I wrote a post this week about courage, comparing my bravery in leaving the church to that of my pioneer forebears who crossed the plains on foot.
Today I listened to a Mormon Stories podcast, and I'd like to amend my previous definition of courage.
Laurie Lee Hall (http://www.mormonstories.org/laurie-lee-hall/) was a convert to the church. She served a mission, then married her best friend in the temple. Eventually, Laurie became the chief architect for the church's temples. She was called to be a bishop, then a stake president, serving for 8 years.
At the time, Laurie was a man. A man who, since she was a child, knew her true gender was female.
Laurie lived with this secret knowledge until well into her fifties. She suffered greatly for her gender dysphoria, unable to be true to who she knew she was, unable to be at peace in a man's body. She struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts until she knew she could take no more, and must become on the outside the woman she knew herself to be on the inside.
I cannot imagine the courage it took to reveal her true gender to her wife, and then her children. And then her church congregation.
As I watched Laurie tearfully describe her journey, articulating with eloquence the difficulties she faced in becoming the woman she was always meant to be, my heart was touched by her courage. I cried with her as she chronicled her release as stake president, and then her excommunication from the church to which she had devoted her life. She is still a believer in that church. She testified of God's love, and, listening to her, I felt my own heart stir. I was not converted by her testimony, but I knew that she, with her great faith, still believed in that God, and she believed that He had not forgotten her.
This woman, Laurie Lee Hall, is a pioneer. A courageous, brave, beautiful pioneer.
Thank you, Laurie, for being brave enough to share your story with the world. And thank you for having the courage to live that story out loud.