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Sunday, September 16, 2018



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Seven things I’m learning about transgender persons

Seven things I’m learning about transgender persons

Mark Wingfield, an associate pastor at Wilshire Baptist Church in Dallas, wrote the following edited blog entitled, Seven Things I’m Learning about Transgender Persons.

I don’t know much about transgender issues, but I’m trying to learn. How much do you really know about this subject beyond all the screaming headlines and concerns about who goes to the bathroom where?

The truth is that I don’t know any transgender persons. I don’t think I do. But with the help of a pediatrician friend and a geneticist friend, I’m listening and trying to learn. This is hard, though, because understanding the transgender experience seems so far outside what I have ever experienced. And the more I learn, the more theological questions I face as well.

Here’s some of what I’m learning from my friends who have experience as medical professionals dealing with real people and real families:

1. Although LGBT gets lumped together, the T is quite different from the LG and B. “Lesbian,” “gay” and “bisexual” describe sexual orientation. “Transgender” describes gender identity. These are not the same thing.

Sexual orientation is about whom we feel an attraction to and want to mate with; gender identity is about whether we identify as male or female.

2. For the vast majority of humanity, the presence of male or female genitalia corresponds to whether a person is male or female. What you see is what you are. But for a small part of humanity (something less than 1 percent), the visible parts and the inner identity do not line up. For example, being born with male genitalia but female chromosomes or vice versa is possible.

Brain research has shown that it is possible to be born with female genitalia, female chromosomes but a male brain. Most of us hit the jackpot upon birth with all three factors lining up like cherries on a slot machine: Our anatomy, chromosomes and brain cells all correspond as either male or female. But some people are born with variations in one or two of these indicators.

3. It’s not an everyday occurrence but sometimes babies are born with ambiguous or incomplete sexual anatomy. In the past, surgeons often decided whether this child would be a boy or a girl, based on what was the easiest surgical fix. Today, much more thought is given to these life-changing decisions.

4. Transgender persons are not “transvestites”. Far too many of us make this mix-up, because the words sound similar. Cross-dressers, identified in slang as “transvestites”, are people (typically men) who are happy with their gender but derive pleasure from occasionally dressing like the opposite gender. Cross-dressing is about something other than gender identity.

5. Transgender persons are not pedophiles. The typical pedophile is an adult male who is heterosexual and most likely married. Pedophiles molest children, both male and female. There is zero statistical evidence to link transgender persons to pedophilia.

6. The typical transgender persons hate all the attention they’re getting and want desperately not to attract attention. All this publicity and talk of bathroom habits is highly disconcerting to people who have spent their lives trying not to stand out or become the center of attention.

7. For those who are transgender, nature undeniably plays a primary role. According to medical science, chromosomal variances occur within moments of conception, and anatomical development happens within the nine months in the womb. There is no nature vs. nurture argument, except in cases of brain development, which is an emerging field of study.

This last point raises a theological question: If Christians really believe every person is created in the image of God, how can we damn a baby who comes from the womb with gender difference?

My pediatrician friend puts it this way: “We must believe that even if some people got a lower dose of a chromosome, or an enzyme, or a hormonal effect, that does not mean that they got a lower dose of God’s image.”