgender female, and in many ways, I never had the experience of a cisgender male. We know from fMRI studies that the brains of transgender people, studied before hormonal treatment, function somewhere between male and female. I could have told them that long before MRIs existed.
I never felt comfortable as a male. Looking at the pictures reminds me that integrating the two halves of my life continues to be a challenge. There was some progress at the beginning, when Paul was still fresh in my memory.
Now, as my male life recedes from view, I am forgetting how it felt to be a guy. I am not. I am fundamentally different. I keep finding myself speaking of Paul in the third person, as if Paul was a distant relative, not the person who shares my heart. My friend Christy always affirms me when I use a sermon illustration about Paul. Usually when people make a reference to me as a male, it is to question the alpha-based actions they see at work.
It still feels like two different lives. I think it would have helped if we had memorialized Paul in some way. I was way too excited about being in my new gender. Truth be told, sometimes I think it might not be a bad idea to lock transgender people in a closet for the first year or so.
Our giddiness in those early days does not match the pain made manifest around us. This morning our interview on Red Table Talk had its debut. I was very pleased with the show. I thought the show was fair-minded and positive.
I am grateful to Jada and Jack and Katy and Dena and Chelsea for making this such a wonderful experience. It gets easier with the passing of time, but it will never be easy. I suppose that is how things are for those who blaze a trail. Not many evangelical pastors transition genders. Of course, I would.
The call toward authenticity is sacred and holy and for the greater good. I wish I could find a place for it, because living authentically is sacred and holy and for the greater good. But as many have discovered before me, few things that are sacred and holy and for the greater good are ever easy.
When I transitioned from male to female, I lost four jobs, my pension, and the vast majority of my friends. On my bad days I wondered if my demise was inevitable. I was lost. But it is okay, because that is also when I realized lost is a place too, and there are times when you have no choice but to spend time there.
Did you ever wake up in the middle of the night in a blackened room and try to stumble your way to the bathroom, only to stub your toe on the corner of the bed? You know, if you had waited a minute or so after you opened your eyes, they would have adjusted to the darkness. You can still see in the dark.
I live in a low light community in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. After 35 years in New York, when I never knew the phases of the moon, in Colorado I always know if the moon is full or nearly so. Since I follow it all month, I also know if it is waxing or waning.
It is waning now, but still formidable. It was full when I came home from Los Angeles last Thursday. A harvest moon illuminates like twilight. But even when there is no moon, if you are willing to sit in the dark for a while, the stars and ambient light in the atmosphere are enough to light your way. I am not saying it is fun to find your way by the light of the night. But sometimes it is necessary.
Fortunately, you eventually make your way to dawn. Daylight is good. Life is easier in the daytime. Happiness tends to come during daylight hours. Happiness comes pretty much when you expect it. Happiness is tied to external circumstances.
As a privileged white man, happiness came often. Privilege brings more than a fair measure of external happiness. Privilege does not necessarily bring joy.
Joy comes when you find your way in the dark. Joy comes when you wait long enough in the place called lost until your eyes have adjusted, and you have enough light to see. Joy comes in that moment when you finally see a way forward, or at least the first step, and you take it. There is a particular kind of joy that comes when the step you see in the dark is one that empowers others to embark on their own journey into the dark night, or into the light of dawn, depending on the day.
The joy is in the knowing that their journey is sacred and holy and for the greater good, just like yours. He was a lover of experience and accepted another final journey, not back out to sea, but inland. He was to travel until he got to a place in which people did not know an oar when they saw one. There he was to plant the oar that he carried with him, as an offering of propitiation to the god Poseidon.
But this living is serious business, and we are pilgrims, always drawn forward through both the promising dawn and the dark of night. And for all the uncertainty of each journey, we can know these two things. We will not be without love, and if we keep our hearts turned steadfastly to the right, there will be joy. I took an August break from my blog. It just kinda happened.
Part of the reason is that I have had a lot of wonderful things happening. Last week, we talked about and 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 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. I spoke for over employees about gender inequity. 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. Sunday I spent the day with other presenters who will be speaking together this fall. A couple of weeks ago I was in New York City for a board meeting and had a chance to visit with Jonathan. Every time I get on a plane, it is because I am transgender. But whether you like it or not, there is another call on your life in addition to your church and your counseling practice.
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.
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 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. 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.
A day or two a week I ride my bike about a mile to the end of a paved road. About two years ago I was riding to those switchbacks on an extremely windy day when I watched a little drama play out at one of the houses along my route.
There was what I assumed to be a man with long hair and his wife struggling to get their camper off its four spindly legs and back onto the truck bed. Things were not going well. She was my hero. Her clothes were a little big as she is five years older, but I managed.
How selfish! Then things sort of went on hold until I was thirteen when my life started this really weird, confusing spiral. My family had suffered a financial setback, and after living with my grandparents for a few months, we moved to the countryside where we could rebuild an old home and grow our own food, both animal and garden. With three teenage boys at home why not give farm life a try, right? By this time my mother had her dresser in the back bathroom by my bedroom and as it was somewhat isolated I had ample opportunity to try on clothes and sleep in her undies.
I only came close one time to getting caught and that was when I was taking a bath and someone banged on the door and in a panic I threw a bra behind the bathtub and forgot to retrieve it. My mother asked me if I knew how it got there and I answered no, of course. She just stood there for what seemed an eternity before she walked away. I could dream. The remaining high school years were uneventful.
The only exciting thing during these years was wearing panties under my blue jeans. I excelled in boot camp as I was out to prove to myself that I was just as much of a man as the next man, and maybe even better.
After boot camp I returned home and lost my virginity. That girl still has a special place in my heart. I was there for five cold fall and winter months where you stay covered with clothes or blankets to keep warm. We slept four to a room and used a community shower. I think being 17 and slight of build allowed me to get away with shaving my body hair.
This time I left the pubic hair and started to grow a mustache to make outward appearances as passable as possible because I was beginning to realize that these people might care if I was different. I had these feelings and acted on them no matter how wrong I knew them to be by the standards that our society has set. It just never worked for long. I would often lie awake at night and wonder if there was a vitamin deficiency in my diet or if this was a punishment for some sort of wild and imagined SIN!
The torture and hurt I experienced was excruciating and the worst part was there was absolutely NO ONE I could talk to about all of this. I would overcome suicidal thoughts with denial and being manly. This would work for awhile until my obsessive-compulsive inner feeling attacked me again. Nobody knew about my secret life, and I was assigned to an aircraft carrier on its way to Vietnam. By this time I was 18 and was expected to be wild and loose with the women in the port, so I was-I mean, who knew if you were going to be alive tomorrow?
Eighteen of us slept in this small compartment on canvas beds stacked three high. So as my desire to rid my body of its offensive hair became stronger, my apprehension grew with the sure knowledge that I would be found out and made fun of and court-martialed out of the Navy.
Finally I shaved anyway. In Nam it was extremely hot and I just know that the guys in the compartment knew because I would wake up with my sheet thrown off my body due to the heat. I guess no one said anything because I never made any homosexual advances toward anybody. During a locker inspection one time I thought that I was caught for sure as I had no time to hide my wig, makeup and clothes.
When the Chief got to the locker in my workspace, he just looked at me and said that there was no need to look in my locker as I was the Petty Officer in charge of the work space. Did he know? I was in San Francisco and happened to buy a gay magazine.
I found an ad where the guy said that he was interested in meeting people for companionship and good times, so I called and made an appointment to meet at his house. I went back to ship and dug out all my makeup and wig, stuffed them into a shopping bag, and off I went. As soon as I arrived at his apartment, I rushed into the bathroom and put on my makeup and wig and just sat there on the toilet trying to figure out what I was going to do next. Finally, I exited the bathroom and presented ME for the first time.
When he finally told me that what he wanted was a gay sexual encounter I told him that I was not gay but that I would try anything once. He turned me down. All I remember feeling is how ugly I must look to him and everyone else. I cried as I stripped my makeup off and packed everything away.
On the way to the trolley I pitched everything into the garbage and swore that I would be normal from then on. My answer to it all was to go back home, get married with the goal of fathering a child, and hope that I would die on my next cruise to Vietnam. By this time I am barely 19, so being a young war hero in my small town USA was something special, and finding a super good looking girl willing to get married on short notice was not difficult at all. We married and lived together in Oakland, CA for a few months.
Strange marriage though because I was out at sea for 10 to 40 days at a time. We never really got to know each other, and it seemed that she always had some ailment that prohibited sexual relations. She was a lot wilder than I, involved with grass and hash, and in general she was a party animal where I have always been a loner and protective of my privacy.
I told my wife that I thought they were hers and had thrown them out as I wanted her to get pregnant. Being a total novice and not understanding what birth control pills could or could not do for me, I basically overdosed on them and felt terrible for a couple of days. The ship was put on hour notice to deploy to Vietnam, and off I went while my wife went back to our hometown to wait for the return of her sailor. The marriage lasted six months.
I had been corresponding with another hometown girl during my third tour in Vietnam and really fell in love with the romantic thought of a girl back home to brag about and all. She turned me down the first time, but I was dumb enough to ask again, and she accepted. Neither one of us knew how to call off the wedding and still save face with our families and friends so we ended up getting married.
Within three weeks I was dressing in her clothes and putting on her makeup. One night as she was doing her nails, she asked me to put my hand out and she put nail polish on all five fingers. GOD I was in heaven. I thought I was going to die right there. In a short while, I went into the bathroom and painted my other hand and told her it was so they would look the same. By the time I returned to the bed she had awakened and wanted to know where I had been.
As we had only been married four months, she believed me when I said that this would be the last time that anything like this would ever happen.
That was the true beginning of my misery. But I was twenty-one. I was going to college and she was working at a restaurant, so I had ample time to dress at home. My mother almost caught me one time when she unexpectedly came to the house and I had nail polish on. I hid my hands in my pockets and behind me for the entire time she was visiting.
She looked at me oddly, but if she ever suspected something was amiss, she never said anything. I carried an overload each semester and worked 30 hours a week as a janitor to be able to afford school. During this whole time, I had this terrific inner battle going on where confusion won more often than not. Military life was something that I was familiar with, and anyone associated with the military was considered manly and beyond reproach. I graduated college as a distinguished military graduate and accepted a commission as an Army Finance Officer.
My wife and I had been on rocky terms the past few years, and we kept trying to make it work and even had a son my last semester in college. I was so disgusted that I even had an extramarital affair with an enlisted girl just to prove to myself that I was an unworthy person.
Just like every time before, I took the easy way out and lived with my inner turmoil while outwardly looking for the most part the healthy, vigorous male. Here I am a second lieutenant in the Army, 25 years old, in my second marriage, unhappy with no outlook for improvement.
Each way I turned I ran into confusion as to who I was and what my purpose in life was. Why did GOD put me through this? Was there some reason for it all? Just what is it that I am doing wrong that is causing me to be this way? So this time I ventured into Mexico and purchased estrogen tablets from the local pharmacies, and did they ever look at me strange.
Thinking that a change of scenery would give me a better outlook on life and make my marriage better, for the sake of our son I accepted an assignment to Germany. Once again, this was only good for a short time. My wife took that letter back to the United States and after six and one half years of marriage she obtained a divorce and restricted visitation from my two children. So at 29 years old I had been married twice, had two fine sons, and still was as confused as I could be.
In order for me to be able to even talk to my sons I had to attend therapy and have the doctor forward status reports to my ex-wife stating that I was harmless to my children. The therapy proved worthless on my part as the doctor had a heck of a time understanding English, and I spoke no German.
But before I got into the spirit of it all, I tried unsuccessfully to get onto a professionally administered program of hormone treatments. I traveled to Frankfurt and set a date with a doctor for a sex change operation the following May. He wanted me on hormones for at least a year but was willing to accept me with only 10 months treatment. I got discouraged and reverted back to the male image. I started dating a German girl and enjoyed it as she was safe, that is, there was no intention of a serious relationship.
But then I met an Army Nurse who made me feel like a real person for the first time in my life. She seemed to really enjoy my attentions toward her and accept the relationship for what it was. We fit together so very well that it was inevitable that we get married. I really thought that this time would be different.
Renowned transgender pastor Paula Williams' living her truth may have given her some relief, but it came at a huge cost. She lost everything, from marriage, status as a respected pastor to privilege as a man then. She said she knew when she was about three years old that she was trapped in a body she did not belong in, but fear of the unknown delayed her from coming out.
I didn't hate being a boy, I just knew I wasn't one, but the longer life went, I was like I don't want to do this to my family. Transitioning from Paul to Paula was more than the outside appearance, it was a calling, she said. A calling she cried about, questioned and resisted for decades, almost breaking her.
His wife at the time was the first person to whom he made the big reveal, resulting in the end of their marriage. That I think was the realisation that she needs to be true to herself as well and she is not attracted to women.
It has been devastating. The transition also affected the children the couple had together. Jana Williams, who was also a guest on the show, said the process was difficult for her but she found comfort in seeing how happy it made Paul at the time. She was showing us her clothes and I was truly excited for her because I could see she was glowing.
Before coming out, Paula knew to expect some changes but did not have an understanding of the magnitude of the loss. I thought, well I'd have to leave my jobs and so I wanted to tell the organisations I was a part of and one I had been with for 35 years. A week after coming out, everything was lost. I lost the church, I lost a lot of my friends, I lost my pension, I lost everything. Due to to being alienated from the church she had been associated with, Paula started her own, all-inclusive church in Colorado last year.
Register Sign In. Transgender pastor Paula Williams says coming out cost her everything - 'I lost my power'.
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