Christians called to check their language towards trans community following new report

A Church of England theologian is calling on Christians to consider how to "disagree in love" after a new report highlighted transgender people are being treated "inhumanely" online.

A new study by anti-bullying charity Ditch The Label, shows slurs against trans people are the most common used terms of online abuse.

Figures revealed more 1.5 million of online posts were anti-trans.

10 million posts from across the UK and the US were analysed on the topic from 2015- 2019.

 

Data revealed the insult "tranny" was used more than 1.2 million times in the past three and a half years, accounting for 80% of the insults studied while "Shemale" was mentioned 150,000 times.

Dr Ian Paul, a theologian and Church of England minister told Premier the internet has become a breeding ground for harmful and hateful language due to its impersonal nature.

"Social media seems to give people permission to be insulting and to criticise people in really harmful ways," he said.

"When I say something, which people will disagree with, it seems people have no qualms about virtually walking up to me as a stranger, insulting me and then walking away."

Transphobic themes highlighted in the study also included mis-gendering people - labelling somebody as a gender that they do not identify as.

Paul says it's important to distinguish between a difference of opinion and language that is deemed hateful, particularly when it comes to sexuality or identity politics.

"I've had a debate face to face with someone who's a national campaigner for the change on the Church's view on same-sex relationships and that person said to me face to face, if you hold the traditional view that is "hateful" to gay people. Now it seemed in the colour of the language of identity politics, to simply disagree with someone is perceived as hateful," he said.

Paul says it should be expected that people will disagree on what defines a person's gender as for some "it's simply a biological argument" and it's important not to assume "hatred" when it isn't there but stressed that as Christians we have a responsibility to disagree well and ensure our language is loving.

"We're not going to persuade anybody to change their minds if we don't treat them with respect.

"Giving people support doesn't necessarily mean agreeing with the particular cultural and philosophical claims they're making, but they need support and we need to communicate that."

Paul suggested that Christians need to strike the balance between being gracious in their language and well-informed on important issues and warned against simply "agreeing to disagree" on difficult matters.

"We need to find ways of actually establishing reality, points of contact with research and with evidence, where we can have a sensible debate about this issue, because we're getting to the stage now where young people particularly are getting seriously confused about fundamental issues around biological sex, and simply agreeing to disagree is actually going to sew more confusion.

 

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