Transgender Catholic issues will be the subject of the next installment of DignityUSA’s webinar series, Queer Catholic Faith, on Tuesday, April 17, 2012, 9:00 pm, Eastern Time. The featured guest will be Hilary Howes, a Catholic transgender woman living in Maryland.
Hilary’s life journey has been an inspiring one, since she not only transitioned from living as a man to living as a woman, but her previously heterosexual marriage to a woman remained intact through that transition. Additionally, she is an adult convert to Catholicism, having turned to her wife’s faith after the gender transition process. The couple are active members of the Greenbelt Catholic Community, an intentional Eucharistic community in Greenbelt, Maryland, a suburb of Washington, DC.
Ms. Howes has already shared her unique life-story in a variety of Catholic venues. She authored the article, “To Be or Not to Be: A Catholic Transexual Speaks,” in the September 2010 issue of Conscience magazine, which she concluded with this paragraph:
“I understand that my journey, though personal, touches that which is universal about gender for everyone. Perhaps your notions of father, mother, brother, sister, husband and wife get opened a little by meeting someone who has been all of those at different times in her life. Maybe you can take it from someone who has been there that looking at everything as us and them, black and white, male or female is limiting and dangerous. Ultimately, welcoming the mystery of diversity in God’s plan is the healing for our church for which I most hope.”
In September of 2011, she was a featured panelist at the first conference of the “More Than a Monologue” series, held at Fordham University, New York. A National Catholic Reporter article on the event noted Hilary’s participation, observing that she offered her message of diversity with a strong dose of humor, with lines such as:
“I remain in my Catholic marriage of 33 years, to the most understanding woman in the world — making ours one of the few same-sex marriages affirmed by the Roman Catholic church.”
Most recently, Hilary, along with her wife, Celestine, were focus session leaders at New Ways Ministry’s Seventh National Symposium last month in Baltimore, Maryland. Their presentation is available on CD; click here for the order form.
The DignityUSA webinar series kicked off last month with a conversation with Jamie Manson, an award-winning columnist for The National Catholic Reporter. It will continue, Tuesday, May 22, 2012, 9:00 pm, Eastern Time, with Rev. John McNeill, theologian, psychotherapist, and pioneer of LGBT rights in the Catholic church. The series concludes on Tuesday, June 12, 2012, 9:00 pm, Eastern Time, with Dr. Mary Hunt, theologian and co-founder of WATER (Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics, and Ritual).
–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry