Transgender Episcopalians Form Organization, Seek to Ally With Progressive Groups in ECUSA
Transgender Episcopalians and their significant others, families, friends and allies have announced the launch of TransEpiscopal, an informal organization dedicated to “making the Episcopal Church a welcoming and empowering place that all of us truly can call our spiritual home,” according to its statement of purpose.
The group, which began as an Internet listserve in January 2005, now has dozens of members, including both lay and ordained people. TransEpiscopal has just been accepted into the Consultation, the collaborative organization of progressive organizations within the national Episcopal Church.
The formation of TransEpiscopal represents a deepening and formalization of work on transgender issues that has been under way in the Episcopal Church for several years. A number of dioceses, including Michigan, Newark and California, have done significant educational work about transgender people. In December 2005, the Oasis Commission of the Diocese of Newark sponsored a weekend retreat for transgender people and their friends and allies, the first of its kind.
Since 2004, six dioceses (Newark, Michigan, New York, Maryland, California and New Hampshire) have passed resolutions at their annual conventions expressing support for the ministry and civil rights of transgender people and their supporters.
“Inclusion and equality are the common denominators in all of the parables of Jesus about the Household of God,” said Jim Toy, a TransEpiscopal member who was the first gay Episcopalian to come out in the Diocese of Michigan more than 30 years ago. “We are called to reaffirm and expand the scope of our commitment to inclusion, equality and nondiscrimination for all individuals and groups who are devalued and disempowered. To oppose discrimination and prejudice and to support equal opportunity and protection is moral, Christian and just.”
“There is nothing that can separate us from the love of God,” said the Rev. Michelle Hansen, an Episcopal priest in the Diocese of Connecticut who transitioned from male to female four years ago. “Transgender people are equally loved of God. It is time the institutional Church comes to terms with God’s people of all sorts and conditions.”