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The Experience of Gender Incongruity in the Christian Church: A Qualitative Study

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This study was designed to understand the interaction between Christian faith and gender incongruence. An anonymous online survey was advertised to the Australian Christian community. Individuals with first-hand experience of transgender issues were eligible to participate. There were 122 eligible responses. This paper describes the experience of the 30 participants experiencing gender incongruence. Persons in the church experiencing gender incongruence desired to hold onto faith. As a result, they experienced a tension between the desire to remain in the church, and the desire to live congruously with their gender, which could lead to expulsion. Strategies to reconcile these two factors varied.

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The authors would like to thank Rev Rob Smith and Dr Andrew Dunstall for their assistance.


This study was funded by the Social Issues Committee of the Anglican Diocese of Sydney.

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Correspondence to Megan Best.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

The study was ethically approved by the Notre Dame University of Australia Human Research Ethics Committee (RN-017028S) and conducted in accordance with the ethical standards as laid down in the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki.

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Appendix 1: Survey

Appendix 1: Survey

  1. 1.

    Could you please explain your experience with gender identity issues?

  2. 2.

    How have your Christian beliefs and faith impacted the way you deal with gender identity issues?

  3. 3.

    How has your Christian life been impacted by the way you deal with gender identity issues?

  4. 4.

    What and/or who have you found helpful? (Please don't use actual names)

  5. 5.

    What and/or who has made your experience more difficult? (Please don't use actual names)

  6. 6.

    Has the topic of gender identity been addressed at your church? Y/N

  7. 7.

    If it is addressed, how is it done? (Choose all applicable answers)

    • Sermon

    • Bible study

    • Informal discussion

    • Seminar

    • Other (please specify)

  8. 8.

    What do you think the Bible says about gender identity and transgender?

  9. 9.

    Is your view the view of your church? Y/N

  10. 10.

    What information do you wish you had before you encountered gender identity issues?

  11. 11.

    Is there anything else you would like to add to help the church engage in a helpful way with those experiencing gender identity issues?

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Best, M., Weerakoon, P. The Experience of Gender Incongruity in the Christian Church: A Qualitative Study. J Relig Health 60, 4029–4044 (2021).

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