Deputy Tavolaro, Rhode Island.
I am 19 years old, and active member of this Church, and I identify as Transgender. For me that means I am biologically female, but I live and identify as male. I know for most of you this is a new topic and while this is the second General Convention to deal with Transgender issues, I believe it is the first time this issue has come to the floor of our house.
Gender identity and gender expression are not the same as sexual orientation. Gender identity refers to who you are, while sexual orientation refers to whom you love.
Transgender people - whether known or unknown - serve in various capacities both lay and ordained within the Church. As a Church when we fail to recognize the humanity of all people we fail to proclaim the Gospel, we fail to live out our Baptismal Covenant, we fail to respect the dignity of every human being. Many of my Transgender siblings have been explicitly rejected in their Church homes when their chosen names and pronouns are not used.
I love this Church with all my heart and soul. By adding Gender Identity and Gender Expression to our ministry canon it will serve as a beacon of hope - for myself, the trans community, and all people who wonder whether they are truly welcome in this Church.