Marianne Dawson – Spirituality and Religion

“I shouldn’t have to go to a specific church.”

Coming out of college, realizing that I’m transgendered, I wrote a letter to [my pastor] indicating what I found out about myself, that I would like to come back to the church, and I was finished with school. I wasn’t permitted. I was excommunicated. I would hop around from church, to church, to church. I’d be kicked out of so many churches. I don’t go to church. Period. I know a couple of churches I can go to and I won’t get kicked out of, but I’m in such a habit of not going to church, I just don’t go to church.

I still have my faith: “It’s been you and me, God, the whole way, right?” That’s how it is. I just got tired of getting kicked out, because I was “different.” I know I can [go to EMCC]. I know it’s a safe place to go. I know they’re really open to the GLBT community and that’s the reason why I don’t go there. I shouldn’t have to go to a specific church because that’s where I can go to be accepted. I should go anywhere and be accepted. It’s nothing against EMCC or those who go there. I just feel like I should go anywhere I like. Like I said, I just gave up on going to churches, so I haven’t been [to EMCC].

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My grandfather was a Presbyterian minister. When I had came out to myself that I’m transgendered, I wrote him a letter. I wrote him a letter a lot. I wrote him more than I did my dad, because he was more available to me than my dad. I remember writing to him and he sent back a letter. It was so totally non-judgmental. It was just saying, “That’s okay. You got to be who you are.” He had a brother who was a cross-dresser, so . . . It runs in the family! [Laughs.] There was just no condemnation. Well, that was just one man, who happened to be a Presbyterian minister, who just told me to be myself.

Sources: Interviews with Maureen Nickerson on 18 November 2006 and 9 December 2006, held at the Museum of Arts and Culture; Interview with Laura S. Hodgman on 16 February 2013.