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A (Trans*) Kid Growing Up Catholic

by Chris Paige


  

Blake Desormeaux, a gender fluid student at Wellesley College, opens up in this video blog about his journey as a devout Roman Catholic considering religious life.

Desormeaux's story is at once his own, but also a story of many Roman Catholic transgender people -- struggling to be authentic to who God created him to be, struggling to find a place in Roman Catholic tradition, and living with loss.

Desormeaux begins by detailing his Roman Catholic up-bringing with devout parents, taught in Catholic primary school. About 7:30 (in part 1), Desormeaux talks about his first crisis of faith, in the 8th grade when he started considering the priesthood. Young Desormeaux was told by Brother John, "You can't be a priest. You're a girl. ...only men are priests."

Desormeaux continues,

I remember thinking to myself "Ok. When I become a man, I can be a priest." That was probably the first time when I had consciously thought about my transgender identity. That was the time when gender identity issues started to take a presence in my life.... But... I had somehow found a way to separate my faith and my gender identity in a way that they did not conflict with each other.

From about 8:50 (in part 1), it's clear that Desormeaux's devotion to the faith continued through high school, as he was moved to become a woman religious right after high school.

In his telling, the conflict became more severe at this point. Desormeaux articulates that struggle,

I knew that transitioning would destroy any hope for me serving God as a priest, because... I would be disrespecting the Lord by changing my body... by saying that there is something wrong with your body, you are saying there is something wrong with what the Lord made. ...I was prepared to shut down that part of my identity... to serve the Lord...

Desormeaux didn't join a religious order at that time because U.S. molestation scandals raised new doubts for him about the Roman Catholic hierarchy. One question led to another, allowing him to open up to ideas beyond Roman Catholic doctrine. Yet, he still held out a dream of becoming a Eucharistic minister (12:15, part 1).

Desormeaux outlines some new questions (about 13:47, part 1),

I had months of turmoil trying to decide if I was going to be a Eucharistic minister or not. During that time, I started to accept more my transgender identity... I began to think about things like, "If God made me this way, then how can these people tell me that ... [God] doesn't like me?"...  God may have made my body, but he also made my intellect -- he also made my brain. So the fact that my brain and my body didn't match was something that God must have done on purpose.

Eventually, Desormeaux stopped identifying as a Catholic (1:00, part 2).

I don't know how much of it I believe or don't believe -- I just know that I can't be a part of the Church right now... It's hard because...the Church was home. Catholicism was home and I don't have that any more. And it's weird. And it's hard. And it's almost like I'm lost. But I can't go back, because it's not the right place for me.

Wrestling with what all of this means for Desormeaux, is a continuing process. He says, (5:59, part 2)

There are days when I am dying to go back and to pray and to ask God for forgiveness. There are other days when I'm like "You don't need to beg God for forgiveness, because you've done nothing wrong." ...

I identify as ex-Catholic at the moment. But who knows what I'll be tomorrow. All I know is that I miss Church and I miss Mass and I miss the feeling that I would get after getting Communion. And I miss Adoration. And I miss talking to God. I know I can do that still, right now, but... those activities are so Catholic... and I feel so wrong participating in Catholic rites and Catholic action...

That was my attempt at explaining faith -- my faith and my faith history... I'm still trying to reconcile and balance the Catholic ideals that I've been brought up with -- with myself. But I'm still working on it and I'm taking it one day at a time.

Watch the full two part video blog for yourself. You can find a place to talk about your own struggles and find companions on your own journey in the TransCatholics Facebook Group.

 

You can find the original videos are on YouTube:

  

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