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The ratchet tightened in my chest pulling into the parking lot. Four of our five children in tow and one serving a mission. Fifteen minutes early in the hopes that we could settle in before anyone noticed. My children insist we sit in our usual pew to the right side, six rows back on the bleached knotty pine and speckled blue-green padded benches that were clean of goldfish and Cheerios. Dressed in a freshly pressed Foxcroft white oxford women’s button-up blouse and black pleated polyester women’s dress slacks, I slid into the bench and practiced my breathing exercises while trying to look away from anyone who might look over. My eyelashes were subtly coated in matte black mascara, on my cheeks a light dusting of dusty rose-colored blush powder, just enough that I could feel comfortable and almost myself.

“Nice to see you back where you belong, Brother English.”

Look down, don’t make eye contact, and breathe.

“Thank you.”

Em English details a few fraught moments of her lived experience in “Trans in the Chapel: Attending Church as a Newly Out Transgender Woman.”