The Rev. Cameron Partridge serves as a role model in his new ministry as chaplain at Boston Then a church he served hosted commemoration services that pulled in hundreds each year.
You probably aren’t aware that November 20 is the national Transgender Day of Remembrance. Cameron Partridge is. The observance began after the 1998 murder of a transgendered Boston woman. November 20 also happens to be Partridge’s birthday (he turns 38 this year), and BU’s new Episcopal minister, the University’s first openly transgendered chaplain, once shuddered at a birthday that reminded him both about his own mortality “and that you could be killed.”
Then a church he served hosted commemoration services that pulled in hundreds each year. “I started to feel like, you know what? I need to go. This is really important,” Partridge says. “There’s still part of me that’s like, ugh, but honestly, I really find that it’s such a powerful experience of community. And that’s a really wonderful thing to have on your birthday.”
As he takes over the University’s part-time Episcopalian chaplaincy, Partridge, who lives outside Boston with his wife and their toddler son, says he wants to minister with the empathy that has sometimes been denied him since he completed his transition to a man in 2001. His father, for example, no longer speaks to him. “It’s not my choice,” he says, adding that after long conversations, most family and friends accepted him.
As for students, including any who might be uncomfortable with a male chaplain whose birth name was Katherine, Partridge says, “I wouldn’t want someone to feel like they weren’t allowed to hold a different theological position” from his own. “There’s not a thought police here.” Sure, it would hurt for a student to reject him as spiritual guide because of who he is, he says, but “I’m not the only chaplain in the University, and I would be fine helping to connect them with someone they feel comfortable with.”