Thinking About Transgender Phenomena

While I was working as a pastoral minister I only really came across transgender phenomena once. Somebody came to me wanting conversations and saying they wanted to change from male to female. We met a few times and then he/she moved house. He/she never came to a service. I don’t know if the conversations were at all helpful.

One of the members of one of my congregations was a psychiatrist who worked extensively with young people, including work at the Tavistock Centre. She said that gender dysphoria had become real for her through her practice. We only had quite a brief conversation about it. This was the limit of my experience as a pastoral minister.

I have a friend with some experience through his children. As part of my training I did a placement in a congregation where transgender phenomena were part of everyday life.

My PhD research in the 1980s and in the 1990s was much concerned with gender issues. I came to the conclusion that gender was very fundamental indeed. For this and other reasons I find transgender phenomena troubling and fascinating. I am very aware that this is an area where social change has been very rapid indeed. My children’s generation find it significantly less strange and troubling than does mine. In the 1970s and 1980s transgender phenomena were very foreign to most people. In the 2020s this is much less true. Transgender phenomena are part of life in a way they weren’t 40 years ago.

How to make sense of all this in a church that still hankers after the 1960s? I really don’t know. If people can change sex are we facing part of what it is to be post-human? We might be. A world beyond gendered sexual identity is a very strange world indeed.

I am very sorry if anybody finds this offensive or intrusive. I am writing about my reactions not anybody’s reality. I feel the need to think and no desire at all to give instruction or advice. I have known some people who identified as having a sexual identity other than that which they were assigned. I would never want to give the impression that I felt qualified to judge them. I though, assert my right, as a man, to reflect on the reality of masculinity. I have a y chromosome and have lived my whole life as male. The possibility of being born with a y chromosome and living as a woman is one that impacts all men, whether they live as men or women.


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