Lauren Markoe interviews Cameron Partridge, a lecturer at Harvard and chaplain at Boston University who, “[a]fter college…graduated from Harvard Divinity School, married her girlfriend, became an Episcopal priest, changed her name — and changed her gender.” The whole exchange is worth reading, but his description of choosing a new name stands out:
In a way, the name chose me. I was at a point in my life when my previous name (which I prefer not to publicly disclose) felt like it no longer fit. I wanted a name that conveyed some sense of gender complexity, since I consider gender in general and my own in particular to be less than straightforward.
At the same time, I had no desire to totally jettison the history — including the thoughtfulness of my parents — caught up in my birth name. Then one day when I was getting sushi takeout, the person behind the register “misheard” my old name as Cameron.
It was a bolt from the blue. I thought, “I think I’ll take that to go too, thanks.” Eventually I looked it up. It turned out to mean something slightly askew: bent nose, crooked stream, or craggy rock. Years earlier I’d bought a button from a queer bookstore that said, simply, “bent.”
And I recalled being struck by a line from Ecclesiastes that I once heard the former Episcopal presiding bishop, Frank Griswold, preach in connection with the scandalous quality of the Christian gospel: “Consider the work of God: Who can make straight what God has made crooked?”
In a profile of Partridge published earlier this year, Becky Garrison emphasized the impact of Partridge being trans on his ministry:
Partridge does not feel his transgender status has hindered his role as a chaplain; if anything, it has helped him connect with students. “In one sense, my being trans doesn’t matter,” he said. “In another way, I’m able to have certain conversations about the complexities of human identity with college students, who are figuring out their own identities.”