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Professor's New Transgender Status May Cost Him His Job At Christian University

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A professor who has taught theology at Azusa Pacific University for 15 years may be out of a job after identifying as a transgender man.

Adam Ackley went by Heather Ackley up until last week, when he decided to change his name and inform his employers of his decision to live life as a man, ABC 7 reports.

He says he struggled for years as a married woman and is now 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," Ackley told ABC.

He told the university and his students about his decision and his plans to legally change his name. He said some of his students were in tears as he told them he would likely be replaced soon.

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Azusa Pacific University released a statement saying: "University leadership is engaged in thoughtful conversations with our faculty member in order to honor the contribution and treat all parties with dignity and respect while upholding the values of the university. It is an ongoing conversation, and therefore, a confidential matter."

Ackley would like to continue teaching through the end of the semester but, according to an online petition started by students, he has already been asked to leave. He told ABC he has no regrets about his decision.

"Although it has been painful in the last few days, deeply painful for all of us, and deeply stressful for all of us, it's certainly opened the dialogue in ways I've never seen this community dialogue about these kinds of issues," said Ackley.

The online petition to change the university's policy to protect transgender faculty and students has 757 signatures as of this morning.

It reads:

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Adam Ackley, a beloved theology professor of fifteen years, was 'asked to step down' rom his position as a professor at Azusa Pacific University due to his recent openness about his identity as a transgender man. This event has sparked fear and anger within the LGBTQ and Ally community of APU. We stand in solidarity with Adam, and strive to create a safer environment for students and faculty who have been marginalized by APU's conservative policies, as well as those who have been victims of spiritual violence on campus.