“I started to explore feminine gender presentation publicly about two years ago on a rare occasion or two,” she said.
This year, she started to think about coming out to the congregation after May, so as not to distract from the church’s centennial celebration that month. Then, in March, the pandemic caused the sermons to move online.
“Up until June 14, I was perceived as male,” she said in the interview. “I was presenting as male, being called my birth and dead name. That was me presenting male as best as I could.”
In her sermon, unsure of how the congregation would react, she set up a separate livestream in case someone tried to cut her off in the middle of her announcement.
“I was not sure if they would let me get through the sermon,” she said. “It was difficult for me to get a read of my congregation. I have preached sermons advocating for acceptance before and got good reaction, but I just wanted to be ready if anything went sideways.”
After hymns and prayers, she started her sermon. Truth was a hidden “pearl,” a treasure to be sought and uncovered, she said. Once found, it had to be spoken no matter how high the cost, or how painful the consequences, she said.
About 10 minutes into her sermon, she said that with “divine joy,” she had her own truth to impart.
“I want you to hear me when I tell you that I am not just supposed to be a pastor: I’m supposed to be a woman,” she said, visibly emotional. “Hi, friends. Hi, family. My name is Junia. You can call me June. I am a transgender woman, and my pronouns are ‘she’ and ‘her.’”