Last week, the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists (GC) released a statement on “Transgenderism.” It is important to note that this is a “statement,” not a policy or even a list of doctrinal guidelines. Under the executive leadership of the current General Conference President Ted Wilson, and General Vice President of the Seventh-Day Adventist World Church Artur A. Stele, a team from the Biblical Research Institute presented an official statement of the Seventh-day Adventist church’s position. The statement was voted on and approved by the Executive Community of the GC.
According to Wilson, the statement has gone through 21 revisions, indicating the difficulty of finalizing this statement. The complete statement can be viewed from the following link: www.scribd.com/document/344973332/Statement-on-Transgenderism#from_embed.
The document, according to a story on the Adventist News Network, was forged by “ethicists, Biblical scholars, theologians, sociologists, psychologists and members of the medical community.” The statement acknowledges the “uniqueness” of the challenges that transgender individuals face, while admitting “the limitation of our knowledge in specific instances.”
By defining key terms like “gender identity,” “hermaphroditism,” “intersexualism,” and “sex,” the statement provides an educational stance, giving insight into how complications may arise with labeling. Also, the statement mentioned how transgenderism may arise: “On the mental-emotional level misalignment occurs with transgender people whose sexual anatomy is clearly male or female but who identify with the opposite gender of their biological sex. They may describe themselves as being trapped in a wrong body. Transgenderism, formerly clinically diagnosed as “gender identity disorder” and now termed “gender dysphoria,” may be understood as a general term to describe the variety of ways individuals interpret and express their gender identity differently from those who determine gender on the basis of biological sex.”
The statement also reiterates the church’s long-standing position that “any sexual activity outside of heterosexual marriage [is] a sin”. The statement clarifies that, “although gender dysphoria is not intrinsically sinful, it may result in sinful choices.”
After this explanation, the article informed its audience that “the desire to change or live as a person of another gender may result in biblically inappropiate lifestyle choices” such as: cross-dressing and sexual reassignment surgery.
To elaborate on this and to increase awareness of the needs and challenges of transgender men and women, ten biblical principles were listed relating to sexuality and the transgender “phenomenon.” God created man and woman, “respectively identified as male and female in terms of gender.” The statement continues explaining the Bible doesn’t endorse dualism between “one’s body and one’s sense of sexuality” and “the fact that some individuals claim a gender identity incompatible with their biological sex reveals a serious dichotomy.”
The statement clearly states that transgender people are accepted in the Seventh-day Adventist Church as long as they are “committed to ordering their lives according to the biblical teachings on sexuality and marriage.” The document claims, however, that while the Bible “cautions transgender people against sex reassignment surgery and against marriage,” that any act of ridicule or hate demonstrated towards transgender individuals are “incompatible with the biblical commandment, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”