Reverend Jo Inkpin has been appointed to lead Sydney’s Pitt Street Uniting Church congregation, making her the first openly trans minister inducted into an Australian mainstream church.
Reverend Inkpin told Pink Advocate that her appointment represented “another step forward in a process of change which is irresistible but will continue to be very bumpy”.
“It is an immense joy to be part of what is a slow but growing process of spiritual liberation,” she said.
“For until queer people are free in all aspects of life, we are not wholly free, and the world of spirituality, and even parts of organised religion, has to be a part of this.”
Reverend Inkpin migrated to Australia with her wife and family two decades ago, first working for the Anglican Church Southern Queensland, according to Star Observer.
After coming out in 2017, she moved to the Uniting Church, where she said she was allowed to embrace her true gender.
She has since become well-known in the community as a trans representative and advocate.
Her appointment to lead at the Sydney church represents a national first for a trans minister.
“I was honoured to join [Reverend Inkpin] recently as she was inducted into the Pitt Street Uniting Church as a minister and personally can attest to the tears of joy on the day,” said Labor Councillor Linda Scott on last week’s Trans Day of Visibility.
“It’s so hopeful to see institutions and governments across the world become more accepting of the wonderful diversity of life.”
Reverend Inkpin said that better representation of diversity within the church would have made a significant difference for her growing up in England.
“The first day we went to school, the whistle blew, and we were put into two different lines and got taught the gender binary,” she said.
She said that religion has nonetheless provided her with the necessary space to “be different”.
“I am so glad that my prominence has helped others to feel affirmed, whether or not they ever step into a church,” Reverend Inkpin told Pink Advocate.
“However, I look forward even more to the day when my story is not even a story!”
She said that some parts of the community still have progress to make on acceptance, adding that the proposed religious discrimination bill represents “weaponised faith and religion”.
“We are [not] fully accepted in churches, and sometimes we feel a bit nervous and experience lateral violence from transgender people and other people in the LGBTIQ community as well,” said Reverend Inkpin.
She said she was “so thankful for Pitt Street Uniting Church’s long commitment to full LGBTIQ+ affirmation”.
“I pray that I may continue to work with others to continue to open up fresh life for us all in every aspect of life,” she said.