Leahnora Isaak of Portland, Ore., is seeking acceptance and official recognition from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Isaak, who is transgender, is a lifelong Mormon who was born a man, but who is now looking to live her life — and to worship freely — as a woman.
She told KATU-TV that she is planning to submit a formal request to the LDS Church in the next few weeks, with hopes of officially being recognized in church records as a female.
“I want happiness. I want companionship. And I want to live the gospel. That’s what I want,” she told KATU. “And I want this equal for everybody. I want people to celebrate who I am. Because I’m not ashamed of who I am.”
Watch Isaak explain her experience below:
Isaak, who previously went by the name “Bob,” got divorced in 2012 and officially became Leahnora. But she said she has felt like a woman for most of her life.
“I knew at four years old that I was female,” Isaak told KTVX. “I felt that being Bob I was a cross-dresser. I felt that [wearing] male clothing was the wrong clothing for me.”
According to KTVX-TV, she has been allowed to attend local priesthood meetings as a woman. While Isaak legally changed her name and gender, official church records do not yet reflect these elements.
“The records of the church still have me down as Robert and so it’s more appropriate for me to go to priesthood,” she told the outlet.
Isaak said that her stake president (a stake is a collection of congregations under the LDS umbrella) has been supportive. Her current quest, though, is to get LDS leaders in Salt Lake City, Utah, to recognize her as a woman.
One of Isaak’s main requests is that she be allowed to attend women-only gatherings with the church — something she is currently not permitted to do.
“God didn’t make garbage. He made me transgender. And it’s transgender for a reason,” said Isaak.
She believes that scripture corroborates her experience.
“The scriptures clearly state that we are to be our authentic selves,” Isaac said. “It’s the gender not the sex. The gender is the eternal identity.”
A spokesperson for the LDS Church told KTVX that they are looking into the matter.
Featured image credit: KATU-TV