Catholic and Orthodox Transgender Timeline

As I was researching the United Methodist Transgender Timeline yesterday, I remembered that I know of several transgender Catholic priests! Now, given the nature of the Roman Catholic Church, not all of them are Roman Catholic.

In any case, I got carried away and got a good start on a timeline for transgender Catholic and Orthodox traditions. Will you help me to add additional details? Please be in touch!

Note: Bullet points are included in front of actions by the Vatican so that you can choose whether or not to focus your attention on them (some are actually positive).

1978-1979

Nancy Ledins transitions from male to female and becomes a new story as the first female/transgender Roman Catholic priest, since she resigned from the priesthood in 1969 to get married, but had never been returned to lay status.

1995

Rev Sarah Flynn ends her connection with the United Methodist Church to become a priest in the Independent Catholic Church.

1996

Rev Lynn Walker transfers her credentials to the Orthodox Catholic Church of America (OCCA) (having been ordained in an independent Orthodox jurisdiction in 1988, pre-transition).

2001-2004

First Dignity Transgender Caucus, which eventually disbanded due to inactivity.

2004

Br Merrick Moses, OSB, ordained to the diaconate of the International Ecumenical Catholic Church.

2008

Br Merrick Moses, OSB, ordained to the priesthood of the International Ecumenical Catholic Church.

2009

Rev Lynn Walker is consecrated as a Bishop in the Orthodox Catholic Church of America (OCCA).

2010

Hilary Howes writes “To Be or Not To Be: A Transexual Catholic Speaks” for Conscience magazine.

2012

Shannon Kearns ordained to the diaconate of the North American Old Catholic Church

TransCatholic Facebook group begins.

  • Pope Benedict XVI critiques transgender experience in his annual Christmas address to the Vatican staff.

2013

Shannon Kearns ordained to the priesthood in the North American Old Catholic Church

Anna Magdalena’s blog, Catholic Trans, launches.

Dignity Transgender Caucus launches.

2014-2015

Dignity USA prints a three-part, transgender-themed newsletter series (2014 Q3, 2015 Q1, 2015 Q2).

2015

Hilary Howes begins convening folk to start a Transgender Catholic organization and eventually relaunches her blog as transcatholic.org

  • Pope Francis makes headlines by meeting with a transgender man, Diego Neria Lejárraga. Soon after, Pope Francis critiques “gender theory” in an extended interview. Soon after, Pope Francis shows compassion for gay, transgender, and HIV+ prisoners in Naples.
  • Some say Pope Francis encyclical, Laudate Sii, includes a critique of transgender people.

2016

  • Pope Francis issues the apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, raising questions about gender and biology.
  • A transcript is released where Pope Francis is lamenting what he believe children are being taught about gender. Pope Francis makes both compassionate and problematic statements about transgender people to reporters on a flight back to Rome.

2017

  • Sister Monica Astorga receives a supportive note from Pope Francis
  • In a presentation to the Potifical Academy for Life’s general assembly, Pope Francis argues that gender is fixed.

2019

  • The Vatican issues “Male and Female He Created Them” Toward a Path of Dialogue on the Question of Gender Theory in Education, rejecting “ideas” about intersex, transgender, and non-binary identities. Coverage in Forbes, Wall Street Journal, Vox

2019

Colleen Fay is ordained a priest in the National Catholic Church of North America.


Sources include New Way Ministry’s timeline, private correspondence.

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