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Can we care and say ‘no’ to a request?

What do you do when someone who appears to be homeless, possibly sitting in a doorway as you walk past, who catches your attention and asks you for money? Should you give it to them? And if you don’t, are you being uncaring? According to the journalist Matt Broomfield, yes you should, and if you don’t, yes you are being uncaring.

Give your cash directly and unconditionally to homeless people. Don’t just buy them a sandwich from Pret. They’re not four. They have the right to spend their money as they choose – and it is their money, once given. Don’t just give to people performing, singing, or accompanied by a cute dog. Don’t second-guess whether people are “really” homeless.

In other words, your action should be shaped by a relentless sense of compassion which asks no questions, trucks no reflection, but is expressed in action. And Jon Kuhrt thinks he is profoundly wrong. Jon had earlier in the year written a post about why Pope Francis was wrong when he said something similar:

It sounds kind to tell people to give money to anyone who asks, but we do not have the luxury of such simplistic approaches. We should not be cynical or harsh toward those begging, but we need to have a compassionate realism about the nature of their problems. People begging are not intrinsically bad people and almost always have genuine needs. But handing over cash to them simply does not meet those needs effectively.  The homeless charity Thames Reach estimate that 80% of those begging are doing so to maintain an addiction. Rather than helping, handing over cash can actually be killing with kindness.

That final phrase, ‘killing with kindness’, locates this kind of ethical decision alongside the decisions that any parent has to make about any child who asks them for something. Should I give them what they want, regardless? Is that the loving thing to do? For most of us, the answer is clearly ‘No’—but it is amazing how many in our culture struggle to see why. It is quite right that we are not ‘parents’ to the homeless who function as ‘children’—but there remains a dynamic of responsible action on the part of the giver. Giving to anyone is an act of power, and without wisdom, that power can be misused. In fact, giving without thinking through the consequences merely serves to assuage our sense of guilt, rather than being a genuine act of love.

Jon knows what he is talking about, not only from his ministerial and professional experience, but because of deep personal tragedy.

My cousin James and I were the same age so as youngsters we spent a lot of time together. He was very good looking, cheeky and outwardly very confident. But in his teenage years, he began drinking heavily and in his twenties he became addicted to heroin. It began a 20 year battle with the drug. James died suddenly just after Christmas last year. He was 45.

But Jon’s relationship with James has been marked not just by love, but by wise discipline.

One of the reasons we got on well was that we were honest and upfront with each other. He would often say ‘Let’s have no bullshit Jonathan’. Crucially, we agreed some clear boundaries. First, we agreed that I would never lend him any money. Secondly, although he could phone me whenever he wanted to, I would end any conversations where he was simply blaming everyone else for his situation. Rather than find these judgmental, James appreciated these boundaries.

So Jon is right: it is not only unloving, but potentially seriously harmful, simply to give what you are asked for in this situation—and there are better alternative courses of action. What, then, when someone comes and asks for support in or recognition of gender ‘transition’? If such discernment, discipline and wisdom is needed in answering the straightforward question ‘Should I give money to the homeless?’, then what of the far more complex question of gender identity?

The famous obstetrician Robert Winston was drawn into the controversy around this question on Radio 4 last week. He pointed out the serious harm that can arise from medical intervention to effect gender ‘transition’.

Speaking on the Today Programme on BBC Radio 4, he said that “results are horrendous in such a big proportion of cases”. He said 40 per cent of people who undergo vaginal reconstruction surgery experience complications as a result, and many need further surgery, and 23 per cent of people who have their breasts removed “feel uncomfortable with what they’ve done”.

He added: “What I’ve been seeing in a fertility clinic are the long-term results of often very unhappy people who now feel quite badly damaged. One has to consider when you’re doing any kind of medicine where you’re trying to do good not harm, and looking at the long-term effects of what you might be doing, and for me that is really a very important warning sign.”

For expressing his informed medical opinion, Winston received a torrent of hate mail from transgender activists. But he was expressing from a medical point of view similar reservations expressed by the feminist Camille Paglia:

Although I describe myself as transgender (I was donning flamboyant male costumes from early childhood on), I am highly skeptical about the current transgender wave, which I think has been produced by far more complicated psychological and sociological factors than current gender discourse allows. Furthermore, I condemn the escalating prescription of puberty blockers (whose long-term effects are unknown) for children. I regard this practice as a criminal violation of human rights.

The cold biological truth is that sex changes are impossible. Every single cell of the human body remains coded with one’s birth gender for life. Intersex ambiguities can occur, but they are developmental anomalies that represent a tiny proportion of all human births.

All this makes Synod’s passing of a motion on this issue last July look at best naive, at worst very foolish. Winston is pointing out the (unintended) consequences of hasty and naive action in this area, just as Jon Kuhrt is pointing out the results of hasty and naive action in response to the homeless. There are the consequences of giving an unthinking and unqualified affirmation of those asking for recognition of their transgender status, even if motived by kindness. It is, in any complex situation, quite possible to harm even when intending to do good, if care and love are not shaped by awareness and wisdom. What is true of those asking for money is true of those asking for recognition. These are the facts that the Church needs to take account of; in fact, these are the things any of us needs to take account of if we are to be wise and compassionate pastors.

Transgender Trend are a non-religious group representing parents of children with gender dysphoria who do not agree with the current transgender ideology. They made a presentation to the Government, opposing the planned demedicalisation of the legal process around ‘transition’. I reproduce below some of the facts they set out—facts that the Church of England will need to take into account in anything that it proposes in this area as part of its wider debate on sexuality.

I also speak to urge caution on behalf of the children of this generation who are caught up in the teaching of a new rigid, anti-science belief system presented to them as fact. [1]

If Gender Identity is established in law as a Protected Characteristic, it will apply to children of any age. But a child’s identity is not fixed: it changes over time, and it is shaped by factors like parental approval and societal influences. If all trusted adults are reinforcing daily a little boy’s belief that he is really a girl, this will have an obvious self-fulfilling effect. Puberty blockers supply the ‘answer’ to the created fear of a puberty he now believes to be the ‘wrong’ one.

Almost all children on blockers progress to cross-sex hormones at age 16. [2] Very few come off this path of increasingly invasive medical treatments once they are on it and so-called ‘social transition’ is the first step. This approach clearly works to prevent normal resolution of childhood gender dysphoria and foster persistence of opposite-sex identity.

While trans activists call for the de-medicalisation of ‘transgender,’ in the case of children they campaign aggressively for social transition, blockers and cross-sex hormones at ever earlier ages.[3]

The surge in sex hormones at puberty triggers the enormous changes in the teenage brain which don’t complete their job until the mid-twenties. [4] The brain /personality is not fully-formed until then. The effects of blockers on adolescent brain development are unknown [5] although studies on adults, including men taking the drug for prostate cancer, indicate risk of memory loss, depression and cognitive impairment. [6] Recent reports from the US indicate long-term serious health effects for women who were administered blockers for precocious puberty, such as excruciating muscle and bone pain, depression, weakness and fatigue. [7]

Preventing a child’s sexual development in early puberty, followed at 16 by cross-sex hormones, results in sterility as viable eggs or sperm have not developed. [8] These children are prevented from ever experiencing puberty: hormones can only superficially feminise or masculinise secondary sex characteristics, they cannot create the puberty of the opposite sex. Risks of cross-sex hormones include cardiac disease, high blood pressure, blood clots, strokes, diabetes and cancers. [9] Some significant effects are irreversible, such as male-pattern baldness and body and facial hair, masculinised voice and compromised fertility.

There have been no clinical research trials into the long-term effects of this treatment on children: this is a non evidence-based practice [10] to treat a non evidence-based diagnosis of being ‘a girl trapped in a boy’s body’ and vice versa [11] and this generation of children are the guinea pigs.

‘Transgender’ is an ideological label distinct from the clinical diagnosis ‘gender dysphoria.’ To call a child ‘transgender’ is to make both a claim that the child’s feelings represent material reality and a prediction about that child’s future: they will not change.

An analysis of all published research studies of children with ‘gender dysphoria’ shows that 80% will naturally come to be happy as the sex they were born [12] and this is true of even some of the most severe cases, we can’t know which children will persist and which will desist.

Opposite-sex identity in childhood is overwhelmingly predictive of gay or lesbian sexual orientation in adulthood, not transsexualism. [13] Affirming a child’s ‘gender identity’ can therefore be seen as gay conversion therapy by another name.

There has been an almost 1000% increase in children referred to the Tavistock clinic in London over the past 6 years. [14] These figures are inflated by the unprecedented rise in the number of girls – nearly 70% of the figure overall and over 70% of adolescent referrals last year. [15] By comparison, in the late Sixties 90% of adult transsexuals were male. [16]

We are aware that teenagers and young adults are susceptible to indoctrination, brainwashing and social contagion which is why we block online anorexia and self-harm sites. The internet, however, is chock-full of Tumblr bloggers and Youtube vloggers with hundreds of thousands of followers, who are selling vulnerable young people the myth of transformation through cosmetic alteration of their bodies, including amputation of healthy body parts, and a lifetime’s dependency on powerful off label hormones.

Recent reports of girls’ mental health indicate that girls and young women in the UK are in crisis. [17] Recently published evidence of the rate of sexual abuse and harassment in schools across the UK is a matter of national shame. [18]

Reports such as the recent Stonewall Schools Report [19] which indicate high suicidal ideation in ‘trans’ youth serve to cover up the fact that the vast majority of these youngsters will be teenage girls, now hidden in the category ‘trans boys.’

A PSHE teacher and Head of Year at a large comprehensive told me that in her school the kids who identify as ‘trans’ are, without exception, either lesbian, autism spectrum, have mental health problems or have suffered sexual abuse.

Parents are also concerned about the relentless gender identity propaganda their children are subject to today – across the media, [20] the internet and in schools, through organisations such as GIRES, Gendered Intelligence, Mermaids and Educate and Celebrate. The belief that gender is an innate identity is taught to children as truth, with no alternative views offered, in contravention of the UN Rights of the Child.

The ‘transition or suicide’ trope is repeated endlessly, against all Samaritans guidelines. There is no evidence that children will commit suicide if their parents fail to support them in taking a medical pathway, but of course the threat terrifies parents into feeling they have to.

There are over 260 trans youth support groups across the UK [21], which provide the ‘tribe’ where our most vulnerable young people will be accepted, maybe for the first time, as long as they identify as trans. All transgender organisations advertise their support for ‘gender non-conforming’ youth, sweeping up all children who are ‘different’ and don’t fit in.

These organisations claim to support ‘diversity’ but of course they do the opposite: a girl who rejects feminine stereotypes is transformed into a ‘boy’ who conforms to masculine stereotypes. Gender non-conformity is erased. Regressive and reactionary sex-stereotyping is being sold to young people as a progressive social justice movement.

To teach children that their ‘authentic self’ is something in their heads, split off from and in opposition to, the body, is to create gender dysphoria. Mind-body disassociation is recognised as a state of mental ill-health: in this case uniquely, it is presented as a normal variation and something to be celebrated. Mental health is based on being equipped to accept reality.

Since children have been taught that it is their ‘gender identity’ which makes them a boy or a girl and not their biological sex, calls to Childline from young people confused about their gender have doubled in a year – eight calls are now received every day from children as young as eleven. [22] The concept of ‘gender identity’ is clearly – and inevitably – causing mental health problems for young people.

Any child who suffers genuine gender dysphoria must of course be sensitively supported in schools and youth organisations. But teachers, professionals and other children cannot be asked to collude in the reinforcement of a child’s belief which contradicts reality. Recognition of biological facts is not bigotry.

When girls are told that a male classmate is now a girl, their sense of their own reality is shattered. If a biological male is a girl, then it is not female biology which makes you a girl, it is something else. Girls must look to a male classmate to find out the invisible magic quality they need, and the boy is given the power to define what a girl is. We cannot predict the long-term practical or psychological effects on girls taught to deny their own biology, without the right to even define themselves correctly as the female sex.

If teenage girls must consent to a male classmate using their toilets and changing-rooms they learn that their boundaries may be violated and their consent is unimportant. Girls learn that they are not always allowed to say ‘no.’ This is grooming; lessons on the importance of consent become meaningless.

Girls who are coached at school into ignoring their own discomfort and intuition may go on to put themselves in risky situations with any man who claims to be a woman, out of fear of being seen as transphobic.

In the case of public swimming pool changing rooms a young girl cannot name a male with a penis as a man: voyeurism and indecent exposure cease to exist as crimes if a man claims to be a woman. Normal child protection protocols effectively become unlawful.


[2] Hot Topics in Child Health conference, 12 June 2017, evidence from Dr Polly Carmichael, Tavistock clinic

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39 Responses to Can we care and say ‘no’ to a request?

  1. Jonathan Perkin November 13, 2017 at 8:41 am #

    As I read this I heard on the news that the CofE education department are advising church schools to collude with gender confusion. What? The church is more confused than ever in history. God have mercy on us.

    • simon November 13, 2017 at 9:52 am #

      I read it – why wasn’t I surprised?! When does the church cease to be the church?

    • Will Jones November 13, 2017 at 12:28 pm #

      I, too, was disappointed (but sadly unsurprised) to read this. This is the same week as Lorna Ashworth resigns from the Archbishops’ Council and General Synod and calls on other orthodox Anglicans to do the same. It’d be good to hear Ian’s thoughts on this, especially as a member of those bodies himself.

  2. Jas November 13, 2017 at 9:13 am #

    Yes: Let me offer some Biblical support for this-

    The first mission event of the new-born church which is detailed in Acts has a man begging, seeking the money which he believes is the answer to his problems. Peter and John help him to look in a different direction [Acts 3:4-5]. If Peter and John had been unable to see any hope beyond the way the world works then this beggar would have received exactly what he requested. The church is supposed to meet people’s TRUE needs – NOT people’s own perceptions of their needs, nor just their ‘spiritual’ needs, nor just their ‘physical’ needs. Part of the church’s role in meeting needs is rightly discerning them.

  3. Phill November 13, 2017 at 9:19 am #

    Thanks Ian for this – I share your concerns exactly. I wonder whether this is all a part of society being unable to think through issues now – it seems like most people think with their emotions. Many people ‘feel’ that the right thing with transgender folks is full affirmation – and are unwilling to look into it. Same with same-sex marriage. It feels right, so it must be.

    I hope that soon people will see how the Christian story is truly better (to channel Glynn Harrison), one can only run away from reality for so long before it comes back to bite you.

    • James Byron November 13, 2017 at 9:50 pm #

      Agreed about the fashion for prioritizing emotion over reason, Phill: but, as shown by Wolf v. Walker, in which opponents of same-sex marriage couldn’t even pass the rational basis test, marriage equality’s foundation ain’t just feels.

      • Phill November 14, 2017 at 9:29 am #

        Hi James, this is interesting – I do think there is a link between reason and emotion. Atheists, for example, make a big noise about being rational but I don’t believe they are – the explain away things like morality because it’s inconvenient for them. I think they want God not to exist and then rationalise it. Emotion can cloud our judgement.

        Just because a court of law ruled the objection to SSM wasn’t rational doesn’t mean it isn’t. I think this is part of the problem – same-sex marriage “feels” rational because we’ve come to accept so many things such as (1) it would be wrong to prohibit anyone from expressing their sexuality; (2) you can’t prevent someone having a life partner; (3) opposite-sex love and relationships are exactly the same as same-sex love and relationships. All of these things are assumptions which I believe can and should be challenged.

        Julian Rivers – who wrote a Jubilee Paper about redefining marriage (“The Case for Caution”) – was interviewed by parliament about this, and I saw a video of it. What struck me was how the MPs involved were simply unable (or unwilling) to see his concerns. It was like they were talking past each other.

        Being rational means more than simply resting our case on the assumptions of the day, it means being able to question even our deeply held convictions. And I think in the case of both same-sex marriage and transgender, people’s deeply held convictions are wrong.

        • James Byron November 14, 2017 at 11:51 pm #

          “Just because a court of law ruled the objection to SSM wasn’t rational doesn’t mean it isn’t.”

          Of course not, Phill, that’d be an argument from authority, the absence of which proved to be SSM opponents’ undoing.

          Advocates of traditional marriage didn’t just lose in Chicago: their arguments fell apart on cross; when pressed, their struggling counsel couldn’t even offer a reason to continue discrimination. In another circuit, SSM opponents were reduced to fielding a grad student as an “expert witness.”

          The Seventh’s a conservative circuit, and if there were strong arguments on offer, SSM opponents had every chance of prevailing. Even supporters were shocked that their case collapsed at the first hurdle. Stripped of the ability to appeal to a source of authority, be it the Bible, tradition, or something else, the house of cards crumpled.

          • Phill November 15, 2017 at 9:37 am #

            Hmmm. You also appear to be arguing from authority, because you are using the authority of the court judgement instead of simply examining the rational arguments. A court is not necessarily rational or neutral, sadly.

            For the vast majority of human history the arguments in favour of traditional marriage have been decisive. I think I’ll go with them (and the Bible).

      • David Shepherd November 14, 2017 at 5:44 pm #

        ‘Marriage equality ain’t just feels’.

        Apart from the misnomer of ‘marriage equality’, the Austrian government’s successful defence of its refusal to grant marriage to same-sex couples (Schalke and Kopf v Austria) provided a rational basis (which the ECtHR) for marriage to remain ‘geared towards the fundamental possibility of parenthood’:

        And what’s irrational is for same-sex couples to use marriage, which is geared in this way, to be the basis for litigation which elevates the intentional parenthood of ‘non-bio’ spouses to be legally on par with or superior to the rights of known, willing and capable biological parents.

        • James Byron November 15, 2017 at 12:11 am #

          Judge Richard Posner brushed off the childbearing argument in his Seventh Circuit opinion, David: even if marriage is “geared towards the fundamental possibility of parenthood,” the state allowing infertile couples to marry shows that it’s not the sole benefit; and even if it were, no rational basis was offered to distinguish between biological and adoptive parenthood.

          The ECHR cases aren’t comparable, since they rest on statutory interpretation, not a generalized assessment of reasonableness. Strasbourg didn’t just infer the necessity of hetrosexual marriage from parenthood: they placed a lotta weight on Article 12’s unusually specific wording, referring explicitly to “men and women of marriageable age.” For the same reason, although I oppose the death penalty, I’m forced to accept that the U.S. Constitution’s explicit references to “capital punishment” mean that it cannot implicitly ban what its text explicitly permits.

          Given the length of our previous discussions on the matter, I’ll not jump down the other rabbit hole.

          • David Shepherd November 15, 2017 at 8:23 am #


            It is due to privacy law (cf. Griswold vs. Connecticut) that Infertile couples are ‘allowed’ to marry. So, void ab initio impediments are restricted to prima facie evidence.

            Sir William Blackstone, the father of English Common Law jurisprudence, addressed the matter of infertility of married couples in his Commentaries:

            ‘The possibility of issue is always supposed to exist, in law, unless extinguished by the death of the parties. Even though the donees [beneficiaries] be each of them an hundred years old’.

            Even though ‘the fundamental possibility of parenthood’ is not marriage’s sole benefit, it is an inalienable and essential entitlement of marriage which is being used to (in the words of the judgement of the previously cited NY case) ‘preclude differentiation based on essential biology.’

            Certainly, the WHO definition of infertility makes it a category error to use the term to describe same-sex couples.

            The Schalke and Kopf decision did involve statutory interpretation, but no more than the Uniform Parentage Act in the US requires a statutory gender-neutral interpretation of the presumption of parenthood.

            The key difference between US and EU jurisdictions is that the margin of appreciation of the latter permits greater discretion than federal law allows.

            I’m happy to avoid the rabbit hole, but this reply provides a rational answer to your rebuttal.

  4. Christine November 13, 2017 at 12:38 pm #

    Hi Ian,
    Thank you for your article which is rich with wise and informed references.
    I also welcome the sanity of your article on a day when some of the news leaves me wondering if some members of the CofE have become fanciful, to put it mildly!
    Some fashionable notions about love seem to insist that love and discipline are mutually exclusive, as though there were no such thing as ‘tough love’, as though it were not OK for the Lord to discipline those whom he loves. and as though it were not OK for us, as Christians, to discipline, warn and guide those whom we love.
    Thank you again.

  5. James Byron November 13, 2017 at 5:44 pm #

    Regarding giving money to panhandlers unconditionally: even if I accepted that it’s right for me to enable someone’s drug addiction (emphatically arguendo: I dont, and won’t), it’s not right for me to fund the criminals who deal narcotics. Nor, for that matter, the gangmasters responsible for much “begging” in major cities.

    This isn’t even radical individualism: it’s an ethical quagmire.

  6. Eric November 13, 2017 at 6:36 pm #

    Brief second comment, through the very helpful posting from Transgender Trend, one thing consistently strikes me, what philosophers have been remarking on for over a century, the loss of the female. My own reading of this is it is the sign of a culture in a death spiral, for ‘he called her name Eve, for she was the mother of all living’

    In part as Paul Evdokimov is at pains to point out, this is because we live in a radically masculinised society. Put another way, the only way to get on is in one way or another to become ‘male’.

    • blair November 15, 2017 at 7:06 pm #

      Hi Eric,

      just briefly – I find your comment a little odd given that, as Transgender Trend also note, it’s only very recently that there has been a sharp rise in the number of girls seeking help with gender identity. This is a bit cursory, granted, but if you Google ‘ratio of male-to-female to female-to-male trans people’ you’ll find that, even acknowledging the difficulties of the statistics, there are more MTF than FTM trans people. I think this speaks against your comment somewhat…

      in friendship, Blair

      • Eric November 15, 2017 at 8:43 pm #

        Hi Blair – and thanks for the friendly tone – I find these forums have a tendency to aggressiveness which is in part due to the technological aspect of this form of discourse. As I tend to say, true conversation requires bodies 🙂 (coffee or indeed beer or wine is also helpful in small doses! 🙂 )

        Thank you also for your illuminating stats. It might sound counter intuitive, but there may be a sense in which the stats actually bear out my point, and of course I am as guilty as anyone of finding the evidence for my position in any story/statistics etc. etc.

        This is part of a much wider conversation, and I find it difficult to as it were separate out one thread eg transgenderism, from a broader ontological tapestry, but with that caveat in place, I would ask whether the desire for MTF transitioning is in some respects out of a deep sense of the loss of the female. Male and Female Need each other. Tolkien expresses this myth most beautifully in the sad tale of the Ents and the Entwives, so in the absence of the feminine in a masculinised world, ‘we go in search of the female’ as the Ents journeyed and sought news of the Entwives from the hobbits. (Story is always helpful in speaking of underlying mythos I am increasingly finding, or perhaps its just a desire to return to Englan and sit in a pub with friends . . .)

        (Before this response gets any more alcoholic . . . ) The human is deep and mysterious, and I suggest there are very powerful archetypal ‘myths’ operating here. The Modern world is highly technical left hemispheric, life denying (in any deep sense) and very suited to the Power of the male. Thus in so many ways we lose or even (unconsciously) seek to eradicate the ‘female’ – the loss of ‘motherhood’ in our Age as a dominant cultural Metaphor in comparison with Ages past, is I think telling in this regard.

        Thus, I would tend to argue (wouldn’t I – see para 2 🙂 ) that the higher MTF transition may be in part a deeply conditioned response to the loss of The Female.

        (I would also gently question whether MTF trans = Female (without to get into Germaine Greer territory 🙂 ) Equivalence/Equality being another Techinical inherently masculinised abstract . . .)

        but hey – what do I know 🙂 (Re-reading this it sounds aggressive, but its genuinely not 🙂 )

        thank you again for the ‘friendly tone’



  7. Tricia November 13, 2017 at 7:49 pm #

    Thank you for writing this well reasoned and well researched piece. It was much needed today after waking up to the news of the Church abandoning the little ones that parents entrust into their keeping as a safe space to grow in mind body and spirit. You only need one activist family to coerce a whole school into a lie. It is important for children to play and have make believe games, but it is only possible when they are grounded in safe reality.
    My daughter rang me – absolutely furious as her son attends a C of E Primary School. This is going to be so difficult for us in the parishes. There is going to be uproar from parents when they find out all the implications of the sex education agenda as well.

    • James Byron November 13, 2017 at 10:02 pm #

      “You only need one activist family to coerce a whole school into a lie.”

      Is there a single example of an “activist family” lying about their child being trans, then strong-arming a school into going along with it? If there is, d’you have any suggestions for how to deal with the situation that’re compatible with respecting the rights of the overwhelming majority of sincerely trans students?

      • Tricia November 14, 2017 at 3:16 pm #

        It is the parents not the child. Children are in the care of their parents. Children do not decide when it is safe to cross the road whilst in primary school, never mind whether they are the wrong sex! Sensible parents as Robert Winston pointed out will affirm their child in their body and work through their issues – not start them on the horrendous road to chemical and surgical change. This is not compassion – it is cruel.
        It was the parents at the Isle of Wight C of E Primary School who insisted that their child was gender fluid and would sometimes be a girl and sometimes a boy. All the other 6 year old had to to try and work out which name was required in that day. This is the abuse of the majority of children. The Christian family removed their child as there was no support from school or church. Rev David Robert reported on his blog about a family in his congregation having had their child come home from school in tears as she was frightened she would turn into a boy. A Christian secondary school teacher has been suspended because he inadvertently misgendered a pupil and even though he immediately apologised, the parents complained.

        • Christine November 14, 2017 at 6:07 pm #

          Hi Tricia – well said. I feel so sad about the little girl who was frightened that she might turn into a boy – I’m sure there must be others like her. Our God is a God of order, not a God of confusion and chaos. My heart also goes out to the teacher who might lose his job. I’m a retired teacher, and when I read about that unfortunate maths teacher, I remembered a time years ago when I thought a girl pupil was a boy. I said,’That boy at the back, please sit down and be quiet.’ That was in the days when gender identity was not an issue, so some kids laughed, and some protested a bit – but my job was certainly not on the line. The girl I thought was a boy was dressed, like many kids, in trousers and a school sweatshirt. She was very tall and had very short hair and she was shouting in a loud and rather deep voice. It was the first time I had taught that group, so I did not know any of the kids. In retrospect I can see that it might have been better if I had said, ‘That person at the back…’, but then it is always easy to be wise after the event!


  8. James Byron November 13, 2017 at 10:14 pm #

    There’s valid questions to be asked about how trans children should be accommodated.

    When, instead of being asked sensitively, preferably in a guest-post from a trans person, those questions are mixed in with scare-stories about predators impersonating trans people to break into the women’s locker room, you’re guaranteed to see more heat than light. And so it’s proved.

    The CoE claims to’ve turned over a new leaf, and to welcome trans people. When a member of what is, in effect, its executive addresses them in this way, it’s fair to question the merits of that claim.

    • Mat Sheffield November 13, 2017 at 11:19 pm #

      I agree with you in part James.

      I agree that including so much ‘hypothetical’ (this [example] could happen) is probably unhelpful, though I’m not sure I’d go so far as to label this particular list as ‘scaremongering’ (though there is plenty of that about!). But I agree with the author of those concerns that there is immense danger here. As the Winston situation suggests, there is a risk that:

      1. We end up creating, or encouraging, an atmosphere that actively pressures people to conform.
      2. We De-medicalise the process, so the decision-makers are not guaranteed to be those with the right expertise
      3. That we remove the parents from that process too.

      To some degree the reactionaries are fighting fire with fire, and pushing back against the bow-wave of change with the same bluntness that rallied against them, but they are not mistaken to push back and resist and should be encouraged to do so.

      • James Byron November 13, 2017 at 11:50 pm #

        As it happens, Mat, I deplore the abuse hurled at Dr. Winston. Plug a position into Twitter search, and unfortunately, you’ll likely find someone abusing someone else in its name. Nature of the beast.

        Tone aside, I agree that there’s serious and difficult questions to be asked. I think we’re on the same wavelength at least in saying that, with so much ground covered by the hypotheticals, they’re liable to get lost in the crowd.

        • Mat Sheffield November 14, 2017 at 10:03 am #


    • David Shepherd November 13, 2017 at 11:37 pm #

      ‘When, instead of being asked sensitively, preferably in a guest-post from a trans person, those questions are mixed in with scare-stories about predators impersonating trans people’.

      So, sensitivity (read, mawkish deference) is evidenced by the owner of this blog posing questions in the context of a trans person’s guest post.

      What confidence can there be that such a piece would pour forth significantly more light than heat when trans people are just as capable as anyone else of resorting their own ‘scare-stories’ which lay blame for homophobic and transphobic bullying in Church schools on traditional Christian doctrine and anyone who still dares to proclaim it?

      • James Byron November 13, 2017 at 11:57 pm #

        No David, I’m not asking for “mawkish deference,” and I’d be rightly amazed if it appeared. I simply offered an opinion on the subject raised.

        Since trans people are, of course, as diverse in their views as any other group, there’s those who share in at least some of Dr. Winston’s concerns. I’m not looking for a silencing devise, but insight into a complex area.

        • David Shepherd November 14, 2017 at 7:47 am #


          My point is that your suggestion of asking a trans person to provide a guest post would indeed yield an alternative opinion, but with no greater prospect of imparting objective impartial insight into this complex area.

          And you go too far in your unwarranted assertion that, coming as it does from a member of the CofE’s executive, this post, as it stands, addresses trans people in such a way as to belie the CofE’s claim that it has ‘turned over a new leaf’ in tackling transphobia.

          That would only encourage politically motivated purges to root out any leader who doesn’t toe the new party line.

          Some here may remember Brendan Eich, the CEO who was forced to resign from Mozilla over his personal support for Proposition 8 in California.

          • James Byron November 14, 2017 at 8:11 am #

            I’ll wait for the movie version; someone drop Armando Iannucci a line.

            Since I bizarrely have need to, I’ll clarify that I have no wish to see anyone purged from anywhere. I do believe that an article more keyed in to the trans community would better represent the CoE’s new commitments, and would be likelier to win over hearts and minds.

            As for impartiality, we’ve all got an angle. I of course hope that whatever argument’s made is well-supported.

          • David Shepherd November 14, 2017 at 6:42 pm #

            Well, over in the other place (Thinking Anglicans), it’s clear that the purge of conservative membership from the Archbishops Council is being relished with glee.

            So, even though it lacks mainstream appeal, maybe Iannucci will see comic mileage to be found in a pitch of the ‘Lorna Ashworth and the evangelical exodus’ story.

    • Clive November 15, 2017 at 11:49 am #

      Dear James,

      Transgenderism involves clear misogyny and no sensible person can involve themselves in such misogyny. There are now multiple examples over several countries of “women” atheletes who are originally men but now saying they are women and trouncing their actual female athletes. A very clear message is now being sent by schools, government and the media that female athletes are completely wasting their time and their lives.

      I will NOT ever support such hateful misogyny and I am upset that CofE book to schools can’t see the actual misogyny inherent in transgenderism and so teach to children.

  9. David November 14, 2017 at 9:36 pm #

    With all the sense in the matter you quote, it is curious to note from the “About Us” Transgender Trend post, “We reject current conservative, reactionary, religious-fundamentalist views about sexuality” – disappointingly dogmatic, and dubiously rational.

  10. Penelope Cowell Doe November 14, 2017 at 10:23 pm #

    I hope that everyone who deplores this excellent CofE guidance has read it in full, especially p.20, and is not simplying relying on the tabloid press and the twitter sphere for accurate representation.

    I also hope that those who feel sorry for Mr Sitcliffe and his ‘genuine mistake’ have now watched him on national TV and realised that he is utterly mendacious; driven by an ideological agenda and still, pointedly, misgendering the pupil. Though he may have got in rather deeper than he intended with CC.

    • David Shepherd November 15, 2017 at 1:19 am #

      Yes, Penelope, I read it in full.

      What you call ‘excellent guidance’ refuses to uphold Church’s teaching on marriage any more than to subsume it into the spectrum of minority beliefs:

      ‘The official Church of England teaching about the human sexual act is that “it is an act of total commitment which belongs properly within a permanent married relationship and that homosexual acts fall short of this ideal”. Yet within the Anglican Communion there exists a wide spectrum of beliefs about this issue and this is a hugely divisive issue for the Church at this time.Within a school community of pupils, staff, parents and governors and within your link parish, many different views may be held and it should be acknowledged that this is a sensitive issue about which there may be a considerable strength of feeling.

      ‘The Church of England holds traditional teaching about the sanctity of marriage and same-sex relationships which should be explained.29 However there is a diversity of beliefs surrounding sexuality within the Anglican Communion. It should be acknowledged that some Church of England clergy have expressed their disappointment and frustration that the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 does not permit the solemnisation of same sex marriages according to the rites and ceremonies of the Church of England. In other Christian denominations, people may agree with the Church of England’s position, whilst some may vote to ‘opt in’ and allow single-sex marriage in their churches. Interpreters of scriptures across faith divides may agree with one another and yet there will be a diversity of opinion within a single faith tradition. It is important that any dialogue allows for religious and non-religious perspectives to be aired and heard under the overarching caveat that all people should be treated with reverence and honour.While in discussion, it is entirely reasonable to criticise sincerely held views based on strong convictions this should be done in a way that is consistent with the Christian ethos of love and welcome and avoids any suggestion of being dismissive of people.

      So, it reduces Canon B30 to little more than the party line for fear that to explain any more of the Church’s current position would foment homophobia.

      This initiative represents a Pyrrhic victory in the march towards revisionism when the Archbishops Council 2018 budget predicts eye-watering year-on-year apportionment increases of over 9% to cover the influx of ordinands.

      I’m really looking forward to emboldened liberals digging deep and filling the National Church coffers as never before, ‘cos guess who ain’t.

    • Tricia November 15, 2017 at 7:15 pm #

      I find your post offensive and supercilious. The”excellent guidance” as you refer to it, was written by Stonewall and signed off by the Church establishment. It is nothing more than an utter dereliction of duty of care to the children the Church if England schools in this country and I wept when I read it. You are obviously impervious to the 20 or 30 children in the class who will be forced to believe a lie, to enable a confused child to be affirmed And possibly go on to damaging chemical treatment which they may well later regret. Statistics show that young children with this dysphoria settle to their sex at puberty. And what about secondary school when all the girls in the class have to share changing rooms and showers with a boy who says he is a girl. Never mind eh – the C of E has shown it has abandoned Christian morals and teaching and is culturally acceptable.

    • Christine November 15, 2017 at 10:12 pm #

      Hi Penelope, Why do you describe maths teacher Joshua Sitcliffe as ‘mendacious’ and as ‘being driven by an ideological agenda’? He believes that God created Adam and Eve male and female, for the procreation of children – so do I. I believe it because it is stated clearly in the Scriptures – it is a belief, not an ideology. Ideologies are man-made, not inspired by God. But even if I were not a Christian, I would not argue with the conclusion of many non-Christians that common sense shows us that men and women are biologically different and that there is no ‘third sex’. I know that there are some people who are born intersex, and my heart goes out to them and their families – but they are very much in a minority.
      Why are you convinced that Mr. Sitcliffe did not make an innocent mistake when he ‘misgendered’ a child? I once thought a girl pupil was a boy, as I mentioned in an earlier response here – it is the kind of mistake that many people can make, regardless of their beliefs or ideologies.
      Teachers are employed to teach and children go to school to learn. Both teachers and pupils can certainly do their best to consider the needs of children who suffer from gender dysphoria, and also do their best to address and refer to such children with their preferred pronouns, but I don’t think it is good for teachers and pupils to be walking on eggs all day because they are afraid of misgendering a child – being on edge about this does not make for a good learning environment for anyone.

    • Chris Bishop November 15, 2017 at 10:40 pm #

      So does not the whole transgender movement, let alone the LBGTQ etc. have their agendas and are ideologically driven?

  11. Chris Bishop November 15, 2017 at 10:03 am #

    I find it curious that the Church of England’s Chief Education Officer is a “Revd Nigel Genders”.

    Is this an example of nominative determinism?

    • Mat Sheffield November 15, 2017 at 12:31 pm #

      Comment of the week.

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