The Rev. David Weekley was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1951. He graduated from Cleveland State University (B.A. cum laude in psychology) and then completed graduate studies in the phenomenology of religion at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. In his 2011 book, In From the Wilderness: Sherman, (She-r-Man), he notes that from his earliest recollection he knew he was different. “While I viewed myself as a little boy, the rest of the world saw me as a little girl.” He writes of “a truly horrific adolescence and early young adulthood as many people, peer groups, and institutions tried to force me into an identity I could never own.” Help came in the form of several enlightened adults, whose support and acceptance became a lifeline for the teenager. Weekley began meeting with a medical team, undergoing the battery of medical, psychiatric, and socialization tests necessary for transgender surgery and then the surgeries themselves. By the time he was 24, he had completed the transition to a man.
He found himself walking an emotional tightrope following his sex change. Having always felt like an outsider, he discovered that his newly acquired identity exacted an enormous price. His medical team urged him not to reveal himself as a transgender person. Weekley’s despair began to ease after he joined The United Methodist Church. Always a believer, he was not raised in a church-going family. He reveled in the newfound sense of community he discovered within the church. And yet his sense of isolation persisted.
David enrolled in seminary at Boston University School of Theology in 1980. There he fell in love with a woman, married and started raising children. But the code of silence that his clergy profession required—and his inability to discuss his transgender identity with his wife—took a toll. He started serving churches in 1982 and was ordained an elder in 1984, vowing to become "the best pastor" he could possibly be. Yet his marriage collapsed and Weekley continued to long for a chance to share his personal story, in his words, to “come in from the wilderness.”
For more than two decades Weekley pastored congregations in Idaho and Oregon, including Salem, Corvallis, Forest Grove, Montavilla and then Epworth UMC in Portland. Inspired by Japanese-Americans in this congregation who told their stories of internment during World War II and the healing they had experienced, David told his story to them in a sermon on August 30, 2009. The congregation responded with resounding support. He became one of the only openly transgender clergy serving in The United Methodist Church.
Since that time Rev. Weekley has appeared on ABC News, CBS Early News and several radio programs. He has presented workshops at a number of colleges and universities. He published his personal story in In From the Wilderness: Sherman, (She-r-man) (Wipf & Stock Publishers, Eugene, Oregon, 2011). In relation to the LGTBQ community. Rev. Weekley belongs to several organizations advocating for the full inclusion and rights of transgender and LGBQ people, including the Transfaith Relgious Leaders Network, Northwest Gender Alliance, Reconciling United Methodists, Affirmation: United Methodists for LGBT Concerns and the Human Rights Campaign. Weekley currently serves as pastor of Sellwood and Capitol Hill United Methodist churches in Portland, Oregon. David and Deborah, his wife of 16 years, have a blended family of five adult children.
(This biographical statement taken from a biographical statement provided by David Weekley and a book review in Bostonia: The Alulmni Magazine of Boston University, 2011.)