Toward understanding gender dysphoria

In a post entitled, “Higher Things—Quo Vadis?” which gave reference to me, on the site of The Brothers of John the Steadfast, it was stated that in my interview on Virtue in the Wasteland the doctrine of the Evangelical Lutheran Church and Natural Law were not affirmed. No references were given, though the article encourages its readers to listen to the podcast and judge for themselves.

Specific to my part, I have been in this discussion many times with LCMS pastors and lay folks who quote “male and female He created them” and rest their case. None of them have undertaken a serious study of gender dysphoria, intersex conditions, or their possible causes. Some of them have studied nothing, and some have read things like the CTCR document and perhaps a bit more. Speaking from general ignorance of a terribly complex topic, they have judged me as sinning, of rejecting God’s Law.

On many of my blog essays, I have written of my doctrinal stance, which has not changed since I was ordained twenty-one years ago. If anyone has found error in any of my writings on God’s Word, they have not made them known to me. The singular issue has been “male and female He created them,” which ends the discussion.

I uphold “male and female He created them.” I do not espouse the view which says that gender is a construct. I reject all notions about the body which are in disagreement with God’s Word.

I also uphold the Fall of Adam. I uphold our total brokenness. I uphold that the Fall means more than that we commit sins, but that our bodies do not fully work as the Lord created them, nor does the world work as it did before sin entered it.

We are prone to every sort of dysfunction.

It is to our brokenness that I appeal. My study of gender dysphoria led me to learn about intersex conditions and maladies caused by disruption to our endocrine system. There are several intersex conditions, and there are even more hormonal maladies. Diabetes and thyroid troubles are two common hormonal maladies.

I will speak to two conditions and then make a connection to gender dysphoria.

From the late 1950s to the early 1960s, thalidomide was prescribed to pregnant women to ease morning sickness. When thalidomide was administered early in the pregnancy, the fetus sometimes formed wrong, with some babies born with no arms or legs, or deformed ones. It is estimated that, worldwide, 20,000 to 100,000 babies were affected. Once they figured out what was causing it, they stopped giving the drug to pregnant women. It was learned that in some women the thalidomide disrupted the endocrine system, causing the deformities to the baby.

Autism is a malady which is mysterious in its origins. It is suspected that it might be caused by both the genetics of the parents and by environmental factors. It very likely is, as with the work of thalidomide, the result of the baby’s endocrine system having been disrupted in the womb.

I use these two conditions for comparison because the affects of both are obvious and easy to grasp. The results of endocrine system disruption to the sex hormones are not easy to grasp, unless one can actually see the malformation of one’s genitals.

Just because we cannot see something, or define something, does not lessen the reality of it. Indeed, the cause of autism remains profoundly mysterious. Despite that, no decent person rejects the reality of autism. No one would argue that the one with autism has nothing more than a mental illness. With gender dysphoria, the argument of my opponents is that it is merely a mental illness, often compared to how one suffers from bulimia.

The cause of gender dysphoria is mysterious. As with “thalidomide babies,” I believe mine can be traced to another drug, diethylstilbestrol, given during an eerily overlapping era, to mothers in danger of miscarrying. While, as with autism, no absolute connection has been made, there is much anecdotal evidence.

Diethylstilbestrol is but one of many drugs which have been determined to be endocrine disruptors, as have chemicals and plasticizers. When one wonders why there is so much gender dysphoria in our world these days, I point to these known endocrine disruptors.

While I do not insist on having all of the answers, I have learned much to give me enough confidence that my gender dysphoria is a condition just as real, just as physical, as to those who suffer autism and the deformities of the “thalidomide babies.”

But, with gender dysphoria—even if it is a real, physical intersex condition—traditional Christians, including LCMS Christians, will have grave difficulty with, and are prone not to listen to any discussion of, the remedy being transitioning medically with cross-sex hormones and surgeries, and transitioning socially, adapting to the clothes and name of the other sex.

I do not attach myself to “the transgender agenda.” Indeed, as a Christian, who holds a traditional reading of God’s Word, I am viewed with suspicion by many transgender folks because I am not on board with their entire docket. And then I am viewed with the same suspicion in the LCMS, with folks believing that I want to introduce the entire LGBTQ agenda into the church.

Not so.

I hate that I could not find a remedy that could keep me living as a male. I was constantly fearing that I would either kill myself or lose my sanity. I undertook both pastoral and secular counseling, from numerous pastors and two therapists, striving to remain male. Even as far as I have gone with transitioning, if something were to arise, to give me some confidence that I could have relative peace as a male, I would be interested in pursuing it.

I do not disagree with God’s Law. I disagree with how gender dysphoria is viewed. For many traditional Christians, when it comes to the sexes and “male and female He created them” it is as if the Fall could do nothing to touch this one aspect of our creation. Christians such as I, who are striving to be faithful to the Lord and  have a measure of temporal healing, are objects of condemnation instead of compassion.