Thinking Anglicans

LLF project loses transgender member

Today’s Church Times has an exclusive report: House of Bishops’ sexuality project loses transgender member

A TRANSGENDER priest, the Revd Dr Christina Beardsley, has pulled out of the group that is co-ordinating the House of Bishops‘ sexuality project, Living in Love and Faith (LLF).

In an article in this week’s Church Times, she argues that not enough attention is being paid to the experiences of LGBTI+ churchpeople. And she questions the neutral stance that the LLF process has been taking: “There’s an assumption that LLF is handling equally valid views about sex and gender on which we can, in the end, agree to disagree.”

The report quotes reactions from both Dr Eeva John and the Bishop of Coventry:

The co-ordinating group was surprised and saddened by her departure, the project’s enabling officer, Dr Eeva John, said on Tuesday. She felt that the group had “always been very aware of how deeply personal and painful these matters have been”, and attempted to listen to people without skirting round issues, “but we do that imperfectly”.

She disputed the contention that not enough weight was being given to LGBTI+ voices. As part of the wider participation, which will be fed into the LLF process in the coming weeks, Dr John had held interviews with 22 individuals, 15 of them LGBTIA+, including five transsexual people.

There were eight openly LGBTI+ people in the LLF working groups, 12 if the Pastoral Advisory Group was included. Dr Beardsley would be replaced, she said. “We’re going to find another trans person. We need that voice.

“The Bishop of Coventry, Dr Christopher Cocksworth, who chairs the co-ordinating group, said on Tuesday that LLF was not simply about balancing different views. “We cannot regard it as impossible in a Christian community to enable people to understand each other’s heartfelt perspectives; and it is our hope that, in a deeper understanding, there will develop a greater level of respect between those who hold differing views — and a greater possibility of assessing the validity of those views and whether they fall into the Christian spectrum.”

The newspaper also carries a lengthy Comment article by Dr Beardsley, which deserves to be read in full.

Dr Christina Beardsley: Why I left the Bishops’ sexuality project

…Deciding to leave has been hard. I have loved and been loved by the other members. I admire and respect them, and know that they are doing their best, though with their hands tied by the constraints of “the Church’s current teaching”. Praying together as a group has brought us close.

But the moment came. At our meeting in the second week of January, two triggers, in quick succession, brought matters to a head. An LGBTI+ person known to me was demonised. It was as if a mask had suddenly dropped.

Shortly afterwards, the principle of “no talking about us without us” was diluted, yet again, in relation to someone else I know. It was all too much.

My concerns about process, however, have existed for months. I can list these under three headings beginning with the letter “p”: power, parish, and practical theology…

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Dean Henley
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Dean Henley

Christina leaves in a characteristically kind and gracious way. I wish I could express my frustrations as a gay priest with the CofE in such charitable terms! For myself Christina’s phrase ‘tightly managed elsewhere’ sums up the futility of these exercises. The gender imbalance and the lack of sufficient numbers of out gay, lesbian and bi people; confirms that the process will once again, surprise surprise settle for the status quo in terms of justice for the LGBTQI community. In 2020 warm words will come from that nice chap the Bishop of Coventry or another white, heterosexual and cisgendered male… Read more »

Colin Coward
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Dr Eeva John disputes Tina’s contention that not enough weight was being given to LGBTI+ voices. Dr John says that as part of the wider participation she had held interviews with fifteen LGBTIA+ people including five trans people, plus there were eight openly LGBTI+ people in the LLF working groups, twelve if the Pastoral Advisory Group was included. The eight and the twelve include members of Living Out who identify as same-sex attracted, not lesbian or gay. The Bishop of Coventry, who chairs the COG, hopes for a greater level of respect between those who hold differing views and a… Read more »

Kate
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Kate

I remember when Wetherspoons first opened a pub near where I was living at the time. Every member of the public-facing bar staff (in a racially diverse town) was white; all kitchen staff were black. Overall, there was a good racial balance but that disguised that something was badly wrong. (For the record, it did get fixed over time.) I think Dr John, as you report her, Colin, is overlooking that interviewing a few LGBTI+ people in no way offsets that none of the supervising bishops are trans / have undergone gender reassignment and only one is openly gay –… Read more »

Kate
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Kate

What a difficult decision this must have been but Christina deserves massive respect for putting principles first. “To articulate the theology of those who take a different view to one’s own with generosity is a noble ideal; but knowing the harm that some views can inflict, I became increasingly reluctant to do this. ” I know there are some on TS who believe that some sort of twin track is possible. I don’t. As Christina says, the harm done by the homophobic and transphobic views – and we should be honest enough to call them that – makes a twin… Read more »

Father Mike
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Father Mike

A flawed process from the outset designed to please no one and keep the issue in the long grass for as long as possible. Mission alert suicide with the people of England as usual!