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The Anglican Church

While the Anglican Church (aka Church of England) has been largely biased against transgenderism, they did allow Rev. Carol Stone to continue ministering after her SRS, making her the first Anglican priest to have the surgery. From

In the ambitious document Some issues in human sexuality four Church of England bishops have surveyed some of the theological responses to the existence of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered (LGBT) people in society and the Church. Chapter 5 explores gender identity, in its broadest sense, in history and theology, while Transsexualism is examined in Chapter 7. The authors make a valiant attempt to be even-handed, quoting the Evangelical Alliance report and Roman Catholic moral theologians alongside other Christian writers who are prepared to justify gender re-assignment and the godliness of transsexual people. The bishops’ method is to summarise their review of the arguments in a series of, apparently, open questions; though one has the impression that these have been ‘closed’ in the earlier sections in favour of so-called ‘traditional’ teaching about gender and sexuality. Here the marriage of transsexual people (their document was produced before the Gender Recognition Act) and the ordination of transsexual people are singled out as key issues for the Church to consider.

Marriage in the Church of England

The Gender Recognition Act 2004 enabled transsexual people who have transitioned, and are in receipt of a Gender Recognition Certificate and a new birth certificate, to marry a person of the opposite gender to their ‘acquired’ gender. Church of England clergy act as state registrars for marriage and the new law means that transsexual people now have the right to marry in their parish church, just like any other parishioner, provided there is no legal impediment, e.g. they have not been previously married (in which case they are subject to the same pastoral disciplines regarding second marriage following divorce as other parishioners) or in a forbidden degree of relationship to their intended. (The right to marry in the parish church does not apply in Wales where the Anglican Church is disestablished).

An exemption was negotiated to accommodate clergy who might conscientiously refuse to solemnise a marriage in which one or both parties was believed to have undergone gender re-assignment. In this scenario the incumbent (vicar/parish priest) would still be obliged to make the parish church available to the couple. The transsexual person with a new birth certificate is under no obligation to reveal their history to the minister, but where subsequent disclosure by others is a possibility it may be prudent to do so. The minister may discuss with their superior or supervisor issues relating to the marriage of a transsexual person without that person’s permission, but their privacy should be respected, and the legal provisions on confidentiality also apply to the superior or supervisor.

Ordination in the Church of England

For a number of years the pastoral care of transsexual clergy in the Church of England was the unofficial responsibility of one of her parish priests, who undertook this task with love and discretion. Since the ordination of women to the priesthood was agreed by the Church of England five clergy have transitioned as trans women, a step that evoked very different reactions from their bishops - from outright hostility or disbelief to positive support and engagement – which reflected the range of responses to Gender Dysphoria noted in Some issues and the relative novelty of what was proposed. Over time it has become evident that these people are ministering and functioning far more effectively than they did before – with none of the scandal that was predicted - and recent legal changes have consolidated their position. Transition will always be an awkward time, especially for someone in a public role, but the Church of England now has positive experience to draw on. It was also heartening to learn, in 2005, that a woman’s transition twenty years earlier was not an obstacle to her recent ordination to the priesthood in one English diocese.


the Episcopal Church (the branch of Anglican churches in American) has been generally supportive. They have ordained openly transgender pastors like Cameron Partridge. At the worldwide Lambeth Conference of 2008 they included a panel discussion of trans people.

See Also

TransEpiscopal - An Episcopal, transgender blog