Paul Williams, a pastor and former president of conservative church planting organization Orchard Group, has publicly come out as a transgender woman. His legal name is now Paula Stone Williams.
Christian Today reports Williams served as the president of Orchard from from 1989 until 2009. He decided to live his life as a transgender woman in December 2012, but only just went public with the decision.
Williams’ 40-year-old son, Pastor Jonathan Williams, told the New York Times that his father’s decision caused his a great deal of pain and depression.
"I couldn't say anything to anyone. Here I am going, 'Let's be authentic, let's be a community that loves one another,' and I'm not being authentic. I'm not telling people what's going on in my life,” he said.
"I'd be upstairs crying before church. Like, this is miserable. My dad was my hero, and my dad's not my dad any longer. I'd stop crying and come down and I'd preach and be really glad and say hi to everybody, and then I'd get home and go to sleep. My wife would be like, 'You're super depressed,' and I'd go, 'I know, I'm super depressed, I don't know what to do about this.' I got counseling about three months after I found out. And I went to him for three, four years dealing with it."
Paul Williams was told to resign from Orchard Group in 2013, after he shared his decision with the organization. A statement from the organization claimed he “retired quietly.”
Williams now says he is making his decision public in order to save the lives of Christian transgender teens.
Williams said, "Transgender teens with unsupportive parents have a suicide rate 13 times higher than their peers. They are the most at risk group in the nation. Most of those unsupportive parents are Evangelicals… In my previous work, I hoped to save people from spiritual suffering. In my current work, I hope to save people from dying."