As Bruce Jenner announces a new public identity as Caitlyn Jenner in June’s Vanity Fair, how do Christians react to transitioning individuals?
In a Vanity Fair article and cover shoot, Caitlyn Jenner is publicly leaving behind her identity as Bruce and announcing herself to the world. Originally gaining fame as an Olympic athlete, Bruce Jenner is most recently notable for being the step-father in the Kardashian family. However, in April, Bruce Jenner appeared on 20/20 for an interview with Diane Sawyer where he told the world that he has considered himself a woman for a long time. Now, Bruce Jenner has cast aside that public persona and presented the world with his new identity as Caitlyn Jenner. In the Vanity Fair interview about her journey, Caitlyn admitted, “If I was lying on my deathbed and I had kept this secret and never ever did anything about it, I would be lying there saying, ‘You just blew your entire life.’”
According to Hollowverse, a site that tracks celebrity religious and political affiliations, Bruce Jenner was a Christian. Although he was relatively quiet in his faith, he did attend regular services at the non-denominational Calvary Community Church with his wife. He even helped her fund another non-denominational Christian church, the Life Change Community Church.
I'm so happy after such a long struggle to be living my true self. Welcome to the world Caitlyn. Can't wait for you to get to know her/me.
— Caitlyn Jenner (@Caitlyn_Jenner) June 1, 2015
After the Diane Sawyer interview, some Christians responded to Bruce Jenner’s coming out as a woman preaching that people should not alter what God has made natural. Most notably, Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, wrote an article telling his faithful how to react to such a situation. He starts by reminding everyone to consider those going through gender transitions as neighbors and not to mock them. He then continues encouraging Jenner not to undergo body alterations and to keep God’s natural order. Praising biological identification, Moore explains how our “given gender points us to an even deeper reality—to the unity and complementarity of Christ and the church.”
However, not all Christians are so adamant about preventing identity transitions. Rev. Chris Newlands of the Church of England has proposed to the Church’s General Synod a new ceremony specifically for persons transitioning their identities. The ceremony would be a kind of new baptism for the individual to reaffirm their faith after presenting a new identity. Rev. Newlands came up with the idea for the new ceremony after a young transgender person wanted to be “re-baptised” after transitioning his identity. After performing the ceremony for the young individual, Rev. Newlands said it was “an affirmation of baptismal vows where we could introduce him to God with his new name and his new identity.”