As a Woman: What I Learned about Power, Sex, and the Patriarchy after I Transitioned (Hardcover)
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A moving and unforgettable memoir of a transgender pastor’s journey from despair to joy as she transitioned from male to female and learned about gender inequity, at home and in the workplace—perfect for fans of Redefining Realness and There Is Room for You.
As a father of three, married to a wonderful woman, and holding several prominent jobs within the Christian community, Dr. Paula Stone Williams made the life-changing decision to physically transition from male to female at the age of sixty. Almost instantly, her power and influence in the evangelical world disappeared and her family had to grapple with intense feelings of loss and confusion.
Feeling utterly alone and at a loss after being expelled from the evangelical churches she had once spearheaded, Paula struggled to create a new safe space for herself where she could reconcile her faith, her identity, and her desire to be a leader. Much to her surprise, the key to her new career as a woman came with a deeper awareness of the inequities she had overlooked before her transition. Where her opinions were once celebrated and amplified, now she found herself sidelined and ignored. New questions emerged. Why are women’s opinions devalued in favor of men’s? Why does love and intimacy feel so different? And, was it possible to find a new spirituality in her own image?
In As a Woman, Paula pulls back the curtain on her transition journey and sheds light on the gendered landscape that impacts many in the LGBTQ+ community. She urges men to recognize the ways in which the world is tilted in their favor and validates the experiences of women who have been disregarded based solely on their gender, while also acknowledging how she was once like those men who are blind to their privilege. With equal parts humility and confidence, Paula shares her lived experience of both genders and offers a truly unique perspective on the universal struggle to understand what it means to be male, female, and simply, human.
About the Author
Dr. Paula Stone Williams is an internationally known speaker on gender equity, LGBTQ advocacy, and religious tolerance. She is also a pastor and pastoral counselor in Boulder County, Colorado. Paula has been featured in The New York Times, TEDWomen, TEDSummit, TEDxMileHigh, Red Table Talk, The Denver Post, New York Post, New Scientist Magazine, Radio New Zealand, and many other media outlets. Her TED talks have had more than five million views.
— Publisher's Weekly
"Not just a compelling personal memoir, this book holds lessons for all of us."
— Kirkus Reviews
“This is a book for anyone who’s ever needed to make a change, and let’s be honest, that’s all of us. So, let Paula be your guide. Her beautifully told personal story mixed with her acute observations about privilege and authenticity will leave you feeling open and hopeful.”
— Briar Goldberg, director of Speaker Coaching, TED Conferences
“Paula Stone Williams’ critical questions about gender, personhood, and place are relevant to anyone. Her writing insightfully reveals aspects of our gender socialization and culture that often go unexamined, but that need to be talked about, challenged, and changed.”
— Soraya Chemaly, author of Rage Becomes Her: The Power of Women’s Anger
“When I was a young pastor, a teenager dared to confide to me that the authentic person inside didn’t match the gender of the body seen by the outside world. I wish As a Woman had been available to me then. It not only helps us understand the experience of many of our neighbors; it also inspires us to listen for the "sound of the genuine," as Howard Thurman called it, in others—and in ourselves.”
— Brian D. McLaren, author of Faith After Doubt
“Paula’s storytelling is artful, funny, and inspiring. If you look like me—middle-aged white American man—you’ll understand your unique super-power to make our country better for our mothers, sisters, and daughters as well as everyone else who doesn’t look like us.”
— T. Scott Case, cofounder and CEO, Upside
“The honesty with which Paula tells her story is the foundation of all true art. It is an imperfect journey riddled with betrayal, sadness, and true loneliness, but Paula never doubts the love she has for her family, her community, or her faith. These stories are the kind that we all need to share.”
— Sean Hanish, writer and director, Return to Zero and Saint Judy
“This book is nothing less than an audacious, gripping, and profoundly real journey that speaks to the mind, heart, and soul. As we grapple with what it means to love people as Jesus did, As a Woman provides poignant insights into the beauty, complexity, and deeply intersectional nature of all God’s children. What’s more, Paula’s brilliant writing, discerning reflections, and incisive wit make this an important and accessible read. It will teach you lessons about loving yourself, God, and others—and challenge you in all the right ways.”
— Joshua J. Dickson, director of Faith Based Initiatives, Biden Campaign
“Powerfully and tenderly written with a poetic flair, As a Woman is in the end surprisingly practical for anyone ready to examine their own presuppositions about faith, power, sexuality and gender.”
— Joe Boyd, cofounder and CEO, Rebel Pilgrim
“The only thing more emotional than reading about Paula’s unceremonious severing from her job after coming out as transgender, is following along in awe as Paula took those shattered pieces and shows that truly death does not have the last word. And while her story inspires us to live for the truth of who we are, it is her unique insights into the differences between living as a man and a woman that empowers us to live for the greater good of all. What Paula has done in As a Woman is magnificent.”
— Colby Martin, author of UnClobber: Rethinking our Misuse of the Bible on Homosexuality, and co-pastor/founder of Sojourn Grace Collective, San Diego
“As a Woman is a heart-rending and brave spiritual memoir of gender transition. Reading Paula Stone Williams, I wept then understood; felt angry then empowered. This book is ultimately about the joyful triumph of an authentic and faithful life, a profoundly human and humane story of love and justice.”
— Diana Butler Bass, author of Freeing Jesus: Rediscovering Jesus as Friend, Teacher, Lord, Way, and Presence
“As a Woman is a masterful and unflinching story that will challenge the ways in which you see the world, other people, and even yourself. Anyone on a journey of discovery will feel at home in Paula’s book.”
— Katrina Mathewson, screenwriter and co-chair of the Writers Guild of America’s LGBTQ+ Committee
“Perhaps no human experience is as misunderstood today as that of the transgender person. That means we are called to listen and learn—first from transgender people themselves. I pray the world may begin to pay attention to the stories of people like Paula, and open our hearts to their struggles, concerns and dreams.”
— James Martin, SJ, author of Building a Bridge
“Paula’s book is an essential read for any human who takes seriously their obligation to help close the gender equity gap. If understanding is the first step to action, then reading what Paula has to say about succeeding on both sides is the best place to start.”
— Cindy W. Anderson, Global Lead, Engagement & Eminence, IBM Institute for Business Value
“As A Woman, at its simplest, is a story about bravery, and what it takes to follow one’s heart and authentic self despite the consequences. The impact of Paula’s transition is palpable, as she details losing the power, privilege and prestige that came with being an Evangelical Pastor, a successful CEO, and a man. However, it is through Paula’s unique lens - her life experiences on both sides - that she is able to so acutely pinpoint the realities of gender bias.”
— Caitie Bradley Shea, CEO, Outspoken Agency
“Fired, robbed, disowned and dismissed by the evangelical Christian world in which she once rose to power, Paula could have become bitter. But instead, she chose to become better—more thoughtful, more understanding, more self-reflective, more conscious of other people’s lives. Hers is a spiritual journey worth joining.”
— Linda Kay Klein, author of Pure: Inside the Evangelical Movement that Shamed a Generation of Young Women and How I Broke Free
“Paula is one of the most courageous individuals you’ll find. Her wisdom is expansive yet graceful, and her story reveals an authentic journey that we can all learn from. In the end, she reminds us that at the heart of everything is love.”
— Jeremy Duhon, curator, TEDxMileHigh