The LGBTQ community has had a tumultuous past with religion. So it’s nothing short of a miracle to hear that the Church of England has voted to welcome in transgender people.
In a landmark move on Saturday, the church’s General Synod – made up of bishops, clergy members and ordinary folk – backed a motion that stated the need for the trans community to be “welcomed and affirmed in their parish church” to help with the “long and often complex process” of transition.
Prominent LGBTQ rights campaigner Reverend Chris Newlands of Blackburn was responsible for the motion. “I hope that we can make a powerful statement to say that we believe that trans people are cherished and loved by God, who created them, and is present through all the twists and turns of their lives,” he commented at the start of the debate.
The vote saw each section of the General Synod vote in favour with only two bishops and 28 members of the clergy voting against.
One of the fundamental beliefs of the Church of England is that baptism can only occur once, making it theoretically impossible to re-baptise someone who has transitioned to a new gender.
However, the motion said the Church must find a way to provide “the opportunity of a liturgical marking of a person’s transition.”
The Church noted that they are unable to force clergy to offer to perform such a service “if they cannot in good conscience offer support.”
In such a case, members of the Church have been urged to find the “generosity” to point the individual towards another church or clergy member who can help.
After the debate, the Bishop of Liverpool, Paul Bayes, noted that falling into the LGBTQ spectrum is not a sin.
“As the world listens to us, the world needs to hear us say that LGBTI+ orientation and identity is not a crime. LGBTI+ orientation and identity is not a sickness. And LGBTI+ orientation and identity is not a sin,” he said.
Let’s hope other religions can make a similar move.
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