Mycroft Masada is a queer trans faith leader who moved to the Washington DC area of Maryland’s Montgomery County from their lifelong home of Boston in 2014. Mycroft co-chairs the MoCo Pride Center, is a TransFaith National Council member, a TransEpiscopal Steering Committee member and former Congregation Am Tikva board member. Mycroft is particularly called to pursue justice at the intersections of LGBTQI+ and fat communities, and is an advocate, organizer, consultant, educator, trainer, writer and artist. They are partnered with Julia McCrossin, the massculine fatshion blogger, and with her co-parents a dogter. Their central online home is MasadArts.blogspot.com.

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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Guardian (United Kingdom) article re: transgender clergy & more, in US and UK

Today the Guardian (United Kingdom -- England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales) newspaper published Becky Garrison's article "Trans clergy are finally gaining greater acceptance (As we approach Transgender Faith Action Week, progress can be seen in attitudes to trans people within the church)".

(The Manchester Guardian is one of England's national newspapers, first published in 1821. The Guardian is affiliated and shares offices and a website with the Observer, another English newspaper, first published in 1791 -- the oldest Sunday newspaper in the world.)

ICTE and lots of other Massachusetts awesomeness is included -- including Rev.s Cameron Partridge and Christopher Fike, the MA diocesan bishop, the local history of Transgender Day of Remembrance, and Transgender Faith Action Week!

Warning -- alas, many of the comments are NSFS (not safe for sanity).


Trans clergy are finally gaining greater acceptance

As we approach Transgender Faith Action Week, progress can be seen in attitudes to trans people within the church


Last week, the Rev Dr Christina Beardsley, vice-chair of Changing Attitude, a network of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and heterosexual members of the Church of England, was one of the voicesfeatured on 4Thought.tv's week of short films featuring trans people and faith.

While the US Episcopal church developed a maverick reputation within the Anglican communion for blessing same sex marriages and ordaining gay and lesbian clergy, the House of Bishops of the General Synod of the Church of England's report Some Issues in Human Sexuality, issued in 2003, contained a chapter titled "Transsexualism". Currently, one can find about a half dozen trans clergy in the UK and US. These numbers are imprecise, as some clergy do not wish to go public beyond the scope of their individual parish or diocese – a concern that's understandable given that the trans community seldom receives even the legal protections afforded gays and lesbians .

Beardsley, who was ordained for 23 years prior to her transition in 2001, observes that "some within the Church of England feel the issue of trans clergy has been settled" by citing such cases as the Rev Carol Stoneand the Rev Sarah Jones. However, she says: "Not all trans clergy have been supported by their bishop, as these two priests were, and some have been excluded from full-time ministry because of Church of England opt-outs from UK equality legislation."

During the 2008 Lambeth conference, a decennial gathering of Anglican bishops, Beardsley organised a panel titled "Listening to Trans People". While only four bishops attended this gathering, it represented the highest number of bishops to participate in an Inclusive Network to date. Also, this panel helped consolidate Changing Attitude's networking with Sibyls, a UK-based Christian spirituality group for trans people, and the US-based online community TransEpsicopal.

The Rev Dr Cameron Partridge, interim Episcopal chaplain and lecturer at Harvard University, served on this panel as the sole US representative. He transitioned in 2002 during his ordination process and has been an instrumental player in guiding the passage of four resolutions supporting trans rights during the US Episcopal church's2009 general convention.

The Rev Vicki Gray, a Vietnam vet before her transition, and currently a deacon with an emphasis on ministry to the homeless, noted that their goals at general convention were to assert that we exist as flesh-and-blood human beings, to demonstrate that we are here in the church as decent and devout followers of Jesus Christ, and to begin the process of education and dialogue that will lead to full inclusion in the life of the church, not only of the transgendered but of other sexual minorities such as the inter-sexed (known to some as hermaphrodites).

Following the murder of trans rocker Rita Hester in Allston, Massachusetts, in 1998, a vigil held in her honour became the impetus behind the International Transgender Day of Remembrance, an annual event held on 20 November. Even though this day to reflect and remember those who have been killed by anti-transgender hatred or prejudice is not a religious service, in 2010 memorial services were held for the first time at Episcopal cathedrals in Boston and Sacramento.

The Rev Christopher Fike, vicar of Christ Episcopal Church in Sommerville, Massachusetts, who transitioned in 2003 after having served in a fairly high-profile position as a female cleric, believes that moving this memorial to the cathedral signifies that the church views this as a justice issue. He says: "The more we normalise people who are outside the typical in their gender expression, the more room there is for that range of expression. We no longer have to hide our real identity from the church."

The Rt Rev M Thomas Shaw, SSJE, Bishop of Massachusetts, admits that ordaining and providing pastoral oversight to trans clergy proved to be a life-changing experience for him. Initially, he struggled with the idea and the reality of having trans clergy until he saw they were doing the same ministry as everyone else.

From 3-10 April, Transgender Faith Action Week will be held in the Boston area in the hope of bringing forth faith leaders from different traditions to increase awareness of the trans community in religious circles. Partridge, one of the organisers, says: "We call upon the church to consider carefully its vision of theological anthropology, its theological vision of the human person. How does gender factor into our conception of the human?" After all, in Genesis 1:26, God created ha-adam, a nonsexual term that means "human being". Then, after he created humanity, she declared that it all was "very good".

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