Gena was born a boy with an eye condition that gradually deteriorated. By the age of 12 she was sent to a school for partially sighted children and now, as an adult, needs a guide dog. Gena recently took part in the Navajo training course ‘Understanding Sexuality’ and, as a result, went on to the Navajo mailing list.
Because of this mailing list she received an email circular about a job with DISC, (Disability Information Service Centre) for a disabled person to undertake a research project into services in the North West available for disabled LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered) people.
When Gena received the email, even before she had opened the attachment with the job details, she felt the Lord spoke to her. It was an inner voice, like hearing very clear thoughts in your head. Gena felt the Lord said ‘You’re going to get this job and you will stand at the front in church and tell everyone about it’. Just as He said, she got the job.
Gena said the wonderful thing about this job is that it seems tailor made for her. She has worked with people with learning disabilities, she has a psychology degree which taught her about research methods, she has studied software engineering at university, she has gained a wider understanding of sexuality and gender issues through the Navajo course. Gena said that every one of her very different experiences is directly useful for this job and she feels now that all these things were a preparation for this role.
Gena told us about her earlier years. She had been deeply unhappy as a child and when she grew up got married hoping that she would be more settled. It was only after the marriage that she came to understand that her difficulties and her depression were due to gender problems. When, with the advice of her doctors she came to the decision to transition to have a female body, she told all her family. Some accepted this and others rejected her. She went through a divorce and faced a very lonely time living in role as a woman waiting for her surgery.
During this time, the Guide Dog Association, who were very supportive, accepted her for their residential training course to train with a guide dog. There was a man doing the same training, blind following an accident, who was a Christian and spoke openly about his faith. Gena thought he was a bit mad to believe in a God who could allow him to loose his sight.
The guide dog training was very physically and mentally demanding and half way through Gena was completely exhausted and stressed out by it and was ready to give up. She went up to her room cursing the training, the centre, her situation, God, everything.
She was rinsing out some washing, about to throw her things in a case and storm out when she heard a voice say to her ‘Gena why do you deny me? I love you and I’ll guide you. You WILL be able to train with the dog’. The voice was as clear as if someone in the room had spoken it but there was no one there. She felt soaked in peace. The anger and stress left her. She now knew Jesus as a reality and knew His love for her. She stayed on in the training and went home at the end of the course fully trained with her first guide dog.
She was hungry to know the Lord more and found a church back home in Northampton where she was nourished spiritually. However she felt unable to confide in anyone there about her sex change surgery that was due as she feared rejection. She went though surgery in Charing Cross Hospital in London without visitors. She spent her time in hospital praying and singing worship songs and felt very close to God and strengthened by Him.
Her experience of the Lord revealing Himself to her during her transition and then supporting her through her surgery leaves no doubt in her mind that the Lord accepts and loves people in transition and those with trans histories as much as any of His children.
In the years following she moved to Preston to do a Psychology degree and later studied software engineering at the university. She lost her connection with Christians and church and drifted into what she now sees as ‘a spiritual wilderness’. Gena confided to her friend Christine that she felt the spiritual part of her life was missing. Christine had heard of Liberty Church because of the ‘Nowt so Queer’ book of older LGBT people’s memories and had read Dennis’ story there. Christine put Gena in touch with Liberty.
At Liberty church Gena said she has found a safe place to grow spiritually while being totally accepted and not having to hide any part of herself. She has found herself having a growing trust in the Lord and a growing ability to let Him lead in her life. She now has a strong sense of purpose in following the direction God has got for her life. The experience of Him speaking to her about the job and finding that what He said came true has had a huge impact on her faith and is enabling her trust and faith in Jesus to grow even more.