A LITURGY to "mark a person's gender transition" should be
devised to help the Church welcome and affirm transgender people, a
motion from the diocese of Blackburn suggests. The motion was sent
for consideration to the General Synod last month, after being
carried by the diocesan synod.
Its origins lie in a service led last year by the Vicar of St
Mary's, Lancaster, the Revd Chris Newlands, after a young man had
asked to be "rebaptised", explaining that he had been baptised as a
"He said: 'I don't think God knows me; so I would like to be
introduced to God as a man,'" Mr Newlands recalled on Tuesday. A
liturgy was devised, drawing on the initiation service, which
enabled the man to reaffirm his baptismal vows.
"It was just a very simple pastoral response to something which
came out of the blue," Mr Newlands said. "It was really moving, as
he felt he was in a proper relationship with God. He just wanted
God to know his new name."
Mr Newlands believes that more transgender people may request
such a service, having heard about this from the media, and that a
liturgy would send out a "very positive message to people who are
trans that they are welcomed and affirmed by the Church".
On Tuesday, the Priest-in-Charge of St Nicholas's, Burnage, in
Manchester, the Revd Dr Rachel Mann, who is transgender, welcomed
the proposal. "As trans people, we feel powerfully called to be
recognised in our 'chosen' names," she said. "An opportunity to be
publicly introduced to God is therefore significant. I think this
is what a proposed liturgy would aim to do. It will be symbolically
and sacramentally powerful."
She said, however, that her "only anxiety" would be about
"treating trans people as those who are talked about rather than
talked to. . . I would not want trans lives to be further
objectified without trans representation in the discussion."
The motion reads: "That this Synod, recognising the need for
transgender people to be welcomed and affirmed in their parish
church, call on the House of Bishops to consider whether some
nationally commended liturgical materials might be prepared to mark
a person's gender transition."