I was really disappointed to learn that the government is delaying publication of its long-awaited transgender guidance for schools. The delay, I believe, arises from the Attorney General’s advice that some of the suggestions could be unlawful.
I find it more than disappointing though; I find it disturbing. It must be pretty tough for those teachers who are on the frontline and have to take very difficult decisions. I wasn’t surprised to read then that some headteachers were branding the lack of guidance “frustrating”.
I’ve tried to imagine how I would have reacted if I had been faced with this complex and sensitive issue when I was a teacher.
My greatest challenge at the time was finding ways to make the study of history and French appealing!
As I understand it the term ‘transgender’ made its first appearance in the late ‘60s or early ‘70s but I never had to deal with it.
We didn’t spend any time focusing on it while I was in theological college either. We looked at the question of same-sex relationships of course, but we never considered this particular issue. Having said that, I would have had a good textbook to help me if I had needed it, and I still have it now: it’s called the Bible.
Now don’t get me wrong. That doesn’t mean I can turn to so-called ‘proof texts’ for neat, simplistic answers.
I turn to the Christian Scriptures because they give me insight into what we might describe as ‘The Big Story’. It’s the story that allows me to see ‘life, the universe and the meaning of everything’ from God’s perspective, and I think this makes a lot of sense given the fact that He created us in the first place.
And when I do that it seems clear to me that when God created human beings He made them ‘male’ and ‘female’.
Jesus himself affirmed this when he quoted from the Book of Genesis in Matthew chapter 19. In other words, when talking about gender the Bible teaches us that the division into ‘male’ and ‘female’ is the fundamental reality.
It also tells me that this world is not as God intended it to be, but in spite of that every human being on this planet is the object of His unconditional and transforming love. Jesus certainly understood that. Even the most cursory glance at His life shows us that He spent time with people from all sorts of backgrounds and demonstrated His love for them even if He disagreed with them.
That’s why I can happily identify with the person who wrote: ‘It is important to remember that transgender is not simply an issue to be debated; it raises fundamental identity questions for people who, like all of us, need to be loved.“
Love, I believe is patient and kind. It protects and always acts in the best interests of others, which is why I am committed to defending everyone’s intrinsic worth whether we agree with each other or not. God expects this of me; in fact, He expects it of anyone who claims to know Him.
Above all though I just long for people to discover their identity as a child of God. This is what gives us a real sense of value and security. It also means that we can look forward to the day when everything will be as God always intended it to be: just perfect. And thankfully there will be no more debates then because we will know even as we are known.