When a child turns up his nose at a new vegetable on his plate, without ever tasting it, he is guilty of judging a book by its cover. He makes a decision using zero information, except for what his eyes see.
Concerning gender dysphoria and transgender, several myths, assumptions, and problems exist because people have judged the condition, and the situation of those who transition, with no more information than the child who rejects the new vegetable.
When Julie was writing her piece last week, she also wrote the following.
+ + +
1. This is solely a spiritual matter.
If you just pray harder and trust God more, you would be able to overcome the condition. Do we tell the parent of a baby born with a congenital heart defect to just pray harder and trust God more, and your child will overcome the condition? Rather, we rejoice that God has blessed us with medical solutions to treat the condition so the child can grow to live as whole and healthy a life as possible.
But gender dysphoria is different, right? Choosing to transition as a medical solution to alleviate one’s ill feelings violates Genesis 1:27: male and female He created them.
2. Male and female He created them.
Were we still in the Garden of Eden, that glorious archetype of God’s perfection is what we would find. We would also find no one wearing eyeglasses. None of us would know anyone with Alzheimer’s, or Celiac Disease, or autism, because those conditions would not exist. And none of our children would be born with spina bifida, or Down Syndrome, or cystic fibrosis. Our world would be free of cleft lips, and hemophilia, and cerebral palsy; free of cancer, and diabetes, and multiple sclerosis.
We are not in the Garden of Eden. We are in a world full of birth defects and genetic disorders and diseases. We are in a world where male and female do not exist as neatly as the gingerbread boy and girl cutouts lining the cookie sheet of our gender comfort zone.
Instead, babies are born, in great numbers, with intersex conditions that show us how imperfect genetics and hormones can be in the womb. To name a few:
Klinefelter Syndrome, a condition in males who are born with an extra X chromosome, for an XXY karatype. Effects vary from subtle (that is, less physically noticeable) symptoms, such as sterility, to more prominent, such as small genitals, breast growth, and low body hair.
Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia, a disorder that impacts the adrenal glands’ abilities to produce vital hormones. In girls, the exposure to high concentrations of androgens in the womb can result in ambiguous and somewhat “male-like” genitalia.
Complete Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome (CAIS), a condition occurring in XY males whose cells are incapable of responding to androgens. Their bodies develop in a female pattern, although generally with incomplete female genitalia.
Touting “male and female He created them” to contradict transitioning as a viable option simplistically ignores the multitude of gender-related physiological brokenness that we allow and encourage modern medicine to alleviate. Variations and unfamiliarity make us uneasy. We are agreeable with people surgically and hormonally correcting physically noticeable intersex conditions, because we are uncomfortable to think of someone’s body not fitting our notion of male/female esthetics.
We do not want to see a male with breasts, so we completely understand that a man with Klinefelter would wish to remove them and take testosterone to increase body hair, so that he can live as the male with which his brain identifies.
We would not, ourselves, want to be a woman with genitalia that appears male-like, so if a woman with Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia identifies as female, we completely accept her desire for surgical and hormonal treatment to have a feminine body.
We would never insist a genetically XY woman with CAIS live as a male to honor her male DNA rather than carry on in her female gender role, our primary reason being that, because she fits the outward esthetics of a typical female, she does not violate our sensitivities of gender variation. Secondary is the consideration, (because, when it comes to issues of gender, our personal comfort zone of esthetics takes priority over other people’s internal pain), that (in most cases) her female-wired brain has her identifying as a woman.
When it comes to alleviating the suffering of the hundreds of thousands of people—those with gender dysphoria—whose brains have been wired in a gender incongruent with their bodies, however, we find ourselves drawing a line. We draw a line because these people do not exist in the esthetically ambiguous zone where we expect correction to be made to make the rest of us more comfortable. They are already outwardly opposite—outwardly male or outwardly female; already fitting nicely into our oppositional gender bias, so we deny them the privilege the rest of us take for granted: body-brain alignment. Only if they meet some arbitrary standard of visible ambiguity do they have sanction to live the gender in which their brains developed.
+ + +
Julie and I do not claim to have learned all of the answers regarding gender dysphoria. Our extensive study has taught us enough that we do not agree that it is a disorder which some compare to anorexia nervosa, which is not a congenital disorder but a learned one. Our research has taught us that gender dysphoria has physiological roots from the time of forming in the womb, as with the intersex conditions of which Julie wrote.
One’s starting point will determine one’s path. Those who will not equate gender dysphoria with other physical ailments will not agree with transitioning. For Christians in that camp, transitioning will be sinning.
Is it a sin to transition? That is where I need to head next. Here, too, I will not claim to have all of the answers. As I have continually promised several colleagues, I will not proclaim that transitioning is fine and dandy, and a God-pleasing thing. My intention is
– first, to introduce enough information that folks might agree that gender dysphoria is not a black-and-white issue, and,
-second, that, regardless of what my personal outcome is, we, in the Christian faith, might recognize that people who transition can also be people with deep faith in Christ, with a strong desire to lead God-pleasing lives.