Azusa asks transgender theologian to leave

A California Christian college has asked a professor who was once its chair of theology and philosophy to leave Azusa Pacific University after he came out as transgender, reports RNS Religious News.

“Heather Clements taught theology at the school for 15 years, but this past year, he has begun referring to himself as H. Adam Ackley.

“Ackley, who is in his third year of a five-year contract, told RNS that he and APU have agreed to part ways as the university said it will continue to pay him through the academic year. But, he said, the university wants other professors to take over his classes. He also said that his insurance was denied when he sought hormone treatment and “top surgery” for his chest area.

“They’re giving me privacy to transition but denying medical treatment to do that,” said Ackley who is 47 years old.

“APU spokesperson Rachel White declined to discuss Ackley’s employment, saying that the issue is ongoing and personnel matters are confidential. Ackley said he is meeting with a university lawyer on Monday.

“Azusa Pacific University is an evangelical university of about 10,000 students and 1,200 faculty located northeast of Los Angeles. To his knowledge, Ackley said there is nothing in theuniversity’s policies about transgender people, just that “Humans were created as gendered beings.”

“I did not get a sense directly from the individuals with whom I was speaking that they had a theological problem with transgender identity,” Ackley said. “I did get the message that it has to do with their concern that other people, such as donors, parents and churches connected to the university will have problems not understanding transgender identity.” Ackley said that he accepted his transgender identity this year after the American Psychiatric Association removed “gender identity disorder” from the list of mental illnesses in its manual.

“This year has been a transition from being a mentally ill woman to being a sane, transgendered man,” he said. He has two children and is in the process of a divorce from his second husband. As the news trickled out on social networks Thursday, he said he saw people making various assumptions.

“People assumed that I’ve done something some sex act,” he said. “I’m not violating any sexual conduct and it’s embarrassing that it’s implied. I live a very chaste life.” He said he has received offers from other Christian and non-religious institutions to teach or consult.”


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