Anglican priest Theo Robinson stands in front of a church pew.
"If I had seen liturgies such as these being offered, I would have trusted that support would be there for me," writes Robinson. (Photo: Thomas Fricke)

Topics: Spirituality | LGBTQ2S+

This transgender priest says Anglican church’s affirmation of new worship resources could save lives

"It means [transgender and non-binary people] have a place in the church’s community of worship," says Rev. Theo Robinson of the new liturgies


On June 30, the Anglican Church of Canada became the first national church to prepare liturgies to bless the gender transition process and affirm gender identity within the church. The liturgies, called the Pastoral Liturgies for Journeys of Gender Transition and Affirmation, were authorized by vote at the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada’s meeting which convened from June 27 to July 2 in Calgary. Following the vote, Primate Linda Nichols said, “By approving these liturgies, we are sending a message that the Anglican Church of Canada stands in solidarity with transgender people.”

A liturgy is a public ritual of worship, usually prepared by a religious community. In Christian churches, people find or rediscover their spiritual connection to Christ and to each other through liturgies. These gender transition liturgical rites represent a public affirmation that we as transgender and non-binary folks are accepted, welcomed and loved as the people we are. It means we have a place in the church’s community of worship. It means we are all beloved children of God. 

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In the fall of 2020, I had the amazing opportunity to join a group of transgender, gender non-binary persons and a few allies to shape the theological and pastoral lenses of these liturgical rites. It was humbling to work with a group of people who were just like me as the liturgies were discussed, written and rewritten. It can be lonely not knowing if there are other transgender people in leadership, or even in the church. Not everyone is comfortable advertising their gender identity, so you just don’t know who is out there.

When I came out as transgender to my priest, I feared rejection from her and my parish. I was also scared to come out to my bishop as I thought he would revoke my request to become a priest. If I had seen liturgies such as these being offered, I would have trusted that support would be there for me. In the end, I was one of the lucky ones because support for me never wavered. My priest was pleased to do a renaming ceremony for me. We created it ourselves because these now-authorized liturgies didn’t exist at the time.

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The national church affirming these liturgies is the beginning of creating spaces for those who left their home church because they are transgender or non-binary, whether it was by choice or by force. It is one of many steps towards true and full inclusion of 2SLGBTQIA+ people in the Anglican Church of Canada. This public affirmation could ultimately save lives.

Someone asked me if I would go back and use some of these liturgies on myself, like the Affirmation of Gender Identity. Honestly, I hadn’t thought of it. But even if I don’t use them for myself, I am sure glad that they exist now. It shows that the Anglican Church of Canada is making space for me, and that’s the best feeling in the world right now.


Rev. Theo Robinson is an Anglican priest in Winnipeg.

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