What is the Transgender Agenda, and how should Christians respond?

By Sharon James

Introduction

No-one can ignore the current demands for ‘transsexual rights’.

Both the UK and Scottish Governments are expected to consult in the coming months on making ‘changing sex’ as easy as buying a TV licence.

Our instinctive reaction may be to assume that the demand for ‘transsexual (or transgender) rights’ is mainly about protecting a tiny minority of troubled people from unfair discrimination. But, in reality, the underlying ideology of ‘gender identity’ is toxic. Ultimately, it aims to legally eliminate male and female sex distinctions.[2]

This ideology is now promoted in primary schools. The Gender Fairy, a story written for four-year-olds, says: ‘Only you know whether you are a boy or a girl. No-one can tell you’.[3] The author hopes that this book will mean that ‘Some children will realise their true identity is not the gender they were assigned at birth, and will choose to make a social transition to live as their true gender.’[4]

Definitions

Throughout history there have been cases of (mostly) men who cross-dress for erotic stimulation, sometimes known as transvestites (the word was first coined in 1910).[5] This condition is not to be equated with transsexualism. Nor should homosexuality be confused with transsexualism. And the exceedingly rare biological intersex conditions are not to be confused with transsexualism either.[6]

Transsexuals are people who are biologically male or female (not intersex) but who believe themselves to be members of the opposite sex. What causes this condition? Dr Peter Saunders of the Christian Medical Fellowship in the UK writes:

‘The mechanisms leading to transsexuality are incompletely understood but genetic, neurodevelopmental and psychosocial factors probably all contribute. Various theories exist and, as in the debate about homosexuality, their proponents tend to favour either nature (biology) or nurture (upbringing) … It may well be that the causes are multifactorial and the combinations come from both nature and nurture.’[7]

How common is this condition? ‘Gender Recognition Certificates’ are the mechanism in the United Kingdom for someone changing their legal sex. According to the most recent figures, just over 4,500 have been granted since 2005.[8]

True gender dysphoria is very rare. In 2016, K J Zucker et al wrote in the Annual Review of Clinical Psychology that, although ‘estimates vary widely’, ‘prevalence studies conclude that fewer than 1 in 10,000 adult natal males and 1 in 30,000 adult natal females experience [gender dysphoria]’.[9]

From the 1930s onwards, medical advances enabled doctors to ‘treat’ this condition by means of hormonal and surgical interventions.[10] It is possible, using hormone treatments and surgery, to transform a man into someone who looks like a woman and vice versa. The phrase ‘sex-change surgery’ is often used, but it is deceptive. No amount of surgery can truly change a man into a woman, or a woman into a man. But appearance can be changed quite effectively. And names can be changed very easily. An increasing number of countries have legislated to enable a complete identity change, offering changes to birth certificates and other documentation.

Since the 1980s, as the cause of transsexuals has been taken up as the supposed last frontier of civil rights, there has been a deliberate conflation of those who have intersex conditions and those with other forms of what is described as ‘gender variance’, including the desire to cross-dress. The umbrella term ‘transgender’ has come to be preferred as a way of including all the different ways people experience or live out their ‘gender identity’ when there is any felt incongruence with their biological sex. The term transgender can imply an acceptance of ‘gender fluidity’ (the belief that it is inherently oppressive to divide people into two binary categories). In fact, the notion of ‘gender fluidity’ is a direct contradiction of the idea of ‘transsexuality’ – which involves a change of identity from one ‘binary category’ to the other.

Where did all this come from?

The origins of Gender Theory

Certainly some ideas around masculinity and femininity are socially constructed. And of course, different men and women have a multiplicity of different gifts, aptitudes, and preferences. People do not all necessarily fit in with cultural stereotypes associated with masculinity and femininity at any given time. None of which proves that our fundamental understanding of humanity as male and female is socially constructed. But that is the central claim of gender theory.

Where and when did the concept of a division between ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ arise?

Karl Heinrich Ulrichs (1825-1895) was a German doctor and campaigner for homosexual rights. He advanced the theory of ‘a female soul in a man’s body’ in order to argue the case that homosexuality was innate (and should not be penalised).[11] At this time, the phrase ‘sexual inversion’ was used by sexologists such as Havelock Ellis (1859-1939) to refer to homosexuals.[12] Male ‘inverts’ were thought to have a ‘feminine soul in a male body’. This was the beginning of the idea that biological sex could be divided from the ‘gendered experience’.

The treatment of transsexualism 

During the twentieth century the notion of transsexualism gained ground. Alfred Kinsey (1894-1956), a professional sexual ‘researcher’, produced the Kinsey Reports, which many believe sparked off the ‘sexual revolution’. He aimed for the overthrow of all legislation which restricted sexual ‘freedom’.[13] He cooperated with Dr Harry Benjamin (1885-1986). Benjamin introduced the term ‘transsexual’ in 1953, and wrote a book on the subject in 1966. He pioneered the idea that if someone was convinced they were living in the ‘wrong’ body, then the body should be ‘fixed’ to fit with what their mind said, rather than attempting to ‘change their mind’ to fit the biological facts. He provided patients with hormone treatment, and recruited other medical colleagues to assist with surgery and other treatments.[14]

One of Harry Benjamin’s colleagues was John Money (1921-2006). Like Kinsey and Benjamin, Money campaigned for the freedom to ‘change gender’. Money was the co-founder of the John Hopkins Gender Identity Clinic, and he hit the headlines in America in 1966 with a ground-breaking case of a ‘man who’d become a woman’.[15]

Of course, ‘our sex is not a body part. It is inscribed into the DNA of every cell in our bodies’[16] and a male cannot be changed into a female. But Money was able to persuade many Americans that he’d managed to do just that. His most famous alleged success story related to a little boy, David Reimer, whose circumcision had gone wrong. Money persuaded David’s parents to allow him to surgically change the child’s genitalia to make him appear female, and he instructed them to bring the child up as a little girl. This did not end well. The child insisted, in the end, on affirming his true biological identity, but the systematic abuse received over many years from the doctor who was supposed to be caring for him meant that ultimately he committed suicide.[17]

In 1968, Sex and Gender by Robert J Stoller was published, arguing that ‘sex’ is biological (what we are born as), and ‘gender’ is social (what we learn through socialisation).[18]

By the 1970s, as the ideas of postmodernism gained ground, reality itself came to be regarded as ‘socially constructed’. What it meant to be male or female came to be seen as socially constructed as well. Radical feminists challenged the ‘oppression’ of sex roles, and some, such as Judith Butler, began questioning any distinctions between male and female.[19]

The transsexual cause underwent a setback during the 1970s. Dr Meyer and Professor Paul McHugh conducted a survey of 50 transsexuals who had been treated at the Johns Hopkins Gender Identity Clinic. Professor McHugh had been the senior psychiatrist at Johns Hopkins. He explained that those who had undergone ‘sex reassignment’ surgery were little improved in their psychological condition afterwards. He writes:

‘Hopkins was fundamentally cooperating with a mental illness. We psychiatrists, I thought, would do better to concentrate on trying to fix their minds and not their genitals.’[20]

The Johns Hopkins Gender Identity Clinic stopped performing ‘sex reassignment’ operations, as did many university-based gender clinics, but surgeons continued to perform these operations elsewhere.

‘The Transgender Tipping Point’

Up to relatively recently, the ideology of gender fluidity would have seemed remote and alien to most people. But around three years ago the media began to focus on this issue relentlessly. TIME magazine named 2014 as the ‘Transgender Tipping Point’, where an ideology that had been largely restricted to academic departments and LGBT campaign groups hit the headlines.[21]

Family campaigner and academic Gabriele Kuby explains in The Global Sexual Revolution that this was no accident.[22] She points out that the gay rights movement had long since moved beyond the aim of removing legal penalties from homosexual practice. They were determined to abolish ‘heteronormativity’; the very idea that the heterosexual union of man and woman is ‘normal’.

As most people choose freely to live in heterosexual relationships, this would be an uphill task. In order to destroy the idea that these relationships are natural it would be necessary to capture the hearts and minds of children and adolescents, who are highly impressionable. Hence the drive to promote the false notion of gender fluidity among young people, whether by means of sex education or in the guise of ‘anti-bullying’ programmes, or through entertainment and social media. Many adults feel instinctively uneasy about this, but they are frightened to speak out, intimidated by the claim that objecting to gender fluidity implies ‘discrimination’ against transgender people.

Kuby’s book also explains the global influence of the Yogyakarta Principles – a set of ‘human rights’ demands laid out by the delegates at a conference in Indonesia in 2006, and published in Geneva in 2007. The Principles listed the ways in which international human rights law should be applied to ‘sexual orientation and gender identity’. They were non-binding, but they are often referred to as ‘the gold standard’ for ‘equality’ legislation. They define ‘gender identity’ like this:

‘Gender identity is understood to refer to each person’s deeply felt internal and individual experience of gender, which may or may not correspond with the sex assigned at birth, including the personal sense of the body (which may involve, if freely chosen, modification of bodily appearance or function by medical, surgical or other means) and other expressions of gender, including dress, speech and mannerisms [emphasis added].’[23]

Note that ‘gender identity’ is self-defined. It is claimed that everyone has the right to be accepted by others in the ‘gender identity’ they choose, based on their subjective sense of themselves, separate from connection with biological sex. Internal ‘experience’ trumps what is presented as the arbitrary ‘assignation’ of biological sex at birth.

Yet, a comprehensive survey of the scientific evidence, published in 2016 in The New Atlantis, concluded:

‘The hypothesis that gender identity is an innate, fixed property of human beings that is independent of biological sex – that a person might be ‘a man trapped in a woman’s body’ or ‘a woman trapped in a man’s body’ – is not supported by scientific evidence.’[24]

This survey was co-authored by two leading scholars on mental health and sexuality, and discussed over 200 peer-reviewed studies in the biological, psychological, and social sciences.

Gender Identity Theory moves into the mainstream

Despite a lack of any scientific grounding, gender identity theory has become mainstream, and is increasingly being integrated into the legal and educational systems in a number of countries. There is pressure on all of us to accept people on the basis of their ‘deeply-felt internal and individual experience’, and their ‘personal sense of the body’. This ‘deeply-felt experience’ becomes a sufficient reason to be awarded a change in legal status. And there are demands for access to spaces designated as ‘women-only’ or ‘men-only’ for anyone who ‘identifies’ with that sex, regardless of their bodily attributes or appearance.

As of 2017, legislation allowing people to change legal sex has been passed in countries such as Japan, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Spain, Uruguay, Argentina, Denmark, Malta, Colombia, Iceland, Vietnam, Ecuador, Bolivia, Norway and France.[25] In such countries, a man can legally take a female name, be given a new birth certificate, and be treated for all legal purposes as a woman (or vice versa). In some of these countries, there is no requirement for such a person to undergo any medical treatment at all (such as hormonal treatment or surgical ‘reassignment’). That means that a physically normal man can demand to be recognised as a woman with free access to all women-only facilities.

Whether or not countries have passed such laws, International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) want children in all countries to receive ‘comprehensive sexuality education’ (CSE).[26] The United Nations puts pressure on member states to adopt CSE, and so children in some of the most socially conservative countries are exposed to teaching which tells them they have the right to experience ‘sexual pleasure’ whenever and however they wish (as long as the other person consents), and that they have the right to choose their own sexual orientation and ‘gender identity’. Young people in many countries have been exposed to the central claim of gender ideology: that we are free to choose our own ‘gender’. This idea is celebrated and romanticised in films, and promoted on social media.

But this idea directly contradicts biblical truth. Advocates of ‘transgender rights’ are aware of this, and want to silence the testimony of conservative Bible-teaching churches, using legislation that outlaws challenge to the trans agenda. In Canada, Bill C-16 became law in June 2017. It adds ‘gender identity and gender expression’ to the list of ‘prohibited grounds’ of discrimination.[27] That means that any questioning of a person’s claims to identify as the opposite sex will be classed as ‘hate speech’.[28] Penalties will be exacted from any who ‘mis-gender’ others, or who refuse to use ‘gender neutral’ pronouns. This poses an unprecedented challenge to freedom of speech and expression. It will directly impact churches and parents as they seek to teach the biblical truth: ‘male and female he created them’.

A false vocabulary

If you control the language you control the debate. Here are four words or phrases which are slippery and tendentious, and which we should resist using except in so far as we need to explain the views of others:

Gender identity’

Stonewall’s definition of ‘gender identity’: ‘Everyone has a gender identity. This is the gender that someone feels they are. This might be the same as the gender they were given as a baby, but it might not. They might feel like they are a different gender, or they might not feel like a boy or a girl.’[29]

There are plenty of non-Christians as well as Christians who recognise this as nonsense. For example, Rebecca Reilly-Cooper, non-Christian philosopher at Warwick University, responds:

‘If we take an individual’s self-declared gender identity as the sole necessary and sufficient condition for membership in a gender class, the result is that the meaning of the word ‘woman’ is reduced to a subjective mental state, to a feeling in a person’s head. The only answer to the question ‘what is a woman?’ becomes ‘a person who feels like a woman’. But this is an entirely circular definition that tells us nothing about what a woman is.’[30]

‘Assigned’ at birth

This phrase conjures up an image of a midwife maliciously and randomly putting a sinister label on an innocent infant. Rebecca Reilly-Cooper comments:

‘Correctly identifying the genitals that a child possesses and therefore the biological sex to which they belong is not a matter of ‘assigning gender’ to the child; it is simply to recognise the biological facts and to give them the correct biological label.’[31]

‘Transphobia’

An anti-bullying charity, Galop, defines ‘transphobia’:

‘Transphobia is an intolerance of people whose appearance or behaviour challenges gender expectations and norms. An example of a non-criminal expression of this is purposely using the wrong male or female pronouns to refer to trans people.’[32]

Note that here ‘disagreement’ with gender identity theory is equated with ‘intolerance’ which is equated with ‘phobia’. The clear implication is that it is hateful, bigoted, even evil, to disagree with gender identity theory.

‘Cisgender’

Used to mean a non-transgendered person. American commentator Stella Morabito:

‘Cisgender is a totally weaponized term that forces even more de-sexing in society. It’s also a pejorative term that is supposed to mean that your mind just so happens to allow your “assigned sex” to exist alongside your “gender identity”.’[33]

How should churches respond?

1. We need to provide biblical teaching about God’s good purpose in creating men and women.

Our congregations need to be equipped to respond to the demands for ‘transgender rights’ with scriptural truth.[34] The transsexual maintains that their felt ‘gender’ overrides biological reality. But our creation design teaches us that God has made us male and female to reflect his glory in every age. This foundational creation reality is transcultural and a-temporal. Scripture simply will not allow the false split between sex and so-called ‘gender’.

The supposed split between the ‘real you’ and the ‘appearance of your body’ has been described as a new form of Gnosticism. It divides your mind from the physical reality of the body. It says that your thoughts can overrule the physical facts. In New Testament times, this heresy claimed that Jesus may have risen from the dead spiritually, but not physically. Gnosticism divides what God has united. We are made as ‘whole’ people. Our body, our mind and our spirit or soul are not to be divided or played off against each other. God specifically designs and determines our body. It reflects his intent. It is not irrelevant (Psalm 139:13-14; Jer 1:5). God deliberately created male and female as different and interdependent (Gen 2:18; 21-24), and he prohibits the blurring of the distinction between the sexes (Deut 22:5).

The biblical position is that it is not possible to ‘change sex’. Whatever temptation a person faces, they should not embrace the lifestyle of the opposite sex. Treating every individual with true compassion and respect means staying true to God’s revealed will in all pastoral care and interaction.

In recent years the medical term ‘gender dysphoria’ has been used to describe the condition experienced by transsexuals. If ‘gender dysphoria’ simply describes a person’s discontent with their biological sex, then that is non-controversial. However, recent definitions of ‘gender dysphoria’ increasingly embrace the false notion of ‘gender identity’ as something in conflict with biological sex.[35]

There are various reasons why an individual may feel a measure of unease with their biological sex. Some of those reasons (for example childhood trauma) may involve having been sinned against, rather than deliberately sinning. But assuming the identity of someone of the opposite sex does involve sin, medical interventions, whether hormone treatments or surgery, are to be rejected. It is absolutely wrong to encourage children to ‘change sex’.

As we teach God’s good design for men and women, we should avoid over-exaggerated stereotypes of masculinity and femininity which are cultural, not biblical. Yes, we believe that the complementary qualities of male and female are designed by God and mirror deeper realities within God himself. But superficial cultural expectations can be enforced in an unhelpful way. For example, just because a little boy is unusually artistic and gentle does not mean that he should be pushed into thinking of himself as homosexual or transsexual. A little girl may be sporty and tomboyish, but that doesn’t mean that she should be pushed into identifying as lesbian or ‘trans’. Behaviours that would have been accepted as within the normal range even a few years ago (girls wanting to play boys’ games or boys not wanting to engage in rough and tumble games) are now being interpreted as ‘gender confusion’. This defies common sense.

2. Be aware of the pressures on young people.

We need to understand some of the different factors that lie behind someone experiencing gender confusion.

The breakdown of the family has had devastating consequences. Fewer children experience the unbroken stability of their own two natural parents staying together and with them throughout their developing years. Consequently, fewer have stable role models of mother/father and positive role models of healthy masculinity and femininity. We live in a time when there are no moral absolutes and the old certainties are being rejected.

Certainly our culture’s distorted approaches to masculinity and femininity must play a part. The radical feminist movement professed to abhor stereotypes, but campaigned for women to ‘enjoy’ exactly the same sexual freedoms as men, and so directly contributed to the ‘sexualisation’ of culture. Girls are judged relentlessly by appearance. If they don’t relish the prospect of being sexually available to men from an unnaturally early age they are mocked as prudish virgins. If they don’t want to engage in hours of expensive beauty maintenance and starve themselves to be unnaturally thin, they may be dismissed as ugly, or even labelled as lesbian. Some may conclude that if being a successful girl must mean looking and behaving like a porn star, they’d rather not be girls at all.

In our over-sexualised culture, there is almost as much pressure on young men to present an idealised male body. If a boy is smaller than average or bad at sport, he too may be bullied and cruelly mocked by children as being effeminate. Worse, if a boy has negative male role models in his own life, or if he has been exposed to violent pornography, he may associate masculinity with violence, and decide that he doesn’t want to be male at all.[36]

While there are challenges and tragedies as a result of these pressures on young people, this situation does give us a great opportunity to share the good news of God’s good design for all human beings. We are not chance collections of atoms. Every human being is created in the image of God, and to be treated with dignity and respect. Our identity is not to be understood in terms of ‘feeling’, but in terms of ‘calling’. God has called us to live either as men or women, and his calling meshes with the way that he has created us. We don’t underestimate the challenge that it will be for some to live out that calling, but long-term, to ‘choose’ an identity contrary to our created reality will only cause deeper distress.

3. We need to understand the current claims of the trans agenda, and ensure that our congregations know where to access helpful resources on this issue.

It would be wise to provide some opportunity (for example an extra meeting) where church members are given the biblical teaching on God’s good design for men and women, an overview of the current challenge and information about resources.

Using personal testimonies is helpful. Walt Heyer is a Christian author who has written extensively on this, arguing that real compassion must involve telling the truth that it is not in reality possible to change sex. Heyer experienced gender confusion himself, and underwent both hormonal and surgical ‘reassignment’. He lived as a woman for a number of years, but once he became a Christian he was convicted that he was called to live as a man, as God intended.[37] He has written an autobiographical novel, Kid Dakota and the Secret at Grandma’s House. His book Paper Genders gives a devastating critique of the pioneers of transsexual theory and sex reassignment medication and surgery.

Heyer now coordinates a ministry called ‘Sex Change Regret’. He argues that ‘changing sex’ is short-term gain with long-term pain. Its consequences include early mortality, regret, mental illness, and suicide.[38] He argues that when children and young people seem to exhibit ‘gender dysphoria’, there are often other psychological issues and traumas that should be addressed first.[39] Heyer argues that people suffering in this way should be treated with respect and love, but that ultimately it is not loving to endorse a lie and push them towards unnecessary and destructive surgery.[40]

Denise Shick leads a ministry called Help 4 Families, for families with transgender members.[41] She herself experienced the trauma of a father who ‘transitioned’. When she was just nine years old her dad sat down with her and told her that he wanted to become a woman. She writes: ‘I lost my dad that day.’ For the rest of her childhood and adolescence, he routinely helped himself to her clothing, and, increasingly, abused her. Denise found refuge in alcohol and boyfriends, and was considering drugs, when God intervened.[42] Since then, she has devoted her life to ministry with individuals and families caught up in gender confusion. Her collection of testimonies, Understanding Gender Confusion, offers vivid insights into this condition.[43] Denise now believes that God’s truth can bring healing into the most damaged lives, and has written a helpful book of Questions and Answers for Families.

Keith Tiller is a Christian with a testimony of having been released from deep gender confusion. He now runs the ministry, Parakaleo, for Bible-believing Christians who want advice on these issues.[44]

4. We must be prepared to extend love and compassion towards those who may be struggling with gender confusion.

The trans-affirming movement insists that human dignity is only respected when we accept the premise that we are autonomous (on the basis that there is no creator God, so we can determine who we are and how we live).

In fact, human dignity is only respected when we understand that we are made by God, and in the image of God. We must be careful even in casual conversation not to joke about, mock, or belittle people with this condition.

When a transsexual person walks into our church, we see them as a human being, made by God, with eternal significance and worth. We are to treat everyone with civility and respect. Ultimately we must respect them too much to go along with the lie of ‘gender change’. Christ-like compassion will always be based on truth. The central point at issue is that a man cannot become a woman or vice versa. But that doesn’t mean we abandon basic courtesy and kindness.

Our churches need to ‘be family’ in terms of providing a loving community for those who, for whatever reason, may be struggling with this, or any other deeply troubling issues. Rosaria Butterfield gives eloquent testimony to the part that a loving church community played in her own conversion. She had been persuaded of the rightness of the LGBT cause, and was content living with her lesbian partner, but a caring and compassionate pastor and his wife extended love and concern, while never compromising on God’s truth.[45]

We need to be alert to the fact that many professing Evangelicals now believe that personal experience is an authority alongside Scripture. Just as many Evangelicals have, over the past fifty years, ‘accommodated’ homosexuality, so now there is intense pressure to ‘accommodate’ transsexuality.

Perhaps the most comprehensive work to date from an Evangelical publishing house, Understanding Gender Dysphoria, is based on listening to the testimonies of transsexuals who profess to be Christians. Mark Yarhouse accepts that Scripture teaches that the ideal would be for everyone to live according to their biological sex. But, in a fallen world, he believes that those who suffer extreme dysphoria may need to be accommodated, in order to manage their distress. According to Dr Yarhouse, this may involve accepting them as the sex they believe themselves to be, and recognising the need for medical intervention in some cases.[46] (I have serious reservations about this book and hope to publish a detailed review shortly.)

There is huge pressure from the culture, and even from within the Evangelical church, to accept and affirm individuals’ own claims about their identity, especially if they are clearly suffering deep anguish. But, as in every pastoral interaction, true compassion has to be grounded in God’s good design for humanity. Our Creator has revealed his will for human flourishing. Testimonies from those who transition and then, sometimes many years later, regret it, point to the false compassion of affirming transition. They agree that when someone in the church affirmed their transition, it provided the euphoria of acceptance. Yet, deep down, peace with God was not going to be found until truth was confronted.[47] So we need to help young people to see that holding onto the truth in this and every area is the most compassionate response.

Encouraging church members to address persons with gender confusion as the sex that they are not (ie using preferred names and pronouns) will, in many cases, mean the silencing of the conscience of believers, a conscience informed by Scripture. God’s moral law tells us that we must always speak the truth. To force people to speak a lie is a terrible thing.

And affirming people in their false perception of their own identity, will only lead to further confusion about sex and gender.[48]

5. It is wise to update our church constitutions and doctrinal statements to clarify the biblical belief in the immutability of our created identity as male or female.

A church whose doctrinal position on this is clearly laid down is better protected against potential hostile discrimination claims than one which does not have a clear positional statement. As well as updating the doctrinal statement and constitution, a church is better protected if they have a clear membership policy, a clearly defined marriage policy, and a clearly defined employment policy.

Activists could come to your church with hostile intent. They may use this issue as a way of attacking what they regard as ‘hateful’ biblical teaching. They could threaten legal action if, for example, they are denied access to the toilets (rest rooms/bathrooms) or access to the single-sex meetings of their ‘assumed’ gender. But an individual cannot so easily take personal offence if it can be demonstrated that this is the established position of this particular church.

Churches in the UK could contact The Christian Institute if advice is needed. Churches in the US could consult Denny Burk’s How to protect your Church.[49] If churches in South Africa face difficulty, they could consult Freedom of Religion, South Africa;[50] those in Australia the Australian Christian Lobby.[51] Family First New Zealand [52] is linked with Ask Me First (a project to protect the privacy of women and girls).[53]

6. It is helpful to be prepared ahead of time with regard to how to respond.

Stewards in church services, or those on the welcome team, may want to think through how to give a warm welcome to transsexual people, but also to be aware of issues relating to use of public conveniences. If possible, it is wise, in addition to men’s lavatories and ladies’ lavatories, to also have a clearly visible accessible, separate, single toilet which can be used by both men and women.

7. We must not be naïve.

The tragic reality is that there are sexual predators who have used the legal rights afforded to transsexuals in order to pose as a transsexual person in order to gain access to female-only facilities to abuse girls and women.[54] We should be especially vigilant about protecting young children in everyday life (for example, ensuring they do not use toilets unaccompanied if there is any possible threat to their safety).

8. We must seek to protect children from harmful ideology and harmful interventions.

We should grieve over the way that the minds of children and young people are being poisoned against God the Creator. As Christian parents we need to be ensuring that we teach our children about God’s good and wise design for men and women. The Ology: Ancient Truths Ever New is a beautifully produced picture and story book presenting a systematic theology for children, with an accompanying CD including the chorus:

‘We are the image of the God of all the world

He made us boys, He made us girls

Different pieces of the puzzle

Joined together perfectly

We are just the way God wanted us to be.’[55]

That of course is now deeply politically incorrect! But it is true.

On a wider level, we need to present the case for protecting children from dogmatic presentations of the ‘gospel’ of gender fluidity, which can only serve to confuse them. We should argue strongly against endorsing the ‘social transition’[56] of pre-pubescent children. Glen Stanton writes:

‘It is well-established today that the overwhelming majority of such children – from 75 to 98% – who experience gender dysphoria grow out of it by the time they reach puberty. It is not inborn. Thus, the leading clinics seeing such children – such as those in Canada and the Netherlands – do not recommend parents and schools facilitate gender changes in such children for various reasons. The push in culture today to embrace and affirm such children’s wishes is founded more upon a political ideology than it is in careful science and experience.’[57]

We need to argue strongly against allowing children and young people to be subjected to medical interventions that are dangerous both physically and psychologically. To intervene medically is unnecessary and unwise.[58] Under-age youngsters are not mature enough to make such momentous choices and decisions.[59]  As we noted earlier, Walt Heyer writes:

‘Changing genders is short-term gain with long-term pain. Its consequences include early mortality, regret, mental illness, and suicide. Instead of encouraging them to undergo unnecessary and destructive surgery, let’s affirm and love our young people just the way they are.’[60]

Parents are often put under huge pressure to affirm their children in an expressed desire to ‘change sex’, and threatened with the prospect of their child being likely to commit suicide if thwarted in their wishes: ‘would you prefer your child happy or dead?’[61] Walt Heyer turns that around by arguing that those who transition are still often likely to commit suicide.[62] And the statistics sometimes used to blackmail parents have recently been shown to be spurious.[63]

Conclusion

God has put us here, in this culture, at this time, for such a time as this. Some Evangelicals take the route of simply ‘preaching the gospel’ (defined in the narrowest possible way), and remaining silent over contentious issues. But this means we will fail to protect children and young people from a dangerous lie, and that we will fail to engage with people who have been deceived by the claims of gender theory.

We could refuse to engage with anyone with problems. But that is not Christ’s way.

In the coming days, this will be a ‘frontline’ issue for Bible-believing Christians. It may not be long before gendered speech (use of terms man/woman/boy/girl etc) is regarded as hate speech. There may be pressure to censor sermons. There will be resistance to teaching children God’s design for men and women. There will be huge free speech implications.

We need to be informed, wise, compassionate and courageous. Above all, we need to be prayerful.

Dr Sharon James works for The Christian Institute

Organisations:

Parakaleo http://parakaleo.co.uk/

Help 4 Families http://help4families.com/

Sex Change Regret www.sexchangeregret.com/

Transgender Trend, a group of  ‘parents questioning the trans narrative’ (not a Christian group) https://www.transgendertrend.com/

Briefings:

Christian Institute Briefing Transsexualism http://www.christian.org.uk/resource/transsexualism-briefing/

The Christian Institute, www.christian.org.uk, has a briefing for parents, available on request: Radical Gender Ideology: Protect your Child.

Sharon James, ‘Are We all Omnigender Now?’   http://www.affinity.org.uk/downloads/The%20Bulletin/32.1)-are-we-all-omnigender-now.pdf

Books/Papers:

Heyer, W, Paper Genders: Pulling the Mask Off the Transgender Phenomenon (Make Waves Publishing, 2011).

Heyer, W, Kid Dakota and the Secret at Grandma’s House (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2015).

Kuby, G, The Global Sexual Revolution: Destruction of Freedom in the Name of Freedom (LifeSite, 2015).

Mohler, A, We Cannot Be Silent (Nelson, 2015).

Shick, D, Understanding Gender Confusion: A Faith Based Perspective (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2014).

Shick, D, Transgender Confusion: A Biblical Based Q & A For Families (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2016).

Stanton, G, Boys, Girls, Other: Making Sense of the Confusing New World of Gender Identity (Family First New Zealand, 2015), see http://askmefirst.nz/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Boys-Girls-Other-FULL-REPORT.pdf.

 

Notes:

[1] Part of this article was delivered as a lecture at conferences held at London Seminary in 2016/17, and at Highfields Church, Cardiff, in 2017.

[2] ‘The Transgender Movement is a Vehicle for Censorship and State Power’, Stella Morabito.net, 28 February 2016, see http:/stellamorabito.net/ as at 12 May 2017.

[3] Hurst, J, The Gender Fairy (Oban Road Publishing, 2015).

[4] Hurst, J, The Gender Fairy, http://www.thegenderfairy.com/ accessed 8 May 2017. Jo Hurst supported her six-year old son to ‘socially transition’ (use a female name, wear female clothes etc).

[5] The Guardian online, 2 June 2010, see https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2010/jun/02/brief-history-transgender-issues as at 12 May 2017.

[6] van Gend, D, Stealing from a Child: The Injustice of ‘Marriage Equality’ (Connor Court Publishing, 2016), pages 173-176. Dr van Gend writes that 0.02% of babies are born with ambiguous genitalia; that is one in 5,000. The number is routinely exaggerated for political/ideological reasons, by including conditions which should not be included in the true ‘intersex’ category, such as Klinefelter syndrome, Turner syndrome, and late-onset adrenal hyperplasia.

[7] Saunders, P, The Doctor will see you now, PRIMER, volume 3, page 68.

[8] Tribunals and gender recognition certificate statistics quarterly: April to June 2017, Ministry of Justice, 14 September 2017, table GRP 4.

[9] Zucker, K J , Lawrence, A A, and Kreukels, B P, Gender Dysphoria in Adults, Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 12:217-247, 2016.

[10] Britain’s first Gender Identity Clinic opened in London in 1966.

[11] Person, E S, The Sexual Century (Yale University, 1999), pages 19-20.

[12] Ellis, H, Studies in the Psychology of Sex: Sexual Inversion (F A Davis Company, 1908), page 118.

[13] Jones, J H, Alfred C. Kinsey: a public/private life (W W Norton & Company, 1997), page xxi.

[14] Benjamin, H, The Transsexual Phenomenon (The Julian Press, 1966), pages 8-9, 12, 54.

[15] Heyer, W, Paper Genders: Pulling the Mask Off the Transgender Phenomenon (Make Waves Publishing, 2011), pages 7-9.

[16] ‘Why You Should Stop Using the Word “Gender”’, The Federalist, 31 May 2016, see http://thefederalist.com/2016/05/31/why-you-should-stop-using-the-word-gender/ as at 12 May 2017.

[17] van Gend, D, Stealing from a Child: The Injustice of ‘Marriage Equality’ (Connor Court Publishing, 2016), pages 152-153; ‘“Sex-Change” Surgery: What Bruce Jenner, Dianne Sawyer and You Should Know’, Public Discourse, 27 April 2015 see http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2015/04/14905/ as at 12 May 2017.

[18] Stoller, R J, Sex and Gender: The Development of Masculinity and Femininity (H Karmac [Books] Ltd, 1968), pages 9-10. Stoller further distinguished gender identity (personal awareness of belonging to one sex and not the other) from gender role (the behaviour one displays in society).

[19] Butler, J, Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (Routledge, 1990).

[20] ‘Surgical Sex: Why we stopped doing sex change operations’, First Things, November 2004, see https://www.firstthings.com/article/2004/11/surgical-sex as at 12 May 2017; ‘Hopkins Hospital: a history of sex reassignment’, The Johns Hopkins News-Letter, 1 May 2014, see http://www.jhunewsletter.com/2014/05/01/hopkins-hospital-a-history-of-sex-reassignment-76004/ as at 16 May 2017.

[21] ‘The Transgender Tipping Point’, TIME online, 29 May 2014, see http://time.com/135480/transgender-tipping-point/ as at 12 May 2017.

[22] Kuby, G, The Global Sexual Revolution: Destruction of Freedom in the Name of Freedom (LifeSite, 2015).

[23] The Yogyakarta Principles, March 2007, page 6, see http://www.yogyakartaprinciples.org/principles-en/ as at 16 May 2017.

[24] Meyer, L S and McHugh, P R, ‘Sexuality and Gender: Findings from the Biological, Psychological, and Social Sciences’, The New Atlantis: A Journal of Technology & Society, 50, Fall 2016, page 8.

[25] Table of Gender Recognition Systems in Approved Countries and Territories Under the Gender Recognition Act 2004, HM Courts and Tribunals Services, 2011, see http://hmctsformfinder.justice.gov.uk/HMCTS/GetLeaflet.do?court_leaflets_id=4521 as at 16 May 2017; ‘Rights in Transition: Making Legal Recognition for Transgender People a Global Priority’, Human Rights Watch, 2016, see https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2016/rights-in-transition as at 16 May 2017; ‘Bolivia Approves Progressive Law Recognising Transgender Rights’, teleSUR, 21 May 2015, see http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Bolivia-Approves-Progressive-Law-Recognizing-Transgender-Rights-20160521-0018.html as at 16 May 2017; ‘Vietnam: Positive Step for Transgender Rights’, Human Rights Watch, 30 November 2015, see https://www.hrw.org/news/2015/11/30/vietnam-positive-step-transgender-rights as at 16 May 2017; ‘Ecuadorean Lawmakers Approve New Gender Identity Bill’, teleSUR, 11 December 2015, see http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Ecuadorean-Lawmakers-Approve-New-Gender-Identity-Law-20151211-0001.html as at 16 May 2017; ‘It’s official – France adopts a new legal gender recognition procedure!’, ILGA-Europe, 12 October 2016, see http://www.ilga-europe.org/resources/news/latest-news/france-adopts-new-legal-gender-recognition-procedure as at 16 May 2017.

[26] ‘Comprehensive sexuality education’, United Nations Population Fund, see http://www.unfpa.org/comprehensive-sexuality-education as at 16 May 2017; ‘Education’, International Planned Parenthood Federation, see http://www.ippf.org/our-approach/services/education as at 16 May 2017.

[27] Bill C-16, 2017.

[28] Jordan B Peterson, ‘Fear and the Law’, 27 September 2016, see https://youtu.be/fvPgjg201w0 as at 12 May 2017.

[29] Getting Started: A toolkit for preventing and tackling homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying in primary schools (Stonewall, 2016), page 4.

[30] ‘Trans Issues and Gender Identity’, Sex and Gender: A Beginner’s Guide, see https://sexandgenderintro.com/trans-issues-and-gender-identity/ as at 20 September 2017.

[31] ‘Sex’, Sex and Gender: A Beginner’s Guide, see https://sexandgenderintro.com/ as at 20 September 2017.

[32] Galop, ‘Tackling Transphobia: A Guide for Safety Services’, see  http://www.galop.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Tackling-Transphobia-A-Guide-for-Safety-Services.pdf as at 22 September 2017.

[33] ‘Why You Should Stop Using the Word ‘Gender’’, The Federalist, see http://thefederalist.com/2016/05/31/why-you-should-stop-using-the-word-gender/ as at 20 September 2017.

[34] A good resource for this is Shaw, D, ed., True To Form – Primer Issue 3, FIEC, 2016.

[35] NHS website: “Gender dysphoria is a condition where a person experiences discomfort or distress because there’s a mismatch between their biological sex and gender identity.” See http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/gender-dysphoria/Pages/Introduction.aspx as at 16 May 2017.

[36] We need to understand the massive role social media play in promoting these stereotypes and the transgender cause. A lengthy article in the New Yorker (sympathetic to the trans viewpoint) is helpful in describing the peer pressure on young people to embrace the trans agenda: ‘About a Boy: Transgender surgery at 16’, Margaret Talbot, The New Yorker, 18 March 2013.

[37] ‘I was a Transgender Woman’, Public Discourse, 1 April 2015, http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2015/04/14688/ as at 12 May 2017.

[38] Ibid.

[39] Mail Online, 26 January 2015, see http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2921528/The-man-s-TWO-sex-changes-Incredible-story-Walt-Laura-REVERSED-operation-believes-surgeons-quick-operate.html as at 17 May 2017.

[40] ‘I was just like the ‘trans’ 9-year-old in National Geographic, Now I know it’s pure fantasy’, Lifesitenews, 12 January 2017, see https://www.lifesitenews.com/opinion/a-nine-year-old-boy-is-spreading-a-contagion-of-mass-delusion as at 17 May 2017.

[41] ‘About us’, Help4Families, see http://www.help4families.com/statements-of-faith-and-doctrine as at 17 May 2017.

[42] ‘When My Father Told Me He Wanted to Be a Woman’, Public Discourse, 27 March 2015, http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2015/03/14661/ as at 19 September 2017.

[43] Shick, D, Understanding Gender Confusion: A Faith-based Perspective (Help4Families Press, 2014).

[44] ‘People’, Parakaleo, see http://parakaleo.co.uk/people/ as at 17 May 2017.

[45] Butterfield, R, The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert: An English Professor’s Journey into Christian Faith (Crown and Covenant, 2012).

[46] Yarhouse, M, Understanding Gender Dysphoria: Navigating Transgender Issues in a Changing Culture (IVP, 2015), pages 12, 150, 154. Robert Gagnon provides a helpful review here: ‘How should Christians respond to the Transgender phenomenon?’ First Things, 16 October 2015, see http://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2015/09/how-should-christians-respond-to-the-transgender-phenomenon accessed 6 March 2016. David Shaw provides a thoughtful review here: https://primerhq.com/issue-03/navigating-a-major-resource/ as at 17 May 2017.

[47] Some helpful testimonies can be found in Shick, D (Ed.) Understanding Gender Confusion: A Faith-based Perspective (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2014). See also Sex Change Regret, www.sexchangeregret.com/, a website for support of those who have transitioned and later regret it.

[48] Shick, D, Transgender Confusion: A Biblical Based Q & A for Families (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2016), pages 32-37.

[49] ‘How to protect your church against sexual orientation and gender identity lawsuits’, Denny Burk, 25 June 2015, see http://www.dennyburk.com/how-to-protect-your-church-against-sexual-orientation-and-gender-identity-lawsuits-erlc/ as at 17 May 2017.

[50] See www.forsa.org.za.

[51] See www.acl.org.au/.

[52] See https://www.familyfirst.org.nz/.

[53] See http://askmefirst.nz/resources/.

[54] Jane Williams, ‘Women: Decide for Yourselves’, March 12 2016, see  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uzwMJAFWLtQ&feature=youtu.be as at 12 May 2017.

[55] Machowski  M, The Ology: Ancient Truths Ever New (New Growth Press, 2015); See http://sovereigngracemusic.org/music/songs/just-the-way-god-wanted-us-to-be/ as at 12 May 2017.

[56] That is, affirming their ‘self’ identity as a member of the opposite sex, endorsing a change of name, allowing changes in sex-distinct hair styles and clothes, and even endorsing hormonal treatment and surgery.

[57] Stanton, G, Boys, Girls, Other: Making Sense of the Confusing New World of Gender Identity (Family First New Zealand, 2015), page 6, see http://askmefirst.nz/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Boys-Girls-Other-FULL-REPORT.pdf as at 17 May 2017.

[58] McHugh, P, ‘Transgender Surgery isn’t the Solution’, Wall Street Journal, June 12, 2014, https://couragerc.org/wp-content/uploads/TransgenderSurgery.pdf as at 12 May 2017. For medical risks of hormone treatment see Phelan, J E, ‘Dangers of Hormone Treatments’f in Shick, D, Understanding Gender Confusion: A Faith Based Perspective (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2014), pages 20-24; and the chapter ‘Transgender Children’ in Heyer, W, Paper Genders, pages 25-45.

[59] ‘Too young to cross a street but old enough for a sex change’, WORLD, 4 May 2017, see   https://world.wng.org/2017/05/too_young_to_cross_a_street_but_old_enough_for_a_sex_change as at 12 May 2017

[60] ‘I was a Transgender Woman’, Public Discourse, 1 April 2015, http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2015/04/14688/ as at 12 May 2017.

[61] ‘The trans agenda is undermining parents’, Spiked, 31 October 2016, see http://www.spiked-online.com/newsite/article/the-trans-agenda-is-undermining-parents/18931#.WRxetYjyuUk as at 17 May 2017; The Guardian online, 13 November 2016, see https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/nov/13/transgender-children-the-parents-and-doctors-on-the-frontline as at 17 May 2017.

[62] ‘50 Years of Sex Changes, Mental Disorders, and Too Many Suicides’, Public Discourse, February 2016, see http://winst.us7.list-manage2.com/track/click?u=776f667a54759f3894cdd0eee&id=d083940a0c&e=a124a06b84 As at 12 May 2017.

[63] ‘A Scientist Reviews Transgender Suicide Stats’, Transgender Trend, 3 December 2016, see https://www.transgendertrend.com/a-scientist-reviews-transgender-suicide-stats/ as at 12 May 2017. This article challenges the statistics used by Mermaids, a lobby group which encourages children to be free to change sex, and threatens parents who resist with the prospect of their child committing suicide.

2018-12-05T18:51:33+00:00