Dylan: Rosary Beads are a Metaphor for Becoming

Dylan grew up in North Wales in an isolated rural setting. Assigned female at birth, he was named by his parents Angharad, meaning ‘one who is loved’, and he now identifies as a trans man. He is much happier as a trans man, but is still trying to reconcile those first 35 years, which were not altogether unpleasant.

‘There is stuff that I have done, which had I transitioned or had I been living as a man, I wouldn’t have done. That’s part of who I am and I can’t throw that away.’     

He spent a lot of time by himself as a child and didn’t really recognise gender distinctions.

‘I didn’t grow up being forced into a ‘girl’ box, but I didn’t discover what else there might be until I was an awful lot older. In fact, a – I think it’s funny, other people don’t – memory of being about eight or nine, and having a very good friend on the schoolyard, he grew up to find himself comfort as a gay man, and we decided at the time that we didn’t fit in these boxes and we’d been given the wrong bits and when we got old enough, we’d swap.’

Although Dylan’s parents had been brought up as Christians, they rebelled against it, but Dylan himself was drawn more seriously into religious practice as a teenager. He went to study theology at university, and has since embarked on a journey to become a priest. He has begun to transition within the last year, and feels it is important to transition fully before becoming a priest, so that he can take on this role with integrity and fullness.

When Dylan started to train as a priest, he was accepted for training as someone who identified as queer. He did not identify as ‘the L word’.

‘You can’t serve God and serve people happily, unless you know who you are and you hold who you are with integrity. And it’s not about saying, ‘You can’t do it,’ it’s about, ‘You’ll go mad.’ And the more I heard this, the more that little voice in my head said, ‘You can’t be a priest until you transition.’

Dylan asked for permission from the bishop to transition, and the bishop was supportive.

There aren’t many trans clerics, and Dylan doesn’t know of any trans male priests. The training is supposed to be two years, but now it will be four, to accommodate Dylan’s transition and his PhD. He should be ordained a deacon in June 2018, and a priest in 2019.

 ‘Fundamental to my understanding of Christianity is reincarnation, that God became human whilst remaining God, spent 33 years on this planet before dying and rising. That whole idea of God becoming human says something, that being human isn’t this shitty existence that we sometimes live in. And to live as an incarnational people, as a people who follow Jesus, who are fully alive, who are fully themselves, it’s that that made me realise I had to be fully myself.’

Dylan does not want being trans to be the focus of his life and ministry. He wants to fight for justice.

Rosary beads are an important object for Dylan. Praying with these beads gives him a sense of a journey and of moving, while the beads remain the same. It has become a metaphor for becoming.