Debating transgender

Jun 7, 2017 by

by Ian Paul, Psephizo:

One of the most difficult debates facing General Synod when it meets in July arises not from the main business agenda, but from a diocesan motion from Blackburn Diocese, which will be proposed by Revd Chris Newlands:

That this Synod, recognising the need for transgender people to be welcomed and affirmed in their parish church, calls on the House of Bishops to consider whether some nationally commended liturgical materials might be prepared to mark a person’s gender transition.

I was approached to discuss this with Chris on last weekend’s Sunday programme on Radio 4, and if you want to see how complex and challenging this debate is going to be, then you can listen to our discussion on iPlayer starting at 30 minutes into the programme. The difficulties start (as is often the case in such debates) with the language; the question here is less about ‘gender’ (that is, socially constructed roles of men and women) but ‘sex identity’ (that is, whether someone is a biological man or woman) as is evident from Chris’ own language. That is why, in informed discussions, the situation we are faced with is described as ‘gender identity disorder’ or more commonly ‘gender dysphoria’. Chris is right to emphasise the serious and distressing nature of the pastoral issue—but unfortunately my agreement with him on this, and my explaining my personal experience of that amongst friends and family was edited out (the discussion was pre-recorded) in order to create a sense of ‘liberal pastoral care’ versus ‘traditionalist dogma’ on the programme. There is no doubt at all that this is how many will seek to configure the Synod debate.

But very quickly quite serious theological issues arise as well. Chris explains how this issue has arisen, because someone approached him who had transitioned from female to male, and he wanted to be ‘reintroduced, because he didn’t think God would now know who he was.’ The assumption of a fundamental change of identity also falls foul of basic science; our biological sex is not determined merely by our external genitalia or our social roles, but by our chromosomes, and no amount of medical intervention will change that. Given that all this has been raised within the first minute of the discussion, you can see why everyone else approached by the BBC declined because they did not feel well enough informed!

Read here

See also: Transgender Liturgies? Why are we even asking the question? By Andrew Symes, Anglican Mainstream

Church of England considers baptizing people into new gender, by Veronica Neffinger,

What’s in a name: why Christians should be wary of the word ‘transgender’, by Andrew T. Walker, The Public Discourse

Ontario passes law allowing Gov’t to seize children from parents who oppose gender transition, by Anugrah Kumar, Christian Post

Former transgenders share sex change regret stories in new documentary, by Claire Chretien, LifeSite


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