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LAMBETH: Transgender Episcopal Priest Speaks out at Canterbury

LAMBETH: Transgender Episcopal Priest Speaks out at Canterbury
First sex-change TEC priest to come out of the closet

By Hans Zeiger
July 25, 2008

CANTERBURY-The Rev. Dr. Cameron Partridge, a transgender Episcopal priest from the Diocese of Massachusetts, spoke Friday at a Lambeth Conference "fringe" event along with four other transgender people. A former female with a PhD from Harvard in early Christian thought and sex and gender, Partridge transitioned to maleness about six years ago. He has served part-time as priest at St. Luke's and St. Margaret's Episcopal Church in Allston, Massachusetts since June 2006.

Partridge, who has a partner, said that the current debate in the Anglican Communion about homosexual inclusion is difficult for transgender Anglicans. "We feel it's implicitly about us," he said, adding his reservations about the oversimplified sex and gender categories in which the debate is carried on. "It may be overwhelming to add us into this ... I think there's a lot more complexity and richness that we haven't yet recognized. If adding trans into the debate helps us to recognize complexity, I actually think that will be a good thing."

The panel event, "Listening to Trans People," was sponsored by Sibyls, a London-based transgender Christian support group. Panelists who shared their life stories were Sibyls president Rev. Christina Beardsley, an Anglican hospital chaplain who transitioned in 2001; Stephanie Shepard, formerly Stephen, a Methodist from England who has spent time as a missionary; Mia Nikasimo, a Buddhist from Nigeria now living in England; and an Anglican layman named Steven who transitioned several years ago. Steven made a presentation about intersex and transgender identity.

Among the attendants of the Sibyls event at the University of Kent was Partidge's bishop, the Rt. Rev. Thomas Shaw, Bishop of Massachusetts. Shaw offered the closing prayer.

Partridge keeps a blog called TransEpiscopal, where he wrote about his reasons for going to Lambeth. "As far as I know, this panel represents the first time that a transgender-specific event has ever taken place at a worldwide Anglican Communion meeting, and I'm proud to be part of it."

Partridge added that his "prayer is that the fringes of the Lambeth Conference might witness to the Anglican Communion a renewed, clarified vision of human complexity. I pray that the God who is always doing a new thing might re-empower us in the ongoing task of creating church anew, that somehow, amidst ongoing conflict, we might be able to delight in the unique incarnation that each of us was created to become."


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