11th December - Trans and Intersex people

For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; that I know very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes beheld my unformed substance. In your book were written all the days that were formed for me, when none of them as yet existed.

Psalm 139:13-16

People on the gender variance spectrum can find it difficult to feel that God loves them - but He does! Gender characteristics are determined during early gestation by the action of hormones governing development of the part of the brain that holds the core perception of self-identity. Due to hormone imbalances or insensitivity in later gestation transsexuals develop physical sexual characteristics at variance with their brain sex. In contrast, intersex people have atypical X and Y chromosomes in their genes that can lead to ambiguity in sexual characteristics.

Both trans and intersex people have a difficult time in life - struggles to try to conform to binary sex roles can bring anguish, self-recrimination and self-loathing. Owning one's true self rather than a construct to please others is difficult, and involves painful adaptation of relationships for gender variant people and their nearest and dearest and sadly often ends in rejection. Yet trying to be someone other than oneself as made by God is a life wasted and frequently a life terminated too early by suicide. Sadly, all too often churches reinforce the prejudice of wider society against trans and intersex people. Latter-day scribes and Pharisees in the Church persecute trans and intersex people to maintain a literalist sexual binary interpretation of Genesis 1:27 in the face of biological fact that up to 1 in 100 humans are gender variant to some degree. Far from welcoming and nurturing these hurting people, often they are condemned a sinful threat and cast out - or are grudgingly allowed entry only with stringent conditions, and their gifts are rejected. I am barred from the church in which I was baptised. We are as we are because that is how God, the God of diversity, made us. It is not a lifestyle choice or a perversion. Transsexuality isn't catching! Let all churches welcome gender variant people and celebrate their special insights and talents which enrich the whole Body of Christ. Isaiah 56 v3-5 assures those outside the binary sexual stereotype that they ARE part of God's people after all. Thanks be to God that His Saving Grace is for all of us... let not the Church reject those whom Christ lovingly created.

The contributor is a member of The Sibyls (a Christian Spirituality Group for Gender Variant people and their supporters) and is a regular worshipper and PCC member of a church in the diocese of Manchester who is writing in a personal capacity as a transsexual person and wishes to remain anonymous.

Daily prayer

Like the Magi we celebrate the coming of our Emmanuel. Jesus confounded the expectations and prejudices of the religious establishment of His time by his actions, His teaching and His sacrifice. Inspire Christians to reach out in love in the power of the Holy Spirit to the outcasts just as Jesus did, bringing hope, healing and inspiring changed lives. May Your Church be enriched by gender variant people and their gifts.


Lord, in this time of Advent open our hearts to those who feel excluded from Your church.
Help us draw in those on the margins and place them in the centre of our family.