A Manchester pastor is offering a special service for transgender Christians – allowing them to get baptised again after changing their gender.
The New Chapel (Unitarian and Free Christian) in Greater Manchester passed proposals at its general meeting that will allow the new ceremonies to go ahead.
They will allow trans people to be baptised in their new identity after transitioning, after Pastor Jean Clements met a family who were dismayed there was no such procedure for their transgender daughter.
She told the BBC: “I felt saddened by the fact that this family were being shunned by many mainstream churches.
“However, when the family came to New Chapel, the congregation welcomed them with open arms.”
The pastor said the service would be “very similar” to a standard adult baptism, adding that her church serves a “multi-generational community who are very willing to accept change and progress”.
However, Pastor Clements said the move will not yet be rolled out across all Unitarian Chapels – it will be for Churches “to decide for themselves whether they wish to offer similar services”.
She added: “While I am being congratulated for our progress on this particular matter, I would like to thank one courageous girl for inspiring me to think carefully about this issue in the first place.”
The Unitarian Church was strongly supportive of same-sex marriage, providing a religious voice in favour alongside Liberal and Reform Jewish groups and the Quakers.
Writing in PinkNews when same-sex weddings became legal, Unitarian exec Derek McAuley explained: “You do not have to be a Unitarian to be married in a Unitarian Church or Chapel.
“One of our popular hymns is ‘All Are Welcome Here’ and as an outward looking faith we will welcome couples who come to us seeking a spiritual or religious element for their marriage.
“This can be a more traditional ceremony or can incorporate rituals, words and music that are more meaningful to the couple.”