To the Most Revd and Rt Hon Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury
The Church of England has issued guidance to its primary schools, allowing children to identify as transgender. As a part of normal child development children ‘explore’ who they are. Since time immemorial girls have been tom-boys, wanting to climb trees, play football, and join in the latest ‘action’ games, often involving light sabres, bows and arrows, or guns. Equally, boys have liked dressing up, while Action Man is as much a ‘doll’ as is Cindy. None of these behaviours mean that the children involved have been trapped in the wrong bodies, and need to be helped or encouraged to change.
Increasingly these days, children and young people get depressed and unhappy. The rates for diagnosable mental illness in children have in recent years skyrocketed. The causes are many and various, arising from things such as distressing home situations; bullying; sexual, verbal and physical abuse (exacerbated by social media and the internet); feelings of inadequacy… the list is endless. Very rarely are these issues resolved by changing gender – indeed, it is well documented that expression of gender dysphoria is more likely a symptom, rather than cause, of the actual problem. To put it another way, it is a passing phase, which will disappear naturally when the primary cause is addressed – or even more simply, when children mature.
To encourage a child to change gender at an early stage of development, when they are still exploring who they are, is not caring, but is rather a form of abuse. Even putting a child on puberty blockers, while they explore their options, will have physical repercussions that may adversely affect their future development and fertility. Far worse are sex change hormones which produce physical effects, and which are difficult, even impossible , subsequently to reverse.
There are now growing numbers of referrals for children who have embarked on these treatments, but who have subsequently changed their minds. Such children are then faced with distressing, albeit entirely avoidable, treatment – as seen, for example, in the recent case of a boy who embarked on gender reassignment and, as consequence, developed breasts, but who then decided he wanted to grow up as a man. Although still in possession of his penis, he had pronounced female characteristics, which could only be corrected by surgery (http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/12-year-old-boy-trans-female-change-mind-years-later-patrick-mitchell-australia-oestrogen-hormones-a7933741.html). There are increasing numbers of such reports, both in this country and abroad.
Inevitably, implementation of the CofE guidance – amounting to prioritizing the treatment of children with what is perceived to be gender dysphoria – will raise questions in the minds of children who are currently untroubled by issues of gender (mis)identity. Children are impressionable, and a sensitive child may well become troubled as result. What of their welfare, and the entirely justifiable concerns of their parents?
The Bible says clearly that men and women complement and complete each other. The first chapter of Genesis states we are made of the same flesh, but separate and different, and that together we are made in the image of God. By this new guidance issued to teachers, the Church of England is traducing this core and, up to now, unquestioned, doctrine. Infinitely worse, it is importing onto children adult perspectives designed to enforce ideologically driven social and cultural change, and is yet another example of Christian doctrine being undermined from within the Church – whether by people who are trying to turn the Church away from Christian teaching, or by people too naive or spineless to resist them.
It is implanting in children’s minds ideas they cannot possibly evaluate and assess for themselves, and is accordingly tantamount to brainwashing. Although for a very tiny minority gender identity may be a genuine issue, for the greater number it will not. But the CofE’s new policy will be destabilizing for all.
For all these reasons, the guidance is wrong and endangers children. It is a form of abuse. We therefore call on the Church of England to uphold the traditional teaching of the Bible and, while caring for all children equally, to encourage normal development aligned with a child’s biological sex.