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“It helped me integrate these two people together, because I felt like I was leading two separate lives.” But despite doctors confirming what she always knew, the threat of Ruth leaving was very real, forcing Joy to continue to lock her true identity away.Aged 41, she decided to become a minister with the Methodist Church, which had never ordained a transgender person. It’s a very similar thing, in a way, to the transition,” she says.Mr Harper said the support they have received has been a huge blessing to their relationship, especially as a gay couple in Texas.'That church has been, for us, really the first time we have really been able to live out loud as a couple,' he told Buzz Feed News.“My eldest is autistic so I thought it’d be really difficult for him,” she says. "A couple of people didn’t speak to me for a bit, but they had to work it out for themselves.
University chaplain Joy Everingham is proud to be the first transgender minister ordained by the Methodist Church.
It would prove the catalyst for a moment Joy thought would never come.
“Ruth listened to it and just went ‘that’s you, everything about what she’s saying is you’. He said ‘I love you, and it’s a bit weird, but I’ll get used to it’. They’re amazing.” Joy told senior church leaders of her plan to transition, receiving their full support, before revealing it to her new congregation in a notice handed out before a service.
It was the first time Joy Everingham had been forced to suppress who she really was, and it wouldn't be the last.
Her journey began in the small mining village of Beighton, Sheffield, where she grew up the son of an ex-military man, with an older brother and sister. My dad used to joke ‘I’ve got three kids, one of each’, so I was obviously different. “I went through my teenage years trying to be as boyish as possible. If I’d admitted how I really felt at secondary school I think I would have been beaten with sticks.” Joy started to lead a risky double life, sneaking home on her lunch breaks while her parents were at work.