Hi, I’m BJ. I’m 65, and happily married for 44 years. We have four children and 14 grandchildren. I was born and raised in the church and have checked all the boxes. Mission to Sydney Australia, married in the Manti Temple; served in most callings within in the ward. I’ve lived in Orem, Utah most of my life.
I’m of an age now where memories of my childhood are not many. As best as I can recall I knew something was different with me. I wanted to play and associate with the girls. I did not understand what all this meant for me. But from that age I knew that this was not something that anyone could find out about me. So, I buried it. I was filled with shame, guilt, self loathing and fear! These were my constant companions for the next half century! This battle about who I was took a very long time to figure out. These feelings would come and overwhelm and I would battle until I could stuff them away. I would get on with being the best young man, man, husband and father that I could be until the next battle came.
It has been relentless.
As I grew—so would it.
This continued until 2017. I might also add that I was such a terrible person I was not even able to talk to God about my problem. On Valentine’s Day I knew Encircle was opening its doors in Provo, Utah. I knew there was a support group for me. I had never met anyone like me. My secret was still intact. I was beginning to feel the Spirit pushing me to go to Encircle. It was relentless in its efforts. I know it was from my Heavenly Father. He and I both knew I would not survive much longer in my very dark closet.
Just one big issue stood in my path.
What do I tell my wife where I want to go every Friday night for three hours!? I could not come up with a lie. So, on April 12th I summoned every ounce of courage that I could muster and came out to my wife.
I am transgender!
The whole evening is pretty much a blur. It’s been really hard for my wife and for me. We have not given up on each other and continue to work together as we move forward in this journey.
We have both been blessed immensely, my wife with answers to prayers with overwhelming peace. I with being lead to listen to others stories, meet people in the LGBTQ+ community, parents and allies. I have met such amazing and loving people—people who have loved and accepted me; people that I love and admire. So many who are no longer in the church and I love and respect them and I break as I realize how they have been treated. Some of the brightest and best!
I too have struggled. I struggled to stay especially after the past two October conferences. I did leave for a few months in 2018. The Spirit keeps convincing me that I need to stay. So, I stay. Last summer I was being prompted to be more visible in my ward. I have not socially transitioned and my wife and I are still working through that. Anyway, I didn’t know what being visible included and I waited. A few days later I had an encounter with a long time friend and ward member. It included a description of a new member in the ward and how terrible this trans woman looked, she, I mean he, I mean it. Full Stop. I tried to calmly explain the importance of pronouns with no luck. I talked about my work at Encircle and the Becoming group with trans youth I worked with. Still no luck. So I told him that I was just like her, I’m transgender as well and I don’t care who knows! Well, my being visible had a direction! Go see this other trans woman( she is beautiful). Go see the Bishop and come out to him. I had already visited with the Stake President and both were really good positive visits. I have been slowly coming out to select ward members.
Then the policy change happened in February. I met with the Stake President again to see how things would work moving forward. As of right now, when church resumes I will be attending Relief Society. All the leadership in the ward knows and they are supportive. The Elders Quorum President wants my wife and I to share our story in priesthood. We are hoping it can be a fifth Sunday meeting to include a broader audience. So, this is quite a change from the negative messages from conference to feeling so loved and wanted in this ward and stake. So, I stay because my Heavenly Father loves me and has work for me to do. Oh, and we talk now! The shame and self loathing are gone! Such a blessing to have those burdens removed.
I hope with all of our efforts we can have a more Christ-like church that truly loves and accepts EVERYONE!
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This In My Own Words story is a contribution from Let’s Love Better, a Facebook group dedicated to helping people learn to better share love, while fostering an atmosphere of understanding. When we know better, we do better.