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News of interest to the transgender/transsexual community

Article in Christianity Today: 2008-JAN

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Background:

Christianity Today, "a magazine of evangelical conviction" is the largest evangelical Christian magazine in the U.S. and probably the world. It was founded by Billy Graham in 1956; he wanted to:

"...plant the evangelical flag in the middle-of-the-road, taking the conservative theological position but a definite liberal approach to social problems. It would combine the best in liberalism and the best in fundamentalism without compromising theologically." 1

During 2008-JAN, they published an article by J.W. Kennedy on transgender concerns titled: "The Transgender Moment: Evangelicals hope to respond with both moral authority and biblical compassion to gender identity disorder." 2

We include this essay in our section on transgenderism and transsexuality in order to highlight the profound differences between many fundamentalists and other evangelical Christians when compared with transgender persons, transsexuals, mental health professionals and human sexuality researchers.

Some points raised in the article:

bullet A poll for the Human Rights Campaign -- a leading LGBT advocacy group -- found that 48% of those randomly selected American adults surveyed said that they would have "no problem working with a transgender person."
 
bulletAs of 2008-JAN:
bullet 13 states had laws protecting transgender people from discrimination in employment or accommodation.

bullet 10 states had passed hate crime laws protecting "gender identity or expression."
 
bulletJimmy Creech is a former executive director of Faith in America, located in Raleigh, NC. The agency promotes equal rights and protections for lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender persons. He commented:

"Religion has been used in history to discriminate against various groups of people by justifying slavery, denying women the right to vote, and persecuting religious minorities. Today it is being used to persecute lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people."

Kennedy wrote in the article:

"Creech ... says that he had spent three years studying Scripture before concluding that church teachings on homosexuality are fear-based and motivated by hate. Creech views the transgender movement as indistinguishable from the gay rights cause."


bulletMatt Barber, policy director for cultural issues for Concerned Women for America (CWA), a religiously conservative advocacy group said:

"The transgender lobby is following the example of the homosexual lobby in that they are co-opting the language of the civil rights movement in order to push their own radical and wacky agenda."

Christianity Today commented:

"Barber points out that the American Psychiatric Association, which declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder in 1973, still classifies the condition of transgender as a disorder. Barber says the political left wing is facilitating more gender confusion by counseling the afflicted to feel good about themselves rather than find a treatment for this disorder. 'You are what you are -- male or female,' Barber says."

Webmaster's comment:  The vast majority of transgender persons and therapists who try to counsel them agree that Gender Identity Disorder does not involve gender confusion. Transgender individuals who identify their gender as opposite from their birth-identified or genetic gender are not confused about their gender. In fact, the opposite of confusion is their problem: they are typically absolutely convinced of their gender. Many decades of attempts to "cure" this problem have been totally ineffective.


bulletPeter Sprigg, vice president for policy at the Family Research Council (FRC), a fundamentalist Christian group, said:

"The pressure for acceptance is ultimately a challenge to the authority of Scripture and a violation of natural law. In the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender movement there is a tendency to continually push the envelope in trying to demand the acceptance of what most people perceive to be unusual behavior."

A sampling of postings:

Christianity Today stopped posting readers' comments on the article during 2008-FEB-25, about two weeks after it was published. By this time, they had received 110 comments by readers. We suspect that the vast majority of postings were from evangelical Christians, because of the content of the magazine and website. We copy many of the postings below because they demonstrate so clearly the deeply held beliefs of their authors.

The following are the first two dozen postings in chronological order, after two comments that were not directly related to transsexuality were deleted. Spelling and grammatical errors were corrected for clarity:

bullet Dalymar: "I don't think God ever tells somebody to change their sexes because he condemns that in the book of Romans. so the person that said that she felt like the Spirit talk to her on doing that is not only sinning by changing her sex, but by also blaspheming the name of the Spirit, which is a non-forgiveness sin. God does not make mistakes. He created you one sex only and it is for a reason, so be happy for who you are."
 
bullet Michele M: "... My spirit resonates with God's Word and the Holy Spirit (as I discern Him), and I agree that while this problem may feel 'inborn' to some who suffer with it (and I believe they suffer tremendously), it cannot be beyond God's redemptive power -- the same power that raised Jesus from the dead and is available to us here and now. (2 Peter 1:3). Our approach should never exclude love, compassion, and willingness to use our gifts toward the healing of hurting people."
 
bulletDonald Schell: "Is this the voice of contemporary Evangelicalism? 'Even if science does determine differentiation in the brain at birth,' Throckmorton says, 'even if there are prenatal influences, we can't set aside teachings of the Bible because of research findings.' If we insist that 'teachings of the Bible' includes the Biblical writers use of first century (and earlier) natural science, we end up lauding the Vatican for condemning Galileo."
 
bullet Veronica: "So when a person is born chromosomally intersexed... with XXY for instance... what sin are they committing? How about those folks who are chromosomally male... XY's... who have Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome, yet develop as a female body-type (but with a high incidence of FTM gender identity disorder)... what sin are they committing? "
 
bullet Anonymous, apparently referring to Adam and Eve, wrote about transsexuals: "They're beyond 'becoming like God, knowing good and evil'. They've evolved to the point at which they tell God that HE made a mistake."
 
bulletbmh: "Evangelicals could start by not calling it a disorder."
 
bulletRalph: "One may change his/her outward appearance as much as they desire. They can never change their chromosomal makeup. If you are born XY you are a male, XX then female. SOMETHING happened in these persons' lives to lead them to reject everything associated with their gender or were taught that their born gender was not worth living out."
 
bulletScott: "First and foremost this has to be a pastoral issue. This is a very complex issue! Christians better be very careful because the genetics issue here doesn't fit into a simplistic theological or moral framework. Thus, there should be a pastoral perspective applied where different tacts should taken with different individuals. If this is a matter of truth. we should err on the side of generosity. This is what Jesus would do, the one who stood with woman caught in adultery against those who would condemn her."
 
bulletKim refers to one of Paul's writings on idolatry: "Roman's chapter 1 tells us that if we engage in that which is ungodly enough that God will give us over to a reprobate mind. We sure are willing as a society to justify anything we choose to with some sort of syndrome and program to help us become comfortable with things so that we are able to live happily ever after. Our pride makes us crave that and somehow society accommodates us. Woe be to us. God created us exactly as He intended us to be, He called us into being and we were then born into a sinful world. Sin is a condition as well as an act. The condition is socially contagious and encouraged."
 
bullet Pam Meyer: "... I believe that God is great enough to redeem us from our deepest struggles. The person whose GLBT struggles are physical, which I believe is real, has the greatest challenge. I think the best outcome for them is to be abstinent and in a loving community with others who can understand their particular struggles (i.e. belonging to an Exodus International group.) I hope the church will grow to accept people whose processes show on the outside since we all have them on the inside."
 
bullet Rita: "Is gender identity disorder "all in their head"? On a related topic, what about people who are born with physical aspects of both genders? It's puzzling stuff."
 
bulletTimothy Mills: " I am very sorry to see Christianity Today endorsing a sinful life style. Transgender Identity Syndrome may be tagged by the APA as a disorder, but that cannot become an excuse for the sinful behavior. ... The person with the transgender identity crisis cannot allow that to overtake their obedience to the commands of God. Having those 'tendencies' does not mean that is the way God made them. ... God knows what disaster would come if those behaviors were not prohibited and the probation placed on us for obedience. Godlike love means we work to help them, not tolerate them."

This topic continues in the next essay

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Christian Smith, "American Evangelicalism: Embattled and Thriving," University of Chicago Press, (1998), at: http://books.google.com/
  2. J.W. Kennedy, "The Transgender Moment," Christianity Today, Volume 52, #2008-FEB, at: http://www.christianitytoday.com/

Copyright © 2009 to 2012 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original posting: 2009-FEB-01
Latest update: 2012-JUL-26
Author: B.A. Robinson

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