Letters - 30 March 2018

Gender and identity to dressing for breakfast

Gender and identity

We are deeply disturbed by the recent article (2 March) and letters (16 March) about gender and identity.

We were put on this earth to learn to love one another. This demands a profound respect for others and their life experiences, especially when they are different from our own. We are called to learn, not to judge. How might it make people feel if they think Quakers are judging people on the basis of doubtful science and anecdotal evidence, and trivialising real lived experience? Does it witness to our respect for others to treat their sense of identity as if it were a life-style choice?

Further, the writers have chosen to focus on ‘the dangers’, which distracts attention from the heart of the issue, our duty to love. Most transgender and non-binary people are as ethical and loving as we hope to be.

Certainly, things can go wrong: all sorts of people behave badly and all sorts of people are hurt. To take the examples offered by the article, one or two men might dress as women to gain access to women in prison, but equally one or two men might abuse children in our Quaker Meetings and we don’t therefore ban all men from working with children.

A young person might be confused about their identity because of the influence of others, but what of the many who are absolutely clear?

Learning to love one another is endlessly challenging. We hope we may all do better.

Kate Green and thirty-five others

The recent comment piece entitled ‘Gender and identity’ doesn’t reflect the experience of any trans people we know. There’s work for us all to do in understanding gender identity, challenging outdated gender stereotypes and in exploring what it means to be human, regardless of our gender.

Over recent years, our awareness of gender-diverse lives and the need for supportive faith communities has grown. Misrepresentation has a hugely negative impact on trans people’s lives, just as similar prejudice continues to impact on the lives of gay, lesbian and bisexual people around the world. Trans people do not choose their gender identity. They simply seek contentment, instead of confusion and despair.

A year ago we changed our name from the Quaker Lesbian and Gay Fellowship to Quaker Gender and Sexual Diversity Community (QGSDC) to reflect our evolving, inclusive membership. We offer a safe and supportive space for Friends and will continue to explore how the Religious Society of Friends can offer a welcome to all, regardless of gender and sexual identity.

Just to be clear: we are for the equality of all those who face gender and sexual discrimination, including all women.

Mary Aiston, Rob Francis, Yvonne Wood and Zemirah Moffat
Members of the Quaker Gender and Sexual Diversity Community committee

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