Catholic monk comes out as transgender, urges Church to embrace trans members

Thursday, May 23, 2024 - A Catholic monk came out as transgender this month, saying the church has "to deal with" trans Catholics.

On May 17, Brother Christian Matson, a Catholic monk in Kentucky, told Religion News Service, "This Sunday, Pentecost 2024 (May 19), I'm planning to come out publicly as transgender."

"You've got to deal with us, because God has called us into this church. It's not your church to kick us out of—this is God's church, and God has called us and engrafted us into it,” Matson, who holds a doctorate in religious studies, told the Church regarding transgender Catholics.

Matson transitioned during college and converted to Catholicism four years later. He hopes his coming out will spark meaningful discussions about the inclusion of transgender individuals within the Catholic community.

His announcement comes just a month after the Vatican released “Infinite Dignity,” a 20-page document that criticizes gender theory, abortion, and surrogacy as attacks on humanity’s connection with God.

Matson expressed disappointment that the Vatican's stance on trans issues lacks scientific engagement. He has written multiple letters to the Vatican, urging leaders to interact more with transgender individuals.

Matson sought advice from a canon lawyer when he felt called to serve in the Church. The lawyer suggested the role of a diocesan hermit, which does not distinguish based on sex or gender.

Despite this, Matson faced rejections from several communities before finding acceptance in Kentucky.

“People who knew me said, ‘You clearly have a religious vocation,’ and these were all people who knew my medical history,” Matson said.

However, those responsible for decision-making within communities often refused to meet with him.

Bishop John Stowe, a prominent advocate for LGBTQ+ individuals in the Catholic Church, received a letter from Matson in 2020 and oversaw his vows in 2022.

“My willingness to be open to him is because it’s a sincere person seeking a way to serve the church. Hermits are a rarely used form of religious life … but they can be either male or female,” Stowe told the RNS.

Matson spent his initial year almost entirely in prayer or working at a local theater and renewed his vows in 2023.

“I don’t have a hidden agenda, I just want to serve the church,” Matson said. “People can believe that or not.”

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