The story of Pete Benjamin, a Christian Concern supporter living with transgender regret, went public in The Sunday Times in October 2019. He credited his local church with giving him what he calls a “true Christian welcome”, even though the church did not actively affirm his gender confusion. Instead, the support from his local church community helped him to leave behind his old life as ‘Victoria’ and find his true identity in Christ as Pete.
Pete’s local church pastor, Rev. Chris Wickland, has explained how the church was able to help and encourage Pete to transition back to living as a man after suffering depression and suicidal thoughts throughout the seven years he identified as ‘Victoria’. “This was a person that was hurting,” said Chris, “we basically treated him with love and respect.”
The power of prayer
The church began praying for Pete, praying especially that he would embrace his identity in Christ, as a son of God and a new creation (2 Cor 5:17). A few months later, in April 2019, he was challenged by a Christian lady he knew – but who only knew Pete as Victoria. She asked him who Peter was. It was that night that Pete experienced radical change after going home to pray over what the woman had spoken: “I started packing away all the women’s clothes. I put them all into bags.”
The next day Pete went back to his church. Chris explains what happened: “That night, he came in not as Victoria, but as Peter. I didn’t know what was going on – I could see he wasn’t dressed in women’s clothing. But towards the end of the evening, he came up and said that God has been talking to him about various things and that he’d decided to become Peter.”
Counsel from prayer and the Bible
Chris explains how the support from the church didn’t simply stop after Pete had decided to de-transition. They continued praying for him and with him, speaking truth over him and giving him time to learn and grow. Reflecting back on Pete’s journey, Chris explains: “he’s just gone from strength to strength.”
Reliance on prayer and the authority of the Bible is what Chris says they based their support on: “The word of God is the answer to pretty much everything. To make an impact on people’s lives, yes, you need good counsellors. But there’s no counsellor like the Holy Spirit, who is the Counsellor. There’s no one that can set people free quite like Jesus can.”
Churches must be prepared to support gender confused people
Pete’s story is not the only one of transgender regret. Most recently, author and criminologist Richard Hoskins has spoken out about his own transgender regret, calling for more support for those who suffer gender confusion. He believes that not enough is currently being done to address previous traumas of people who present as having gender confusion; rather people are being rushed through the system and declared as transgender.
A wave of workers from the NHS Tavistock Clinic have resigned over the last year over fears that children are being rushed through the gender clinic. Most recently, former psychoanalytic psychotherapist at the Tavistock Clinic, Sue Evans, resigned over worries that children were being given experimental drugs after “just a handful” of consultation sessions with a nurse or doctor. Her husband, Marcus Evans, previously Governor of the Tavistock Clinic, explained that children especially need better support rather than to be rushed through ‘gender treatment’ that they may later regret.
Pete Benjamin has issued high praise for his church and the support they gave him and believes churches must be ready to offer support to those who are struggling with gender confusion: “If [my church] hadn’t been praying for me, I would still be living as Victoria, depressed and suicidal.”
Personal experience of the power of prayer
Rev. Chris has also experienced the power of prayer. He recently needed prayer when he was admitted to hospital after his heart stopped for fifteen minutes.
While out with his children at a trampoline park, Chris collapsed and stopped breathing. While centre staff administered CPR, his daughter contacted his wife who told the children “to pray for him immediately.” Speaking to Premier, Chris explained: “Then immediately my wife put it out onto the prayer network and our churches, and it hit social media and just went out everywhere. So, lots of other churches picked it up and started praying.”
After the fourth defibrillator shock, Chris began breathing again, but had to be taken to hospital and placed in an induced coma.
“For the next several days we had literally hundreds of Christians all over the world and churches praying for us… Then on Sunday morning, while still in a coma, my home church were praying for me and as they were praying corporately, the phone call came through from my wife saying that he’s just woken up and the church were kind of crying and rejoicing.”
Chris’ recovery is nothing short of a miracle. Just two days later, he was discharged from intensive care and sent home with no outstanding health issues. He believes that what “brought me back fully corpus mentis is the prayer of Christians. I shouldn’t be here … It’s the power of prayer.”