The Church of England must "step up" to "halt" the spread of transgender ideology in schools, says a man who had a sex change to become a woman before experiencing regret and detransitioning.
Peter Benjamin, 61, was today sharing his experience of sex change regret at a fringe event at the Church of England General Synod organised by Christian Concern CEO, Andrea Minichiello Williams.
Speaking ahead of the event, Benjamin said he was concerned about the use of books in schools like "10,000 Dresses", about a boy called Bailey who dreams of wearing dresses.
"Today when I see and hear of books being read to children in schools such as '10,000 Dresses', I see the same influence that led me to this harmful addiction," he said.
"More must be done to protect our children, not to encourage them to pursue the same destructive path that I have had.
"Children are impressionable, the government can't see what harm they are doing, and neither can the Department for Education. The Church of England therefore must step up and halt this influence before it's too late."
Benjamin was first prescribed with drugs and hormones to live as a woman in 2012, at a time when he says he was struggling with serious mental health issues. In 2015, he underwent full gender reassignment surgery.
Despite his sex change, he suffered from depression and turned to drink. He found peace when in 2019, after attending his local church, he became a Christian and reverted to living as a man again.
He fears that exposing children to transgenderism will only encourage them to think that they are transgender.
"Parents are now openly allowing their children to be exposed to the transgender agenda as they think if they don't allow it, their children will be depressed or become mentally ill. It's not true," he said.
"When I was 5 or 6, I had no thought of becoming a girl. It wasn't until I was exposed to men in dresses at cabaret shows that my mind went that way.
"My message from my experience is that the transgender life, even surgery itself, did not solve my problem and led me to misery, suicidal thoughts and depression. This needs to be the Church of England's message too."
Also attending the fringe event was James Caspian, an experienced psychotherapist whose MA research proposal on detransitioning was turned down by Bath Spa University. He is challenging that decision in the Court of Appeal.
"To be well informed about this issue is important for everyone who has an interest in the wellbeing of human beings, but particularly for a national institution which has considerable influence and an ethical duty to seek the truth, even in the face of criticism, and in order to retain its integrity," he said.
Ms Minichiello Williams, who is a lay member of the General Synod, accused the Church of England of "blindly following" the prevailing transgender ideology.
"The elites within the Church of England have rushed to preach 'radical inclusion' when it comes to transgender matters," she said.
"They have authorised the use of existing liturgy to celebrate a person's gender transition and issued guidance to schools that encourages gender confusion.
"But the evidence is piling up that the rush to prescribe puberty blockers and perform cross-sex surgery is leading to a great deal of dissatisfaction, regret and harm.
"James and Pete have important stories that the Church of England needs to hear and learn from. The Church needs to remember that although we are all broken from the effects of sin, our true rest is only found through faith in Jesus and by following his good teaching.
"Blindly following ideologies that are contrary to God's ways isn't genuine love but a tragic imitation, causing much pain."