Paula Sophia Schonauer is a social worker, teacher, writer, and transgender activist. She retired after 22 years with the Oklahoma City Police Department, where she was the first openly transgender officer. When Paula came out as transgender, she also was a deacon in the Episcopal Church.
In today’s episode, Paula shares her story – her background and childhood, how she struggled with gender identity, how she came out, and how that experience affected her faith. Listen as she describes how learning about gender roles in the Bible impacted her, why she joined the Episcopal Church, and how her transition while she was a deacon led to a crisis of faith.
Topics Discussed in This Episode
- Paula’s background
- Her experience in church schools
- The ability to question religion as a child or youth
- Paula’s questions about gender in the Bible
- Human Jesus versus divine Jesus
- Paula’s call to ministry
- Why Paula chose the Episcopal Church
- How and why she became a deacon
- How Paula’s authenticity factored into her transition
- Her experience of being outed
- Her clergy colleagues’ criticism of Paula and its role in why she left the diaconate
- Her crisis of faith
- Whether the Episcopal Church has made progress