One of the most surprising aspects of negative Christian responses to transgender people is the failure to see and celebrate the healing and hope we find as we grow in personal and social acceptance. We can even be told simply to accept our lot and to grin and bear our pain and suffering, as if change is impossible or only possible beyond death. How extraordinarily opposite to biblical faith, especially the life and teaching of Jesus! For Jesus was not only active as a healer but his healings were typically those of the outcast and signs of hope and new possibility for our world as a whole. His life was an expression of God's shalom - of healing hope and wholeness - which may indeed never be complete in this life but which most certainly breaks in to transform us here and now. Seeking healing and justice for transgender people is thus an out-flowing of the Gospel and an imperative of contemporary discipleship. It is both true to a living biblical faith and to the best of contemporary medicine and human understanding.
when healing is not healing
Of course there are Christians and others who take a negative or critical approach who claim to practice healing for us. The worst kinds of these are so-called 'conversion' or 'deliverance' ministries which not only fail but do serious harm and (as the Church of England recently affirmed - July 2017 General Synod) need to be prohibited. Other approaches, such as praying or counselling for us as 'sick', or 'disordered', can be slightly less intrusive but also quite detrimental to spiritual health and well-being. More benign on the surface are approaches such as that taken by Mark Yarhouse (in whose case, there is some understanding out of his experience as a pyschologist, but distorted by his a priori theological preconceptions). These represent welcome signs of some growing acceptance of lived realities and the ability of more conservative Christians to reflect and change. Yet, whilst undoubtedly more informed and less judgemental, these still fall short in not treating transgender people with the full dignity and value we have in God's eyes. The large mainstream clinical literature and protocols about trans people are still largely ignored, except to be rejected. It can thus be really depressing, and worse, when transgender experience and decades of the best of reason and science are not greeted properly. Instead, it would be delightful if more and more people could share in the joy which the gift of wholeness of being brings.