Friday, July 27, 2012

TO: South Carolina | FROM: Integrity

An Open Letter to the Bishops of South Carolina and Upper South Carolina:

Dear Bishops:

As an observer in the House of Bishops during General Convention I was puzzled by bishops commenting that there had been inadequate explanation of the terms “gender identity” and “gender expression”. I do not believe this was the experience of most bishops or deputies.

Now, The Living Church has quoted you as saying (Bishop Lawrence) that Resolutions D002 and D019 (which deny discrimination on the basis of gender identity or gender expression) “mark an even further step into incoherency. They open the door to innumerable self-understandings of gender identity and gender expression within the Church; normalizing “transgender,” “bi-sexual,” “questioning,” and still yet to be named — self-understandings of individualized eros. ...” and (Bishop Waldo) “I spoke against this [D002] on the floor of the House of Bishops because of the confusion in church and culture about just what “transgender” and “gender identity” mean. Further, we haven’t even begun a conversion about this in the wider church.”

The discussion in the wider [Episcopal] church was engaged even before the 2009 General Convention. That year, a resolution identical to D002 passed the House of Deputies by a significant majority in a vote by orders. The House of Bishops felt that rather than continue to provide specific protections it would be better to just ban all discrimination. There was insufficient time for the amended resolution to return to the Deputies before the end of Convention.

If by “the wider church’ you mean the Anglican Communion, transgender inclusion is not new news there. There are transgender clergy in the Church of England. The conversation is clearly well under way.

In the month before General Convention, Integrity and TransEpiscopal sent you both (and the deputies from your dioceses) at no cost, a copy of Voices of Witness: Out of the Box, a 28 minute video intended to provide you with information, from the lives and witness of transgender Episcopalians, about the very specific meaning of “gender identity” and ‘gender expression.”

I am sorry if in the busyness of the pre-Convention rush you were unable to take the time to view this important documentary -- or that you were not able to avail yourselves of either of the two screening opportunities to see it during Convention. Out of the Box is currently available on YouTube (where it has garnered over eight thousand views) and Dr. Gary Hall, formerly dean of Seabury Western Seminary, is preparing a study guide to accompany for congregational and community use -- which is in the final editing stages.

Once this is available we will send it to you both, together with another copy of the video, so that you can use this valuable resource in your dioceses. If Integrity or TransEpiscopal can be of any further help as you seek to educate yourselves in order to be able to fully embrace the diversity of God’s children, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Sincerely,
The Reverend Dr. Caroline J. A. Hall
President, IntegrityUSA

1 comment:

Ann Barton said...

Thank you for calling out my Bishop.

Ann Barton
Columbia, SC
Diocese of Upper SC/Bishop Waldo