The Anglican Diocese of Sydney is under fire after releasing a new set of anti-trans guidelines. According to reports, the document claims Adam and Eve's "rebellion in the garden of Eden" is responsible for the existence of transgender people.
This document is a collection of doctrinal advisements, created in response to an upcoming legal change that will allow churches to discriminate as long as they can show that their discrimination is linked to official church policy. It's the result of consultations at the 51st Synod at the Wesley Conference Centre, gathering laypeople and ministers who represent the area around Sydney.
The policy refers to transitioning as "an attempt at self-creation that involves a denial of the biologically-sexed body that God has given to us," one that blurs "the distinctions between male and female."
An earlier draft also called upon ministry staff to encourage detransitioning, but that provision was removed from a version that was revised overnight.
According toBuzzFeed News, the document instructs parishioners to demonstrate "compassion, love and care" by "differentiating between compassion for the person ... and agreeing with, celebrating or validating any treatment protocol for transition."
Peter Hayward, the Bishop of Wollongong, provided an example for how the church might misgender parishioners. Referring to a hypothetical woman who wishes to attend church after previously presenting as male, Hayward said: "He says, 'I'm now coming to church as a woman.' How does the parish respond to that?"
The church's answer, at least for now, is to reject parishioners who transition.
BuzzFeed spoke with Amy McCarthy, a 21-year-old transgender member of the Anglican church, who said, "they are asking churches to discriminate against and exclude gender diverse people. ... the reality is, if you had compassion for trans people, you would understand that ... the best approach to show compassion is to support their transition, their gender affirmation."
"My own view is that if people wish to change the doctrine of our church, they should start a new church or join a church more aligned to their views," Davies said. "But do not ruin the Anglican Church by abandoning the plain teaching of scripture."
Bishop of Liverpool Paul Bayes responded to Davies' comments, telling The Guardian: "I regret that the archbishop seems to want to exclude people rather than to engage with them within the wider Anglican family."
The Anglican church has long struggled with inclusion. In 1998, officials passed a resolution "rejecting homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture." While the church in countries such as New Zealand and Canada has approved marriage equality, other countries have expressed a desire to split over the issue in a process known as "Anglican realignment."