Current Affairs

Churches around the world are ‘grudgingly’ embracing transgender people

Nick Duffy December 2, 2015
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Churches are slowly beginning to open up to transgender people, a study has found.

Protestants as a whole have historically opposed trans rights and gender transition.

However, a University of Cambridge study suggests that a growing number of Christian denominations are “softening” their views on trans people.

The research was carried out by Reverend Duncan Dormor, Dean of Chapel and Director of Studies for Theology at St John’s College, University of Cambridge.

Looking at different denominations around the world, the academic noted that despite initial opposition, “there was a slow, sometimes grudging, but growing momentum for change among Christians within Protestantism especially.”

The study notes progress in the US, where in 1996 the Presbyterian Church of Atlanta embraced trans religious leader Erin Svenson.

Other US churches have followed suit, including within the Presbyterian Church (in 2010) and the Episcopal Church (in 2012).

In Europe other Churches have also become more welcoming, with some of the world’s most inclusive churches in Scandinavia.

The Church of England is also singled out for praise, with eight transgender priests currently serving within the Church, of whom six were ordained prior to transition.

Rev Dormor wrote: “The developing positions of these Churches illustrates that religion’s perspective on transgenderism is less monolithic than is sometimes believed.

“It is important to remember that it is plural and accommodates a diversity of views. It seems highly likely that the developments we have seen over the last decade or so will continue.”

However, he notes that similar developments are highly unlikely to be embraced by Catholics, given ardent opposition in Church catechism.

The academic continued: “Gender is one area in which Pope Francis to some extent represents intellectual continuity with the previous two Popes, but unlike them he does not see gender in exclusively ideological terms.

“People or communities who are marginalised or suffering are a priority for him.

“That means that while the Catholic Church will continue to fight the EU on gender legislation, it may simultaneously become more responsive to groups of people and individuals who need to be supported because of their marginalised status.”

Related topics: Church, Church of England, LGBT, Religion, Trans, Transgender

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