gender dysphoria, & gender identity<
Part 1 of 3: Causes of, & cures for, Gender
Dysphoria by conservative Protestants:
As noted elsewhere in this section a transgender
individual is a
person who experiences Gender Dysphoria.
The terms GID, Gender Identity Disorder, Disorder of Sexual Differentiation, and DSD were previously used to describe this problem. However, they were rejected in the early 2010's as being stigmatizing.
Their perceived gender is different
from their birth-identified gender. Some describe themselves as a woman trapped in a man's body,
or vice versa. Others view themselves as having a male brain in a female body,
or vice versa. Still others do not identify with either gender, or identify with both genders, or switch between genders.
According to the current thinking of human sexuality researchers and
therapists, gender dysphoria has a biological cause
that kicks in before birth. Current theories suggest that it is caused by
fetal exposure to abnormal androgen levels, or is
genetically determined at conception by the structure of the individual's DNA.
Scientists have linked gender
dysphoria to fingerprint patterns and left-handedness -- two factors established
in the fetus within 15 weeks of gestation, duing the second trimester. They have also linked it to a longer
version of the androgen receptor gene in the DNA of transsexuals.
Therapists have allegedly had a zero success
rate in curing Gender Dysphoria by changing the transgender person's perceived gender to match their birth-assigned gender. However, a personalized program involving puberty blockers, hormones, and special surgical techniques can change the person's appearance to more closely match their perceived gender.
Most conservative Protestants base their understanding of transsexuality directly on their firm
beliefs in gender and in particular on the gender-restricted roles of men and women in churches,
the family, and the workplace. These are
derived from their interpretation of key Bible passages and themes. They generally conclude that Gender Dysphoria
is either chosen or a delusion, and that a transgender person can change their perceived gender to
match their genetic gender through prayer, therapy and/or salvation -- the process of being "saved." These beliefs are consistent with their concept of God as being caring, omnipresent, responsive to prayer, and omnipotent. It also agrees with their belief that God created only two genders, so that every individual is either a male or female, and is so classified for their lifetime when they are born.
Many religious conservatives find the concept of Gender Dysphoria and gender transitioning to be particularly upsetting to the God-established order. Since the U.S. Supreme Court settled the gay marriage conflict in favor of marriage equality, many conservative parachurch religious groups have switched their attention from opposing gay marriage to opposing equality for transgender persons and transsexuals.
Statements by various conservative religious groups on the nature, cause, and cure of gender dysphoria:
Many Christian fundamentalists, other evangelicals, and other religious
conservatives strongly believe that both homosexuality
and transsexuality are "lifestyles" -- types of behavior that are chosen by the individual. Some
believe that dysfunctional family dynamics and/or traumatic childhood
experiences may be contributing factors to their decision to become gay or
transgender. 1 Many parachurch organizations have commented about Gender Dysphoria, although they generally refer to it as "Gender Confusion:"
In 2013, after over 35 years of attempting to convert lesbians, gays and bisexuals into heterosexuals, and converting transgender persons and transsexuals in to cisgender individuals, they finally gave up. During an eventful 24 hour interval in mid-2013-JUN:
- The president of Exodus offered a sincere apology for all of the harm that his organization had done to individuals members of the LGBT community, and
- The organization announced that it was ceasing business after 37 years of operation.
- The Christian Institute is a conservative Christian organization
serving the UK. They believe in the inerrancy of the
Bible and are pro-life. In their briefing about
- They define the gender of a person with gender dysphoria according to
their birth-assigned gender. Thus, a male-to-female transsexual (MTF) is still
male. Most transsexuals, human sexuality researchers define their gender
according to the person's perceived gender. A post-operation male-to-female
transsexual (MTF) feels like a female, looks like a female, considers
themselves a female. Most consider her to be a female and refers to her as
- Concerning gender reassignment surgery (GRS), they write: "A painful
operation cannot solve the mental dysfunction." Actually, the intent of GRS
is not to make a MTF transsexual believe that they are a male. It is to
change their physical appearance so that their perceived female gender matches
- They believe that God created humans so that everyone is either male or
female. They write:
"The human body is therefore a good gift of God and essential to the
human person. But the transsexual sees their body as an accident, as
denying their 'true self' which resides in their mind and emotions."
- A transsexual who tries to change their gender from that listed in their birth
certificate is being "... fundamentally dishonest. You cannot alter a
fact of history."
- They believe that it is not:
"... reasonable to assume that other biological
factors, e.g. brain structure, cause transsexualism. There is little
evidence for this and the plea 'I was made this way' was abandoned by
biologists long ago."
This seems to conflict with the findings of medical researchers who have
found links between gender dysphoria and both fetal exposure to abnormal
androgen levels, the makeup of the person's DNA, and structures within their brain.
- The Christian Institute concludes:
"The Christian response to a transsexual, as with any other person,
should be prayer, care and counsel as for any with psychological
difficulties and where necessary repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. (Acts
- Charles W Socarides (1922-2005) was a past president and co-founder
of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH).
He was a member of the Greek Orthodox church. Socarides was very highly respected by fundamentalist and other evangelical Christians -- particularly
those working in reparative therapy which attempts to convert homosexuals to heterosexuality. NARTH is
a very small professional mental health association with about 1,000 members. Unlike the much larger
professional associations, such as the American Psychiatric Association (APA) that has over
150,000 members, NARTH believes that homosexual behavior is a disorder, that it is chosen, and can be changed.
Socarides believed that there was a close link between homosexuality and gender
dysphoria. He asserted that "... transsexualism does not constitute an
independent diagnostic category." Viewing this simplistically: there is no
such thing as transsexuality. For example, a person who believes themselves to
be a MTF transsexual was born a genetic male, continues to be a male, has
homosexual feelings, and is overwhelmed with guilt at their desire to have
sex with another male. This extreme, unbearable conflict causes them to become
convinced that they are actually a female desiring heterosexual sex. Many
seek gender reassignment surgery so that they can look, feel, and act like a
female heterosexual without overwhelming guilt. Socarides felt that such surgery "... constitutes a
sanctioning of the transsexual's pathological view of reality and cannot
resolve the underlying conflict." In Socarides' view, only reparative therapy can do that. 4,5
This topic continues in Part 2.
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- Rama Kant Mishra, "Research reveals biological basis of Trans-sexuality,"
Ground Report, 2008-OCT-27, at:
- "Gender Identity," Exodus International, undated, at:
- "Transsexualism - mind over matter," The Christian Institute, 2002-FEB, at:
- Charles W. Socarides, "The Desire for Sexual Transformation: A
Psychiatric Evaluation of Transsexualism, Abstract, American Journal of
Psychiatry, (1969); 125; Pages 1419 to 1425.
- Gordene O. MacKenzie.
"Transgender Nation," Bowling Green State University Popular Press, (1994).
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Copyright © 2009 and 2011 by Ontario Consultants on
Original posting: 2009-JAN
Latest update: 2011-APR-23
Author: B.A. Robinson