A couple of days ago, a friend of mine shot me a facebook message asking me for a Christian perspective on, of all things, transgenderism. For many reasons that will be explained later, this will be a topic of increasing pertinence that the Church will have to give a theologically-informed account for at some point. We need to have answers for questions like: “Did God make them that way?”, “Are they just confused?”, “Should we support many people’s desire for surgical alterations?”,”What hope for ‘healing’ can we expect in this life?”,”Is it something that needs to be ‘healed’ in the first place?”, “Is it a sin?”, “What does a Christian with transgender issues look like?”, “Is that even possible?”, among others.
To be honest, I don’t feel like I have a rock solid answer to any of these questions. Every time I feel like I do, I talk to someone and they show me a new dimension I hadn’t seen before. So, I’m very open to ideas, which is why I’m writing this on the blog. I would love everyone’s feedback and opinion as to how one should answer these questions.
But first, what are we talking about? Transgenderism is different from transexuality. A person is considered transgendered when their personal gender identity does not match the physical sex that was assigned to them at birth–that’s it. A person is considered a “transexual” when they actually seek to change their physical sex through surgery or hormone therapy. Individuals can be transgendered based on genetics (genetically they’re one gender; physically they’re another) or psychology (their gender identity does not match the gender role assigned to them by culture and society based on their physical gender; they don’t “feel” like the sex they physically are). I’m not sure if my friend was asking about both these issues or if they were in fact, drawing a distinction, but many of the same issues are involved in both.
By the time I was done writing out my whole response to these questions, the essay was about six pages long. It’s done, mind you, I just don’t want to throw all of that at all of you at once. So I’m going to spread it over the next three days in three separate posts. But please respond to this post and this series. I would love all of your thoughts. Below you’ll find the schedule and topics to be addressed. Look at what I’ll be talking about in the next couple of days and see if your comment or question might be more appropriate in the days to come.
- Today: The Questions of Transgenderism
- some questions, definitions, and all of your thoughts
- Tuesday: A Prolegomena of Transgenderism
- how others have approached this and what we need to remember (but often forget) when trying to address this
- Wednesday: A Theology of Transgenderism?
- a brief theology/history of gender and sexuality and how do we deal with this theologically and practically in the Church?
So, what are your thoughts on this? If you’re not a Christian, how do you think Christians should approach this issue? How have they not done a good job in the past? How do you approach it? If you are a Christian, what’s your immediate gut reaction to this issue? Is it reasonable? Does it follow the other aspects of the Gospel that you know? How do you think Jesus would approach this? How were you raised to approach this topic?