M010 Gender Expansive Language

Proposed by

Diocese of Ohio

To the Bishops and Deputies of the Episcopal Church Assembled at the 80th General Convention, 

The Baptismal Covenant of the Episcopal Church calls us both to “seek and serve Christ in all persons” and to “respect the dignity of every human being”. 

As Episcopalians we are called to glory in the expansive love and grace of God and to share that radical love and grace with others.  This resolution seeks to further that call by demonstrating our radical love and welcome for our trans and nonbinary siblings in Christ. We can best do so by using language that recognizes and proclaims the glorious diversity of humanity as made in God’s image.
God tells us that before we were formed in the womb, God knew our deepest and truest selves; the psalmist tells us we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Ps. 139). Western culture’s perception of gender has traditionally been limited to the masculine and the feminine. But for many people, the expression of their truest selves includes identifying with a gender or sex that does not fit into the simple binary categories of “male” or “female,” and for people who are not cisgendered, that is to say people who do not identify with the gender assigned at their birth, the traditional binary pronouns such as “he” and “she” may be insufficient to serve that expression.  And the word “they” has been recognized as a singular third-person pronoun by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.  

We remember that words themselves are symbols, and the use of symbols in the church have always visibly pointed to the invisible God, and to that God’s love for each of us.  The language of our church should honor the need for more expansive understanding.

Using such expressions as “siblings in Christ,” the singular “they” and gender neutral honorifics such as “Mx.” in our communal language will respond to the freeing Spirit by escaping the narrowness of linguistic categorization, and will far better embody the inclusive love of Christ.  Such usage will lead us into an openness and creativity not only in language but theology and perception. This resolution thus aims to maintain the radical love and hospitality evangelized by the Anglican-Episcopal tradition.

Therefore, the Episcopal Diocese of Ohio has resolved that all Diocesan Committees, Commissions, and Councils commit themselves to using gender expansive language and avoiding the limitations of gender-binary pronouns, by (1) requiring gender-expansive language in all future resolutions and constitutional amendments and (2) utilizing gender-expansive language in their own communications and publications; and we recommend the adoption of such practices by The Episcopal Church and its constituent Dioceses.

Respectfully submitted, 
The Episcopal Diocese of Ohio. Voted and affirmed at the 205th Diocesan Convention in November, 2021