Wilhelmina Hein was born as a biological boy in the Netherlands in 1947 and emigrated to Australia in 1958 with his family. Discovering a difference about his sexuality and identity at an early age, he grew up in a strict religious atmosphere which had a decisive effect on his coming out. As a teenager he felt the call of God in his life and attended a Pentecostal Bible College in order to prepare for ministry. However, active involvement in ministry was interspersed with the “either/or” of coming out into a gay and more liberal society.
Rev Hein married “because this is what was expected, although there was a deep feeling of care” and continued ministry at a local pastoral level in the Pentecostal Church. Following what she called a “second coming out” in 1975, the marriage broke down, and in September 1975 she discovered MCC in Adelaide, Australia. “I felt like I was home, and that here I could express both my sexuality and gender identity without feeling dirty or made fun of” he said. She was licensed as a clergyperson in 1977 but resigned in 1981 “totally burnt out.” Following four years of healing, spiritual reflection and further education she rejoined the clergy in 1985.
Rev. Hein has fought extensively for minority rights including effective counseling and surgical intervention for transsexual people. She has served in pastoral roles in Australia, New Zealand,and the United States and was District Coordinator for Australia from 1987 to 1991. She also served as UFMCC Elder from 1991 to 1997.
Her work has included pastoral work with the AIDS Council of South Australia, and the founding of Transcare, an MCC work with transsexual/transvestite people from 1976 to 1984. She continued her pastoral counseling, obtaining Masters degrees in Education and an MSc in Psychology, in order to better serve the community with complex theological questions. While in New Zealand in 1995 she underwent gender reassignment surgery. She pastored the MCC in Toledo, Ohio from 1997 to 1999, and MCC Charleston from 2000 to 2003.
Rev. Hein resigned from MCC in 2003 and pastored Open Door Christian Church in Charleston, South Carolina for three years. During that time she hosted a radio show for the local lgbtq community and was involved in interfaith pastoral care.
For a number of years Rev Hein had struggled with the theology around Christianity and had been interested in Judaism for many years. While in Charleston from 2005 she began a conversion process with the local Reform congregation. Having left Charleston and the church in 2006, she moved to the Netherlands where she completed her conversion process. After conversion she served the local Jewish congregation as Board Clerk for 9 years, while undertaking occasional preaching in synagogue, taking part in liturgy, and sharing in informal pastoral care.
She has retired in the Netherlands, in her home county, and participates in Reform and Reconstructionist services. She is totally at home being home again. She says, ‘my heart lies here, and when I am buried in our cemetery, my heart will truly be back home where life began”.
(This revised biographical statement provided by Wilhemina Hein.)
Biography Date: April, 2010; revised July 2020
MCC | Clergy Activist | Transgender activism | Australia | Netherlands | Jewish (ethnic, Reform, Reconstructionist, Orthodox)