Five years ago, I delivered a plenary address titled “What Would Jesus Say to Caitlyn Jenner?” According to many Christians, the first thing he’d say is “Hiya, Bruce!” For example, Robert Gagnon defends the view that using the preferred pronouns and name for a transgender person constitutes blasphemy against God: by referring to Jenner as “Caitlyn” and using female-gendered pronouns in reference to Jenner, Gagnon believes that one is thereby rejecting God’s created design for Jenner and thus is blaspheming.
I don’t see things that way. On the contrary, it seems to me that the only thing at stake here is hospitality. To illustrate, imagine that Pastor Jones’ son Paul converts to Islam in university. When he returns home for Christmas he tells his dad, “My new name is Muhammad.” Pastor Jones believes that his son has made a terrible mistake and that his soul is now imperiled. But acceding to the request by calling his son “Muhammad” is not blasphemy against God or Jesus. Rather, it is simply accommodating to his son by extending hospitality. Meanwhile, insisting that he will only call his son “Paul” is only likely to alienate and anger his son.
By the same token, it seems to me that there is no credible charge of blasphemy at all in using the preferred name and pronouns of an individual. Rather, that is simply a matter of courtesy, of hospitality. And refusing to extend that hospitality will only burn bridges rather than build them. In short, choose your battles and this should not be one of them.