Transgendered, the New Black
Recently, I had a conversation with a Christian regarding transgendered people. Not to disrespect this individual, but they seemed ignorant and a bit of a bigot on the issue, describing transsexuals as suffering from a "mental disorder" and staunchly believing there exists only two genders.
I don't think it was their ignorance that surprised me. It was the nature of the attack and the dogmatism that alarmed me--and also the thought that I was like that once.
I can't say the conversation was particularly meaningful. I was not adequately armed with information to dispel the ignorance, so my main thrust was to say "do some more research," which felt pathetic. Upon reflection, it would have been easier to find out the premise that this Christian was so precariously perched on: that Christians are uncomfortable with more than two genders because God said there was two.
And yet, Christians so often compromise when it comes to the Bible's standards and scientific evidence showing that a more humanistic approach is safer and more beneficial for all parties. Several historic issues that summarize this would include slavery, women's right to vote, and women's right to work. In all those cases, some Christians opposed the humanitarian side, but later on, Christians have switched the tune they sing.
So I should have asked questions like this, to get this person to think and realize why they believe what they do, and that such a belief is not necessarily grounded in reality:
- Is it okay for man/woman to exhibit womanly/manly traits?
- If not, you misunderstand the word "trait."
- Is it okay for a man/woman to dress as the opposite gender?
- If not, where do you draw the line? Can men play women in Shakespearean plays? Can women wear jeans? Can girls buy/wear men's basketball shorts? Is it okay for men to wear makeup?
- Obviously there are some gray areas...
- Is it okay for men/women to drag?
- Why not? Scripture does not necessarily condemn such a practice (please correct me if I'm wrong, Christians. The only passages which could address this are in 1) Deuteronomy 22:5 regarding wearing the opposite gender's clothing, but this would mean jeans are out of the equation for women--and don't tell me that there are women jeans and that's why they can, because you are saying the only thing that separates men's clothing from women's clothing is a tag. The second passage would be in 2) 1 Corinthians 11:3-15, but it has to do with hairstyles, is an often debated passage, and often not lived out...)
- Do you deny that people who are born one gender cannot be mentally and emotionally distraught by that assignment?
- If so, we can't continue this conversation. You have not done the research.
- How would you suggest addressing such a mental distress?
- Anything spiritual I will dismiss, keeping in mind that such a practice cannot apply to people who lack the spiritual belief. You can't expect someone to pray to god, if they don't believe he/she exists.
- The idea that that person can be "cured" by helping them realign with their assigned gender at birth has been publicly proclaimed as ineffective.1
- The only remaining option I can think of is psychotherapy, helping the patient adjust, whether through hormones, biological procedures, etc.
These questions would probably be enough food for thought for one day, even if it didn't spark enough conversation to last an entire day. Other questions I would ask a Christian might include:
- How does the church handle a transsexual who becomes a Christian? First Corinthians 7:17-24 suggests that those who are called should remain as they were when they are called. For a transsexual, this would mean a corrective surgery is unnecessary.
- Do you realize there are many transsexuals already, many of whom you would not be able to tell the difference from the opposite gender?
- Do you also realize that there are children at a young age that feel entirely out of place in their assigned gender?
Anyway, best wishes if you engage in someone who thinks "transgender" is a mental disorder. To me, transgendered people are important and deserve some respect as well as support.