Being trans in the Catholic Church

In this episode of Europe Talks Back, Juli Simond tells the story of Phyla Kupferschmidt, a 36-year-old trans woman originally from Canada but now living in Leuven, Belgium. As a transgender and Catholic person, Phyla has had a rough relationship with the Church and the congregation she is part of, but she has managed to bridge cultural divides and challenge stereotypes about gender and faith through activism.


After the first awakenings of her sense of womanhood and the experience of the seminary in Canada she attended when she was still a man, Phyla has come out as trans just months after she got married in Belgium to her wife, Laura, in 2020. For Phyla, the transition is part of her faith journey, not contrary to it. Reporting on the ground by Katie Jickling.

"I honestly believe that the Catholic Church has something to offer if we let it become a space of encounter, not a space of indoctrination" - Phyla Kupferschmidt

About our reporter: Katie Jickling

Key moments

00: 00:04 - Intro

00:02:04 - Life in the Church

00:03:00 - Faith and first awakenings

00:08:29 - The transition

00:11:08 - Catholic Church and LGBTQ issues

00:14:58 - Activism

00:17:37 - A family reunion

00:18:49 - Outro

00:19:33 - Credits

Credits and staff


The second season of Europe Talks Back is produced in partnership with Sphera Network, the first network of independent media in Europe to reinvent the media space and paint a new picture of the continent through impactful, unbiased, raw, and authentic stories.

The producers of Europe Talks Back are Maria Dios and Alexander Damiano Ricci.

The host and narrator of this episode is Juli Simond

Sound editing and mixing is by Jeremy Bocquet

Reporting for this story by Katie Jickling.

The executive producer of Europe Talks Back is Alexander Damiano Ricci.

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