Randy Thomas, the executive vice president of Exodus and an ex-gay yesterday answered some questions about transgender children for Focus on the Family’s CitizensLink on-line newsletter. Throughout the article I see evidence of confusion, misinformation and downright fear.
Hearkening back to the 50′s and 60′s Thomas laments,
With my parents’ generation — the boomers and older — there were deeply taught gender roles, but that started breaking down with Gen X. Now people don’t know how to teach being a male or a female to younger males or younger females.
His answers quickly turn to highlighting lavender scare of gay activists in the school system and the fears he has of the consequence of letting young people decide for themselves if they are a boy or a girl,
The schools are being co-opted by a worldview that is undermining a child’s ability to learn how to be a responsible citizen, and they are going to create chaos. Teenagers are confused enough about their identity; they don’t need gay activists or transgendered activists going into their schools confusing them even further.
Actually many of these transgender children are the only ones NOT confused about their identity. The confusion comes when adults tell them they don’t know what they are talking about.
I sat at dinner with 16 year old Sean and his mom. Sean knew he was a boy as early as age three. Apparently and his mom were uninvited to the Oprah Show when they couldn’t produce any early photos of Sean looking like a little girl. He just never did even though biologically it appeared he was born one.
Some people like Randy Thomas want a very simple world with everything falling neatly into place. When it comes to gender, things do not turn out so simply. How do we account for individuals who are born intersex with both or ambiguous genitals. Usually a doctor determines the sex of the infant and has often gotten it wrong.
But our sex (and especially gender) is not simply determined by the bits between our legs. All sorts of complex processes happen in the womb around our sex that biologically affect our brains, hormones, body types and more. In a simple world where certain people want to think that nothing ever deviates from the mythical norms of the 1950′s, some people come out of the womb with the outside not matching the inside. But instead of listening to these folks, (often because they are children and considered by some to be ignorant) some people insist that these young people are wrong about who they know themselves to be.
Gender variant and transgender people have been around for a very long time. Recently they have had more opportunities to tell their stories, so suddenly for some it seems these stories are new. Consider jazz musician Billy Tipton who lived all his life as male without any questions from anyone. After he died, it came to light that he was biologically female. Many transgender people have passed for thousands of years. There is nothing new under the sun.
Conflating issues of marriage with gender identity, Thomas writes,
As Christians, we know that male and female both uniquely represent the image of God, and when they come together in the form of marriage, they bear witness of Him in a way that they can’t do alone. So gender identity is very important to God.
In fact, gender is so very important that gender variant people pop up all over the place in the Bible. The entire book of Esther would fall apart without the surgically altered gender other eunuchs. You have people acting and presenting outside of gender norms and roles in key stories in Genesis, Judges and the Gospels. Randy may consider coming to see my play Transfigurations–Transgressing Gender in the Bible.
Most importantly we need to sit with transgender people, hear their stories and learn the scientific facts about sex and gender, particularly the complex pre-natal processes that occur.