Kelsey Pacha, MA, M.Div. is a trans man who has worked with marginalized communities for 18+ years in a variety of settings. He holds a Master of Religion and Psychology, Master of Divinity, and Certificate of Sexuality and Religion from Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA. He also holds a Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Psychological Services from Northwestern University in Evanston, IL. He is the owner of Kelsey Pacha Consulting, which supports the work of institutions and individuals in increasing their capacity for cultural humility and social justice-informed institutional change. Kelsey offers educational trainings and LGBTQ workplace policy expertise with an emphasis on practical skills, identity awareness, and personal empowerment. He regularly works with corporate diversity, equity, and inclusion officers and LGBTQ affinity groups, as well as legal, clinical, medical, and direct service (including child welfare and faith leader) personnel.
Kelsey straddles the worlds of academia/theory and practice, serving as the Board President of Trans Bodies, Trans Selves, a national non-profit organization that publishes a 649-page resource guide of the same name, by and for the trans, gender expansive, and nonbinary communities. Through this work, he connects with leading transgender and gender expansive scholars in medicine, law, mental health, social sciences, politics, and culture to collaborate on editions of Trans Bodies. He recently authored the Religion and Spirituality chapter of the second edition of the book, released April 15, 2022, and served as Survey Editor, managing a nationwide qualitative survey of over 2,000 respondents quoted in the book, and editing several chapters. Kelsey co-authored an academic review of methodologies used to survey transgender & nonbinary people based on the Trans Bodies Second Edition Survey, “Surveying trans and nonbinary communities: Research methodologies, accountability, and ethics with the Trans Bodies, Trans Selves Survey (2nd edition),” published in Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity in 2022.
Kelsey also co-authored the Religion and Spirituality chapter in the surgical textbook Gender Confirmation Surgery: Principles and Techniques for an Emerging Field, edited by Loren Schecter, released 2020. He has been featured as a subject matter expert on gender pronouns in Rolling Stone, Grammarly’s Guide to Personal Pronouns, NPR Cap Radio about best pronoun practices in the workplace. He has also been interviewed on NPR’s The Takeaway and been published in LGBTQ Nation.
Kelsey brings his personal experience as a white person from the Midwest who was confronted with his privilege and lack of cultural awareness when he matriculated at Northwestern University, near the urban center of Chicago. His activism for institutional change began at Northwestern, where he spent 4 years as a member of the campus LGBTQ group’s executive council and spearheaded a successful campaign to include “gender identity and expression” in the school’s non-discrimination policy. In 2006, he organized the Chicago site of Soulforce’s Right to Serve campaign, protesting the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. In 2007, he took a semester off school to go on Soulforce’s Equality Ride, visiting 21 Christian colleges and universities around the country that had policies that prevent students from coming out as LGBTQ.
Kelsey’s growth and knowledge base accelerated when he moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in 2008, working with people with disabilities, unhoused youth, and LGBTQ youth communities. Kelsey has worked as a direct service provider, case manager, and program coordinator at multiple non-profit organizations. In addition to strategizing for institutional change, Kelsey believes that self-compassion, continuing self-accountability, and focusing on personal incremental actions are vital tools in bridging individual change with larger cultural shifts.
With increasing divisiveness among generations with differing approaches to identity politics and professionalism, it is essential, now more than ever, to build resiliency in having tough conversations in order to prioritize communities most impacted by systemic oppression. Kelsey brings the ability to listen with openness, validate individuals’ experiences, while also challenging people to leverage their power and privilege for a more equitable, just world. He regularly presents at LGBTQ conferences all over the country, including LGBTQ Task Force’s Creating Change Conference, Gender Spectrum’s Professional Symposium, and the Philadelphia Trans Wellness Conference, among others. He was featured on the podcast And So We Meet Again, discussing his personal journey as a queer transman of faith, as well as giving a mini-version of his Gender and Pronoun 101.
Kelsey has a special expertise at the nexus of gender, sexuality, religion, spirituality, & mental health, and offers courses like Increasing Family Acceptance Among Religious Caregivers of LGBTQ Youth; Spiritual Trauma, Abuse, & Mental Health Among LGBTQ People; and Healing From Spiritual Wounds for LGBTQ People to promote holistic wellness among LGBTQ people and their families who have been wounded by religion. He has created LGBTQ inclusion resources for faith communities and ran support groups for LGBTQ people healing from religious trauma, and views this as an enormous part of his vocation in the world.