19 June 2024

Meet the trans non-binary opera singer who found a spiritual home in the Anglican Church

Alexandra Amerides shows off the tattoos on their hands that spell out the gender-neutral pronouns they/them. Picture: supplied.

Maya Pilbrow

17 July 2023

Alexandra Amerides remembers attending church with their grandparents as a kid. One thing they noticed about Greek Orthodox services was the music, Byzantine chants performed by groups of men. The second thing they noticed was the emphasis on gender.

Mx Amerides, who uses they/them pronouns and the gender-neutral form of address ‘Mx’, realised men and women were given very different roles. The men would sing and perform the liturgy while the women sat quietly.

No one could give the young Mx Amerides a good answer to why this gender distinction existed so strongly.

As a teen, going to church became an increasingly infrequent occurrence. They grew bored with the long services in Ancient Greek, only attending for holidays like Easter and for family events.

Now a professional opera singer with the Australian Contemporary Opera Company, Mx Amerides loved the rich history of Christian musical traditions, but it took time for them to find their way back to church.

In hindsight, this was no surprise. Opera, liturgy and gender expression all have some aspect of performance to them which appealed to the performer in Mx Amerides.

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These days they sing with the choir at St John’s East Malvern, but it wasn’t until a chance encounter with the Trinity College choir evensong that they first experienced Anglicanism.

“It was completely different to anything I’d ever experienced,” they said. “[It was] transcendent.”

A love of Anglican worship music was certainly part of the appeal of becoming a parishioner at music-forward St John’s, but another aspect was the sense of welcome Mx Amerides felt.

People at the parish have been eager to learn more about gender diversity and have caught on quickly to using gender-neutral pronouns.

For Mx Amerides, an open and accepting spiritual home is something they never thought they’d be able to find.

On the Everyday Saints podcast, Mx Amerides shares their experiences exploring both their faith and gender identity.

This journey has led them to learn more about the history of gender-nonconforming individuals within the church. It’s also made them feel strongly about those who try to police the faiths and beliefs of others.

To those who try to reject or expel individuals from their church communities based on gender and sexual orientation, Mx Amerides has one thing to say:

“I must say, I don’t think you are doing religion right.”

To hear Alexandra Amerides’ story on Spotify, see here.

To listen to more Everyday Saints podcasts, see here.

Everyday Saints is a podcast from The Melbourne Anglican which features the faith stories of those from Melbourne and beyond.

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