What should Christians make of the increasingly vocal debate around the “trans” issue? How do we respond to those who present physically as one sex but claim that they are actually really the other? Is it even correct to refer to male and female anymore? And who, even 5 years ago, would have thought that was a serious question?
If 2017 was the year when Australia reached the zenith of addressing issues surrounding homosexuality with a postal survey followed by legislation about marriage redefinition, then 2018 could very well be the year of “trans”. The two topics are not independent of each other. In fact (as we’ll go on to see) they flow from a common (but relatively novel) understanding of not just sex and gender but pretty much every structure we ever took for granted.
Much of this change has slipped gradually into our public conversation, bolstered from time to time by “experts” who the media generally lap up and then, on occasion, aggressively reinforced by public campaigns; the most famous example is the “Safe Schools” initiative. The shift has caught most Christians (and, indeed, most people) by surprise. Where did it come from? How should we think about it? How do we respond?
A few years ago the Synod (parliament) of the Anglican Diocese of Sydney asked for a report to be produced to help us think about this issue. I was one of the people asked to help contribute and what follows in this and subsequent posts is a summary of our findings.
You can get a copy of the entire report here [pdf]. It’s under the auspices of the Social Issues Committee so the report is broader than the Diocese’s comprehensive Doctrine Commission report [pdf] which is also excellent but, by it’s nature, a little drier. There will obviously be some necessary overlap between the two reports.
I thought it would be helpful to break it down into short manageable sections and so over the next few weeks I plan to do exactly that; give you a summary of the report and some beginnings of a response to the arguments and ideas that each one of us will be increasingly hearing.