A proposal to allow trans people to serve as ordained ministers in the US Episcopal Church has passed its first hurdle after winning committee approval in the church’s General Convention. The proposal would add gender identity and expression to the nondiscrimination canons. The move comes nine years after the Episcopal Church first approved Bishop Gene Robinson to his position. The American branch of the Anglican Communion currently allows openly lesbian and gay people to be ordained.
The proposal comes at the triennial convention being held, this year, in Indianapolis and comes as the church’s leadership is set to consider approving the new liturgy for same-sex weddings. The proposal on gender identity inclusion will now be considered by the House of Bishops, and, if approved, will then go to the House of Deputies for final approval. A similar measure that would have barred all forms of discrimination by the church was proposed in 2009, but did not pass.
The Anglican Communion has had some issues with transsexuality and transgenderism in the recent past; however, it has never been a huge issue. There have been a couple of instances of priests transitioning after becoming ordained.
“Please don’t focus on us as an abstract issue,” said Rev. Vicki Gray, a deacon at Christ the Lord Episcopal Church in Pinole, California, who identifies as transgender. “We are flesh-and-blood human beings.”
“The resolution is important so transgender people can have access to our church. ‘All’ is not sufficient,” said Gray.
Rev. Carolyn Woodall, a Deacon at St. Mary in the Mountain Episcopal Church of Jamestown, California, who also said she identifies as transgender, said transgender individuals are the “least understood people in society.”
There was only one person who spoke out against it. Sue Ellen Ruetsch of the Episcopal Diocese of Albany, New York stated “I understand the Bible doesn’t specifically mention transgender.” She went on to use the rather standard line of ‘If God does not make mistakes’, “why do you need to change?”
Any trans person out there knows the answer to that one. ‘I am not the one saying that God made a mistake. I am saying this is God’s plan for me. You are the one saying that He made a mistake.’