Outside Society


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As we approach a time of year which is holy for most religious for one reason or another, the Pew Research Center has taken a look at where transgender people stand in relation to them.

As we can see from Pew's handy-dandy summary image, the Episcopal church, United Church of Christ, Unitarian Universalist Church and Reform Judaism have all issued specific edicts saying that transgender people should be included in the life of the church and that they can be ordained as ministers.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, Presbyterian Church (USA) and United Methodist Church, on the other hand, have no formal message of acceptance.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has no specific policy on the ordination of transgender people, although a transgender minister, Asher O'Callaghan was ordained by the organization in July.

The Presbyterian Church (USA) did stop the outright banning of transgender people being ordained in 2010, but has yet to adopt a specific statement of inclusion.

In 2008, the United Methodist Church voted down a motion that would have excluded transgender people from joining the clergy, thus allowing transgender ministers to keep their ordination. But the church has continued to struggle with LGBT issues. In February of this year, the body tasked with articulating a vision for the future of the church proposed a “third way” on inclusion of LGBT people, which would remove punishments for ministers supportive of gay rights but stop short of full inclusion for LGBT people. The governing body of the United Methodist Church will vote on the proposal in 2016. Although the more recent debate has largely centered around same-sex marriage, the current proposal also would apply to transgender people.

--Aleksandra Sandstrom, Pew Center

The AME Church, Presbyterian Church in America, Church of God (Cleveland Tenn.) remain silent on the place of transgender people relative to the church, but mostly condemn homosexuality.

The Lutheran Church (Missouri Synod) advises ministers on how to discourage people from seeking treatment for gender dysphoria. The Assemblies of God "supports the dignity of individual persons affirming their biological sex and discouraging any and all attempts to physically change, alter, or disagree with their predominant biological sex." The Southern Baptist Convention approved a resolution in 2014 blocking transgender people from becoming members unless they repent (i.e. simply being transgender is a sin...so much for hate the sin, love the sinner).

The Roman Catholic Church does not recognize gender changes: gender is determined permanently at birth by the attending physician, whether or not he or she be Catholic.

The Mormons says that those who even consider "elective transsexual operations" may not be baptized or confirmed, while those who have already undergone such an operation may be baptized or confirmed by the governing body of the church, but can never be priesthood holders.

A 2013 survey by Pew of the view of LGBT people of societal accceptance found that 80% of us believe there is little or no social acceptance of transgender people, compared to 27% for gay men, 14% little or no acceptance for lesbians, 21% for bisexual women, and 46% for bisexual men.

That survey also found that LGBT people are less religious than the general public. That probably has something to do with the fact that LGBT people view religious institutions as unfriendly toward us at very high rates (Islam (84%), Mormons (83%), Catholics (79%), Evangelicals (73%)). Lest that be unclear, 73% of LGBT people view evangelical churches as being unfriendly to LGBT people, for example.) Forty-seven percent find the mainline protestant churches unfriendly, while 44% find the Jewish religion unfriendly.




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