Thinking allowed

call for transgender recognition rite

Under the provocative headline “Should church introduce transgender baptism?” the BBC reports that the Revd Chris Newlands, vicar of Lancaster, has

asked the Church of England to debate introducing a ceremony akin to a baptism to mark the new identities of Christians who undergo gender transition.

The idea came after a young transgender person approached him, seeking to be “re-baptised” in his new identity. Similar ceremonies are already happening in some other Anglican churches.

This weekend, Nick Benn and his friends gathered at his church for a service to mark one of the most significant events in his life so far: the transition from his previous identity as a young woman, to a new life as a man.

At Lancaster Priory, Chris Newlands is keen for the Church to have an official liturgy to guide the clergy on such occasions. He wants the Church to be able to demonstrate its acceptance and love, and to help mark a milestone for someone transitioning from one gender to another.

Susie Leafe, director of Reform, is quoted, commenting on the question of ‘baptism’.

“The Bible gives us the notion that there is one baptism, so the idea of ‘re-baptising’ people is certainly something that would go against a lot of the deep theology of the Church and would be confusing.”


  • DBD says:

    (As I said at the Changing Attitude facebook discussion of this:)

    The idea of “re-baptism” is an alarmist over-simplification. Welcoming a person’s current identity into the local church and Church Catholic; and affirming their baptism into that Church is all we seek surely.

    Surely there can be no controversy!

  • The initiative is very welcome.

    As has been mentioned, the use of the term ‘baptism’ is a bit of a can of worms, and not really what’s needed.

    What is needed is: welcome – affirmation – recognition – celebration – blessing – inclusion – commissioning and ongoing commitment.

    For all these reasons, along with the more negative factor that trans people are so often marginalised, it would be really good if some kind of liturgy, or framework, could be developed.

    Trans people are usually more empowered, not less empowered; more whole, not less whole; more open to the capacity to love, not less… after transition.

    I think this truth – which has medical and legal recognition – should be embraced by the Church. One of the things a transitioning person needs most of all is acceptance, respect, and welcome.

  • Kennedy says:

    Kelvin has posted on this:

    A very adaptable service is our Affirmation rite.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.