AZUSA, Calif. — A veteran theology professor at Azusa Pacific University, a California Christian college, has been asked to leave his teaching post of 15 years after announcing last week that he is transgender.
Heath Adam Ackley, 47, said on his Facebook page that he “was asked to step down and agreed to some extent … namely I agreed that the university and I may not currently be the best fit for one another and that it makes sense in light of that for me to find employment elsewhere.”
Ackley said he struggled for years living as a married woman. He now identifies himself as a transgender man and he is going through a divorce.
“I really wrestled with it, of course, being someone who was trained in biblical scholarship and theological study and that was, that is, Christian,” he said.
Ackley told Religion News Service that he “did not get a sense directly from the individuals with whom I was speaking that they had a theological problem with transgender identity.”
Article continues below“I did get the message that it has to do with their concern that other people, such as donors, parents and churches connected to the university will have problems not understanding transgender identity,” he said.
Ackley noted that his insurance was denied when he sought hormone treatment and “top surgery” for his chest area.
“They’re giving me privacy to transition but denying medical treatment to do that,” he said.
Ackley said that he accepted his gender identity this year after the American Psychiatric Association removed “gender identity disorder” from the list of mental illnesses in its manual.