Kevin’s Conversations: Tackling Transgenderism
While the percentage of the population who have dealt with the condition of feeling like they are the gender opposite of their biological sex likely has always been a small minority, it probably can be safely assumed that those with gender dysphoria have always been with us. The difference is that for most of the history of our Western Culture, and likely for most cultures in world history, having feelings of identifying opposite of one’s biological sex was not something that was to be readily admitted or discussed. It was a taboo that many probably have kept hidden, and if they did share their feelings, it was done so with a very small circle. Most people with these types of feelings have doubtlessly long lived in fear and shame.
Today, most assuredly there are those who still live with this fear and shame. However, we also know that there has been a strong movement that has come about the last so many years that is contending for those with gender dysphoria and telling them and everybody else that what they are feeling is perfectly acceptable and right and normal. This movement is proclaiming the needs and rights of the transgendered. The mantra is that those with these types of feelings should be able to identify with whatever gender their emotional/psychological/mental state tells them that they are, regardless of their biological sex… and that the rest of society should accept them in whatever way they identify and should accommodate them according to those self-chosen identities.
I am not a psychologist or any way formally trained in a manner to understand the state of those who have gender dysphoria. I have never had an inkling of a feeling myself where I thought I was a woman or really felt feminine in any way, and so I can’t personally identify with those who have these types of feelings. I’m not going to give some kind of psychological diagnosis or say that I know what those with gender dysphoria are feeling. How to equitably and compassionately handle this condition is more than worthy of discussion, but that which I won’t be venturing into here.
I have written about the transgender topic once before, but it continues in the headlines and keeps my concern. It is seemingly everywhere nowadays in one form or fashion. There is a constant push in our culture and media for LGBT rights. There has been the bathroom law in North Carolina and potential other ones in other states. There has been the uproar of the Target situation, and lesser so of Starbucks and others. There is the Trump administration recently revoking the Obama administration’s previous guidance to allow school students to use the restroom or locker room of their choice, according to their gender identity.
Even more recently, and the one that brought this topic to mind again for me, there is a legal case in the national news from my hometown area where a male student is suing his school district for allowing a transgendered student who is biologically female to use the boys locker room. Still yet, the past two Linkathons here at this blog have had articles addressing transgenderism. The list of examples could go on and on.
Even though I do not personally know and/or am aware of someone who is outwardly transgendered or who has strong feelings of gender dysphoria, I am concerned for those who live with these things. I imagine that life in some ways must be a living hell for them. Between the struggle of their own internal feelings and the way that some people undoubtedly treat them poorly or condescendingly or like wackos, life cannot be easy. I wish that people didn’t have to suffer through such things.
I am also concerned with the potential harm we could now be bringing to others. The first people I think of are my wife and school age daughters, and it extends out from there, throughout society. We are placing many at harm’s edge when we attempt to accommodate the feelings of a very small minority in a fashion that exposes far, far more to potential danger. To one degree, there is the discomfort and loss of dignity and innocence, especially with younger children, that comes with being exposed and having to dress and undress in the same area as those of the opposite biological sex. To a still greater degree, you have those sexual predators (who are unlikely to be the transgendered) who will take advantage of relaxed restroom/ locker room/ dressing room rules, making it all the more easier for them to carry out their voyeuristic and even sexually assaulting activities. If a sexual assault happens even one time because of someone taking advantage of the relaxed rules, this is one time more than what we should have ever allowed for.
As has been written here before, allowing people of the opposite biological sex into the opposite rest room or locker room is not even a Christian or religious issue. It is an issue of common sense and common decency. At least it should be. We shouldn’t have to bring God or Christianity or religion into it at all. From a perspective of common law and logic, we should be able to say that letting biological men into women’s restrooms and locker rooms is not a good idea because the potential of bad things happening is too great. Yet, less and less of the population see things that way anymore.
All this makes me wonder. We once lived in a culture where many more used to claim the title of Christian. Many still will claim that this is a Christian country, or at least it used to be, and we need to get back to the way things used to be. Of course, we’ve been down that road plenty of times, too, here at this blog, questioning how truly “Christian” the country has been or how a nation can even be “Christian” or what exactly it is that we need to get back to. But at the very least, we lived in a culture where Christianity held much more respect, at least for traditional, orthodox Christianity.
In years past, if Christian pastors and leaders or even Christian laymen had spoken up and said that this is not a good idea to let biological men and boys into the rest rooms and changing room of women and girls, they would have been respected and would have had a significant influence on the culture. Just as today, they wouldn’t have even needed to bring Christianity or religion into it. They could have spoken simply from a standpoint of common sense and decency and their words would have carried much clout. Nowadays, they are more likely to be besmirched by many in society as bigots and religious lunatics who are suffering from some kind of immoral phobia, than they are seen as any kind of valued cultural influencers.
Why is this?
Part of me thinks that the church has brought this on themselves. While certainly far from all have been guilty, there still have been too many Christian pastors and leaders and laymen, when they did have more significant cultural power over the years, who have acted terribly toward those who were the “wrong kind” of sinners and “wrong kind” of people. All the while often protecting those whose wrongdoings were more acceptable or more strategically beneficial to be overlooked. The regular and hypocritical demonization and outcasting and lack of compassion for some is now coming home to roost. Even as segments of attitudes have improved in the church, it has been a case of too little, too late, as the church is now stuck with a stigma in society. Add to that the portions of the church that have eschewed Scripture in favor of cultural morality and we’ve got a hot mess.
On the other hand, I wonder how much of where we have come to in our culture was inevitable, even if Christians were more consistently faithful in acting in a Christ-like manner? We are cautioned many times in Scripture that we are not going to be accepted in this world. That we can expect persecution and hatred (II Timothy 3:12, John 15:18-19, Luke 6:22) and will live as exiles (I Peter 2:11) and that our ultimate citizenship is in heaven and not of this world (Philippians 3:20). The troubles we have experienced in our Western culture are very little compared to what countless others have experienced in other cultures and over the history of time. Yet, without a doubt, the tide has changed and continues to worsen in regards to how traditional, orthodox Christians and Christianity are viewed in our culture. And maybe that was bound to happen, no matter how perfectly Christians acted. And who knows how much worse it may become as time moves on.
Navigating our current world is not easy. For many Christians, it already is and may become more difficult still than in time periods past. We pray that things would change for the better – not for the sake of Christians to have more “power” per se, but that they would have more opportunity to influence the culture to be more righteous and just and Christ-like for the sake of the gospel – to see more souls saved and also for more souls to be treated better and more justly and more compassionately during their time on this earth. But if our culture is not to change for the better, we pray that God would give us wisdom as to how to journey along our increasingly rocky paths. On our own, we don’t fare so well.