Laura’s unexpected journey from an unhappy transgender life to a happily married life
Take one glance at Laura and Perry Smalts, and you might only see just another happy newlywed couple, smitten with each other.
What the Lord did to bring about this marriage and moment, though, involves years of heartache, followed by answered prayers and near-miraculous moves.
Laura had lived nearly 10 years of her adult life as a transgender male, known at the time to her friends and co-workers as “Jake.”
“I grew up in a Christian home and was raised in the church, but I really didn’t know Jesus,” Laura said. “I had difficult relationships with my mom and other women and did not like myself. During high school I was rebellious, and I got into a lot of bad relationships. I didn’t feel like I fit in. I began to feel like I had no value or worth as a female. So, at 25 I decided I was going to become a man.”
Laura began to take hormones and even had surgery, ultimately living in the transgender male life for nine years.
“I found it to be so fake and empty, and it didn’t resolve any of the problems,” she said. “But it was still too painful to be a woman, so I decided I would live as a man of God, but the Lord pursued me. He didn’t leave me there.”
Approximately six years ago, Laura surrendered her life to Christ and then walked away from the transgender life, embracing her God-given sexuality as female.
Laura returned home to her parents, Paul and Francine, who were members of Bartlesville, First. After years of struggle and ruptured family relationships, God began the healing work.
“When I walked away from the transgender life, I honestly thought that I would be miserable for the rest of my life,” Laura said. “I knew the Lord was asking me to leave it all, but I had no hope of transformation. But I didn’t understand the healing that God could bring.”
Since her radical life transformation, Laura has shared her story in several settings, including at churches and Christian events. She now works with a local ministry called First Stone Ministries that seeks to bring help and hope to families affected by LGBTQ-related issues.
Laura was increasingly content in her role and accepted her singleness. Meanwhile, Perry Smalts, who currently serves as worship leader and associate pastor at Oklahoma City, Baptist Temple, also thought he would remain single.
“I had not dated in six years (neither had Laura),” he said. Through mutual friends, God allowed the couple to meet, and they became friends. What Laura and Perry did not realize at the time was that the Lord was bringing them together, and after months of dating, the two would become one.
Many twists and turns in life led up to their wedding day in May, a ceremony which was attended by beloved friends and family who had prayed for Laura for many years.
“This is a testimony to how the Lord has redeemed her life,” Perry said. “Some people ask if I had problems with her past life. No. The person that she once was no longer exists. When she asked Christ into her heart, she became a new person. Her old life is gone, and a new life has begun.”
Perry marvels at God’s grace available to every person. “Isn’t that wonderful that God’s grace is greater than our worst sin? I think that sometimes we don’t like people who have a different sin than we have,” he said. “It makes people uncomfortable, but God’s grace is for all of us. Whether we’ve sinned big or little. It’s just a wonderful testimony that brings God glory.”
God has continued to help each of them work through their personal issues.
“I realized that I had to stop looking at him (Perry) through the lens of my past and choose to trust him,” Laura said. “God has used him to bring so much healing. It’s such a reflection of the Gospel and how God begins to reveal Himself to us. We have to stop looking at God through the lies that we believed in the past and start choosing to believe His Word. This is very powerful to me.”
Today, the couple have made their home in Oklahoma City, as they seek to share in the ministry together. They host a couples Bible study in their home and remain active in their local church. Laura continues to speak and share her testimony.
When asked what advice Laura would give to families affected by LGBTQ or other relationship issues, she said, “Never ever give up on your prayers! I know people were praying for me. God may not reveal it for a long time, but God was still working on me the whole time.”
For Laura and Perry, each experienced many seasons of sorrow, but the Lord was faithful through it all. The couple is living proof that Christ often leads people through unexpected journeys.
In Laura’s case: the journey from transgender to transformed to true love.
EDITOR’S NOTE: A new podcast interview with Laura and Perry Smalts is available now on baptistmessenger.com/podcast