WESTMINSTER, England (ChurchMilitant.com) - Experts on human sexuality are blasting the former archbishop of Canterbury for praising the pathology of gender confusion as a pilgrimage to fullness.
"To be transgender is to enter a sacred journey of becoming whole, precious, honored and loved by yourself, by others and by God," Dr. Rowan Williams wrote to Britain's prime minister, Boris Johnson, on Monday.
The pro-LGBT+ Anglican archbishop, who signed a declaration on ecumenism with Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, urged Johnson to include "transgender people" in a ban on "conversion therapy" that is currently under discussion in Britain's Parliament.
"We see no justification for the ban on so-called conversion therapy excluding transgender people," Williams insisted in his letter, cosigned by the United Kingdom's senior Anglican, Baptist and Pentecostal leaders.
Experts excoriated the former archbishop for failing to recognize that mutilating body parts and subjecting gender-confused people to practices like breast binding and double mastectomies constitutes medical torture and subjects them to the theological heresy of transgender Gnosticism.
"Transitioning is hardly sacred when healthy, functioning body parts are mutilated and removed and when beta blockers creating sterility are applied or hormones are ingested — all to force alignment with distorted self-perception. How is such a process sacred?" asked Dr. Mike Davidson, in comments to Church Militant.
Davidson, one of Britain's best-known practitioners of reparative therapy, is an ex-gay man who says he is fighting for the "rights and freedoms of individuals to leave unwanted sexual attractions." He is chairman of the International Federation for Therapeutic and Counselling Choice.
Williams tells half the story about the "conversion therapy" debacle. He denies the right of homosexual desisters to cease their practices, to change their identities and to denounce and reverse decisions they have made. His remarks contain no respect for regretters, for de-transitioners or for former LGBT individuals — who are ignored and mocked by his blindness.
Libby Littlewood, a colleague of Davidson who transitioned from female to male and then relinquished her transgender lifestyle after converting to Christianity, shared a snippet of her journey:
After a lot of confusion and tragedy, I ended up trapped in LGBT ideology from the age of 12 — culminating in my living as a transgender man from 17 to 23. I changed my name and identity, took hormones and lived with all sorts of other sins. The Holy Spirit called me out of that lifestyle in November–December 2019, and I started living as a woman again.
My journey has been one of discovering, discerning and accepting femininity. God has given me healing and even led me to my fiancée. I want to represent ex-transgender Christians — depicting our unique struggles and demonstrating that healing can take place for those with serious gender confusion.
"Gender transition is not sacred," Littlewood told Church Militant. "It is not sacramental, as Williams' claim would lead one to believe. God does not impart grace upon those undergoing gender transition."
Williams' words not only spit in the face of centuries of Christian theology, but it [sic] ignores those of us who have left transgenderism in order for God to make us whole — rather than trying to do so in our own image. I have taken up my cross and denied myself, and I'm better for it.
Dr. Lisa Nolland, a psychologist and sex historian from Bristol, told Church Militant that Williams was correct about transgenderism being a journey — but that it is a "sacred journey to Hell," as described by "one such brave transgender leader," Scott Newgent, the CEO of TReVoices.
Nolland cited Newgent, a transgender man who is now campaigning against transgenderism. Newgent writes:
Since [transitioning], I have suffered tremendously — including seven surgeries, a pulmonary embolism, an induced-stress heart attack, sepsis, a 17-month recurring infection, 16 rounds of antibiotics, three weeks of daily IV antibiotics, arm reconstructive surgery, lung, heart and bladder damage, insomnia, hallucinations, PTSD, $1 million in medical expenses and loss of home, car, career and marriage.
Newgent says he "cannot sue the surgeon responsible, in part because there is no structured, tested or widely accepted baseline for transgender health care."
"It is astonishing how Williams appears to have no idea of what are actually experiments — bad for adults like Scott, but far worse for children who are entering largely unknown, untested realms which impact them for the rest of their lives," Nolland lamented.
Nolland also emphasized the criminality of administering puberty blockers to teenagers, noting it involves "females being given synthetic testosterone ... 10–40 times the amount their bodies naturally produce or males being given ... 2–10 times the amount of estrogen their bodies naturally produce."
The adverse effects of medically gender transitioning include "decreased life expectancy, premature death from heart attacks, premature death from pulmonary embolisms, bone damage, possible liver damage, increased mental health complications and mood-syndrome symptoms," Nolland observed.
Other side effects include "increased suicide rates compared to the non-transgender population, 12% higher chance of symptoms of psychosis, brain development stunted by hormone blockers and reduced chance for lifelong sexual pleasure," she added.
The letter from the religious leaders followed Johnson's farcical flip-flopping (twice in the span of a few hours) on the issue of banning conversion therapy for LGBT+ people. Britain's National Health Service defines the practice as an attempt to change a person's gender identity or sexual orientation.
Johnson triggered a fierce backlash last week when his (nominal) Conservative Party said it would drop a key pledge in its manifesto to outlaw conversion therapy. Hours later, the prime minister reversed course and promised to ban conversion therapy for lesbian, gay and bisexual people — but not for gender-confused people.
Meanwhile, lesbian activist Jayne Ozanne has even called for "gentle non-coercive prayer" to be included in legislation banning LGBT+ conversion therapy. Ozanne, a self-proclaimed Anglican evangelical, lobbied Pope Francis in 2019 for a ban on conversion therapy.
In their letter, Williams and his cosigners label any attempt to assist victims of gender confusion through counseling or prayer as "manipulative" and "subject to coercive or undermining practices."
Conversion therapy is "pressure put by one person on another to fit their expectations — the attempt to induce vulnerable and isolated persons to deny who they truly are," the letter claims.
However, former chaplain to Queen Elizabeth II and professor of psychology Dr. Gavin Ashenden told Church Militant that Williams was "peddling a form of Gnosticism that privileges the mind over the body in a way that repudiates the integrity of the body, along with biology, empiricism and truth."
Ashenden, who converted from Anglicanism to Catholicism in 2019, elaborated:
The claim of a former archbishop of Canterbury that becoming transgender is part of a sacred journey to becoming whole is a tragic travesty. Before the triumph of imagination over biology was politicized, gender dysphoria was rightly understood as a psychiatric illness.
Endorsing a mental illness, providing it with artificial legitimacy in the form of drugs and surgical mutilation, is not a sacred task, but a promotion of disorder and disaster. To commend a distorted imagination and fantasy that pits biology against wish fulfillment as a sacred task is to engage in a confusion of category, with serious moral consequences.
Britain's Catholic bishops have remained silent on the controversy — despite the Vatican's 2019 document warning of the dangers of transgenderism and of indulging in a reductionism that makes gender "dependent upon the subjective mindset of each person."
In December, over 2,500 evangelical leaders wrote to Elizabeth Truss, minister for women and equalities, warning that the proposed legislation would criminalize preachers and parents who "hold to orthodox, historic Christian teaching on sexual ethics."
"Legislating against such a bizarrely broad category is clearly not viable and strongly risks criminalizing us as we fulfill our compassionate duties as Christian ministers and pastors. This would be a clear breach of our legal right to manifest our religion," the letter stated.
The pastors noted that violating the pattern of "the lifelong marriage of one man and one woman" as God's central design for humanity "by sexual activity outside marriage or denial of our created sex, is sin."
"For those of us fortunate enough to be convicted by the Holy Spirit to leave behind such lifestyles and confusion (often assisted with therapy and/or pastoral support and prayer), God has imparted mercy upon us — more mercy than we could ever deserve," Littlewood emphasized.