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Transfiguration of the church

Transfiguration of the church

Becoming who we are might be the theme of the story of transgender and The Episcopal Church. The last week we have heard the story of Gwen Fry and her decision to become the person she always knew herself to be. We could not see it before. Now the scales have fallen from our eyes and we know the results of General Convention’s vote to include transgender in the non-discrimination canon. The Rev. Dr. Elizabeth Kaeton reflects on our transfiguration within the church and what we have left to learn. A few snippets of her blog, read it all:

I was at the last General Convention of The Episcopal Church when the resolutions concerning non-discrimination of transgender people easily passed both houses.

I knew it would happen and yet I was stunned.

It wasn’t that the resolutions passed. The logic was undeniable, no matter how you felt about the matter – right, wrong, or as some admitted, confused.


What blew me away was that this movement for liberation had not, as yet, claimed any martyrs in The Episcopal Church.

Every liberation movement – especially in The Episcopal Church – has had its martyrs.


That’s not to say that Transgender Episcopalians have not taken risks and sacrificed themselves for the movement for liberation and equality and justice. Their individual stories of transformation within their families and communities of faith are inspiring and amazing.

You can listen to some of them in the documentary Voices of Witness: Out of the Box.

That’s not it.

It’s just that they haven’t had anyone who has gained any notoriety and press for his/her efforts.

That is, not until this past week.


The important thing to remember is that we’re all human. The person who is transitioning as well as everyone else.

Here’s a link to a handy-dandy little resource called “How to Respect a Transgender Person” which provides some eduction, practical advice and instruction.

Just know that you will probably make a mistake. Or two. Or, three. God knows, I have. Probably will again. And, I have to say that, every time I have, I have been treated with such compassion and kindness and generosity of spirit by the transpeople I’ve known that it makes me want to do better next time. It makes me want to be a better person.

I think that an open mind and an open heart will carry you far as you transition with a person who is transitioning in terms of their gender identity / expression.

This is a watershed moment in The Episcopal Church. We are going deeper in our spiritual journey as a people of faith. We are delving into what I think of as “the original sin” of The Garden: Sexism.

Transgender people open and expose stereotypes and gender roles assigned by culture, some of which are buried so deeply in our subconscious that, when we see them laid bare, it makes us so uncomfortable and embarrassed that we squirm.

Transgender people, male to female or female to male, will lead cisgender people to the intersection of gender and sexuality, where, I think, all our images of God are tied and tangled in confusing knots of myth and culture and projection.

Like it or not, ready or not, we’re all beginning to transition.

We are on holy ground.

As individuals and as a church, we’ll be changed and transformed and never again be the same…

Pray for the church, for all in Arkansas, for our selves.


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Thank you for this.

Transgender persons are too often the very LAST group about which undisguised LOATHING is still considered acceptable to express (see re “Transsexuals & bathrooms” for example). The “slings and arrows” of this contempt then morphing, inevitably, into hideous levels of anti-Trans violence (as we remember on November 20, w/ the “Day of Remembrance” for all the Trans victims of violence). Kyrie eleison!

JC Fisher

P.S. Rev Margaret Watson has been writing movingly about being in Thailand w/ her MTF sister, where she has gone for transition surgery. Begin here:

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