Episcopal Transgender History

Here’s the next timeline for Transgender Religious History! Please help me collect the details that are missing! Be in touch!


Paula Schonauer transitions while serving St James Episcopal Church, Oklahoma City, OK as a deacon. Believed to be the first openly transgender deacon in the Episcopal Church.


Rev Michelle Hansen (originally ordained in the 1970s) transitions with the support of Bishop Andrew Smith, the then Bishop of Connecticut, then during a hiatus from ministry to deal with other health concerns. Her ministry in a 5 congregation appointment subsequently fell apart.


TransEpiscopal is organized with list-serve, small gatherings, and a retreat.

TransEpiscopal makes a first, informal appearance at ECUSA General Convention; testimony is heard on a proposed trans-affirming resolution.


TransEpiscopal joins the Consultation (coalition of progressive Episcopal organizations), informally indicating an acceptance of transgender advocacy as a part of the progressive platform.


TransEpiscopal representatives attend Lambeth Conference (global gathering of the Anglican communion)


Delegation of TransEpiscopal folk attend ECUSA General Convention

The first openly transgender deputy to ECUSA General Convention, Dante Tavolaro of Rhode Island, is seated and participates in debate and voting.

ECUSA General Convention debates trans-affirming legislation that would have added gender identity and expression to the canon prohibiting discrimination in access to the ordination process; the legislation is amended and then withdrawn.

ECUSA General Convention enacts legislation supporting secular trans inclusive non-discrimination and hate crimes legislation; directing the use of trans-affirming language in church forms; and prohibiting discrimination against trans or gender-nonconforming lay employees.


Voices of Witness: Out of the Box documentary film launches.

Delegation of TransEpiscopal folk attend ECUSA General Convention

ECUSA General Convention extensively debates and passes trans-affirming legislation prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity and expression in the ordination process as well as generally in terms of lay participation in the life of the church. Legislation in response to bullying was also passed.


Integrity USA hires Vivian Taylor as executive director. She is the first openly transgender person to hold that position and only the second openly transgender person to be hired as executive director of a national LGBT Christian organization.


The Rev Dr Cameron Partridge preaches at the National Cathedral and makes national headlines.

The Rev Gwen Fry transitions while serving Grace Episcopal Church in Pine Bluff, AR, leading to her pastoral relationship dissolving.


Delegation of TransEpiscopal folk attend ECUSA General Convention

ECUSA General Convention passes legislation adding a name change rite to the Church’s official liturgy. Other legislation addressed recording keeping around name changes, opposed conversion therapy, affirmed dialogue in Africa, and update sexual misconduct policies in regards to gender identity and expression.

Integrity dismisses both full-time staff members (Vivian Taylor and Sam Peterson), both transgender, from its staff, citing financial concerns. [TransEpiscopal statement]


The Rev Cameron Partridge (TransEpiscopal member) publishes Out of the Ordinary: A Life of Gender and Spiritual Transitions through Fordham Press.


ECUSA General Convention passes legislation prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity or expression in the processes around discernment, employment, licensing, ordination, call, deployment, or election. Other legislation addressed gathering statistics, investment in career development, violence reduction, reissuing of church documents after a name change, among other technical adjustments.

The Rev Gwen Fry is elected president of Integrity. The first openly transgender person to hold that position.

Sources include: TransEpiscopal About page and Legislative page, various personal correspondence. Thanks to Donna Cartwright for providing additional nuance.

Compiled by Mx. Chris Paige on September 14, 2019.

Note: This blog is intended to be an on-going work in progress. Please contact us if you have corrections or are able to contribute further context or reflections.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s