Veronica Zundel tackles this polarising debate head on


Ladies (and the odd gentleman), buckle your seatbelts and pray for me – I’m going to tackle a controversial subject. To be honest, I’d rather not: it’s all over social media, and the tone of discussion has got distinctly unpleasant. But I must, if only to dispel some myths. Deep breath: I mean, of course, ‘the transgender debate’. Here are some statements I would like you to consider carefully.

Statement one There are definitely people who feel, often from an early age, that their true gender is different to what they were declared to be at birth, and would describe themselves as transgender. Some of these people may have been born intersex (with a combination of male and female biological traits), and the doctors or parents made a somewhat arbitrary decision, and got it wrong. Others may simply have a profound feeling that they were meant to be the ‘opposite’ sex. It’s impossible to tell what roles nature and nurture respectively have played in this, and there is no point trying: we must listen to what people feel. 

Statement two The vast majority of transgender people are entirely harmless, and more likely to suffer harm than to commit it. I know at least five transgender people, mostly male to female, but one female to male. They are all Christians – in fact three are in Christian ministry, and none would hurt a fly. It is simply not true that all trans women are actually male sex offenders dressing up so they can enter women-only spaces and assault women. This is a tiny minority of what is already a tiny minority.

Statement three Parents are not encouraging their children to change sex at a whim, simply because it’s trendy. Neither are there transgender people who have an agenda to turn the whole world trans, any more than gay people have an agenda to turn the whole world gay. If anything, there is more evidence that straight, cisgender people (those whose gender identity corresponds to the sex assigned to them at birth) have an agenda to turn the whole world straight and cisgender! 

Statement four Teenage brains are still forming, and teenagers are searching for identity and trying to work out what the changes in their bodies mean. It is therefore highly risky for gender reassignment to be completed in the teenage years  – a small number of people (and it is small) will later regret transitioning. But if a person has had a conviction from early childhood that they are being identified as the ‘wrong’ sex, shouldn’t we respond to this? It requires, of course, a great deal of wisdom and probably more scientific knowledge than we yet have, but simply dismissing the person’s feelings, or trying to ‘programme’ them into accepting their ‘assigned’ gender, is just cruel.

Statement five We still know very little about the nature of gender dysphoria (feeling unease about a mismatch between a person’s biological sex and their sense of gender identity) or what causes it. It is foolish, if not dangerous, to pronounce once and for all about something of which we understand so little.

Statement six It is clearly stupid to put an allegedly trans woman, who still has male genitals and also has a history of sexual assault on women, into a women’s prison. However it is also highly risky to put them in a male prison, where they are very likely to be raped themselves. I can’t help feeling that gender self-recognition is a blunt instrument for a complex problem. Clearly the current process of gender recognition (legally recognising a change of gender) is too long and traumatic – remember these are people who are already in deep distress about their identity. But cutting the process to nothing is also very dubious. Why not require a man who wishes to become a woman to have gender reassignment surgery before they can be recognised as a woman? Why, after all, if a man deeply feels he is ‘really’ a woman, would he want to keep his male genitalia?

Statement seven The Bible, and Jesus himself, have absolutely nothing to say on this issue (unless you count the bit about eunuchs, and Jesus doesn’t actually say what eunuchs should do – see Matthew 19:12). We have to use our sanctified reason and imagination, and not rely simply on gut feelings. Our feelings and emotions will probably make it hard for us to recognise the person we once knew as Andy as now Amy, or Katie as Karl, but we need to make an effort. Because these are fellow human beings, and we are commanded to treat them with compassion, as we do all people.

I know some of you reading this will disagree sharply with what I’ve said (please try to be nice in your responses). But above all, don’t come back to me with ‘the Christian position’ on transgender issues. There is no Christian position, only the positions of various Christians. This has been mine; please consider it.