Wednesday, 8 October 2014

More Perfect Union: other reviews and book launch

Two reviews that have now appeared of the book More Perfect Union:

Andrew Goddard on Fulcrum Review of “More Perfect Union?: Understanding Same-Sex Marriage” by Bishop Alan Wilson

As the Church of England begins two years of Shared Conversations focussed on sexuality, probably the most vocal episcopal critic of current teaching and practice, Alan Wilson, Bishop of Buckingham, has set out his case for change in More Perfect Union?: Understanding Same-Sex Marriage (DLT). For those still unclear about the substance and tone of Anglican arguments for same-sex marriage this is a short, readable guide. Although helpful in giving a sense of much revisionist rhetoric and argument it suffers the fatal flaw he levels against his opponents (40) – preaching to the choir and cutting almost no ice with anyone else…

Ian Paul on Psephizo More Perfect Union?

I’ve had quite a few interactions with Alan Wilson, Bishop of Buckingham, mostly on line and (once) in person. On some occasions he has been reasonable, thoughtful and well-informed; on others, belligerent and polemical. So when I received this book for review, I was intrigued to know which way it would go. Unfortunately, it is the latter.

Reading the first couple of chapters was a very odd experience, and I could not work out why—until I realised I had entered a parallel universe—Wilson’s World, if you will. In this World, all sorts of odd things happen…

Update book launch event cancelled
Those who want to read the book for themselves may be interested in this event at Church House Bookshop: Book Launch: More Perfect Union?

And Alan Wilson wrote this piece for Comment is free earlier in the week: Any ‘biblical’ objection to gay marriage is nonsense. The C of E must admit this.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 8 October 2014 at 4:40pm BST
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England

Andrew Goddard appears to contradict himself.
If, as he says, for those still unclear about the substance of Anglican arguments, this is a readable guide, then it clearly does more than preach to the converted.
It should cut a lot of ice with a lot of people who aren't yet completely entrenched in this debate.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Wednesday, 8 October 2014 at 4:55pm BST

Sorry, comments accidentally got disabled on this article last night. Now fixed.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 9 October 2014 at 9:22am BST

Ian Paul writes of 'the serious medical reservations about gender dysphoria and the effectiveness of, or even the logic behind, the use of sex reassignment surgery' but I am not aware of these medical reservations. Whatever the appropriateness of the inclusion of Gender Dysphoria in the Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Version V - and the term gender identity disorder was replaced with gender dysphoria in this edition to remove stigma - it remains, for good or ill, a medical condition, and all the evidence I have seen indicates that gender reassignment surgery has one of the highest success rates of all medical interventions.

Posted by: Christina Beardsley on Thursday, 9 October 2014 at 9:53am BST

Christina, some time ago Johns Hopkins stopped gender reassignment therapy. They may have resumed them, but (I think it was within last decade) they said the clinical evidence was weighing heavily, or maybe significantly, against reassignment.

Posted by: wmPaul on Thursday, 9 October 2014 at 2:49pm BST

The Johns Hopkins closure was a long time ago now (1979), based on flawed research and instigated by the chief clinician who had never supported SRS in the first place. Later research confirms high patient satisfaction with this procedure. In any case, there was an emphasis on surgery as the goal of transition in the past which is not the case today where qualitative material tends to confirm the benefits of gender transition with or without hormones and/or surgery. The point here though, in relation to Ian's critique of Alan's book, is the notion that if there are intellectual reservations about gender dysphoria then maybe gender is as simple as some people would like to believe it is, and that everyone is really heterosexual and either male or female, in a complimentary way, and if we could just adjust their minds to these facts, they'd realise that and be happy.

Posted by: Christina Beardsley on Thursday, 9 October 2014 at 4:48pm BST

"The Johns Hopkins closure was a long time ago now (1979), based on flawed research and instigated by the chief clinician who had never supported SRS in the first place. Later research confirms high patient satisfaction with this procedure."

Ah! So, someone who dislikes someone of a different sexuality decided to dig for outdated and disproved "data" and manipulate its presentation in such a way as to appear both contemporary and well-supported.

Yes, we glbt have *never* seen this tactic from the right-wing before.

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Friday, 10 October 2014 at 9:09am BST

Perhaps we need to clarify. The surgery long ago abandoned at Johns Hopkins was performed on infants for gender *assignment*. It was advised at the time for a few children born with physical characteristics of both sexes. It was not the choice of adults (or younger persons with the capacity to express gender identity) coping with gender dysphoria.

Posted by: Marshall Scott on Friday, 10 October 2014 at 2:58pm BST

Marshall, you could be thinking of the discrediting of John Money's theories about gender which did involve infant surgeries, most tragically in the case of David Reimer. The ending of SRS for adults at John Hopkins is well-documented and the closure of its Gender Identity Clinic has often been quoted - unfairly - to suggest that gender transition doesn't work.

Posted by: Christina Beardsley on Friday, 10 October 2014 at 8:48pm BST

For the record, I wasn't arguing a point. As a lay person taking in other arguments and positions I was simply recalling that an institution known for researching these issues had stopped doing reassignment surgery on, the point raised, the basis of science. In this past year, I will note, the head or maybe he was the previous head cites a Swedish study he claims to be the most long-term study of adult reassignment backing the decision Johns Hopkins made. Again, as a layman in these matters, it is difficult to know what to think as the reply to "studies show" always seems to be "other studies show."

Posted by: wmPaul on Saturday, 11 October 2014 at 4:16pm BST

Thanks wmPaul. Good to know that you weren't arguing a point on the basis of the Johns Hopkins story which is such an old chestnut in the anti-trans narrative. Ian was certainly making one by casting doubt on the appropriateness or logic of SRS. In 2003 the Church of England HOB agreed that in response to 'profound and persistent' indications 'medical intervention ... was legitimate and that the result could properly be termed a change of gender.' It also agreed that the view taken by Ian is equally acceptable theologically! Rather than arguing over the studies to prove which is 'right' - since both are according to the Bishops - it's probably better to talk to people who have transitioned and hear their stories. There were three of us in the group I was co-leading at LoveSpirit today - all very happy with our journey ('transition as healing' was a phrase that came up in a later workshop) and another person so glad to have started the process after many years of waiting. I realise that this is 'only' anecdotal evidence but when you know as many trans people as I do it starts to mount up!

Posted by: Christina Beardsley on Saturday, 11 October 2014 at 9:25pm BST

I've had an email suggesting that the book launch is cancelled ...

Posted by: Jonathan Jennings on Monday, 13 October 2014 at 10:38pm BST

Yes, I can confirm that it has been cancelled. Article amended now. The reason is simply that insufficient replies have been received.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 14 October 2014 at 9:42am BST

Advertised the book launch with words to the effect that 'space is limited' is hardly an incentive to attending.

I for one thought, 'oh, well i'll not be able to get a place'.

Though in the event I was ill.

Posted by: Laurie Roberts on Wednesday, 15 October 2014 at 8:17pm BST
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