Australian church leader Reverend Josephine ‘Jo’ Inkpin has described her joy after becoming the first openly transgender person inducted into a mainstream church.
Originally from the UK, Rev Inkpin (pictured) has served within the Anglican Church in Australia for over 20 years.
In 2017, she came out as transgender while head of the Anglican Church Southern Queensland in Brisbane. As far as she’ss aware, she was the first local church leader to do so.
On March 14, Rev Inkpin made history again when she was officially appointed minister of Pitt Street Uniting Church.
During the ceremony, she received her license to lead the congregation at the progressive church in Sydney.
Reverend Inkpin opened up to the ABC about “shedding tears of joy” at the appointment.
“There were tears of joy, a lot of joy in coming home really, I think,” she said.
Rev Inkpin said her own journey of self-acceptance was a long one, and took part in yesterday’s Transgender Day of Visibility for that reason.
“People who are on the margins have to stand up and have to find the visibility, and that is very, very hard to do,” she said.
“Where we are in positions where we are not just filling the pews, but up front and sharing our gifts. That is enabling for other people.
“I know how much for myself, just to know there is someone like me, what a difference it makes.
“To see ourselves represented in public space is really huge.”
Pitt Street Uniting Church ‘a place of welcome’ for queer people
In 2019, the Sydney Anglican diocese declared, “The Bible never endorses a divergence between biological sex and gender identity or expression.”
However Rev Inkpin said church policies failing to acknowledge trans and gender diverse people had a “terrible cost” for them.
“It reinforces shame and exclusion and the pain that lots of people feel,” she said, “because they don’t feel like they are properly accepted by God.”
She added transgender people “having to keep trying to justify our existence” was a “waste of time and energy”.
“We need to be released to share our gifts,” she said.
Sydney’s Pitt Street Uniting Church describes itself as a “place of welcome” for LGBTIQ people.
“Wherever you are on your faith journey, wherever you have come from, wherever you are going to, whatever you believe, whatever you do not believe, you are welcome here,” the church explains.
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