Transgender people. I had never really given their situation much thought until recently. Never been angered by the idea of them. Never championed them, either. Just never given the transgender community much thought.
I’m of the school of Live and Let Live. If a man has grown up feeling that he was born into the wrong body and wants a gender reassignment operation, and doctors and psychologists go along with that, then who am I to argue? Go for it! Be happy! It doesn’t interest me in the slightest. I don’t think about it. There are other things going on in the world and in my life more worthy of thinking time.
You know who does like thinking about the transgender community, though? Christians.
Since the Caitlyn Jenner story broke earlier this year, transgenderism has been brought to my attention by the media, both real and social. Everyone seems to have an opinion. The negative ones coming predominantly from people arguing from a religious standpoint.
One example of this was a friend of mine, an intelligent and well-educated person and a practising Catholic, posting an article on Facebook written by a guy who works as a professor of psychiatry, arguing that transgenderism is not a real condition but rather a delusion or even a desire for attention. It over simplifies, generalises and trivialises, over-emphasising rare examples that support his argument, and seeking to make the issue about sexual desires. Here are a few excerpts of the article:
“A rare issue of a few men—both homosexual and heterosexual men, including some who sought sex-change surgery because they were erotically aroused by the thought or image of themselves as women—has spread to include women as well as men. Even young boys and girls have begun to present themselves as the opposite sex.”
“I have not met or examined Jenner, but his behavior resembles that of some of the transgender males we have studied over the years. These men wanted to display themselves in sexy ways, wearing provocative female garb. More often than not, while claiming to be a woman in a man’s body, they declared themselves to be “lesbians” (attracted to other women).”
“The idea that one’s sex is fluid and a matter open to choice runs unquestioned through our culture and is reflected everywhere in the media, the theater, the classroom, and in many medical clinics. It has taken on cult-like features: its own special lingo, internet chat rooms providing slick answers to new recruits, and clubs for easy access to dresses and styles supporting the sex change. It is doing much damage to families, adolescents, and children and should be confronted as an opinion without biological foundation wherever it emerges.”
My Catholic friend was supporting the idea put forward by the article, with her own words, “Transgendered men do not become women, nor do transgendered women become men. All (including Bruce Jenner) become feminized men or masculinized women, counterfeits or impersonators of the sex with which they “identify.””
I admit that I am no expert on transgenderism, but what I do accept is that there are people in the world who know instinctively from before puberty that they were born into the wrong body, and these people are either forced to live a life of being untrue to themselves, or they can go through years of transitional therapy, culminating in surgery, to finally be allowed to live with the identity that they are sure is correct. Who am I to argue with that? Inside me I feel like a male, I have done all my life, and fortunately my outer body matches this, so I have not had to experience the feeling of being born into the wrong body. I can only imagine how dreadful this must be for the person. Nobody who hasn’t had to deal with being transgender can know what it is, me included. But I can empathise even if I can’t understand.
A lot of Christians seem unable to do the same, and this annoys me because the same Christians demand that their belief in an invisible God is respected, accepted and that they are allowed to practice their religion openly and without judgement from outside.
But then after I read this reply, I changed my mind: