As I was writing the headline for this piece I went to write the word ‘debate’ and then changed my mind. No one is really debating this issue. The Economist ran a series of viewpoints on transgender issues but I didn’t see a viewpoint that actually critiqued the prevailing wind. It was a series amongst people who broadly speaking agree with each other.
I don’t really see that changing. I do see western society absolutely hurtling towards the most significant social change it has ever made without very little thought and even less serious debate. That’s likely to be nothing short of a catastrophe.
The changes are coming thick and fast (and not really with any new evidence to support them). The World Health Organisation No Longer Sees Transgender as a Mental Illness but obsessive computer gaming is. Take a moment to consider that.
That’s because this sentence sums up the prevailing view:
Being transgender or gender diverse is now largely viewed as part of the natural spectrum of human diversity. For some people, this is just part of who they are, and it’s not a cause of concern.
The UK’s main centre specialising in gender issues in under-18s is the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust, based in London and Leeds. The number of under-18s who visited the clinic in the last year has risen by 25% to 2,519 – around 50 a week. Doctors there say there is no single explanation for the increase but there is growing recognition of transgender people in society and more awareness of treatment options.
How does this happen? It’s a positive reinforcing news cycle driven by celebrity and news media. Two years ago I wrote how the BBC were normalizing transgenderism through massively increasing the amount of coverage they were giving to an issue that just two years ago was marginal.
Media coverage leads to increased awareness which leads to increased children and people saying they are transgender which leads to ‘revised numbers‘ which leads to increased coverage and so on it goes.
Already the effects of the media push on this issue is being felt by those most vulnerable in forming their identity. Children. Now it’s everywhere and it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that the effects are being noticed in children. Let’s be clear Children are being indoctrinated over gender. The battle is being taken to the school library. But we should be careful to avoid saying that the children are leading this.
Parents will find it hard to stand against the tide. As this article (it’s a very long read btw) illustrates:
Heather said most of the resources she found for parents of a gender-dysphoric child told her that if her daughter said she was trans, she was trans. If her daughter said she needed hormones, Heather’s responsibility was to help her get on hormones. The most important thing she could do was affirm her daughter, which Heather and Mike interpreted as meaning they should agree with her declarations that she was transgender. Even if they weren’t so certain.
If these new estimates are correct, it means that young people are 329 percent more likely than adults to identify as transgender, and that there are almost as many transgender teens as there are adult men and women who identify as gay and lesbian…How is it possible young people are 329 percent more likely than adults to identify as transgender? How is it possible there are almost exactly as many teenagers who identify as transgender as there are adult men and women who identify as gay and lesbian? The only reasonable answer: the phenomenon is a social contagion driven by peers and pop culture, psychologists and pediatricians.
Those who might dare to suggest that these changes might not be for the good of wider society or for the good of transgender people themselves, from the religious orthodox to radical feminists, are going to get shouted at. A lot. Those who write about it will be misunderstood or slandered or both.
I recently spoke with a teacher who was preparing herself to resign her position because she knew she would be unable to teach the indoctrinating position of the state regarding gender. She was preparing herself to be called a bigot by those not prepared to listen or respect her beliefs.
Of course churches are already getting confused about it. From the Church of Scotland to the Lutheran church of America. State churches (and their historic mainline counterparts) are, as David Robertson says, in great danger of becoming “the spiritual wing of the progressive state, affirming its every action and endorsing its liberal theology”. We will see more books arguing A Christian Case for Transgenderism.
But it shouldn’t be this way as Carl Trueman points out,
The belief that all are made in the image of God carries with it profound moral implications for the church. But one of them is not that the surrounding culture gets to decide the nature of human personhood and identity, nor the bounds of acceptable sexual expression. This belief actually entails the transcendent, fundamental given-ness of what it means to be human—which carries an authority over the individual, such that I do not get to decide who I am and how I may behave.
This gets to the heart of the conflict that we won’t really be able to discuss anyway – what is the importance of our bodies in shaping who we are? Julie Bindel is a lesbian radical feminist and she describes the issue this way:
Transgender theory centres on the idea that there is something inherent about ‘male’ and ‘female’ characteristics. Whereas feminists argue that gender is merely a social construction1, the transgender line is that girls and boys are born hardwired to like either pink or blue and so if a boy wants to dance around in his mother’s shoes and prefers pink, he was clearly born in the wrong body. Admittedly this is a rather reductive description of the two arguments, but I would say a fairly accurate one.
The Christian disagrees with both but differently in each case. The reason is due to a pesky biological reality that will not go away. Christians argue for the unity and overall integrity of a person mind, body & soul and that altering the body breaks not aligns that unity in a fundamental way.
As Christians we need to do a few important things. We need to become better educated around the issue of gender-dysphoria and we need to listen to the stories. We need to be able to form a good answer to the question What would Jesus say to my trans friend?
We need to be able to offer hope.