A Methodist minister made a surprise announcement during a church sermon: He was actually born female.
Rev. David Weekley, of Epworth United Methodist Church in Portland, Ore., says he is a transsexual: After a difficult childhood, he had gender reassignment surgery.
Weekley said on "The Early Show" he never viewed his transsexual life as a secret.
"I viewed it as part of my private life," he said.
When Weekley revealed his past, his congregants were quiet.
"It was a pretty intense time," Weekly said. "But they were very supportive. And following the service that day, there were many, many hugs and time for conversation and questions."
Since the revelation, Weekley said he felt a burden had been lifted.
"I feel like I have more ability to pastor to my congregation, and also other people that come to me," he said. "I've had so many e-mails and cards from people all over the country and world saying they would like to return to a spiritual community and my being out there gives them some hope to do that."
Weekley added that seeking reassignment surgery was never a decision.
"From my earliest memories, I always considered myself, felt myself to be a boy. And I use that language because I was a child and that's the way I describe myself, my self-image was always that of a little boy," he said. "That's how I played. Those were my friends. It was only as I grew older that I began to understand there was a difference between how I viewed myself and how the world saw me."
However, Weekley's church may have something to say about his revelation.
"Early Show" co-anchor Maggie Rodriguez pointed out the Methodist church does not ban transgender people from joining the clergy, but they do reevaluate their rules every four years.
Is Weekley concerned that when reevaluation comes up again the Methodist church might take this up and rule against him?
Weekley said that is a possibility, which is why he's speaking out and being more public now.
Homosexuals are permitted to be in the clergy, Rodriguez said. How does he respond to a ban on officiating gay weddings?
"I'm not happy with that part of our church," Weekley said, "but I've chosen over the years to stay within it hoping to work for positive change about those kinds of things."
Deborah Weekley, David's wife, knew David only as male. But she said he revealed his secret after six months as friends.
"I've always been accepting of it," Deborah said. "... David's one of the finest human beings I know and I've always known him as a man and he's a wonderful husband and father and an awesome minister. So I've never seen a conflict with it."
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