A Layman’s Thoughts about Christian Theism and Gender Identity Disorder
(Note: I’ve titled this post “A Layman’s Thoughts” to reinforce the fact that I am neither an expert on human sexuality in general, gender identity disorder in particular, nor Christian doctrine on gender identity. If someone who reads this wants to “school” me on the errors in this post, I won’t be offended in the least.)
The evangelical magazine, Christianity Today, ran a story about a bill in the California Assembly which would require many/most (but not all) religious institutions of higher education to make accommodations based upon a person’s gender identity. (Note: my goal here is not to comment on the pros or cons of that bill.) The CT article was yet another reminder that many or most Evangelicals, if not Christians in general, are opposed, not to the fact that there are individuals with Gender Identity Disorder, but to the idea that said individuals might transition from gender to another through hormones, medication, and surgery, including Gender Reassignment Surgery (GRS), also known as having a “sex change operation.”
I find it fascinating that so many Christians believe that their faith requires them to oppose certain accommodations for trans people. I get the Christian opposition to homosexual activity — from a layman’s perspective, it certainly appears that the Bible teaches that God forbids homosexual sex — but I don’t get the Christian opposition to allowing individuals to bring their gender identity into alignment with their anatomical sex.
I can even understand why Christians feel required to defending gender binarism: the Genesis creation story–with Adam and Eve, not Adam, Eve, and “Pat“–is a gender binary story. But why the opposition to sexual transition?
I could be wrong, but it is as if these Christians believe there cannot be ‘birth defects’ relating to gender identity. But this seems false. First, there are intersex people, where the ‘birth defect’ is in the genitalia. Second, there are people who were exposed to too much of the wrong hormone in the womb, resulting in what you might call a ‘birth defect’ of the brain. It appears that abnormal hormone exposure can masculinize the brain of a fetus in the womb with female genitals and feminize the brain of a fetus in the womb with male genitals. Once this has taken place in the womb, there is no known way to reverse its effects.
It’s not obvious why people in either situation who undergo sex change surgery are doing something wrong, while people who get any other kind of surgery are doing something right or at least permissible. It’s as if these Christians are fixated on non-intersex transsexuals whose genitalia is fully functional, ignoring the fact that transition–up to and including sexual reassignment surgery–is the only known way to bring their gender identity, most likely the product of abnormal hormone exposure in the womb, into alignment with their physical genitalia.