Saturday, March 08, 2014

Baptizing transgenderism

I ran across this statement on Facebook:
I don't get this Christian antipathy towards transgenderism. There's no biblical principle that genotype, phenotype and identity have to match up, and there's medical evidence that they often don't. If the Fall could result in other kinds of brain/body mismatches and biological quirks Christians accept and believe should be treated, why not transgenderism? And for those who are anti-, what's their solution for ambiguous intersex people?

I'll make a few observations:
1) Certainly the Bible doesn't treat male and female as a social construct.
2) Apropos (1), another obvious problem with this objection is that, from what I've read, transgender proponents typically contend that gender is a social construct. It's not hardwired. That's why gender is fluid. Because gender is culturally assigned, you are free to choose your gender. 
And transgender laws reflect that. They protect the individual's "self-perceived" gender. To my knowledge, antidiscrimination laws protecting the transgendered aren't based on medically verifiable conditions. 

3) Let's begin with a medical definition:
Gender identity is the sense one has of being male or female. Some people experience a significant incongruence between their gender identity and inborn physical phenotype, labeled as Gender Identity Disorder (GID); the experience is termed gender dysphoria.

With that in mind, I'd suggest there are two kinds of transgenders:
i) To the extent that some people genuinely experience that incongruence, it would be a psychiatric disorder, like lycanthropy. But, of course, the trans community hardly wants to have its condition classified as a mental illness.  
ii) But most transgenders are probably like lesbian feminists. They believe their own propaganda. Ideological brainwashing. 
I suspect most "transgender" folks are simply miserable adolescent boys or girls (or their adult counterparts) who are/were unpopular/unhappy in school. Lacked the affluence, good looks, IQ, or athletic prowess of the successful students. Because they didn't succeed as normal, but average or below average (performance-wise) humans, they can now blame it on their socially misconstructed identity. 

To take a somewhat different, but related example, back in the heyday of the repressed memory movement, you had individuals who were convinced that they were victims of sexual abuse or ritual satanic abuse. People who are emotionally vulnerable are very suggestible, impressionable, susceptible to psychological manipulation. They can be talked into believing things happened to them which never occurred.

Some alien abduction stories probably fall into this category as well. 


  1. I'd like to add:

    There's no biblical principle that genotype, phenotype and identity have to match up

    1. This is somewhat anachronistic.

    2. As far as it goes, though, the Bible does talk about what it means to be a man and, by contrast, a woman (e.g. Proverbs). It does talk about marriage and family and children. It talks about Adam and Eve, their roles, their mission, etc. It talks about Christ himself. The Bible does touch upon masculine and feminine identity.

    3. There's likewise no biblical principle that genotype, phenotype, and identity don't have to match up.

    and there's medical evidence that they often don't

    Hm, that's a bit vague. I could say a bit more, but for now I'll just say when genotype, phenotype, and identity don't match up, it's generally considered abnormal.

    Take Klinefelter syndrome for example. Genetically neither XX (female) nor XY (male) but XXY, phenotypically they often have gynecomastia (male breasts), broader hips, and basically are more like women than men, and identity wise they can be a bit confused. Anyway, it's not normal. Why make what's abnormal normal?

    If the Fall could result in other kinds of brain/body mismatches and biological quirks Christians accept and believe should be treated, why not transgenderism? And for those who are anti-, what's their solution for ambiguous intersex people?

    1. There are all sorts of "ambiguous intersex" conditions in people (e.g. Klinefelter syndrome). I'm no expert, but depending on what it is I guess a general answer is we'd have to try and treat it like we would a medical condition.

    2. Many people are born with congenital diseases which have physical manifestations. And that also may negatively affect someone's sense of identity. Take albinism. There's no cure for albinism. (Although there are for instance some limited ophthalmological or surgical treatments for some eye conditions related to albinism.) They'll have to live with their albinism. Of course, we don't mistreat them. We do what we can to help them. Medically, and otherwise.

    3. Ironically, people with albinism may struggle with racial identity, but their condition is evidence that in many respects race is "skin deep." Ultimately we're all human. Created in God's image.

    Maybe there's a similar lesson to be learned in people with intersex conditions like Klinefelter syndrome? However, if we insist on accepting intersex people as a legitimate third category (male, female, other) like society is trying to accept homosexuality as a legitimate second category along with heterosexuality, then I would think it'd actually reduce their humanity. Whereas if we accept them as either male or female, and help them in that direction toward masculinity or femininity, then we value their God-created humanity.

  2. There's a huge difference between intersexuality and transgender. The first is about biological ambiguity. The second is about first-person identification as belonging to a social category that's associated with biological distinctions. Whatever we're going to say about the ethics, we need to make sure we're not getting confused on which kind of category we're talking about.

    1. I think part of the problem is the equivocation between the terms such as in the Facebook statement quoted above.

  3. When there's no teleology, then anything's permissible. That's why both homosexuals and atheistic evolutionists often hate the idea of design. If humans were designed to be male OR female, then things like homosexual desires, hermaphroditism, Klinefelter syndrome, complete androgen insensitivity syndrome etc. should all be seen as abnormalities. Such persons in these kinds of conditions can nevertheless be Christians if they will affirm God's intended design, acknowledge the abnormality of their condition, and oppose it to the degree they are able.

    Hermaphrodites can't do much to change their situation (short of a miracle from God), but people with homosexual desires can oppose such desires and choose to live heterosexually. I assume that opposing homosexual desires is no more difficult to deal with than opposing heterosexual temptations. It would seem that heterosexual temptations are more difficult to overcome since they are socially perceived as natural temptations. Heterosexual moral failings are more readily "excused". Whereas homosexuals have a greater social incentive to suppress such illicit desires and activities. Though, I suppose they could claim that the very fact that they are less socially acceptable makes their desires even more tempting since human psychology is so evil that we all tend to desire more those things we can't, aren't allowed to have or have difficulty of having. For example, a sign saying "Keep Off Grass" makes some people all the more desirous to walk on that grass. But without such a sign, the same people wouldn't even consider walking on that grass.

    1. I said homosexuals *often* hate the idea of design only because there are some people who consider themselves "gay Christians." But that's oxymoronic like "Christian Drug Dealer."