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Jason Reed/Daily Dot

LGBTQ Christians are using Instagram to protest the ex-gay, ex-trans movement

Christians are divided on doctrine—and the stakes are high.


Heather Stewart


Posted on Jan 21, 2023   Updated on Jan 23, 2023, 7:24 am CST

Last year saw the LGBTQ nightclub shooting in Colorado Springs, Colorado; a record-breaking number of anti-trans bills; the murder of at least 34 trans people according to the Human Rights Campaign Foundation; and 14% of LGBTQ youth attempting suicide, according to the Trevor Project

Two church-oriented organizations, both primarily existing on Instagram, have responded to the growing representation of (and growing violence against) LGBTQ communities in polar opposite ways. 

The Changed Movement is an online network that claims to support Christians in affirming their religion—and “leave” their LGBTQ identity. On the other end of the spectrum is the Unchanged Movement, which was created in protest of Changed and provides a platform for people to embrace both their Christianity and their non-cisgender and/or non-heterosexual identities. 

While the Changed Movement has a larger following and, in some ways, a louder voice, its smaller opponent has data and possibly even theology on its side.

Vitriol against the queer community has been building for a while: Micah Melody Taberner, the program coordinator for Transmission Ministry Collective (TMC), said she thinks conservative, non-affirming Christians shifted their target to the trans community after the U.S. legalized gay marriage in 2015. 

TMC is an online community of trans and “gender-expansive” Christians, which refers to nonbinary and precolonial gender identities. 

“The movement of anti-trans legislation is concerning to many people in our community, whether it’s fear, sadness, anger or frustration,” Taberner told the Daily Dot. 

In the past four years, U.S. legislators have passed 39 anti-trans bills, including trans youth sports bans in 18 states and gender-affirming healthcare restrictions for trans youth in three. 

“It’s our duty as Christians to take care of our Christian nation,” said Arkansas Rep. Robin Lundstrum in an interview with Save the Nation. “Our Constitution came out of the Bible.” 

Lundstrum is a right-wing Christian lawmaker who was behind Arkansas’ “Save Adolescents From Experimentation” (SAFE) Act in 2021. SAFE bans trans youth from accessing gender-affirming healthcare. This year, Lundstrum pushed for similar legislation in Missouri.

According to the Pew Research Center, a majority of white, evangelical Christians say society has gone too far in supporting trans individuals.

While there are Christians that are affirming, Taberner said conservative Christian nationalism tends to be behind the anti-LGBTQ legislation in the U.S. Christian nationalism is a viewpoint held by Christians who seek to add a religious agenda to politics and pass laws that align with their conservative views.

“They’re fighting really hard because there is such a swing towards acceptance in the broader culture that people who aren’t accepting almost feel like they have to double down and fight harder,” Taberner said. “We are seeing a backlash, both in the conservative religious community as well as the conservative political community.”

More than half of religiously unaffiliated Americans say society hasn’t gone far enough in accepting trans individuals, according to Pew.

Taberner said that the Changed Movement perpetuates the motives behind the anti-LGBTQ hate crimes and legislation that have transpired this year.

Changed spreads the narrative that queer and trans individuals are living in unholy sin and going against Biblical Christian values—and that it’s possible for queer people to change their LGBTQ identities to heterosexuality. 

“This is a cultural assumption that being gay, being trans, or being part of the LGBTQ community in itself is disordered and away from what it means to be fully human,” Taberner said. “When you see someone as less than human, or you see trans people as a danger because they’re ‘invading bathrooms’ or various certain things, it’s easier to legislate them out of existence.” 

In 2018, members Ken Williams and Elizabeth Woning of Bethel Church created Changed in response to a proposed California bill that ruled conversion therapy as an unlawful business practice.

LGBTQ youth who have undergone conversion therapy are twice as likely to have attempted suicide in the past 12 months, according to the Good Fruit Project. But the Changed Movement’s website says the group is for conversion therapy bans and that bans against the practice are discriminatory, “cause harm by creating barriers to professional care for people of faith,” and stifle freedom of speech. 

“We believe LGBTQ-identifying people should have the right to follow their faith wholeheartedly and pursue their own life goals—even when it means leaning away from LGBTQ culture, identity, or experience,” Woning told the Daily Dot. 

In May 2019, the Q Christian Fellowship—an online, LGBTQ-affirming community—created the Unchanged Movement in protest to Changed. 

“We wanted to present a polar opposite viewpoint, Nathaniel Green, the interim director of Unchanged told the Daily Dot. “With the hopes that folks would come across both bodies of content and engage with ideas about LGBTQ people in theology that they may never have encountered before.” 

As a kid, Green attended a non-affirming Pentecostal Assemblies of God church in Michigan. In high school, he found the Q Christian Fellowship online. It was his first interaction with LGBTQ-affirming Christian theology. 

“It’s good to be able to meet and address a lot of personal rhetoric I grew up with, you know, the institutionalized homophobia and transphobia,” Green told the Daily Dot. “This organization changed my life when I was still a kid. And the resources like Unchanged now go even further than what was available at that point in time.”

Green said Unchanged hosts online community groups and annual conferences with international reach. 

“We knew that having stories, having the ability to reach far beyond any local environment was important, because the institutions upon which Changed is built are far more than just local institutions.” 

Taberner loves the Unchanged Movement because, like TMC, it’s a space for LGBTQ Christians to feel “whole and valued,” she said. “I’ve been actually in the process of trying to write my own Unchanged story to submit.” 

Queer rap artist Sequana Murray wrote her coming out story for the Unchanged Movement. As a child, she believed that anyone in the LGBTQ community would go to hell. Sequana wrote that this led to her repressing her queer identity.

“The only way I could become ‘healed’ and ‘walking in step with God’ was to somehow find a way to purge these thoughts for good and become ex-gay,” Murray wrote. 

In college, she got involved with the Passion for Christ Movement. In 2017, the organization released a series of T-shirts deemed the “ex-series,” ornamented with phrases like, “ex-atheist,” “ex-abortionist” and “ex-gay.”

While she proudly wore the shirts, Murray told the Daily Dot she eventually recognized how ineffective the ex-gay movement was, and she was tired of suppressing her sexuality.

On Twitter, she found Revoice, an affirming Christian community, and she realized she wasn’t alone in her feelings. 

“I was like, ‘How can this be? Isn’t this an abomination? How are you able to still function and feel loved by Jesus when the Bible says this?’ And it fascinated me,” she said. “That’s what started the journey for me and let me get to where I am now.” 

While Murray no longer identifies as a Christian, she said she held on to her faith for a while.

The Unchanged website is filled with similar testimonies of people finding freedom in their Christian faith after coming out.

Meanwhile, on the Changed website, a former lesbian activist wrote that prayer led to a change in her sexuality. 

“Miraculously, once I gave my life to Christ, I no longer struggled with homosexual desires, nor was I ever again tempted,” the activist wrote. 

The other individuals on Changed share similar stories on how their Christian faith helped them leave the LGBTQ community. For some, that means not dating people of the same gender anymore; for others, it means de-transitioning and identifying solely as their assigned gender at birth. 

Woning, one of the founders of Changed, said the Unchanged website is a “fun gibe” at what she’s doing with Changed and that “it’s unfortunate they’ve taken offense.”

The Changed Movement has attended conferences all over the country to spread its message, and its online reach goes even further: Changed has over 13,000 Instagram followers. (Unchanged has over 5,000.)

“Changed is especially concerned that churches offer community and discipleship for those who question their sexuality,” Woning said. “We desire to point individuals to safe spaces of Christian community wherever they find themselves.’

Woning said she frequently speaks with pastors about creating welcoming spaces for the LGBTQ community and encourages others in the Changed network to do the same.

“Changed provides safety to people who are leaving the LGBTQ identity and community, which makes us and our message anathema to those who remain,” she said.

The Unchanged Movement has a section on its website dedicated to disproving myths about the LGBTQ community, which Green said is in response to the Changed Movement’s pro-conversion therapy rhetoric. 

“Any attempt at ‘changing’ LGBTQ people is profoundly dangerous, and we believe these practices must be banned,” the Unchanged website reads. “The Holy Spirit calls us toward empathy, equity and inclusion. 

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry says on its website that conversion therapy lacks scientific credibility.

The meaning and modern relevance of the six Bible verses that Changed claims to condemn the LGBTQ community, often referred to as the “clobber passages,” is widely debated among progressive and conservative Christians. 

Brent Landau, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin who studies Christianity and religious behaviors, told the Daily Dot that the answer goes beyond the Biblical text.

“The passages that we can find that explicitly address this issue in the New Testament seem to be pretty negative; they seem to really stigmatize same-sex attraction,” Landau said. “From a really superficial standpoint, you could say, ‘No, there isn’t support… But I think we also have to consider the broader context.” 

Landau said the Changed Movement is operating out of a more traditional Christian worldview. 

“I think they probably had somewhat of good intentions in this idea that if this is a ‘sinful lifestyle,’ and if it’s a matter of having a choice about it, then perhaps you can change,” Landau said. 

Plus, Landau said there are examples of potentially queer and trans individuals in Christian history: This includes late antiquity Christian monks and their ritual of “brother making,” or when two male monks commit themselves to each other for life and the apocryphal gospel of Thomas, a Christian book that didn’t make it into the modern Bible.

In the story, Jesus says that he will make Mary Magdalene male after Simon Peter, one of his disciples, says women are not worthy of life.

With all of the Christian doctrine in mind, Unchanged’s Green says it comes down to a matter of survival. 

“We’ve repressed who we are and who we love out of a commitment to the [Biblical] text,” Green said. “Without fully reckoning with the impact the text has on ourselves and our communities.” 

Exodus International was a nonprofit conversion therapy organization that originally popularized ex-gay ideology from 1976 to 2013. TMC’s Taberner said Changed is just a modern rebranding of this organization.

“None of our leadership had involvement with Exodus International, so I can’t speak authoritatively to that comparison,” Woning of Changed said, stating that many in Changed have benefitted from ministries once connected to Exodus. 

Several former Exodus International leaders have come out with apologies to the LGBTQ community as well as statements on the ineffectiveness of conversion therapy.  

In regard to the tragedies and discriminatory legislation that harmed the LGBTQ community this year, Woning didn’t acknowledge any correlation to the message that Changed promotes. 

“I am heartbroken by these tragic shootings and all the hate language that is passed back and forth between [the] LGBTQ [community] and Christians,” Woning said. “We desire earnestly to be peacemakers.”

Green, however, said that there’s clear evidence of Changed hurting the LGBTQ community. He said the conversation should focus on who is actually being harmed rather than the notion of religious liberty that Unchanged was founded on.

“It’s hard for me to see beyond the 10s of 1000s, if not more, LGBTQ plus folks who can testify to the harm and the specific consequences of these coercive environments,” Green said. 

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*First Published: Jan 21, 2023, 4:00 am CST