Thursday, July 13, 2017

The Sprigg and Ex-Trans Crackpottery

Peter Sprigg
Peter Sprigg of Family Research Council is jumping for joy late Wednesday because 15 people claim to be ex-trans. Besides being in the employ of a hate group, Sprigg is a Baptist minister, not a mental health worker.

First some image-of-God warm-up:
… our maleness or femaleness, and the complementarity of the two, is part of the “image of God” with which each of us is created by God. Linda Seiler, who struggled with gender identity issues growing up, said this means that “gender is sacred” and that “rejecting one’s God-given sex is rebelling against the Creator.” Speaker Nate Oyloe applied the concept to marriage, saying, “Divorce is the image of God, masculine and feminine, being torn apart.” Another speaker, who formerly lived a lesbian lifestyle and is now living a life of chastity, gave a personal testimony in which she declared, “I was born with a sinful and rebellious nature, but I was reborn in the imago dei (image of God).”
The highlight of the [ex-gay/trans] conference for me was seeing the world premiere of a new documentary film called TranZformed: Finding Peace with Your God-Given Gender. While the movement that believes sexual orientation change is possible has been around for decades, and numerous testimonies of those who have experienced change have long been available, until now only a few people have publicly come out as “ex-transgender” (the most prominent being Walt Heyer—see his website).

TranZformed, however, features the dramatic testimonies of 15 ex-transgender individuals who “bear witness to what Jesus Christ can do for those who struggle with gender dysphoria.” The film, which is over an hour long, was very professionally produced by Pure Passion Media, a ministry dedicated to “equipping the church to redemptively minister to those who are trapped in sexual sin and brokenness” (a focus which definitely includes heterosexual sin and brokenness, such as pornography addiction). In fact, two of the testimonies included in TranZformed are available on the Pure Passion website.
Gender dysphoria has nothing to do with any deity. It is a well documented medical condition requiring medical attention. There are more than 1.4 million transgender people in the United States. Considerably more have gender dysphoria. 15 religious zealots is not statistically significant.

In addition to the minuscule representation, there are far too many variables starting with the severity of gender dysphoria. Many people are able to live with, what is for them, mild discomfort. For them, gender affirmation is unnecessary. At the other side of the range are people whose discomfort produces substantial depression and anxiety. The only relief that is available to them is gender affirmation; being trans.

The fact that these 15 people claim to have been transgender does not provide insight into the harshness of their gender dysphoria.

Another variable is age. One of those 15 is Walt Heyer. Heyer had sex-affirming surgery in his late 30's which is atypical. Caitlyn Jenner does not provide an example. She enjoys substantial economic and social support that is realized by very few transgender people.

There are many other variables but;

Let's talk about kids.

The harm that Sprigg and Restored Hope Network do is to give parents the wrong impression about gender dysphoria. When a child has persistent gender identity issues the very first thing that a parent needs to do is to see a medical specialist; someone who works with these kids every day. Planning an exorcism is unlikely to provide much relief.

Highly trained clinicians know how to ask situational questions. They can offer a diagnosis based on science, not superstition. They have the tools to determine the difference between what is probably a phase and what is causing severe distress. More importantly they can document and analyze a child's sense of self over time, replacing a snapshot with a trend. My kid? I would get a second opinion as well.

The religious right doesn't care about what is best for kids. They prefer a miserable non-trans child over a happy and healthy transgender child. They try to give the impression that pediatric specialist are bent on creating transgender children and that is false. Their only agenda is what is best for the child. The agenda of the Christians is to keep parents away from these clinicians. They don't want kids to be transgender, regardless of the best interests of children. Their interests are defined by what they think will please a deity.

Another thing that the religious conservatives do is to try to assure parents, using dated and flawed studies, that children grow out of gender dysphoria and that treating them will make the condition permanent. It is like dealing with the Tobacco Institute. Some kids do grow out of the discomfort. Gender affirmation is unlikely to lock anything in. Untreated children have an extraordinary risk of suicide if their dysphoria is persistent. Again, the agenda of the Christians is to keep parents and children away from medical specialists in order to prevent children from becoming trans in order to please their god — regardless of the consequences.

Some keys:
  1. There is no intervention known to medical science that reverses gender dysphoria. There is no sinister conspiracy to keep a cure hidden.
  2. Some children with gender dysphoria are suffering severely.
  3. According to the most recent research, gender affirmation reduces anxiety and depression to normal levels.
  4. Religious leaders lack the training to properly evaluate anyone, let alone the mental health of children.
  5. A parent's discomfort with a trans child is less important than the child's discomfort from gender identity issues.
The bottom line is that parents are challenged to provide their kids with the support they require. If they are trans they are going to face discrimination and ridicule. Supportive parents give children the ego-strengths to cope with adversity. Come to think of it, that applies to all children, not just those with gender identity discomfort.

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