SALT LAKE CITY — SALT LAKE CITY – Transgender advocates hope for progress following the release of a new Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ handbook, which outlines transgender roles within the church.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released a new handbook Wednesday, replacing the previous two handbooks.
The new handbook is 38-chapters long, including 9-chapters that were rewritten and a chapter that was updated and changed.
Within the pages and pages of E-text, church members and leaders find policies and instructions to help guide them in church teachings.
“If you take a look at the handbook over the last hundred years, it’s been evolving from administrative procedures to a more ministerial voice,” LDS Church Elder, Anthony D. Perkins said in a pre-recorded interview released by the church.
But amid all the changes, additions and revisions, one section is gaining a lot of attention – Chapter 38, section 6, sub-section 21.
A new policy on transgender individuals.
“We’ve had an increase in questions coming from bishops and stake presidents saying, ‘Well, what can a transgender person do? What are the guidelines?’” Perkins said.
The new policy aims to set those questions straight (read the policy in its entirety below).
“The transgender policy states that everyone is welcome to attend our meetings and we should create a warm welcoming environment for all, including persons who identify as transgender,” Perkins said. “At the same time, the policy clarifies that some things in the church are gender-specific.”
According to the policy, transgender people can be baptized, confirmed, take part in sacrament and receive priesthood blessings.
However, when it comes to priesthood ordination or temple ordinances, the church said it will be based on the gender assigned at birth.
In the policy, the church also counsels against sex reassignment surgeries and social transitioning — individuals who do so would face ‘church membership restrictions’ including the ability to receive priesthood, a temple recommend and some church callings.
The policy also states transgender members may be called by their preferred name in their ward.
Seems simple enough, right? Well, those with the transgender community say that’s part of the problem.
“It’s a lot more complicated than that,” said Candice Metzler, the Executive Director with Transgender Education Advocates of Utah, also known as TEA.
“There’s some awareness there and there’s an encouragement of a welcoming environment… I think there’s still a lot of kind of misperceptions that are still out there that might make people feel a little less safe,” MetzlerA. “All transgender people don’t identify as someone of the opposite sex.
Still, she said the discussion is welcomed.
“Creating a welcome space will go a long way,” Metzler said.
She just hopes it will continue.
“We’re not just purely male or purely female and when we get to an understanding of that, I think we’ll really start pulling this apart,” said Metzler.
The church also added a new ‘transgender portion’ to their website.
The new e-handbook can be found online. The church said an online platform will allow them to re-visit and update the guidelines and policies as needed.