As the world’s first transgendered Roman Catholic consecrated maiden, Tia Michelle Pesando has many reasons for wanting to prove Why God Doesn’t Hate You, which is also the name of her new book.
The 35-year-old London resident says the extensive research she did while writing her book shows God’s love for everyone, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identification.
“From a theological perspective, I think I have a solid argument,” Pesando said. “People are leaving the church because they feel the God of love has betrayed them, and betrayal is one of the worst feelings you can imagine. So I am reaching out to people saying this is what the Bible actually says.”
Pesando cemented her life of dedication to God and the church when she became a consecrated maiden, which includes abiding by vows of chastity, poverty and obedience. She also began the process of joining the Carmelite Order of sisters.
Sitting on a bench in the Mount St. -Joseph Grotto, the soft-spoken woman explains she has always felt a strong spiritual presence in her life. What others may see as a sacrifice, she sees as her calling.
Her devout beliefs, along with her own life experience, provided the inspiration for her book. Born a hermaphrodite — meaning she had both male and female reproductive organs — Pesando lived the first 30 years of her life as a man before self-identifying her gender as female.
She views transgendered people as existing on a hermaphrodite spectrum. On one end there is the “true” hermaphrodite who has both sets of working reproductive organs. On the other end are the people Pesando believes suffer the most to live as their self-identified gender, which requires that they take hormones, undergo painful surgery, yet still retain features birth gender features like a lantern jaw or deep voice.
Pesando said she falls somewhere in the middle. “As for me, in terms of transitioning, I didn’t actually have much to do. I haven’t gone under the knife because I don’t really need to,” Pesando said, explaining that neither of her reproductive organs is functional. “I have, so far as I know, always been sort of asexual in the sense of reproduction.
Pesando’s spiritual beliefs started at a young age and when she was a 17, she considered becoming a priest. However, deep down she knew — even if she didn’t understand it for another 13 years — something about that choice just didn’t feel right.
I’m curious to know what the Carmelites have to say about all this.
Meantime, I’m presuming what they refer to as a “consecrated maiden” is what most of us would know otherwise as a “consecrated virgin.”