Introducing ‘People Not Pronouns’
There was a time in my childhood when I thought I was a girl. I don’t remember much about what else was going on in my life at that point, but I vividly remember the realisation that although everyone thought I was a boy, I was sure that inside I was a girl.
As I grew up, that feeling gradually faded. But it left me with something. It left me with the realisation that it is very possible to feel that inside you are not who you might seem to be. I think this is why when I first learnt about the experience of transgender people, I was instantly interested. This was an experience I had tasted and could fully believe was genuine and powerful. But I also learnt that those impacted by this experience were often misunderstood and sadly sometimes even rejected by Christians. From that point, I set out on a journey of reading, listening, thinking, studying, praying, discussing, and teaching. All of that has led me to write my recently published booklet People Not Pronouns: Reflections on Transgender Experience.
What’s it about?
People Not Pronouns is my attempt to give a short introduction to the topic of transgender and to offer the structure for a rounded Christian engagement with the topic and, especially, with those personally impacted by it. It lays down the challenge that we as Christians need to be careful to see the people behind the debates. We need to remember the people, not just the pronouns.
The booklet looks at three key elements of Christian engagement with transgender: a heart response – how we should feel about trans people; a head response – how we should think about transgender experience, and a hope response – how we can bring hope to those who experience gender dysphoria.
Within these chapters, I discuss topics such as how we can put love and compassion into action, the importance of understanding how identity is formed, what it means to live as a man or a woman, the impact of gender stereotypes, and the ways that we as Christians are uniquely equipped both to handle suffering in our own lives and to support others who are suffering.
I hope the booklet will prove a useful starting point for Christians who want to engage well with transgender people and with the broader cultural discussion about the topic.
What others are saying
According to a recent survey by Dr Wilson, a small majority of people find book endorsements ‘useful/informative’, so, for the sake of that group, here’s what a few people have said about People Not Pronouns. (For those interested, each of these people have read the booklet and not all of them are close friends!)
‘For all who shudder at the thought that “those who experience gender dysphoria and who come to follow Jesus are a gift from God to the church”, this brave book by a pastor who is himself such a gift, is for you.’
Dr. Trevor Stammers
Chair of Christian Medical Fellowship 2007-2011 and former Associate Professor of Bioethics and Medical Law
‘Talk around the topic of transgender rarely offers clarity for the Christian or hope for the men and women living with this physical/identity discordance. Until now. Andrew Bunt has managed to strip away the noise and present a clear foundation on which all believers can stand. Under the headings, A Heart Response, A Head Response, and A Hope Response, Andrew presents a Christ-like reaction and faith-filled remedy to this complex and often distressing experience.’
Speaker and author
‘Andrew reflects on transgender experience with compassion and wisdom and I found his integration of head, heart and hope compelling. People frequently ask me what to read about trans from a Christian perspective, and this booklet will now be my new go-to recommendation!’
Principal of Trinity College Bristol and author of The Only Way is Ethics
‘If you have ever considered anything to do with “transgender” as too difficult, and best avoided read People Not Pronouns. If you know anyone who could do with a good introduction to a complex reality in our contemporary world, suggest they read People Not Pronouns.
‘Andrew Bunt writes about people with real suffering, he explains the lived experience of gender dysphoria, and he calls us to love those who so self-identify with all the love and truth of God.
‘For any of us with pastoral responsibility or for anyone in the body of Christ struggling with “perfect love casting out fear”, People not Pronouns will help us know more fully the reality of that perfect love.’
National Director of the Church of England Evangelical Council and former Bishop of Birkenhead
‘An admirably succinct, practical and compassionate introduction to how Christians can and should respond to transgender people in their congregations and communities. Andrew helpfully lays out the heart response, the head response (the order of these is important) and the hope response that we can and must offer, along with a helpful examination of how we discern and live out our identity. This short booklet is an invaluable resource for all believers as they seek to discern how God would have them respond to the people behind the pronouns.’
Head of Public Policy at the Christian Medical Fellowship
‘Andrew Bunt writes with a brilliant combination of deep sensitivity and deep insight, of honesty about his own testimony and honesty about the answers that the Bible brings. Andrew is proclaimer of Christian hope into an arena where many Christians feel tongue-tied and confused. I would heartily recommend this booklet to anybody who wants to learn to pastor transgender people with the truth, love and grace of Jesus.’
Author of the ‘Straight to the Heart’ series of Bible commentaries