This post forms the second in a series about the history of TransEpiscopal’s legislative efforts at the General Convention of The Episcopal Church, as we head to the 78th General Convention at the end of June.
After our first effort at GC legislative advocacy in 2006 (described here) we realized that we needed to bring a team. We also experienced the power of working in coalition. In 2007 we had become members of the Consultation, “a collaboration of progressive organizations within the Episcopal Church that partner to work for social justice.” Even as we attended GC with our own focus, we also collaborated with the nine other member groups of the Consultation. The key to TransEpiscopal’s work lay not in lifting up any one particular voice or having any one specific spokesperson, but rather in operating collectively and intersectionally. We chose to work this way out of respect for the varied experiences and identities within our own communities and in recognition that we are not alone in being impacted by oppressive social structures. Thus far we have emphasized collegiality, respect, shared resources, variously offered gifts and talents, and collective determination. TransEpiscopal has never had a president, has never had elected positions. Perhaps someday a different structure will make more sense for us. Perhaps not.
Coming into the 76th General Convention in Anaheim, we were expecting four transgender-themed resolutions amid a much greater number related to liturgical blessings for same sex couples and overturning the (ambiguous) moratorium on openly gay bishops. Some of our targeted resolutions sought to put the Episcopal Church on record in support of secular transgender nondiscrimination legislation, while others sought to amend our own canons in support of trans equality within TEC. Never before had a group of trans Episcopalians organized ourselves to testify at the committee hearings to where these resolutions had been directed. Never before had there been an openly trans Deputy to General Convention, which we gained in Dante Tavolaro of Rhode Island. With growing excitement, we made our way through Convention. To get a flavor for our energy, see this early blog post about the intense opening days of Convention or this one in which I raced up and down the escalators between the House of Bishops and Deputies meetings; this testimony from Dante Tavolaro from the floor of the House of Deputies; this progress report from Michelle Hansen; this recorded testimony from Gari Green or from Vicki Gray.
After all was said and done, the 2009 General Convention passed four trans-themed resolutions: