The Transgender Conundrum (2)

It is less than three months since I placed my initial stake in the ground concerning the subject of transgenderism (see here). While I have written about and added several posts on the subject of homosexuality, it was the first time I had posted regarding sexual identity as opposed to sexual orientation. I felt then and feel even more so now, that the issue of sexual identity is going to be every bit as significant in the next few years as sexual orientation has been in the past few years, and is symptomatic of where society is heading.

Transgender Sign

Transgender Sign, Red and White Sign with a woman, male and transgender symbol

I suspect this is one of those “where angels fear to tread” subjects as the likelihood of getting a negative response and being misunderstood is high. Just as in the recent years when I got to know a number of gay people compared with the time before when there were few I knew who were openly gay, I am finding now the same applies to transgender people. I can think of no instance where my relationship is NOT congenial, although the issue of sexual identity is rarely touched on in our discussions.

I write now as there are two items that have come my way that I feel it is worth commenting on, for I am pretty sure this is just a taste of what is to come. Not only does society have to come to terms with those whose sexual identity is other than the sex of their birth but so does the church, and as one who preaches and also as a community activist, I am duty bound to respond in an appropriate manner.

As an USA watcher, I am all too aware that what happens in the USA often sets the trend as to what happens elsewhere, including the UK. Not long ago, the Obama administration issued guidance on how public institutions, e.g. schools, should stop discriminating against transgender students and allow them to use the bathroom that aligns with their gender identity. There has been a reaction against this move, such that the courts in certain states have blocked the enforcement of the guidance. Another story relates to a major company, Target, having faced a boycott over its policy of allowing transgender customers and employees to use the bathroom of their choice, announcing it is going to spend $20 million to expand bathroom options at all of its U.S. stores in order to keep all sides happy. There is already indications of organizations, especially those that are faith based, facing repercussions for failing to act on the expectations of those advocating transgender equality. It is a matter of watch this space for there will be significant developments.

I recently came across an argument by a Christian theologian who like me is all too aware of how things might be heading. In an article titled: “How Should Christians Respond to Transgenderism?” there is included in it a 3 minute video clip which reflects to these trends. There are broadly three points made:

  1. While transgenderism is not a new issue, what is new is the force it is being thrust on the public in general and the church in particular. There is a move to normalize it and also require society to approve of it. It is the latest phase of the sexual revolution, a fruit of a secular humanist worldview, which idolizes pleasure and human autonomy, supplanting a Christian worldview consensus.
  2. As Christians we must not respond superficially and we need to address the whole subject from a true biblical understanding, that takes in subjects like creation, our sinful nature and redemption.
  3. Our response may be at several levels e.g. apologetic in the face of the cultural war that pervades all around us, and a pastoral one, mindful this affects people in different ways, ranging from those who aggressively promote transgender rights to those who are struggling with their own sexual identity, and that the gospel is relevant to all of us, regardless of where we stand on these issues.

Just as my earlier post was by way of a stake in the ground, in this one I am merely building on some of the things I felt pertinent at the time, being in no doubt this is an issue that will NOT go away.

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2 thoughts on “The Transgender Conundrum (2)

  1. Glen Hague says:

    The issue of transgenderism is one which actually is causing a lot of controversy within the gay community itself. There are those who accept our transgender brothers and sisters, while others believe it is self hatred (due to being very butch or very effeminate) which causes transgender people to want to live as the opposite sex.
    I think we have to ‘walk in their shoes’ to understand and to give us perspective. While I can not imagine what it is like to feel that I am in the wrong body, I do know it must be so overwhelming and difficult to risk crossing the gender gap in school, at work, socially etc that no one would do it unless they really felt they had no other choice. Also, imagine how difficult it must be to live like this, especially if you do not pass very well as a man or a woman. Imagine the ridicule and hatred you invoke every time you step out of the door. Much has been made of the ‘bathroom issue’. But imagine – what on earth would you do if you are caught short in the middle of town? Which do you use? You risk violence and verbal abuse in both. Also much has been made of the theory that some men dress up as women to get into bathrooms to rape women. In reality, it is the transgender woman who uses the ladies is the one at risk of violence, not the other people in there.
    When I was in Brussels a few years ago, I visited the cathedral there. There was a trans woman in there, lighting a candle for someone. She kept in the shadows and her whole demeanor showed how nervous and uneasy she felt to be there, but that didn’t stop her. I admired her for her refusal to live a lie. She felt herself to be a woman and she lived like that, even when going to church.

  2. some very helpful comments here Glen. I recall some years back having a very negative view of gay folk, partly as a result of my strict religious upbringing. While I can never say I have walked in the same shoes as gay folk, I have come close and my attitude these days is far more sympathetic. I sense the same challenge faces me regarding transgender folk and is why I raise the issue now and why I want to respond appropriately and encourage others, especially religious types. to do so.

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