In its move towards gender neutral clothing, retailer John Lewis has just announced an end to boys and girls clothes labelling 'to avoid re-enforcing gender stereotypes' while a recent BBC documentary had a similar theme with a programme entitled: No More Boys and Girls: Can Our Kids Go Gender Free?  Some figures on the same topic are quite astonishing.  Since 2010, there has reportedly been a 20-fold increase in the number of children who feel confused about their gender and have sought professional help.  Of 1,400 und 18s attending such specialist clinics, about 800 children have apparently been given puberty blocking drugs to 'pause' the onset of puberty.  Such statistics have led to considerable media debate which also merits a Christian response.  Yet it is also important to understand the present legal situation.
 
The 2004 Gender Recognition Act made it possible for people to change their gender, apply for a new birth certificate and be given full recognition of their new-to-them sex.  This process currently requires a doctor's diagnosis of gender dysporia [an intense unease about one's biological sex] and a serious 2-year commitment to living as a member of the opposite gender.  However these rules would be changed if the strong transgender lobby has its way, claiming to be one of the last groups in society who endure overt prejudice.  It calls for a reduction in age to 14 years, to enable cross-sex hormone replacement therapy to be used; for sexual reassignment surgery to be available to children on the NHS and for compulsory primary school lessons about gender dysphoria.
 
There is certainly an increased transgender awareness within society today in the wake of celebrities who made the transition [like boxing promoter Kellie Maloney and EastEnders actor Riley Carter Millington] and high profile films like The Danish Girl, starring Eddie Redmayn.  A 2014 Study by mental health charity PACE found that of 2,000 young people with gender issues, 48% had attempted suicide and 58% had self-harmed.  Such figures are alarming.  A strong case can surely be made for concluding that people who genuinely believe that they have been born 'in the wrong body' should have the chance to investigate changing their gender IF there proves to be a medically proven case made for doing so.  Yet there are real concerns that the huge rise in the number of children registering their desire to change sex, is driven by powerful interest groups that would like to see far greater gender fluidity options available to everybody.  Indeed, the Parliamentary Women and Equalities Select Committee recently produced a report advocating that people should be able to change their fender when they wish to, simply by filling out an approved form.  Yet there are many people who defend the involvement of medical assessments and the lengthy process currently involved in changing gender.  Surely questions have to be asked regarding the extent to which pre-pubescent children can really think through the range of complex medical/psychological issues associated with a change in gender identity?  According to a US bioethics centre, only 23% of boys and 27% of girls treated by gender clinics, stick to their chosen new sex on reaching adulthood.  The head of Transgender Trend finds such evidence alarming, noting that 'it is now cool to be 'trans' and fashionable for parents to embrace their 'diverse' child while anyone questioning this is slammed as transphobic'.  Are there not a host of dangers for society if, as some wish, people are allowed to self-identify as members of the opposite sex?  Think of the potential controversy and chaos in hospitals, schools, prisons, women's sports events, swimming pool changing rooms and public conveniences!  Yet of arguably greater importance still is the time-honoured truth of nature that, far from being one of many lifestyle choices, gender is about females and males being identifiably different.  There is for example a marked structural difference between the female and male pelvic girdle which, in sports terms, has a marked effect on the output of force and pace.  So what is the Christian response to it all?
 
Is gender part of God's agenda?  Certainly, the author of Genesis seems to think so: 'Let us make humankind in our own image, according to our likeness [1:27] and when speaking of Adam's family: 'Male and female he created them, and he blessed them' [5:1-2].  The Bible also has vital teaching about both the equality and complementarity of the sexes.  In the Scriptures, the different responsibilities and roles of women and men are viewed as being distinct [eg. Proverbs 31: 10-31: 1 Timothy 5: 1-2; 1 Peter 3: 1-7; Ephesians 5:22-25].  The Gospels record Jesus as challenging the culture of his day by sharing his time, teaching and healing love with women, as well as men [eg. Matthew 15: 21-28; Mark 5: 25-34; Luke 10: 38-42; John 4: 1-42].  St Paul makes it very clear that the worth of a person to God is the same, irrespective of gender ... and so must we:  'There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. [Galatians 3:28].
 
God Bless,
Your Friend - Martyn
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The foundation of all the work in this Church is grounded in the belief that Jesus Christ is Lord and Saviour and that all people need to come to a personal faith in Him and experience the reality of His presence in their lives. Outreach is our priority.
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Haye Road
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Rev. Martyn Smith
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Cornwall, PL17 7JJ
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Is Gender Part of God's Agenda?
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