Lately, the evangelical right has been obsessing over transgender identity. A lot of the rhetoric has been Bible-based and emotionally charged.
These anti-trans activists have advocated against anti-discrimination policies, bathroom integration and gender-appropriate state ID cards and driver’s licenses.
Evangelicals have succeeded in fighting gender equity in Colorado, with well-articulated legal arguments stripped of religious fervor and bolstered by academic rhetoric.
Spearheading this movement nationally is the Family Research Council, which this month published a new work, “Understanding and Responding to the Transgender Movement,” which is aimed to give anti-trans activists a veneer of scientific and intellectual legitimacy.
In recent decades, there has been an assault on the sexes. That is, there has been an attack on the previously undisputed reality that human beings are created either male or female; that there are significant differences between the sexes; and that those differences result in at least some differences in the roles played by men and women in society.
The first wave of this attack came from the modern feminist movement and the second from the homosexual movement. The third wave of this assault on the sexes has been an attack on a basic reality—that all people have a biological sex, identifiable at birth and immutable through life, which makes them either male or female.
The third wave ideology is known as the “transgender” movement. This paper offers a description and critique of that movement and ideology. Part I addresses the psychological and medical issues involved; Part II will address the public policy issues.
The document goes on to lament the evolution in psychiatry from the era when homosexuality was considered a psychiatric disorder. The report explains that transgender activists have borrowed from the “homosexual movement” and are degrading psychiatry by shifting from the old term “gender identity disorder” to “gender dysphoria.” (While some reformists in the transgender movement viewed this as a coup, others felt that the idea of transgender identity should not be considered a psychiatric issue at all.)
The FRC study includes a variety of sweeping generalizations about transgender identity including the importance of surgery and the necessity of “passing” – none of which are necessarily a part of any individual trans person’s experience.
The document also uses the antiquated term “transgendered” instead of transgender. The implication of the “ed” is that trans identity is a choice or something that has happened to someone rather than a stable identity. It would be like saying someone is “blacked” or “gayed.” The term is reviled by transgender activists.
These evangelicals seem most nervous about the concept of genderqueer identity that they believe could overthrow the gender binary and God’s natural design for biological sex; though the anti-trans, faith-based crusaders who authored the study are too savvy to use the words “God” or “Bible.”
Finally, the report makes a series of policy recommendations: Bathrooms should not be integrated; the law should not recognize people’s gender identity when it does not conform with their assigned sex at birth; government health-care plans should not pay for sex-reassignment surgery; trans people should be barred from the military.
The report concludes:
A person’s sex (male or female) is an immutable biological reality. In the vast majority of people (including those who later identify as “transgender”), it is unambiguously identifiable at birth. There is no rational or compassionate reason to affirm a distorted psychological self-concept that one’s “gender identity” is different from one’s biological sex.
“Neither lawmakers nor counselors, pastors, teachers, nor medical professionals should participate in or reinforce the transgender movement’s lies about sexuality—nor should they be required by the government to support such distortion.
Not all Christians share this anti-trans obsession. Several churches including the United Church for Christ affirm LGBT people and trans identity.
To read the full study, go here.
Correction: The original article referred to the FRC as the Family Resource Council. It is the Family Research Council.
Photo credit: Ted Eytan, Creative Commons, Flickr.