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Surgeon General Nominee And FTM Transgender Minister Stories Collide

Story 1: Back in late spring of this year, the story of a Methodist transitioning, female-to-male pastor was in the news.  Bishop John R. Schol announced then the continued appointment of Rev. Drew Phoenix as pastor of Baltimore’s St. John’s United Methodist Church.

As the local CBS affiliate reported:

The Methodist church bans sexually active gay clergy but does not have any rules about transgender pastors.

Story 2: Pam picked up on the story of the Surgeon General nominee Dr. James W. Holsinger Jr. in Homophobic Surgeon General nominee’s writings picked up by MSM  and other posts.  From that main stream media/ABC News story:

Dr. James W. HolsingerPresident Bush’s nominee for surgeon general, Dr. James W. Holsinger Jr., wrote a paper in 1991 that purported to make the medical argument that homosexuality is unnatural and unhealthy. Doctors who reviewed the paper derided it as prioritizing political ideology over science, and Democratic aides on Capitol Hill say the paper will make his confirmation hearings problematic, if not downright bruising.

Holsinger, 68, presented “The Pathophysiology of Male Homosexuality” in January 1991 to a United Methodist Church’s committee to study homosexuality. (Read the paper here.) The church was then considering changing its view that homosexuality violates Christian teaching, though it ultimately did not do so. Relying on footnotes from mainstream medical publications, Holsinger argued that homosexuality isn’t natural or healthy.

The two stories collide: The United Methodist Church is the denomination for Baltimore’s St. John’s United Methodist Church, where Rev. Drew Phoenix is a minister.  Per the Los Angeles Times:

Rev. Drew PhoenixThe denomination’s highest authority, the Judicial Council, will take up the case next month, deciding whether the church should accept transgender pastors. The decision will determine Phoenix’s future; it could also have political implications.

Presiding over the Judicial Council is Dr. James W. Holsinger Jr., President Bush’s nominee for surgeon general and a longtime lay leader of the United Methodist church. Democrats have objected to Holsinger in large part because of work he has done for his church over the years.

…The Senate has not yet scheduled a vote on Holsinger [for confirmation for Surgeon General], though his confirmation hearing was two months ago. He has been asked to answer further questions in writing. In the meantime, Holsinger will handle several Judicial Council cases dealing with sexuality. Most prominent is the question of Phoenix’s right to remain in ministry.

If the United Methodist Judicial Council rules on Rev. Phoenix’s case before the Senate confirmation vote, we’ll have a fresh idea of where Dr. Holsinger stands on LGBT issues.  Will he advocate for or against Rev. Phoenix, and what will be his reasoning for his position for or against?

It’ll be interesting.  As the Los Angeles Times story went on to say:

The United Methodist Book of Discipline, which sets out rules for the denomination, does not address the issue of gender identity. But since it bans discrimination on the basis of gender — a point intended to ensure the equality of male and female clergy — Phoenix argues in a legal brief: “There is no basis for prohibiting my appointment . . . based on my identification as male.”

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