C.Burns: Trans Britain. (Part 8)

Rev Christine Beardsley

Beardsley is a gay male who is in a long-standing relationship but came out as “trans” in his forties. Regular readers will know that I am generally more able to find empathy with homosexuals who claim a “trans” identity. Sometimes this may lead to less objectivity and I think my reaction to Beardsley is somewhat conflicted because of my own love, for my son. Bear this in mind while reading.

As a young boy he explains that he was a very effeminate boy. I prefer to use the phrase “variant in how he expressed his masculinity” because “camp” behaviour bears little relationship to how most women behave. Women are not a “drag” costume. We exist.

Where I can express sympathy is for the little boy who knew he had disappointed his father.

Clearly this would have been distressing for a little boy shamed by crushing expectations of conformity with male sex stereotypes and then compounded by a growing awareness he was homosexual. At some point he clearly internalised that his natural inclinations were at odds with societal expectations but he also internalised the sex stereotypes as “real” which then emerges as a cross-sex identification. This is in direct conflict with a feminist project to dismantle expectations based on sex (sexism). An early history of cross dressing, in secret, must have placed intolerable pressure on him as a young boy.

I have slightly less sympathy for an adult man who refuses to look at the harm being done to the female sex. This is something I struggle with in respect of my son. I know that part of his condition began with horror at the negative experiences of women and girls, at the hands of men. However, as the impact of this ideology, on women, unfolds where is the empathy for the sex he identifies “as”? Beardsley was forty-six when his “gender identity” issues became overwhelming. He had already entered the priest hood; in a time when women were barred. This was prior to the impact on women, girls and our gay boys that we see today. At what point is it reasonable to expect someone to disassociate themselves from this harm? I think now would be a good time because every day that passes implicates any man, who claims to be women, in the harms being caused to the female sex and the children being sterilised in the name of this new religion.

His long term husband is, reportedly, supportive of his “transition”, though we don’t have his direct testimony. Having already been with him for 25 years. It is not clear if he had always been aware of his partner’s inner turmoil. The language of “true” self always raises alarms for me because it sounds quite cult like. I also find men who do this in later years, who seem overly invested in childhood medical interventions, a tad problematic. I wonder also how much his religious sensibilities play in his flight from his sex.

He takes on a tour of his growing awareness of “trans” as a boy. Virginia Prince was an early activist who remains a controversial figure in the LGBTQ community as he is on record as against “sex reassignment surgery”. April Ashley figures as does Julia Grant. He also shares a book, subsequently made into a film, I had not heard of before. Superb title: I want what I want.

As I write this film is available on YouTube. Link below. 👇

I want what I want

What Beardsley wanted to see were images of ordinary “transsexuals” and he makes an extraordinary statement about what attracted him to the priesthood. Conflating priests with women because they don’t “go out to work” and have “soft hands” and some had “high pitched voices”. 😳. The deployment of these, rather sexist stereotypes a very old fashioned and undermine the feminist project to break down these expectations on the female sex. At the same time did a small boy internalise these beliefs in such a way that he has never been able to break free? And if that is true do women have any responsibility to accommodate these males at a cost to ourselves? The answer is no.

Beardsley claims the Church of England used to be a less hostile place for gay, male, priest until the late 1970’s. At that time a more Christian Evangelical group were committed to purging gay priests from the Church of England. For Beardsley he was keeping another secret in how he perceived himself.

Eventually he had an epiphany about God’s love which lead him to come out to his congregation. He was both “coming out” and remaining in the closet as he makes clear below. Notice he also describes his experience, at a dance class, 👇 as being with “other women”.

Following changes in the law and the support of Press For Change, Liberty and a Christian organisation Sybil, Beardsley came out as “transgender”.

You can read the Gender Reassignment Regulations (1999) here:

Gender Reassignment Regulations (1999)

I am not legally trained but, whilst the intention may have been to protect occupation requirements that only a natal woman can perform certain roles I imagine some of the wording can be used to argue the opposite. As we have seen women’s rights to be able to reject a trans-identifying man in their spaces have been eroded following this shift and the 2004 Gender Recognition Act.

As an aside the Clare Project remains in operation to this day and has obtained funding from the National Lottery, local council the NHS as well as LGBT organisations.

As you would expect, from a Reverend there is a lot of discussion in respect of the position of the Church of England to a “transition” and other Vicars who have taken the same route are named along the way. I won’t detain you with the details but if you are interested in this you can listen to this discussion.

Christina Beardsley & Preston Sprinkle

The only comments I will make on this podcast relate to Beardsley’s faith, misplaced in my view, in the World Professional Association on Transgender Health (WPATH) and the NHS on the treatment of Gender Dysphoria in the modern era. This discussion predates the closure of the Tavistock and the interim Cass report. At the same time coverage of the impact of Puberty Blockers predates this interview. Beardsley is also skeptical about the phenomenon of Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria, denies that young people are being rushed into transition and is in favour of a bill that would ban therapeutic approaches to gender dysphoria. There is also a good discussion about how it looks like gender medicine is over reliant on old fashioned sexist stereotypes. Preston Sprinkle seems to have considered the situation quite deeply and is aware of the rising rates of detransitioners. Beardsley also thinks concern about a lack of caution in transitioning our kids is a fantasy. It’s fair to say that no consensus was reached but it was a calm and compassionate exchange. I think as the medical scandal unfolds Beardsley will regret this stance. I did reach out to Tina for comment on this view.

The next chapter looks at landmarks in trans-activism.

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