Malcolm Himschoot was born in 1977 in Denver, Colorado, and raised in Idaho Springs, Colorado in a white conservative Christian context. Malcolm’s father was a builder and mother worked as a nurse. He had an older and a younger brother. He was inspired by the mountains and by outdoor worship services growing up, and read through the Bible once a year as a teenager.
Malcolm did co-ed activities in high school: newspaper, theatre, learned languages, traveled with Spanish and French classes. He graduated from the public high school a valedictorian. He also participated in a number of different Christian groups and activities. The family attended several different “Bible-based” churches.
Throughout this time Malcolm was identified by others as female. He had no concept of “lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender” until near the end of his time in high school. He developed into more of a self-described hermit. Intrigued by academics and by the lore of Emily Dickinson, he enrolled in Amherst College in Massachusetts, assisted by major scholarships for a first-generation college student.
During his Amherst years, Malcolm’s experience and understanding of faith, intellect and diverse identities greatly expanded. There he met a trans person for the first time and came to realize internally that the identity of a trans man also fit him. Through the pastoral outreach of Rev. Jan Powers, Malcolm also became affiliated with the United Church of Christ. He describes new-found mental wellness during this time, shedding previously-received fundamentalist message of guilt, shame, fear and fragmentation.
However, the years after college resulted in insecure housing and job discrimination. Malcolm spent time traveling and living in Russia, Texas, and Guatemala, studying, doing volunteer work and self-examination. Deciding he would transition to a male gender expression, his desire to re-connect with estranged family eventually led him back to Colorado. He applied to seminary while working in adult education as an English language instructor with immigrant families.
Malcolm started seminary in Denver at the Iliff School of Theology in 2000. Initially he was drawn to academic study of religion and ethics. Dr. Vincent Harding, Dr. Dana Wilbanks, and Gail Erisman-Valeta in the Justice and Peace Studies program encouraged him toward urban ministry and community transformation. As Malcolm made his gender transition, connecting with multiple support people in the area, he also began shifting toward greater interest in pastoral ministry. His cross-cultural student pastorate at the Denver Inner City Parish with pastor Steve Johnsen drew him further along a ministerial path. He received the William R. Johnson Scholarship from the United Church of Christ and was taken in care by the Metro Denver Association of the UCC, in membership with the Washington Park UCC congregation pastored by Rev. Emily Hassler.
In 2001 Malcolm participated in a consultation for trans people in the UCC’s national LGBT Concerns Office in Cleveland. This was a life-changing experience in which Malcolm got to meet, hear and make connections with a number of trans leaders in the UCC, including Miss Major Griffin-Gracy.
Shortly thereafter Malcolm was invited by a filmmaker to be the subject of a UCC-produced documentary about a trans person’s journey. Malcolm resisted this offer, considering it both too intimate and too individualistic. Finally understanding the importance of a film as an opportunity to break down isolation for trans persons, a vehicle to open conversation in religious congregations about gender diversity, and an artistic expression of spirituality to a non-religious audience, Malcolm agreed to participate in the project. Call Me Malcolm was released in 2005, co-produced by the wider United Church of Christ and Filmworks, Inc. In conjunction with that film, he has since spoken at churches, conferences, colleges, and universities around the country.
Malcolm was ordained as clergy in the United Church of Christ in 2004. He later served as Associate Minister for Outreach at Plymouth Congregational Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota for a period of time. In addition, he served as interim Open and Affirming Coordinator for the United Church of Christ Coalition for LGBT Concerns, during an important period of transition for the program.
Malcolm and his partner Mariah welcomed twins into their family in 2007. Malcolm shifted much of his time toward parenting, but continued to do some teaching and occasional presentations on transgender concerns. His published writing appeared in Prism, Progressive Christian, Christian Century, edited volumes by Marcella Althaus-Reid and Megan Rohrer, and the American Association of Pastoral Counselors online journal Sacred Spaces.
In addition to guest preaching, Malcolm filled supply, interim, or grant-funded position at churches including Arvada UCC, Community UCC of Boulder, and Parker UCC. He traveled less but continued to translate and interpret for some Spanish-language congregations. Taking part in trans activism, Malcolm’s commitments grew in interfaith, anti-racist, and anti-poverty directions. He attended World Council of Churches conversations on gender and sexuality in 2009, supported the founding of the U.S.-based TransFaith Institute, and in 2010 convened a multi-generational network within the UCC called GenderFold.
In 2012 Malcolm accepted a position in Cleveland in the national offices of the United Church of Christ, as Minister for Ministerial Transitions. He said, “Churches call forth ministers so that ministers will call forth the calling of the church!”
(This biographical statement written by Mark Bowman and edited by Malcolm Himschoot.)
Biography Date: October, 2008
United Church of Christ/Congregational Church | Johnson, William Reagan | Open and Affirming in the UCC (ONA & formerly UCC Coalition for LGBT Concerns) | Clergy Activist | Transgender activism | Himschoot, Malcolm
“Malcolm spoke at the United Church of Christ, Kent, Ohio, on October 11, 2015. He impressed me during his sermon, and during his brief seminar, with his confidence, and his self assurance. His sermon was appropriate and spot on regarding content, and included a few laughs. He impressed me with how he has been through so much on his journey and came out relatively unscathed. I also enjoyed the brief viewing of his movie, Call Me Malcolm, which brought me very close to tears.
Without too much detail, I will just say that I have a personal connection and history with the trans community and I so much understand the intense struggle one goes through to be themselves. That being said, I so enjoyed meeting someone who has, number one, found Christ on his journey, number two, came out of this journey well adjusted and can live his life as himself. That impresses me the most, and almost to the point of envy...almost. ”
– as remembered by Steve Phillips on October 13, 2015
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