In a country full of hatred toward queer people, Alexia Salvador uses her faith to help other queers. “I feel their pain in my body because my family and I went through this” – says the first transgender pastor in Brazil and she hopes that she can help many people with her faith. She wishes to change the relationship between the church and the LGBTQ+ community, make it more accepting and tolerant.
According to the National Association of Travestis and Transexuals of Brazil (Antra), 175 trans people were killed in Brazil last year. Most of them were black and poor women. Sadly, this violent tendency is still on-going this year as well. One transgender woman was beaten by 2 man, she was tied up in a car trunk, as the nearby police ignored the situation.
Despite the fact that preaching is a part of Alexia Salvador’s job, the most important thing for her is accepting transgender individuals into to the church, listening to them and finding out about their needs – be it food, shelter or spiritual nourishment. The doors of her church are always open for the queer people and are a safe haven for the oppressed.
Salvador has always been religious. At the age of 7 she asked her parents to take her to a church. Bullying was common at schools then as well, and Salvador was searching for relief and acceptance. “When they first spoke to me in the church and didn’t make fun of me, I was shocked. It was the first time I felt needed and important”– she recalls. After this, Alexia decided to study at the seminary and join the Catholic Church, but there she was met with a great deal of resistance and rejection. Because of the toxic environment, Alexia left the Catholic seminary, however she never lost her faith.
After one year, she discovered a church in São Paulo, where she met one of the pastors – Troy Perry. The Latin-American parish accepted and welcomed Alexia to the church. This is where the transgender pastor married her husband. “The panic that lived in my head until I discovered the MCC was that I would go to hell, that I was God’s mistake. While studying theology, I learned that I have flaws like all humans do, but being a trans woman is not one of them.” – says Alexia.
Alexia had to go through a difficult path full of resistances to become a pastor. Now, because of the pandemic, the church is working online, but they are continuing helping others. “The Christianity that Jesus brought forward was for all people. Being a part of the church today, as a trans woman, is a reclamation of the space that we know is also ours.”