2023

Report of the Trans and Non-Binary Task Force of the Diocese of California

Submitted by: Cameron Partridge

Submitted to: the 174th Diocesan Convention

Members: Iain Stanford, Chair; Hannah Cornthwaite; Gary England; Cameron Partridge; Izabella Sempari; Mees Tielens.

The Trans and Non-binary Task Force was created by the 173rd Convention of the Diocese of California to produce a set of guidelines for diocesan institutions and congregations to assess their practices, to educate lay and ordained employees and congregations, and to develop plans to become more fully welcoming and inclusive of trans and non-binary people. In 2022-23, our task force researched and honed assessment tools for congregational use; researched trainings and trainers that have been accessed across and beyond the Episcopal Church; and put together a bibliography for individual or group use. As these tools and lists are too long to include in this brief report, we look forward to making them available in other ways. Our hope is that all levels of our diocese will use these and other resources to help answer our shared call to fully embrace the gifts of non-binary and trans people in and beyond our communities.

At this moment in the United States, transgender and non-binary people are under attack. While that attack is chiefly fueled by the Christian right, as inheritors and shapers of the Christian tradition, The Episcopal Church and we of the Diocese of California are not innocent of the religious legitimization of deadly transphobia enshrined in American culture. We all have a responsibility – a call – not only to work against marginalization of transgender and non-binary people within our institutional structures, but also to be a strong witness to the rights of gender and sexual minorities in the public square. As of this writing, 22 states have passed legislation banning gender-affirming care for youth under 18 years of age; at least seven more are considering similar bills; and some states are considering banning care up to age 26. LGBTQ+ youth are more than four times as likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers; transgender youth are two times as likely to experience depression and suicidal ideation.[1] These are especially sobering statistics when the Human Rights Campaign reports that 45% of transgender youth live in states in which they have lost or risk losing access to this life-saving medical care.[2] In California school board Pride flag bans[3] and protests outside clinics that provide gender affirming care for youth[4] have taken place this year, even as our state is a place to which families with trans youth from across the country are coming to seek refuge.[5] We may be more protected here than other states,[6] but our safety is far from assured.

All of the members of this Task Force, including our late chair, the Rev. Iain Stanford, are passionate about our diocese and the wider Church creating and sustaining communities in which transgender and non-binary people of all ages are fully embraced and supported as “wonderfully and fearfully made” (Psalm 139:14); fully equipped for lay and ordained ministry; and fully recognized for how they/we already contribute to the life of the Church. We celebrate that such supportive communities already exist, we are grateful to be part of a diocese that stands with us, and our work is far from complete.

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[1] https://www.thetrevorproject.org/resources/article/facts-about-lgbtq-youth-suicide/ retrieved on September25, 2023

[2] https://www.hrc.org/resources/attacks-on-gender-affirming-care-by-state-map, retrieved on September 25, 2023

[3] https://www.them.us/story/california-school-districts-banning-pride-flag, retrieved on September 25, 2023

[4] https://www.sfchronicle.com/podcasts/article/transgender-care-lawsuit-kaiser-chloe-cole-17804243.php, retrieved on September 25, 2023

[5] https://kffhealthnews.org/news/article/medical-exiles-families-flee-states-crackdown-transgender-care/, retrieved September 25, 2023

[6] https://www.kqed.org/news/11929233/california-becomes-first-sanctuary-state-for-transgender-youth-seeking-medical-care, Retrieved September 25, 2023

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