A panel of the Episcopal Church on Saturday approved a proposal which would allow transgender men and women the right to become ministers.

According to Reuters News, the Church's House of Bishops approved the measure at the Church's General Convention, which started Thursday in Indianapolis.

The proposal seeks to add “gender identity and expression” in the Church's “non-discrimination canons.” That is, transgender people could not be excluded as candidates to ministry.

The House of Deputies must now approve the resolution.

The move comes sixteen years after the Episcopal Church approved the ordination of openly gay clergy and nine years after it approved its first openly gay bishop, the Rev. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.

Robinson's ordination created a deep divide between the 77 million-member Anglican Communion and its more liberal American branch, the Episcopal Church. The elevation of a second openly gay bishop, Assistant Bishop Mary D. Glasspool, last year further divided the two churches.

(Related: Gene Robinson to retire in 2013.)

The Church is also considering a blessing rite for gay and lesbian couples who wish to wed. The rite would not confer “marriage” on a couple. The 2-million member Episcopal Church defines marriage as a heterosexual union.