This afternoon the Ministry Committee heard resolutions D002 and D019. The room was full, the testimony sign-up lists overflowing with overwhelmingly supportive people. The committee itself is large—forty members – which made getting up to speak that much more overwhelming for those who did it. But what an amazing collective witness we offered.
In addition to trans people ourselves, a striking number of allies came forward, including two bishops. One of them was my bishop, Tom Shaw, who spoke of our experience in the diocese of Massachusetts with trans clergy as well as strong support for the trans community more generally. Striking testimony was offered by Vivian Taylor whose writings have been share on this blog before. Vivian spoke of finding a home in the Episcopal Church during college, prior to her deployment to Iraq as a chaplain’s assistant, and her intention to enter discernment for ordained ministry. Bishop Chet Talton spoke of the stance of full welcome that he has supported in the Diocese of San Joaquin, and of the ministry of Carolyn Woodall who was ordained a deacon this spring.
The lone dissenting testimony was offered by a deputy from the diocese of Albany. The main sentiment she shared was a sense of isolation in her disagreement with resolution D002. When gently pressed by Bishop Mary Glasspool to be more specific about her concern, the deputy indicated her belief that “God doesn’t make mistakes” and that those who transition inherently assert the opposite. Bishop Shaw and I also answered a question from another deputy from the diocese of Albany about how to respond to people in that diocese who may feel alienated by the passage of these resolutions. Both of us emphasized the importance of relationships, of staying in conversation, of recognizing the humanity of one another, even and especially when we disagree. This deputy also turned out to live only twenty minutes from where my spouse grew up in central New York state. The world is small, and we must be gentle to one another.
After forty-five minutes of testimony on both resolutions, the chair ended the session. Because there were so many more people who wanted to testify, unfortunately, many were not able to, and we will be posting more testimony here. When the session ended, we streamed out into the hall, hugging each other and sighing huge sighs of relief. While a number of us dispersed, a few stayed behind to hear debate and voting on the resolutions. As it turned out, the vote was very straight forward: both D002 and D019 were passed out of committee and now head to the House of Bishops. They should come there in the next couple of days.
Tomorrow at 2pm there will be a hearing on another trans related resolution, D022, the Churchwide Response to Bullying. Stay tuned for news on that resolution as well as House of Bishops movement on D002 and D019.
About a year ago, I was asked point-blank how I, as a Christian, saw my transition and if I thought God made a mistake. The woman (a minister) who asked me was a strong ally when it came to civil protections but was struggling with how to reconcile her civil support with beliefs about God.
This was what I said to her (and, obviously, I only speak for myself here): Someone asked me a few months ago if I wish I'd just been born male. And I told them no. I am so grateful for the perspective I had to transition. This is who I am called to be and how I am called to be in the world. So, no, I don't believe God made a mistake. I believe that this is the path God set me upon, however much it may have sucked along the way.
We talked more about how others saw their own experiences differently and that I didn't think any one narrative was more true than another, but she thanked me later for giving her another way to think about it and that I'd helped her move through her reservations.
I leave it here in the hopes it might help others do the same.
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