There is much more than property at stake in current Sydney Anglican developments, For ultimately, suppression and distortion of the mind and soul is so much more destructive than that of the body. This is a transgender truth which continues to be violated in so much conservative and fundamentalist Christianity. Much response has thus, rightly, been made to legal, property based, moves by the Anglican Diocese of Sydney to repress religious freedom within its ranks. This includes suppression of what its leadership has termed, but not defined, as 'transgender ideology'. Yet, in its 'Gender Diversity Initial Principles of Engagement' it brings forward its own transgender ideology this week. This, and the guidelines it proposes (outlined on pages 68-73 of its Standing Committee's Annual Report), represent a powerful, but not to some immediately obvious, attack upon gender diverse people, their families and friends. For whilst it is laced with language about compassion, it is a typical master of misdirection, based on outdated understandings and a priori convictions about gender diversity and its relationship to human, not least spiritual, growth. It displays little or no meaningful engagement with the expertise of those engaged in enabling gender diverse people to flourish, never mind the lived experience of transgender people as a whole (even the increasingly visible and articulate gender diverse Anglicans and Christians) themselves. It reflects a form of misapplied compassion; caged in narrow, false and controlling 'biblical' preconceptions; seemingly wholly ignoring the realities and insights of intersex and non-binary people in particular; and essentially treating gender diverse people as sick, broken and disabled from knowledge or agency of their own health and freedom. Such views are not those of the Sydney Anglican diocese alone but widespread in certain types of vocal Christianity and in broader society. Codified as they are in the Sydney diocese's work however, they offer a disturbing model of practice which will not only harm the lives of gender diverse people within the diocese's own reach but, if taken up elsewhere, will have negative effect more widely. As a potential vehicle of spiritual abuse, it thus demands critique, opposition, and transformation into something wholesome.
The Revd Dr Jo Inkpin: