Although a majority of Church of England Bishops voted in favour of the provisions of the Gender Recognition Act 2004, which did so much to overcome the legal injustices experienced by transsexual people, it is the negative statements of some of their colleagues that tend to be remembered. Inevitably, therefore, this sort of intervention is unlikely to be welcomed by Trans groups, and, especially, those who have been rejected by their churches, but it was offered as a ‘probing’ amendment and, as such, I think that it has served a useful purpose.
Here I have to agree with Bishop Hind’s closing remark that the Lords need to ‘do more work to understand what we are talking about’, as well as his point that ‘this is a question not just of doctrine and liturgy but of pastoral care.’ My own small contribution in this area, with the help of my friends, has been to draft a set of pastoral guidelines on transsexual people, specifically with pastors, clergy and congregations in mind:
Withdrawing the amendment Bishop Hind also promised to consult with his colleagues on this issue. It would be wonderful if they were also prepared to include in these discussions the Trans laity and clergy who are members of the Sibyls, especially in view of Bishop John’s haunting and inviting words: