Prepared ministry given by a Friend during a main session at Britain Yearly Meeting May 2019

I wrote this at a very different time in my life. Not all of it still rings true as I began to understand myself more fully, and hope that this piece of ministry can be read as my truth of the time – not as a permanent state.

I have tried, with utmost concentration, to understand how I have ‘broken’ the unseen and unspoken chains that bind me. It took me back to when I was a child, raised as a boy, where even inadvertently I would help shackle women around me. These were unfortunate by-products of my assigned gender at birth and its privileges.

I was able to speak truth to power unquestioned and stood up without worrying about any expectations. I revelled at times, particularly in my adolescence, in that power. This is something I look back on with great guilt. But I remember we are all learning and unlearning, and there is truly that of God in everyone.

By the time I came to Friends, I began to better understand compassion. Not simply its literal definition, but what it meant in our day-to-day actions in the world around us. It helped me to be a better ally to those who were shackled by the privileges I carried. It has always helped marginalised people see their true potential when not stuck under the unseen/unspoken chains from society.

Through our worship I began to connect more with my own truths, and through our spiritual communities I realised the importance of being true to yourself. And with that always in my mind, it helped me realise I was never exactly a man nor a woman, but instead beyond binary gender. Much like compassion helped me be better to others, this truth helped me be better to myself.

As I began my transition, I may have freed myself from one set of chains, but I suddenly felt as if others had been put upon me. I can often be met with barriers thanks to a mythology that demonises transgender people. I have simply wanted to liberate myself, and others, never inflicting shackles once again. And despite my weariness at times, my fears and anxieties, I am led with my heart and mind.

I hope that, together, we can once again find an equality that is made from our truth and compassion.