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These Resource pages on the Sibyls Website povide a range of information of use to members of the Sibyls and general information on transgender issues.
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19th September 2016, 11:00 to 20th September 2016, 16:00,

St. John's College, Durham University: Presentation by Susan Gilchrist on:




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This paper reports the conclusions of an investigation uses the results of a new neurophysiological and psychological study to examine the traditional teaching and doctrines on gender and sexual variation in the Christian Church. The impact of religion is discussed in other papers in this series. It is shown that a contradiction occurs. The neurophysiological and psychological study is the subject of this paper. A rapid transformation which involves a major advancement in neural capabilities occurs at some point between the ages of between one and a half to three years. From this time onwards the pre-frontal cortex of the brain starts to function as a coordinated unit. Before this period it is shown that internally driven and contagious physiological development processes described by Gallese, Dawkins, Girard and others take the dominant role. These are compared with the cognitively driven traditional psychodynamic and social learning theories which only come into effect after transformation occurs. Development is characterised by the continuing struggle between these internal, contagious, feed-forward and physiologically driven forces active from early development against the controlling, feed-back and externally moderated processes of cognitive development in later life. Gender dysphoria is used as a case study to link the two processes. Core elements of personality, including basic concepts of gender and sexual identity are shown to form before or during the neural transformation period. These are found to concern identity alone. Characteristics which originate after the transformation have behavioural features which cognitively link desire to reward. Different behaviour and types of conflict are encountered and the impact of these is assessed. It is demonstrated that brain plasticity (which is the ability of the brain to physically reshape itself), is structured to maximise the amount of information that can be collected during the period before the neural transformation, when it is most needed, and later to ensure that a constancy of personality is formed. It is demonstrated that the physiological, neurological and psychological aspects of brain development act together to form a finely tuned system in which the maximum amount of individuality, possessiveness, intelligence and inquisitiveness, together with the minimum degree of energy expenditure is generated. The results of this neurophysiological and psychological study are compared to the traditional teaching of the Christian Church and it is shown that the same moral standards should be applied to all sexual and cross-gender behaviour, irrespective of the orientations involved.

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Science is used to test the validity of the present day teaching of the Christian Church. A new approach to the formation of self-identity demonstrates that a moral duality must exist whereby gender and sexually variant people who express their true identities in ways which conform to the highest moral standards of society should be highly regarded, while people misusing them are to be condemned for their acts. This denies the validity of the traditional teaching of the Christian Church which condemns without exception every act. The adaptations which Peter, Paul and the early Church made to take the Gospel to the world are examined. It is shown that the need for these was accepted by Jesus. However instead of restoring his radical teaching, the Church used the power it developed to reinforce the authority of its own institutions. This failure creates the current contradictions. These permit sections of the Christian Church to collude with the secular scapegoating of gender and sexually variant people. Great harm is done by medical misdiagnoses that are applied. It is shown that the authority of scripture is enhanced when the moral duality is recognised and the correct boundary is employed. It is demonstrated that the teaching of Jesus conforms to the scientific study. This demands that all people who express their own true identities in lives that fulfil the love of Christ must be accepted in their own right. There is no automatic condemnation of any same-sex act and there is no toleration of abusive sex.

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The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 has eliminated the need for a couple to divorce when one of them transitions, but has raised other problems, particularly the requirement of spousal consent to Gender Recognition, and the backdating of pension rights.


This experiential workshop reflected theologically on marriage in the light of these and other realities of trans people’s lives and relationships.  It was led by two trans people, Susan Gilchrist and Tina Beardsley, who are both members of the Sibyls, and have each been with their partner for over four decades. Both are married to their partner: one for the whole of that time, the other following transition.  


Presented at a one-day conference on the theology of marriage in the light of equal marriage held at St John's Waterloo on the 27th September 2014


  Download Paper            Conference Proceedings 





This paper offers a critique of the ‘binary’ nature of much biblical interpretation and ethical belief in the Church, rejecting simplistic ‘either-or’ approaches to both. Instead there is offered an interpretation of key biblical texts through the lenses of circumstances, needs and motivation. It is argued that, when these factors are taken into account, even for Evangelicals, there is no longer a substantive biblical case against the acceptance of faithful, loving same-sex partnerships and the development of a positive Christian ethic for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. At the very least, the complexity of the interpretive task must lead to greater openness to and acceptance of those from whom we differ.


To read the article Click Here

The web link for the publication  is  and the article is called "Cracking the Binary Code". There is a short introduction to in on the Accepting Evangelicals Blog - 





The Report of the House of Bishops Working Group on Human Sexuality, chaired by Sir Joseph Pilling, was published on November 28th 2013.


This paper analyses and critiques each section of the Report in detail.


To read the analysis Click Here







The aim of this investigation is to compare the traditional doctrines and teaching of the Christian Church on sexual and gender variation with the results of present day neurophysiological and psychological research. It shows that these conditions are identity driven and it contradicts the current Christian doctrines which exclusively attribute the driving forces behind all gender and sexually variant behaviour to the pursuit of lust, illicit and immoral sex. It rejects the Church assertions that the gender and sexually variant conditions are intrinsically disordered by demonstrating that these are within the wide-ranging latitude of a process of personality development which is tuned to ensure the attainment of the maximum potential and individuality of every person and it affirms that within the gender and sexually variant communities as extended a range of moral attitudes and expectations must be found as those which occur in all of society. There is a clear contradiction between the two views and a second part of this investigation examines how and why this discord occurred.



Current research work in infant neurophysiology and neuropsychology, has identified the importance of key features such as those of mirror neurons, the active phases of brain plasticity, synaptic pruning and of cortical development, and it has revealed the importance of the imitative processes in controlling the functioning of the brain. It is demonstrated in this analysis that the creation of the personal self-identity, including the sexual and the gender components are part of a contagious and self-reinforcing process of possessive imitation. This analysis shows that the conflicts associated with gender identity to be the symptom of the failure to build a coherent sense of self identity, rather than the cause. It also demonstrates that these are processes which are tuned to maximise the degree of personal potential and individuality that can be developed and it shows how variations in the processes can lead to situations where both gender and sexually variant identities are formed.


For nearly 2000 years the Christian Church has maintained its traditional teaching in homosexuality and gender and sexual variance. This analysis has shown that this is built on a false foundation, and that the teaching of Jesus leads to the transcendence of gender and sexual divisions which provides an approach to gender equality which incorporates responsibility and respect for the other person that would be acceptable in the present day.


This document does not represent Sibyls policy. It is offered for discussion and comment.

To read the document: Click Here





There were many doctrinal changes which the Christian Church adopted in regard to the positions of women, in attitudes to gender complementarity and to gender and sexual variance during the first three centuries of its existence. This analysis uses the results of some recent research work on gender dysphoria and on personality development as a tool for re-considering the historical backgrounds and the reasons for these changes. A précis of this is given in this account.


The history of the Church is examined from two perspectives, one works back through the Church traditions, and the second traces forward from the Jewish and the Greco/Roman backgrounds to review the social and the moral traditions which were the sources from which the Apostolic Church developed. In order for the Church to make the breakthrough from a minority and a subject Jewish sect into the universal religion of a dominant society, an initial period of true gender equality and transcendence is required and it is shown that without that period this transition could not have occurred. Early Christianity had demanded a revolution in the social attitudes, but the message of Jesus which is presented in the Gospels also required the Church to work within society in order to change it, rather than destroy it. This gave the Church a difficult choice, and it sought to compromise these first Gospel doctrines of gender transcendence to obtain the respectability which would enable it to convey the remainder of the Gospel message to the wider world.


By engaging with the expectations of society, and by taking up the dogmas of gender complementarity which were associated with the surrounding Greco/Roman and Jewish societies the ability of the Church to bring the Gospel challenges to all people in the matters of gender equality and to sexual and gender variance was destroyed. This investigation also demonstrates how the teachings of Jesus had created an attitude to gender equality and to sexual and gender variance that would be acceptable in the present day. A major disconnection occurred during these first three centuries. What today is regarded as the traditional teachings of the Christian Church on all sexual and gender variance are built on the false foundation of the demand to gain respectability within Greco/Roman society and that what in the present day is regarded as the traditional teaching of the Church on homosexuality and on sexual and gender variance is not the same as that of the Gospel Church.


One of the objectives of the Reformation Movement of 16th Century was to return to the teaching of the bible alone. This included the rejection of later traditions that had been adopted by the Church. The reformers took Augustine as a frame of reference. Although they rejected many of the Church traditions which Augustine had endorsed, they continued to maintain and reinforce the doctrines of an exclusive heterosexual orthodoxy, which included the total abhorrence of homosexuality and other gender and sexually variant behaviour which had been propagated by the Church.


The results of this analysis challenge many of the traditional doctrines which the Church has adopted on the roles of women, gender complementarity and to gender and sexual variance. In certain Churches the social changes of the last fifty years have promoted a re-evaluation of Christian teaching but this has also resulted in a retrenchment into literalism and to fundamentalism in others. This study supports this re-evaluation and gives historical and theological support to the changes that are now being made. The sixteenth century reformers could not have carried out this re-evaluation since the knowledge and resources were then not available to them. This analysis provides new insights into the crises about gender and sexuality which are faced by the present day Christian Church. It is hoped that this study can make the Reformation a little more complete. This is also a call to return to the original message of the Gospel, and that is a transformation which is needed for the well-being of Christianity itself..



This draft document does not represent Sibyls policy. It is offered for discussion and comment


To read the document: Click Here





It is clear that Christians hold a spectrum of views on sexuality and marriage. However, the popular idea that there are two warring blocks that may be labelled ‘traditionalists’ and ‘revisionists’ is simplistic and can be misleading as well as unhelpful.


Current tensions could be reduced and reframed significantly if more church leaders acknowledged the extent of common ground in the middle of this continuum, allowed limited flexibility of practice, and enabled their communities to develop practices of discernment oriented towards the “grace and truth” (John 1.13-15) that lies at the heart of the Christian message.


vitri Hensman identifies seven widely held positions on sexuality. She suggests that those with supposedly diametrically opposing views often have more in common than they may at first think.


Equally, she argues, in Christian terms, that coexistence among those sharing a 'middle ground' is not about weak compromise, but instead reflects an approach both deeply rooted in Bible and tradition and open to change as a living community led by the Spirit.




Click Here for the full paper


This paper can also be found under the "Resources" section of the website.





There were many doctrinal changes that the Church adopted in regard to the role of women, gender equality and transcendence and to gender and sexual variance during the first three centuries of its existence. This study uses the results of recent research on gender dysphoria and personality development as a tool to re-examine the historical backgrounds and the reasons for these changes.


The results of this analysis challenge many of the traditional doctrines that the Church has adopted on the role of women, gender equality and gender and sexual variance. In some Churches the social changes of the last fifty years have promoted a re-evaluation of Christian teaching, but also a retrenchment into literalism and fundamentalism in others. This analysis supports this re-evaluation and gives historical and theological support to the changes that are being made.


This draft document does not represent Sibyls policy. It is offered for discussion and comment


This document has been updated to include comments on the Pilling Report



For the full document Click Here





The possibility of opening up marriage in Britain by law to same-sex couples has been criticised by some Christians but welcomed by others. One of the more thoughtful critics is theologian John Milbank, who has eloquently expressed some common arguments against change. This response by Savi Hensman suggests that, while he raises important issues, his analysis is ultimately flawed. Taking into account such topics as tradition, sexual ‘complementarity’, childbearing and sacrament, there is a strong case for equal marriage.


This document does not represent Sibyls policy. It is offered for discussion and comment


For the full document Click Here





In this paper, Savi Hensman gives a detailed overview of some of the most significant affirmative theological work on same-sex love and the Christian tradition. She demonstrates the unhelpful and simplistic positing of a straightforward 'conservative versus liberal' divide on these issues, and draws on Catholic, Anglican, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Methodist, Reformed, Quaker and Anabaptist/Mennonite thinkers.


This document does not represent Sibyls policy. It is offered for discussion and comment


For the full document Click Here

Transgender Awareness Website:


This external website contains pastoral  and other documents relevant to the transgender community. To access it please click on the link below.


Pleas note that the Sibyls cannot be held responsible for the content of external websites

The Transsexual is my Neighbour: Pastoral Guidelines for Christian Clergy, Pastors and Congregations by Christina Beardsley.


Click Here for the full document. This is also available in booklet form from The Gender Trust at , PO Box 3192, Brighton, BN1 3WR. An alternative abbreviated version of the document is given in the information sheet section of the Gender Trust website at:


The full document contains an appendix on intersex conditions.

Please Click Here to go directly to this appendix.


Transsexual people cover the whole range of sexuality. However the priority is to be oneself. Many seek gender reassignment by surgery to make the body match the sense of gender that is felt inside.

Faith, Gender and Me: by Elaine Sommers.


This article gives a perspective on the gender issues from a transvestite or cross dresser rather than a transsexual point of view. It is presented as an interview with a single person but it describes some  general experiences. The interview in the form presented did not take place.

Transvestites and cross dressers have a gender allegiance which accords with their biological sex. There is no desire to seek gender reassignment but there is often an overwhelming need to express the senses of cross gender identity that they do possess.. Please Click Here to download the article.

Christianity and Homosexuality: A Short Introduction. Available from LGCM, Oxford House, Derbyshire Street, London E2 6HG.


The leaflet deals directly and succinctly with the key passages from Scripture. The new edition has been be released with ‘Abomination?’ on the cover. This recognizes the reality of people’s perception of Christian attitudes.

See .

An Acceptable Sacrifice? Homosexuality and the Church. Edited by Duncan Dormor and Jeremy Morris (SPCK, 2007).


This is a collection of essays by an interdisciplinary group of Cambridge authors. A TLS review by John Habgood commended this ‘intelligent and wide-ranging guide’. The key passages from scripture are considered carefully in context.

Memories of Bliss. By Jo Ind (SCM, 2003).


This account of a personal journey is a powerful repudiation of a traditional view that there is a given meaning in any kind of sexual expression. Affirming the bodily and the spiritual, it recognizes as absolute only the love of God, neighbour and self. It is a resource for all struggling to hold together their sexual drive and their religious faith.

Listening to Gay Men and Women’s Experience within the Church (DVD and study booklet produced by the Diocese of York).


This material was produced in the Diocese of York to further the Lambeth listening process. It has already facilitated deep discussion and mutual support within the Diocese. This process is ongoing. At present this material may not be available outside the Diocese of York

If you would like more information, please contact York Diocesan House on 01904 699500.

Listening for the truth in love. A pack of material to enable the Worcester Diocesan Listening Process on Human Sexuality.


This can be downloaded free of charge. The study material is clear and straightforward and contains guidance for group leaders without specific expertise. It includes different approaches to the ‘hard texts’ of Scripture, as well as worship material. The emphasis is on growing in faith.

Living it Out: A Survival Guide for Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Christians and Their Friends, Families and Churches. Edited by Rachel Hagger-Holt and Sarah Hagger-Holt (Canterbury Press, 2009)


As its title suggests, this has been written for anyone who is questioning their sexual identity or is looking for advice, guidance or support over whether or not to come out and where or with whom. One of its many positive attributes is that it draws on the lived experience of over fifty individuals belonging to every denomination from the Salvation Army to high church Anglican. Whatever the spiritual journey of the reader, they cannot fail to be encouraged by the practical, positive help on managing relationships with God, the church and other people. This is one of the few books I would feel confident to place in the hands of a young person – or his/her parents and friends.

You Are Mine: Reflections on Who We Are. By Alison Webster (SPCK, 2009).


This is a subtle and sophisticated exploration the importance of the divine gift of individual identity. Accepting our intended and glorious ‘one-offness’ we can then stretch out to an intimacy with others, thereby alighting the passion of God. Exploring seeming contradictions (unique and like others, consistent and in flux, etc.) that may better be seen as paradoxes, this essay in relational theology will speak to those for whom conventional religion has become stale.

Mother’s Union Resource Pack.


These are sets of notes for four discussions and four Bible studies. They focus on marriage and cohabitation, divorce and remarriage, single and widowed, lesbian and gay sexuality. They provide a good first stage of exploration, and an accessible introduction to the study of relationships in the light of Biblical teaching.


We are Created by God: Exploring our Identity and Relationships:


This is a discussion Booklet focusing on the issues of: Marriage and Cohabitation; Divorce and Further Marriage; Being Single or Widowed; and being Lesbian or Gay. Using case scenarios, prayer, Biblical and statistical information, the issues are presented for people to discuss in a confidential format. The Booklet is not designed to tell readers what they should think, rather to allow them to come to their own conclusions about these issues in the context of their personal faith. There is also a Facilitators Guide for help in facilitating a group.

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