Will the Episcopal Church Amend Our Rules on Transgender Clergy?

"All" does not always mean "all" in the Episcopal Church. We've made progress in growing our "all" to include more and more of God's children. More than three decades ago our "all" grew to include woman as priests and bishops. In the years since we have grown our "all" to include more lesbian and gay people. But, as Diocese of California Deputy Sarah Lawton (left) points out in her eloquent post at the Walking With Integrity blog, we've not yet included transgender folks in our "all."

The upcoming General Convention will have a chance to address this omission by approving a pair of resolutions. If enacted, these measures will add "gender identity and expression" to the list of categories protected from discrimination in the church, including access to the discernment process for ordination (D012) and also more generally to the life, worship and governance of the church (D019).

"This year D002 brings back that same resolution, along with D019 to address access to the church's wider life," Sarah writers. "TransEpiscopal is sending another team of advocates, and Integrity has made passage of these resolutions a top priority for this convention."

Yet as this report in Religious Dispatches notes, approval of both proposals is far from a sure thing. In that report The Rt, Reverend Mary Gray-Reeves, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of El Camino Real and chair of the Legislative Committee, warns “There really is a tremendous need for education and understandings. People just don’t know what transgender is.”

“I really just think most people [at the Convention] will feel like they’re not equipped to make and defend a decision about language supporting transgender people in ministry. In most of the country, away from the coasts, this is a very complex issue,” she states in the report.

The new film Out of the Box is one way supporters of Trans inclusion are educating Bishops, General Convention deputies, and the church. You can view this groundbreaking film on YouTube or below. One of those featured in this film is The Reverend Carolyn Woodall, a transgender woman and a recently ordained deacon from the Diocese of San Joaquin. She notes:

“There comes a time in history when you’re called to make things happen. It’s not a matter of generating controversy. It’s a matter of all of us being fully who we are. It’s just that simple. Now is the time to act on that in the Church—to make a serious attempt to imitate Christ.”

We agree: it is time for in the Episcopal Chruch for "All" to mean "All." Oasis California supported TransEpiscopal's agenda at the last General Convention and we plan to speak in support of D012 and DO19 at this year's hearings. Also see Integrity's white paper on transgender issues.