Defying Doctrine: First Openly Transgender Catholic Vocation Finds Vocation in Kentucky

Thought to be the first openly Transgender person working in the Catholic Diocese, Brother Christian Matson shares his story. 

Living in Truth

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While celebrating Pentecost with his church community in Kentucky, Christian Matson made the brave decision to publicly share his identity as a Transgender person. 

Time to End the Rejection

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Matson said, “I was seeing young trans people take their own lives because they felt rejected by their communities, including their religious communities”. 

“This Is Wrong”

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Continuing, “I could no longer sit in the safety of being stealth and not raise my voice to say, ‘This is wrong.’”

The Privilege at Play

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Matson, who acknowledges his own “privilege” as passing for a cisgender male, but felt it was time to share his truth. 

Staying True to Himself

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When on his journey to pursue a vocational role, Matson was always honest about his identity to the church leaders and spiritual leaders and wanted to find a place where he felt he truly belonged. 

Devout Since Childhood

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Matson has always been a dedicated man of God, and shared, “From a child, I wanted to be a ‘knight for Christ,’ going around doing good”. 

Hearing the Call

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Almost 4 years after Christian Matson had transitioned, he felt the calling even more strongly while attending a Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults. 

Involving Catholic Law

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After feeling the call to join the vocation, Matson contacted a lawyer who specializes in Catholic law, a canon lawyer, on how to best proceed with his journey. 

10 Years of “No’s”

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For over 10 years, Matson was continuously denied, either with an immediate no or a dismissive “talk to someone higher up” also resulting in a “no”. 

Levels of Complexity

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Matson shared, “They would say something along the lines of, ‘It’s clear you have a vocation, but our community is just not ready to grapple with the complexity of this situation”. 

Vatican Ruling

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Another roadblock for Matson was an outdated order from the Vatican from 2000, stating that transgender people are not permitted to enter religious life due to “lack of mental stability”. 

Finally Embraced

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Luckily, one Reverend in Kentucky, Rev. John Stowe, was willing to take the risk in 2020. After hearing the news, Matson said, “I feel immense relief and gratitude”.

Officially a Diocesan Hermit

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With Rev. John Stowe’s seal of approval, Christian Matson could officially declare himself as diocesan hermit. 

A Life of Solitude

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A diocesan hermit, or person dedicated to a life of solitude under the spiritual guidance of a church leader, is a rare but important role within the vocation. 

What Is a Hermit?

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The role of a hermit can be vastly different based on the diocese, but Matson shares that he prays in the morning, attends daily mass, and remains dedicated and obedient to the word of the Lord. 

Someone’s Got to Pay the Bills

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To pay the bills, Matson works at a local theater in the afternoons. 

The Diocese’s Statement 

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The Diocese of Lexington released a formal statement on May 21st, stating, “Brother Christian has long sought to consecrate his life to Christ in the Church by living the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience”. 

A Rule of Life

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The release continued, “He does not seek ordination, but has professed a rule of life that allows him to support himself financially by continuing his work in the arts and to live a life of contemplation in a private hermitage”. 

Finally Accepted in His Profession

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“Bishop John Stowe, OFM Conv., accepted his profession and is grateful to Brother Christian for his witness of discipleship, integrity and contemplative prayer for the Church”. 

Loopholes in the Law

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One of the loopholes that has helped Matson navigate the Catholic law is that there is no concept of gender mentioned and instead has very strict rules on biological sex. 

The Fight Is Not Over Yet

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Unfortunately, there is still a lot of work to do within the Catholic church in regards to embracing transgender Catholics. 

Gender-Affirming Care Criticized

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In April of 2024, the Vatican released an official document stating that “gender affirming surgery is a violation of human dignity”. 

Mixed Feedback

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Matson has received mixed reviews both online and in-person since coming out as transgender, but he remains positive. 

The Complexity of the Human Person

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Matson shares, “My only agenda is the Gospel” continuing to say that the pushback is “not a question of ideology. It is a simple disagreement as to what the facts are about the complexity of the human person”. 

The post Defying Doctrine: First Openly Transgender Catholic Vocation Finds Vocation in Kentucky first appeared on Pulse of Pride.

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