Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Ah yes, the Gospel Coalition explains transgender "theory" for you

Trevin Wax
Some guy named Trevin Wax has written a piece titled “7 Troubling Questions About Transgender Theories.” Before I get into this, there is an enormous body of peer reviewed research written by social and medical scientist regarding transgender people. The bottom like is that, regardless of genitalia, a transgender woman is for all intents and purposes a woman; A transgender man is a man. That is not just theory. That is the scientific consensus. Much like creationists, conservative Christians are fiercely determined to torture science into conforming to scripture. My quotes are incomplete. You can read the full piece here if you are so inclined.
1. Do transgender theories undercut or contradict the idea that sexual orientation is unchangeable?

The LGBT’s success in pushing for civil rights legislation on the basis of sexual orientation has relied heavily on the assumption that sexual orientation is “fixed,” or genetically determined. But more and more scholars today argue that sexual orientation is “fluid,” not fixed (especially in females). And these two perspectives are colliding in real life situations involving transgender persons.
Sexual identity and sexual orientation are two distinctly different issues. There is some fluidity in sexual orientation which I have personally experienced. Sexual orientation is a continuum with heterosexual and homosexual at the extreme ends. Most of us are, to some extent, a bit bisexual, even Mr. Wax. Fluidity moves the needle but rarely results in a change in how we identify our sexual orientation. There is a veritable mountain of published, peer reviewed research that sexual orientation is innate. While there is some fluidity we know of nothing that influences those changes. It's kind of like outdoor temperature. It goes up and down but there's not much we can do to change the heat or cold.
2. If gender identity is fixed and unchangeable, why do many children who experience gender dysphoria lose these feelings after puberty?

The next wave of societal controversy is likely to involve one’s approach to children. Studies show that a significant number of people who experience varying degrees of gender dysphoria as children choose to identify with their biological sex after puberty.
The research that Wax cites also indicates that adults with gender dysphoria trace it back to childhood. Clinicians are careful with prepubescent children. Studies show that the earlier someone transitions, the happier they will be as adults. That has to be weighed against the potential for outgrowing gender dysphoria. Experienced clinicians are becoming better at identifying what is a phase in contrast to what is likely to be a lifelong condition. The fact that there is fluidity in gender identity does nothing to undermine the scientific consensus.

Nobody recommends sex reassignment surgery for children. Just at the point of puberty children, parents and clinicians reach agreement on hormones. There is a superb piece done by PBS (it is probably available online). A transgender teen boy and his parents make the decision to avoid his growing breast tissue which he was extremely concerned and upset about.
3. When a person feels a disjunction between one’s sex at birth and one’s gender identity, why is the only course of action to bring the body into closer conformity with the person’s psychological state, rather than vice versa?

If the disjunction a transgender person feels between their gender and their body is psychological, why should we recommend invasive surgical procedures to make the body more closely match the mind instead of seeking treatment that might help move the mind closer to the sex they were assigned at birth?

In other words, why do many transgender advocates claim that the only loving response to a transgender person is to support their desire for a surgical procedure?
It is not the only course of action. People make their own decisions about hormones and surgery, not transgender advocates. We know of no reputable psychiatric means of addressing gender dysphoria other than to support the needs and desires of the individual. Individuals and doctors reach consensus on how that person should be medically treated. Talk therapy won't change a person's gender identity. Nor will it alleviate gender dysphoria.
4. Is the higher rate of suicide among transgender persons due primarily to the inner tensions of experiencing gender dysphoria as a disorder, or are these acts motivated primarily by societal rejection? In the past six months, I have noticed the same trend among many transgender advocates: that questioning a course of treatment or wondering out loud about the significance or meaning of gender in a way that dissents from transgender theory is responsible for transgender suicides. According to this way of thinking, gender binaries are inherently oppressive and damaging to the mental health of transgender persons.
Being gender non-conforming is a challenge. It makes life more difficult. Most people do not have the support systems of Caitlyn Jenner or Jazz Jennings. What Wax is implying is akin to saying “cancer kills ergo we must not get cancer.” Nobody volunteers to be gender non-conforming. Moreover, I suspect that research will show that acceptance and support drastically reduce the suicide rate amount transgender people.
5. Why are the strongest critics of “gender binaries” the most likely to support gender stereotypes on display in transgender celebrities?
I don't know that they are nor do I care. What is the point?
6. Why must one’s declared gender identity be accepted without question, while other forms of self-identification can be dismissed?

In making her point about women embracing men who transition, Burkett writes:

“Imagine the reaction if a young white man suddenly declared that he was trapped in the wrong body and, after using chemicals to change his skin pigmentation and crocheting his hair into twists, expected to be embraced by the black community.”
The comparison is absurd. The question is rhetorical … next.
7. Without a settled definition in our legal system for transgender, how can we avoid all sorts of problems, including bathroom access?

Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry writes:
“Presumably, post-transition transgender people look like the gender they identify with. Who, exactly, is going to stop someone who looks like a woman from walking into a ladies’ room? Or someone who looks like a man from walking into a men’s room? The American nanny state may be out of control, but we still don’t have bathroom police.”
So why the uproar? Because, without clear definitions and markers of transgender beyond “I am what I say,” we are left with unclear guidelines and chaotic standards. Carl Trueman pointed to the incoherent regulations proposed by his local school board:
“On the one hand, it asserts that a student’s asserted gender identity has to be accepted, and must not be questioned or disregarded by staff. Moreover, the only exception is if staff have a ‘credible basis’ for believing the student is ‘improperly’ asserting a gender identity, vague and undefined terms that are open to abuse. Yet, the policy also claims that a student’s transgender status may constitute confidential medical information that should not be disclosed to parents or others, suggesting it is a medical condition. Which is it?”
Common sense would prevail if religious conservatives would get out of the way. There do not seem to be a significant number of problems where transgender access is enacted by law. The simple fact is that people do not pretend to be transgender in order to access opposite sex bathrooms. There is not much at the end of that rainbow except for naked ankles. The school board is slightly incoherent because it is trying to address a situation that does not exist. It does so on the insistence of Christians who claim otherwise for the purpose of subverting trans access.
The debate over the T in LGBT is likely to get louder in coming years. Yes, there are some in our society who would scapegoat people with gender dysphoria who would cast them as predators and “freaks.” Meanwhile, there are others who believe societal evolution depends on the abolishing of gender altogether and see the transgender experience as a way of moving beyond oppressive structures of “male” and “female.”

For Christians, however, neither of these options is available to us.
There would not be much debate nor shouting if Christians would just leave it alone. If they, conservatives, are gender non-conforming they are at liberty to insist otherwise. No one is telling them how to raise their children either. Yet there is a reason for those suicides and that's something that Christian parents need to think about. Nobody volunteers to be trans, or gay for that matter. LGBT citizens are the object of ridicule. Life would be much easier for most LGBT people if they were heterosexual gender conformists.

Being gay had a deep impact on my career development. I became a CEO in spite of it. I could have, and should have, been running a much larger organization. I cannot begin to estimate the challenges that a transgender person faces.

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