The Church of England needs to think more clearly about transgender issues

Jun 15, 2019 by

by Prudence Dailey, Christian Today:

The clear and rational stance taken by the Roman Catholic Church in its document ‘Male and Female He Created Them: Towards a path of dialogue on the question of gender theory in education’ stands in contrast to the confused thinking of the Church of England.

In 2000, a male Church of England priest who had undergone a sex change (as it was then described), and assumed a female identity, was allowed to continue in ministry; while 2005 saw the first ordination of a post-operative transsexual to the priesthood.

Since the passing of the Gender Recognition Act 2004 into UK law, a number of weddings have also taken place in Church of England churches where one of the parties holds a Gender Recognition Certificate but both are of the same biological sex.

At a time when the word ‘transgender’ was not yet in common use, and transgenderism was regarded as a rare condition affecting a tiny proportion of the population, it was not considered necessary to expend a great amount of time or energy unpacking its implications. In concluding that transgenderism was no barrier to ordination or to marriage in church, the House of Bishops failed to anticipate the repercussions of their decision, as they could not have foreseen the future significance of transgenderism as a social phenomenon.

In July 2017, the General Synod debated a motion from the Blackburn Diocesan Synod, proposed by the Rev Chris Newlands, calling on the House of Bishops “to consider whether some nationally commended liturgical materials might be prepared to mark a person’s gender transition”. The debate was lacking in analysis but high in emotion, and included assertions that trans people would commit suicide if the notion was not carried—which it was, with a large majority.

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