Thursday, May 19, 2016
Just to make sure my comments on transgenderism are taken correctly, here's a some of a broader Q-and-A session I've had with some friends regarding the subject and my stance:
Their Question: Are you aware that America's medical community recognizes transgender identity as a valid concept? The condition is called gender dysphoria, formerly called gender identity disorder. It is recognized by the American Psychological Association and the American Medical Association. It is a psychological phenomenon studied and recognized to be valid by scientific experts.
My Answer: From what I've read on the subject, gender dysphoria is indeed a condition recognized by these (admittedly liberal) groups, but the CAUSE of gender dysphoria is believed to be heavily influenced by parental behavior and other factors in the upbringing of children that encourage the condition. From what I understand, the jury is still out on whether gender dysphoria is generated all on its own, biologically, apart from external influencing factors. We Westerners have developed a bad habit of taking incomplete science and constructing social change on it. Meanwhile, the people who have a genuine chromosomal disorder continue to be misunderstood.
Q: Some studies have found brain differences in transgender people, some studies have found links to prenatal hormonal issues, some studies have found environmental influences. The point is it's real and it's complicated and liberals did not make it up. How can you deny it?
A: I'm not denying that the condition exists. What I'm questioning is the reason a person may have the condition. There are those anecdotal stories about parents who intentionally raise daughters as sons. There are anecdotal stories about children raised to be one gender who flip themselves back in adulthood. There are some more robust scientific studies that indicate biology plays a factor in more cases than previous thought. However, what all of this means is that gender identity is not a flippant thought. People don't decide daily to identify as one gender or another. There is a process to such self-identity, and if you're serious about it, you have doctors certifying that the quest is being undertaken. The policies against which many conservatives are reacting are policies that treat gender dysphoria flippantly, to the point where, this week on FOX, a woman left a Ross store after a man dressed as a man refused to leave the ladies dressing room, saying he was self-identifying as a woman that day. That's goofy, and frankly, it's an insult to people who legitimately struggle with the condition (regardless of what caused it). I don't understand why it's suddenly blown up into some big issue, when (if the experts are correct) gender dysphoria has been around for centuries.
Q: What is your biblical basis for your conclusion that transgenderism is a consequence of the fall of man?
A: "But at the beginning of creation God 'made them male and female.'" Mark 10:6
Q: You're really stretching that verse in Mark. How about the verse that tells us to get the beam out of my own eye before I try to get the speck out of yours?
A: I'm not sure what there is TO stretch in that verse. The verse about the beam in the eye isn't about not being discerning; it's about being discerning to realize that nobody is perfect, not even yourself, so you should not lord it over others by making them think you're superior in your "righteousness.'" In a way, that links with the current popularity of socking it to religion with transgender issue. I admit (as I regularly blog) that in a sense, churchy folk have been asking for this blowback for some time with our self-righteous swaggering in the public square.
Q: My understanding of transgenderism is that a person identifies as the opposite gender of the physical traits he or she has. So they remain male or female, but their physical and inner selves differ. How does your Bible verse relate to that?
A: Yours is a popular, politicized iteration of the term that originally was used to describe people with legitimate biological issues regarding their chromosomes and reproductive organs. These days, transgenderism has come to include people who perceive a differentiation between their emotions and their anatomy, AS IF EMOTIONS ARE A LEGITIMATE MEASURE OF GENDER. For years, people like Gloria Steinem told us traditional gender roles based on emotion were invalid. Now they're valid? To the extent we sloppily apply gender roles based on preferences for certain asexual things (such as sports, the arts, etc.) Steinem was right. However, what gives us the right to now decide that we can decide for ourselves what gender (or no gender) we perceive ourselves to be regardless of our anatomy?
Q: When you research, you see there is lots of evidence that supports biological causes of transgender identify (brain differences, hormonal differences). It's not just "emotional". What about this evidence?
A: Few "thinking" evangelicals dispute that there are very rare examples of gender dysphoria. I do not dispute that it exists. But for people who genuinely have the condition, which bathroom they use is the least of their concerns. This is a hyper-politicized tempest in a teapot sparked by people who now see this as an ideal time in history to take revenge on decades of religious pomposity.
Q: Why don't you want to protect the civil rights of transgendered people, like you would the civil rights of black people?
A: Recently, a huge, conservative, historic Presbyterian church in Jackson MS issued an official apology for their sad legacy of institutionalized racism. I applaud such contrition because God is not a respecter of persons. But God did make people intending them to be of a specific gender. We can't pick and choose what to believe about God, like early members at this Mississippi church did about black people. And we can't pick and choose what we want to believe about God when it comes to gender. Some people may say that, then, God must make mistakes in cases of genuine gender dysphoria. I would say that genuine gender dysphoria is not a mistake; it's as much a result of the Fall of Man as cancer.