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.

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