A photo capturing a diverse group of individuals, each holding a Bible, symbolizing the inclusive message of love, acceptance, and understanding towards transgender individuals according to biblical teachings.

What Does The Bible Say About Transgender People?

In today’s society, transgender rights and identities have become a major topic of discussion and debate. Many transgender people face discrimination, bullying, and lack of understanding. For Christians seeking to understand what the Bible teaches about gender identity and transgender people, this can be a difficult issue to work through.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: The Bible does not directly address transgender identities as we understand them today. However, it does teach that all people are made in God’s image and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.

The Bible’s Limited Understanding of Gender Diversity

Ancient Views on Gender Were More Rigid

The Bible was written thousands of years ago in cultures with more rigid views on gender than we have today. Gender roles were strongly associated with biological sex. Anything outside of the male-female binary was not understood or accepted in biblical times.

For example, in the Old Testament, Deuteronomy 22:5 condemns cross-dressing: “A woman shall not wear a man’s garment, nor shall a man put on a woman’s cloak, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord your God.”

This shows that ancient Israelites saw gender as binary and unchanging – a man dressing as a woman was considered sinful.

The New Testament also reflects ancient assumptions that gender aligns strictly with biological sex. Jesus refers to “male and female” in Matthew 19:4, implying only two genders. Overall, the Bible lacks the modern understanding that gender identity can be complex, fluid and disconnected from biological sex.

No Direct Mention of Transgender Identities

Since transgender identity was not acknowledged in biblical cultures, the Bible does not directly address transgender people. There are no biblical examples of individuals transitioning to live as a different gender.

Some passages are occasionally used to argue against transgender identity, like Deuteronomy 23:1 which prohibits eunuchs from entering the Lord’s assembly. However, this refers to castrated males, not transgender individuals.

The Bible simply does not envision the transgender experiences we are familiar with today.

This does not mean the Bible condemns transgender people. The Bible was written for its cultural context, long before modern gender theory. Its authors could not have imagined the transgender identities we recognize today. So while the Bible assumes two distinct biological sexes, it does not directly address those who identify outside of them.

Verses on Men’s and Women’s Roles

Gender Complementarianism

The Bible outlines distinct yet complementary roles and responsibilities for men and women in passages such as 1 Corinthians 11:3 which states that “the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.”

This view is known as gender complementarianism and sees men and women as equal before God yet having different biblical functions in the church and home.

Key verses used to support gender complementarianism include:

  • Ephesians 5:22-24 – Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord…
  • 1 Timothy 2:11-15 – A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or have authority over a man; she must be silent.
  • Titus 2:3-5 – Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands so that no one will malign the word of God.

These and other passages lead some Christians to believe God created men and women differently, with separate roles and responsibilities especially within church leadership and marriage relationships.

Interpretations Vary

There are varying views on gender roles within Christianity. Some Christian denominations ordain women as pastors and leaders over men based on passages such as Galatians 3:28 which states that “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Interpretations differ based on factors like:

  • How one views the cultural and historical context of various biblical passages
  • Whether passages were meant as universal doctrine versus practical local advice to specific churches at the time
  • General biblical principles related to equality, mutual submission, and being “joint heirs of the grace of life” (1 Peter 3:7)

There are also differences in applying biblical gender roles to modern transgender identities and experiences that may not have been explicitly addressed when the biblical texts were written.

In the end, earnest Christians can reasonably arrive at different conclusions on this complex issue. The most important thing is to “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15) when discussing different views.

Everyone Is Made in God’s Image

All People Have Worth and Dignity

The Bible teaches that all human beings are created in the image of God and therefore have inherent worth and dignity (Genesis 1:27). This applies to people of all genders, gender identities, and sexual orientations. Their identity comes from God, not from their appearance or behavior.

Jesus set an example of recognizing the dignity in all people, including those rejected by society.

As the Apostle Paul wrote, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). Our differences in identity do not define our worth. God sees each person’s immutable value.

So the church should be welcoming and affirming to transgender people, as we would welcome anyone seeking to know God.

Jesus Showed Radical Acceptance

During his ministry on earth, Jesus modeled compassion to those marginalized by society. He treated women, children, lepers, Samaritans, and Gentiles with equal love and respect. His example challenges Christians to evaluate their own prejudices and fear of those different from themselves.

Christians seeking to live Christlike lives should ask: Do we only show hospitality to those like us, or do we welcome everyone? Are we willing to listen and understand experiences different from our own? Do we impose conditions upon God’s grace?

The gospel calls followers of Jesus to radical hospitality, empathy, and acceptance of all people.

How Christians Can Show Compassion

Listen Before Judging

When interacting with transgender people, it is important for Christians to listen first and refrain from rushing to judge. We all have stories and experiences that shape who we are. Seeking to understand where someone is coming from exhibits empathy. LISTEN to their journey. ASK thoughtful questions.

SHOW that they are heard. Research from The Williams Institute finds that about 0.6% of U.S. adults identify as transgender. While some Christians may not agree with transgender identity, we can still show respect and compassion as fellow humans.

Proverbs 18:13 says “To answer before listening – that is folly and shame.”

Focus on Shared Humanity

Despite differences, all people share a common humanity. Every person is made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). When conversations become contentious, refocus on our shared human desires to be known and loved.

Sara shares a helpful perspective, “We can recognize our commonalities while still telling the truth. We share basic needs – to be seen, known and valued.” Look beyond single issues to see whole people. Ask God for eyes to see the innate dignity in each person.

Consider what life experiences and societal pressures may be shaping their perspectives. Demonstrate grace and patience in discussion. Our shared humanity provides common ground for mutual understanding.

Examine Personal Biases

Introspection helps reveal subconscious biases that color our thinking. Reflect on your beliefs about gender – where did they originate? Have your views changed over time? The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders states that gender identity incongruence is not in itself a mental disorder.

Gender is complex. While Scripture presents God’s design at creation as male and female, human experience reflects a spectrum. Be open to nuance. Consider whether traditional church teaching has marginalized those with variant gender identity. Let examination lead to empathy.

Philippians 2:3-4 (NIV) instructs, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”


The debate within Christianity around transgender identities is complex, without simple answers. While the Bible’s view of gender roles does not directly address transgender people, its timeless principles emphasize human dignity, compassion, and acceptance.

As Christians seek to understand and support transgender people in their lives, focusing on these Christ-like virtues is the most faithful way forward.

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