When Kim Cornwall moved from Minnesota to Georgia, she reached out to a number of churches to see if they would welcome her. Only one responded.
That congregation, Towne View Baptist Church in Kennesaw, Ga., is now her church home. And it’s a place where she feels fully welcome as a transgender Christian.
Relocating to Georgia has not been easy for her in any respect, from finding work in the tech field to finding a church. But Towne View, which was booted from the Southern Baptist Convention in 2021 because of its inclusive stance, was ready to welcome her.
Cornwall knew her life would be one of complexities and hardships as she transitioned from male to female. But like nearly all transgender persons, she believed she had no choice but to transition if she wanted to remain alive.
“I definitely felt like something was seriously wrong with me, even though, you know, I knew my relationship with (God) was a good relationship. I couldn’t understand why I had these feelings. I would say I was just angry in general, and I didn’t know why,” she explained.
“I didn’t start to lose the anger until I started transitioning. There were a lot of nights praying, ‘Father, take this away from me. I don’t want this, you know, I don’t want to be like this.’ I did a lot of work to suppress it.
“The problem with suppressing gender dysphoria is that it tends to come back on you, and it comes back stronger, you know. You can’t willpower it out of existence.”
Yet when she finally accepted who she now believes God intended her to be, she found new resolve and stopped damaging her soul, she said.
Before, she spent a lot of time “trying to be hyper-masculine, thinking that if I could be, you know, manly enough, it’d just go away. There was a lot of self-chastisement. There was a lot of wrestling with guilty feelings because, you know, the whole world told me something was wrong with me.”
Like many working through gender dysphoria, she saw herself as a hopeless sinner. “A lot of older transitioners will go through periods where they will suppress it for a time, and then they’ll privately try on clothes and things like that. And then they’ll get upset with themselves,” she explained.
Deep down, though, she knew her current life wasn’t what she wanted. That led her to research what life would be like if she transitioned. She spent six months in this phase and ultimately felt God leading her to transition.
As her search for a church illustrates, she realizes not all Christians understand or accept her story. To them, she offers this counsel: “To those folks who just absolutely refuse to accept it, Jesus said love your neighbors as you love yourself. And if you’re not doing that, you’re in sin. And we know from the story of the Good Samaritan that your neighbors are people you come in direct contact with. So, no matter what you think of us, you’re obligated to love us, and I’m obligated to love you. Love is love, and I’m not going to let these people live in delusion and attack transgender folks under the guise and the label of tough love.
“No matter what you think of us, you’re obligated to love us, and I’m obligated to love you.”
“Love is patient. Love is kind. Love does not count wrongs. We know the passage, you know. If those things are not there in any form, that’s not tough love. That’s an excuse not to love people like me. I don’t mean to be hard on people, but you need to consider that the LGBTQ community of people also need Jesus, but a lot of churches won’t even let them darken their doorstep.”
She became a Christian at age 13 while attending a small church in rural Utah. Born and raised mainly in California, she spent almost 20 years in Minnesota before moving to Georgia.
“Our air conditioning was broken at the church, and it was a hot, hot summer day. I don’t even know what the sermon was about that day, but the pastor invited us to stand up, bend down in our seats, and pray. And for some reason, I finally understood the gospel that day, you know, just come to Jesus as I was, and I didn’t have to be good enough. And that forgiveness was available to me.”
In her salvation and now in her welcome at Towne View, Cornwall believes she was given a second chance to live and be the person God called her to be.
Now, she’s passionate about her community of people being accepted the way she has been accepted at Towne View. She wants everyone to have such an experience, to find forgiveness and freedom and lift the burden of condemnation.
Despite her transition, Cornwall still considers herself “kind of old-fashioned” and she finds it off-putting for people to make assumptions about her or to ask her inappropriate questions.
“Everybody in the trans community has their own experience, and everybody’s different,” she said. “I think politics and ideology play a role to some extent. I’m older, so I grew up in a different time and looked at things differently. And so it is usually better to ask discreetly than just to make assumptions.”
She does want people to know that there’s one aspect of her life of which she is incredibly proud: “I am a Full-time Nana right now to two toddlers and grandchildren ages 2 and 3. My daughter is building a business, so I am a primary caregiver.”
Watch a video of the entire conversation between Maina Mwaura and Kim Cornwall here.
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