Br. Caleb Oeming, FRC, is a Franciscan Friar with the Franciscans of the Risen Christ, part of the North American Catholic Ecumenical Church, which is a non-Roman catholic jurisdiction. In order of priority, Br Caleb identifies as Human, catholic, male, Franciscan, in recovery, transgender and gay. The most important aspect of his existence is being as fully human as he can be one day at a time.
He likes to joke that he is from the planet Earth and comes in Peace. This is because he does, in fact, come in peace and, he has lived in a lot of different places. He was born in Eau Claire Wisconsin, raised as an only child and his family moved a lot for a variety of reasons. He went to middle school in Norcross Georgia and started 9th grade there, completed two months of 9th grade back in Wisconsin and finally finished high school and graduated from Clovis West Highschool in Fresno California 1994. Coming from a binary and abusive family of origin, where his mother was not allowed to work and his father was verbally, mentally, emotionally and physically abusive, Br Caleb spent much of his young life angry and confused, which lead to his first suicide attempt at 12 (when puberty started, via alcohol) and subsequently a long career using drugs and alcohol.
He was emancipated at 16 and joined the US Navy in May 1995 where he became a Hospital Corpsman (like an Army medic but way cooler, because it’s the Navy). He served three years, three months under DADT and was honorably discharged in August 1998. Prior to discharge, the US Navy sent him to 90-day inpatient treatment for alcohol abuse. It was at this treatment center in Virginia Beach Virginia where he first told a counselor about his gender identity as a male. Of course, it wasn’t long before he was ushered out of the worlds greatest navy with an RE-4 re-entry (although he did manage to get an honorable administrative discharge), and a prominent “personality disorder” stamped on his DD-214 (discharge papers). After that experience, Br Caleb went back into the closet, converted to Roman Catholicism after discharge and attempted to enter a convent of cloistered nuns in Crozet Virginia, that was a thing. This was all to prove to himself he was a woman, that he could change and be “good” yada yada. Luckily, those in charge of his entrance saw that he was running from himself and informed him that hiding from himself in a cloister was not going to work out. After leaving the monastery, he almost promptly got married to a man, and stayed married for 12 years, doing everything possible to be the best “housewife” he could be. During this time, he was actively abusing prescription medication and alcohol frequently and in and out of psychiatric hospitals with some regularity in between overdoses. It was a rather bleak time. He was also on disability for a nearly a decade, and on 12 psychotropic medications, for his “gender delusion”. His substance abuse began to escalate, he was getting legitimately ill with pancreatitis often and had other physical issues related to these abuses, aside from frequent issues stemming from gender dysphoria which he still thought was part of his mental health issues.
On April 20, 2013, Caleb got clean and sober. Over the course of the following year, he came off disability, weaned off of 12 psychotropic medication with the blessing of his treatment team and recovery mentors, and finally faced his gender, which he’d been running from in one way or another his entire life. He began social transition and had his name and gender marker changed on his drivers license, and then began medical transition in 2015.
When Br Caleb began his gender journey into his truth, he felt as though he had condemned himself to hell, he was positive he has excommunicated himself at a minimum but felt that sacrificing the faith he loved so deeply was worth the growing peace of mind he felt at the thought of finally living honestly. It was scary.
What actually happened, was the he found an open and inclusive catholic jurisdiction, called the American National Catholic Church (ANCC) outside of the Roman Rite, where he could be himself and reconnect with the faith he held so dear to his heart. In that process, he discovered his vocation as a Franciscan Friar with the Franciscan Community of Mercy (FCM). He has since been called by the Holy Spirit to a different jurisdiction, but the house of God is a big one, so he really feels like he simply stepped next door to continue Gods work within the North American Catholic Ecumenical Church and the Franciscans of the Risen Christ.
Br Caleb now has over 7 years clean and sober, works full time as a Certified Clinical Medical Assistant at an Urgent care in Colorado Springs, Co. He recently completed a Masters in Healthcare Administration and is considering returning to school to pursue a Physician Assistant degree and become a provider for transgender and Gender nonconforming individuals in the area. He also writes to incarcerated individuals, those who identify as transgender and also cisgender individuals with substance abuse issues, where he tries to share his experience, strength and hope that no matter how big an obstacle is, no matter how bad life seems to get, there is always an opportunity to find some light and hope, to reach out and help someone else, or to at least make sure nobody has to walk their path or carry their burden alone.
As an Aside, Br Caleb feels passionate about ensuring everyone knows, most especially transgender and GNC people, that they are loved so deeply by God who made them exactly as they are, with or without societal approval, with or without social or medical transition. We are a perfect and beautiful expression of Gods love.