Trans priest’s decision to come out is making parishioners feel more welcome

Trans flag

Reverend Selina McMahon has detailed how coming out as trans has started making members of the parish feel more welcome.

McMahon, originally a software developer from Middlesbrough, now lives in Australia and is a priest in the Anglican Church Southern Queensland parish. 

Speaking to QNews, McMahon explained that, while a small number of parishioners dropped out of the congregation after the priest came out as trans, the general response to her transition has been overwhelmingly positive.

Stock image of a person holding a trans flag
Trans priest Reverend Selina McMahon has helped LGBTQ+ parishioners and their families feel more welcome. (Getty Images)

McMahon became a priest before she emigrated Down Under, telling the publication that one day “God got a hold of [her] and said, ‘Hey come on, I’ve got a job for you to do.’”

Then, when she decided it was time for a change, she decided to relocate to Ipswich in Queensland, Australia. Only then did she realise there was a far more significant change in store for her.

Three years ago, McMahon began her transition journey, after seeing a friend do the same back in the UK finally gave her the courage and confidence to stop running from Selina and let her in.

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After talking it through at length, she earned the Church’s support and began her transition.

While she says some members of the congregation dropped out, McMahon told QNews that the majority of her parishioners were “happy that actually they had the same person that they got used to and got to know and love… so they stuck with it.”

Not only that, but McMahon says that being open about her transition has inspired some parishioners to open up more to her, and given them the confidence to share their truth with her.

An image showing a person holding a transgender flag against a pale pink wall. The picture does not show the person's face
Coming out made members of the congregation feel more comfortable coming to trans priest Selina McMahon. (Getty/DBenitostock)

In one instance, she recalls someone coming up to her to tell her: “We didn’t tell you but our granddaughter married another woman a week or two ago. That’s why we weren’t at church because we went to the wedding but we couldn’t tell you because we didn’t know how you would react.”

To help make locals feel even more welcome in the church, McMahon has used her position as a transgender woman to campaign for an LGBTQIA+ outreach officer for the Anglican Church in Southern Queensland.

After seeing a similar position being set up in the UK, McMahon campaigned for her Church to create the role – though she did have to do some convincing.

She told the publication that she had explained to the Church: “You’ve already got rainbow people in your congregation, you may not know who they are, they are terrified that you find out. 

“If you want to actually make them feel a real part of the congregation, there are some of the things you’re going to have to do.”

So the role was created and designated to McMahon, who is planning to kick things off with a listening exercise, where members of the LGBTQ+ community who are current or former members of the church can air out their feelings about any of the church’s past wrongdoings. 

After taking their thoughts into account, the church will curate a formal apology to the LGBTQ+ community.

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