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Church of England Has No Official Definition of a Woman

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The Church Of England (COE) has stated that there is “no official definition” of a woman, with a senior Bishop saying the term was previously self-evident, but now additional care is needed.

In July, The General Synod (pdf), the Church’s legislative body of the COE, was taking questions amid an ongoing debate regarding transgender issues, and sex-specific designations.

Adam Kendry, a lay member of the Synod and a representative of the Royal Navy asked, “What is the Church of England’s definition of a woman?”


In response, British Anglican bishop Dr. Robert Innes, the chief pastor of the Diocese in Europe, said that “there is no official definition.”

“There is no official definition, which reflects the fact that until fairly recently definitions of this kind were thought to be self-evident, as reflected in the marriage liturgy,” he said.

“The LLF project however has begun to explore the complexities associated with gender identity and points to the need for additional care and thought to be given in understanding our commonalities and differences as people made in the image of God,” added Innes.

The Living in Love and Faith (LLF) project aims to tackle “how questions around identity, sexuality, gender, relationships, and marriage” fit with the COE.

“These divisions have come into sharper focus because of society’s changing perspectives and practices, especially in relation to lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual, and intersex people,” it wrote.

The General Synod considers and approves legislation affecting the whole of the COE, formulates new forms of worship, debates matters of national and international importance, and approves the annual budget for the work of the Church at a national level.

Journalist and commentator Calvin Robinson wrote on Twitter: “The definition of ‘woman’ is not a complex moral problem. It is a scientific and biblical truth. How can you trust someone who cannot speak the truth about such basic facts?”

Robinson has been critical of the measures that the COE has taken to solve its “deeply institutionally racist” problem, which is a view held by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby.

In May, he told The Epoch Times that he believed that the COE was “more focused on divisive left-wing critical race theory, instead of the teachings of Christ.”

In 2021, Welby instigated the Racial Justice Commission to respond to and “root out systemic racism” in the COE, which was established last year after the Black Lives Matter protests.

It called for mandatory training in all dioceses to embed anti-racism practice, and for full-time racial justice officers to be employed in every diocese for a five-year term.

More Potential Commissions

During the same Synod July meeting, a member called upon the Church to do a similar undertaking to find if the Church is “institutionally homophobic,” opening the door for more potential commissions.

Alexander Berry (Leeds) asked the Chair of the House of Bishops: “The House of Bishops has rightly publicly declared that the Church is institutionally racist. Will the House of Bishops now begin a similar process, possibly including a report, to discern whether the Church is institutionally homophobic?”

The Bishop of London said that if a “process similar to the Racial Justice Commission” were to be initiated that it would be decided early next year.

Owen Evans


Owen Evans is a UK-based journalist covering a wide range of national stories, with a particular interest in civil liberties and free speech.

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