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Episcopalian Divinity School panel to discuss transgender and intersex theologies

Posted by Jim Lopata  September 6, 2012 10:21 AM

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Ready for transgender theology?

Even as religious debates over homosexuality continue, Christian academics have begun working through transgender and intersex (definition below) theological issues. To help address some of the questions, the Episcopal Divinity School (EDS) in Cambridge, Mass., is sponsoring a panel on the topic tomorrow, Friday, September 7, at 3 p.m., at EDS, where Rev. Dr. Patrick S. Cheng will be moderating a discussion among leading thinkers in the field.

Boston Spirit asked Cheng to provide some context on the topic, to say a little more about how the panel came about, and to address any aspects of the discussion that may be controversial. He e-mailed the following response:

The panel came about because Susannah Cornwall, the world's leading expert on intersex theologies, is currently visiting the United States from the UK. I've known Susannah for some time, and she asked me earlier in the year if EDS would be interested in sponsoring a talk on this topic. I spoke with a number of my friends in the area who do work in trans and intersex theologies, and so we collectively decided to do a panel.

I think the panel is particularly timely in light of this summer's action by the General Convention (the governing body) of the Episcopal Church in passing a nondiscrimination resolution with respect to gender identity and expression for ordained ministry. Two of our panelists, Cameron Partridge and Iain Stanford, were very much involved in getting this resolution passed.

Also, even though many of us in the queer community use the phrase "LGBT," we really don't really address the "T" — and generally the "I" [for intersex] isn't even there. Sadly, this is true of the queer theological world also. So this panel is an attempt to break these silences and to move the conversation forward. I personally don't think the panel is — or should be — controversial; it is simply a reflection of the reality of the wide spectrum of gender identities and expressions in our community. However, I do recognize that others may feel differently.

Before going on, just what is 'intersex'? The National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association Stylebook defines the term as: “People born with sex chromosomes, external genitalia or an internal reproductive system that is not considered standard for either male or female.” For more information, check out wikipedia’s page on intersex.

For more information about the panel, check out the following web site:

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author: Boston Spirit Magazine’s daily blog brings you all of the information you need on New England’s LGBT community. In addition to highlighting local and national LGBT news, we will also highlight local leaders from the worlds of business, politics, fashion and entertainment and keep you up-to-date on all the latest events and parties, hot spots for travel, shopping, dining, and more!

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