Christianity Today on "The Transgender Moment"

Christianity Today has an article (The Transgender Moment) and sidebar (Walking a Fine Line) (apparently these are in the print and online editions) quoting me and many others regarding transgender issues. Some have contacted me to ask if I was quoted correctly, feeling perhaps that my comments were inconsistent with my views expressed elsewhere. Here are my comments from “The Transgender Moment:”

Whether mentioned in Scripture or not, the transgender movement clashes with traditional Christian theology that teaches the only God-given expression of human sexuality is between a man and woman who are married.

“Transgender impulses are strong, but they don’t match up with the Christian sexual ethic,” says Warren Throckmorton, associate professor of psychology at Grove City College in Pennsylvania. “Desires must be brought into alignment with biblical teachings, but it will be inconvenient and distressful.”

Throckmorton, past president of the American Mental Health Counselors Association, says he has advised transgendered people who are in absolute agony over their state. Typically, such individuals are desperately in search of hope and acceptance, he says. It may be uncomfortable to tell transgendered individuals that their desires don’t align with the Bible, Throckmorton says, but pastors must do so. “Even if science does determine differentiation in the brain at birth,” Throckmorton says, “even if there are prenatal influences, we can’t set aside teachings of the Bible because of research findings.”

While I don’t remember saying these exact things, I think the biggest problem in order to understand my views on this topic is the absence of the context for these remarks. I do remember saying in my interview with John Kennedy that each situation was different and that each person experiencing gender conflict should consult with medical specialists, psychological professionals, and clergy. Some people may come to the conclusion that the Scriptures are silent on what they should do about their feelings. However, for those who do come to the conclusion that various options are not permitted by Christian teaching, the conflict can be agonizing. For those people, bringing desires into alignment with the teaching they believe to be correct is difficult but these individuals may come to see it as their calling to live out. In this article, I am speaking as if this context has already been set. 

In practice, I believe mental health professionals should take the same perspective regarding transgender issues as I have advised with sexual orientation in the sexual identity framework – the client sets the value direction. Pastors, however, are more likely and indeed are called upon to interpret doctrine and the relevance of doctrine for action. I do not think research findings supporting an innate source of gender identity conflict is likely to sway pastoral advice much, in the same way that finding an innate source of homosexual attractions is unlikely to change traditional views.

Perhaps the quote that I feel the most troubled by is this one: “Transgender impulses are strong, but they don’t match up with the Christian sexual ethic.” I don’t remember saying it that way but if I did, I would certainly say it differently now. As I see it, impulses are not of the same moral significance as behavior, especially chosen behavior. I do not see sexual or gender inclinations as being chosen. What one does may or may not match up with a Christian sexual ethic, but I do not view feelings in the same manner. In any case, I want to emphasize that persons who experience gender identity conflicts should reach out and seek advice from medical and mental health professionals, as well as their spiritual advisors. 

Now I suspect for some this will not be a sufficient reaction to this article. I invite readers to discuss the issues raised in the article. I invite clergy and transgender advocates to comment and offer rationale for their views. Some think I need educated; so educate me.  

 

  • AM

    I’m not sure what else can be said when medical science backs up sexual ambiguity, and the person’s own life has shown this disparity.

    Let’s narrow down the field a bit: intersexed individuals: medically documented, known as hermaphrodites many years ago. How in the world can the Church or any Christian tell another that having an hormonal imbalance, body parts that were removed, added, etc… that they are in some kind of state of sin by not accepting God’s role of male and female? When they were born both?! It would be far more merciful to allow such children to die than subject them to Divine condemnation for a life time.

    The individual in question was seen by an endocrinologist, who medically documented these imbalances, so the problem is what? That the person is not choosing to ignore it all and continue to pretend for the comfort of others? Sounds an awful lot like what gay people were told for hundreds of years with *their* gender disparities.

    The more that this whole “anything other than straight” discussion continues, the less I see the Jesus in the Bible shown to others. And to what end? To “defend” God or to continue a lineage of Phariseeism sent from the pit of Hell.

  • Noa Resare

    Warren,

    I would like to thank you for bringing your views on trans issues. I think that reading what you have to say in an issue that obviously is not mentioned in any negative way in the Bible at all can help people get perspective on your advice when it comes to non-hetro orientation as well.

    When a church condemns for example diagnosed transsexual individuals for being what they are, even though it is obvious that the Bible makes no statements whatsoever about transsexualism, that amounts to spiritual abuse.

    In my opinion it is the duty of every christian to side with the abused party, and clearly state that the condemning church is wrong on that issue. Trying as a therapist or other support person to change the person to fit into the church even though the church is wrong might be convenient, but in the long rung I am convinced that such a strategy will lead to copious amounts of misery and pain. The temporary peace of mind that such an attempt at “change” will bring to the abusive church will unquestionably do more harm than good.

    In short, saying “I’m not taking sides on whether behaviour X is morally wrong or not, if some church tell you it is wrong it might be a good idea to seek therapy to “change” in any case” just is not okay, at least not with me.

  • Drowssap

    I genuinely feel for people with gender dysphoria because they don’t have many places to turn for support.

    Many therapists are all too eager to encourage people (even kids) with transgender feelings to believe their feelings. The unfortunate truth about the human condition is that feelings don’t have an IQ.

    From a scientific standpoint healthy men aren’t born into female bodies and visa versa. That is a medical impossibility. But clearly something biological has gone awry. Until that can be repaired a lot of people are going to be in a lot of pain. On the bright side scientists are closer than ever to figuring out this mystery.

    The hormone that switches bisexual fruit fly’s to straight fly’s in minutes is a strong clue about where this is all headed.

  • Nemario

    Sounds fine to me. Strange things happen in the world. The bottom line for a Christian is to deal with it.

    Personally it’s not even so much about “theology” as it is common spirituality and common sense. To each his own…

  • http://justjenniferblog.blogspot.com/ Just Jennifer

    Interestingly enough, I wrote an article that was submitted to Christianity Today a couple of years ago, in which I analyzed the issue and showed that the Bible does not condemn those who are truly transsexual. Now, as I said at that time, I was only speaking to the issue of those who are born with a body that is at odds with their brain’s sexual differentiation. Christianity Today seems to be quoting you in such a way as to dismiss such a thing out of hand.

    Now, I have to partially agree with what Drowssap says. Health men are not born into women’s bodies, and vice versa, which is why people like that are treated medically with hormones and surgery to correct the bodies. Drowssap seems to think research may, based on fruit fly research, be able to reverse the brain. That is possible, but such a thing would have to be done in infancy to prevent other problems. Otherwise, the person would have grown up with a brain that is wired one way, and then be suddenly reversed. This could be very traumatic.

    Yes, I was born a transsexual, or as I, and many others prefer, with Harry Benjamin Syndrome. Interestingly enough, my article was inspired by conversations I had with my former brother-in-law, who was a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary. I challenged him to show me, from the Bible, where transsexualism was wrong. He could not. I have been appalled by some of the bad theology expressed on this subject. People make dogmatic statements, but when confronted, they cannot back them up from Scripture. As a devout Christian, I look to the Bible for answers, not to people’s opinions. Personally, I compare this to what I saw growing up in the South. At that time, devout, Bible-believing Christians would tell you that it was clear that God did not want blacks and whites to mix. They would tell you, it was in the Bible. Of course, they couldn’t actually name chapter and verse, or if they did, it was clearly wrong, but they sincerely believed they were right. Now, those same people will tell you, they were wrong.

    I did not ask to be born as I was. I tried for many years to fight what I thought was wrong. Finally, God showed me the truth. I am now a happy, normal woman, instead of a miserable dysfunctional person, trying to pretend to be a man. Our brains are sexually differentiated just like our bodies. But the two occur at different times. Just as someone can be born with the wrong genitalia, the brain can be wired wrong. At present, we can only change the genitalia, not the brain. That is what I did.

  • Cathryn

    I am so glad I’m not a Christian when I read things like this.

    Science has given the answer, perfectly healthy people are in fact born with the neurology of the opposite sex and that cannot be changed but the body can be. It’s pretty much a decided issue unless you have a problem with neuro-science. Surgical changes to the body are done all the time to correct birth conditions without provoking a crisis of faith.

    Those of us who were born intersexed and incorrectly assigned a sex at birth have no original sin in that, the arrogant doctor does. Genesis says male AND female he created them, not OR so I could maintain my being born a true hermaphrodite makes me more in the image of the Divine than someone not born that way, think about it.

    The Bible actually does address this issue……positively. Read Isaiah 56 4-5 then also note that Jesus himself directly addressed “eunuchs”, born, made or for the sake of the kingdom and remember that eunuch then meant something different than the harem guard or castrati of the middle ages. Jesus didn’t reject us so how can any modern Christian worthy of his name do so?

    Now you know why I’m glad I’m a daughter of the Mother Goddess. She always considered me sacred and worthy.

  • http://chrysalismission.blogspot.com/ Donna

    Mr. Throckmorton,

    Start here:

    http://chrysalismission.blogspot.com/2007/08/overview.html

    Perhaps you’ll have a better understanding of what the Bible truly says, and what transgenderism really is. (Hint…it’s NOT about sexuality!).

  • Nora-Adrienne Deret

    You have the right to any opinion and belief that suits you. Where I take offense is that many so called “Good Christians” of faith are taking it upon themselves to force this belief and law upon people who arent Christian and don’t hold to your system of beliefs.. Even among Orthodox Judaism there are differing opinions on the matter of Transsexualism.

    Teach what you want to your own people but dont make laws or change existing laws that affect the rest of society as a whole. Our govt was founded on the understanding that Religion and Government are two separate things. If you want to live in a country where the rule of law is the religious one.. move to a MOSLEM COUNTRY.

  • Alex Here

    I wonder how “sexual ethic” comes in here in the first place — the article talks about trans people, not what they do sexually. And the question of who and what I am is rather different from whom do I desire. Transpeople come in all flavours of sexual orientation and identity, be it straight, gay or lesbian, queer, bi, whatever; and quite a few are actually asexual. Only, what does that have to do with being trans in the first place?

    Until those self-styled “Christians” (which is not what they are to me) get the difference between gender identity and sexual orientation, they will never be able to make any meaningfull statements about transgender issues.

    And I might mention that those people who claim it is “scientifically impossible” for ones gender identity not to match ones sexual assignment, well, maybe you could back that statement actually up? With something that actually stands up to scientific scrutiny, maybe? Because gender identity is such a complex issue that we cannot even begin to understand how it actually forms, so such statements are at best wishfull thinking and at worst plainly dishonest.

  • Drowssap

    Harry Benjamin’s Syndrome (HBS) is a congenital intersex condition that develops before birth, involving the differentiation between male and female. It is believed that every 1 in 500 is born with this condition. Therefore a girl with Harry Benjamin’s Syndrome would have a females brain sex but her genitals would appear male. The boys born under this condition have female genitalia even thought their brains are male. So far it’s impossible to diagnose this condition at the moment of birth causing the babies to be raised in the wrong gender role.

    My only question is from a scientific standpoint what exactly is a male/female brain? When did that get figured out?

  • Drowssap

    Drowssap seems to think research may, based on fruit fly research, be able to reverse the brain. That is possible, but such a thing would have to be done in infancy to prevent other problems. Otherwise, the person would have grown up with a brain that is wired one way, and then be suddenly reversed. This could be very traumatic.

    That’s where Dr. Throckmorton comes in to play. Most people will certainly need counseling.

  • Stellewriter

    I/2500 of God’s children are born ambiguous, and as a transitioned individual, myself, I would hope we could talk beyond sex and address the issues fully. Most of my Transsexual friends are conservative Christians, who love their families, and wish they could have come to a better solution to their congenital conflict. And Like myself, have not had a sexual engagement since their disssolution of marriage some years ago. How about the church reaching out in substance to the rejected and estranged?

  • Evan

    Just Jennifer wrote:

    Drowssap seems to think research may, based on fruit fly research, be able to reverse the brain. That is possible, but such a thing would have to be done in infancy to prevent other problems. Otherwise, the person would have grown up with a brain that is wired one way, and then be suddenly reversed. This could be very traumatic.

    Researchers have already proved in animal models such as fruit flies and mice that sexual behaviour is the result of both brain development and present functioning. Attractions obviously have a biological support, which means that they will be able to be influenced by some combination of triggers (genes expression, neurotransmitters); it does not mean that the biological support is actually the original cause, but the instrument.

    For instance, in fruit flies there is a gene called fru; some male fruit flies have a deficiency in the way this gene is expressed in a brain chemical and they exhibit male-male sexual behaviour, others have yet another deficiency which was present from their earliest stages of development and they also exhibit the same type of behaviour. Scientists have changed the expression of the gene and the male fruit flies have changed sexual behaviour too. They concluded that in both cases the present functioning of the brain can be influenced, although in some small numbers sexual orientation may have been hard-wired before hatching. In mammals, the system has been proved to be even more flexible in gender roles and behaviour. There is a lot to be said here, but I won’t get into details.

    What revelevance can be found in all this research on flies and mice? We all share great parts of our genome and some genes play similar roles across the species. It’s called homology. So the pieces in the puzzle are beginning to match in the model animals, which give scientists new hints on what to look for in humans.

    I hope this detour was helpful to give a shorthand idea on the matter. We go back to the main subject now.

    I believe that what is essential in human life is awareness and capacity to deliberate. Choice is inescapable and cannot be done away with under any guise (scientific, adapted or distorted interpretations of theology to fit one’s desires). But I do agree that this is a matter of degrees and some people are at a greater disadvantage in struggling with their nature. It is a matter of health (or fitness for reproduction, if you want it this way), in my opinion, but once it gets mixed up with sexuality, it falls in the rights department and people can claim whatever is possible under the protection of consensuality and right to use one’s body to pursue pleasure (this is an immediate certainty for all people in a society of uncertainty).

    I can adduce here the example of the “leather community” which struggled to be recognised as a non-pathological and legitimate type of sexuality spanning all sexual orientations. What little support can this find in any other mammal, since humans are mammals too? It seems odd to find such variety in human sexuality (I have yet to hear about bondage sexual practices in macaque monkeys). It’s easy to reject sexual manifestations like pedophilia or fetishism on grounds of dysfunctionality, either by lack of conditions for consensuality, or by replacement of actual sexual object with inanimate substitutes. But is dysfunctionality the only lithmus test for what is sexually legitimate and what not?

    With all the sexual liberation movements, it seems that acceptance is growing for all non-harmful sexual manifestations done by consensual adults. This trend comes after religion has gradually lost its sway on society and political institutions — what is being called the period of oppression. What followed was a gradual rediscovery of the body together with a weakening of the normative grounds for imposing a norm of human behaviour. It was bound to collide with whatever religious pathos still lives in people, so the attempt to strike a compromise between sexuality and belief took an uncompromising stance on sexuality and right of pleasure but a compromising stance on interpreting theological tradition. Oddly enough, humans use their human rational capacity to deliberate in order to legitimate their animal right to whatever variations of physical exploration. It is odd and somehow ironic that so many types of sexual feelings in animal variety are today legitimated by resorting to ideas of human dignity that were actually developed starting with Christianism (value of life and individual right to salvation which lead to the modern concept of human rights), which is cited by many as an oppressive type of religion towards their feelings. What is “saved” today is the life of here-and-now, ie the variations in animal feelings. We do live in an age when it’s easier to play with interpretations than to listen to any talk on duty.

    Let’s imagine that smoking was not bad for one’s health, would anyone try to lose the habit? We already know that drugs activate the craving brain areas in the same way that sexual arousal does. Does that mean that sexuality can become addictive in some forms? How far is addictive and how close is not? That’s a question I’m not sure science will decide, however many findings will put on the table.

  • Alex Here

    I do need to comment on the comments now, I’m afraid:

    First, the fruit flies. Well, first of all, until fruit flies start to write books, have wars, and show at least a bit of the complexity of human genders and human sexuality, I doubt they can be all that relevant. And this sexual-behaviour-changing treatment is rather irrelevant for another reason: Do we know whether the male (?) fruit flies who hold out whatever a fruit fly holds out to another fruit fly to other male fruit flies do so because they think they are straight female or because they are gay males? No, we don’t. So we have no idea whether that is about gender identity or sexuality. And if we don’t know that, how can we know which discussion that is relevant to? We can’t. And since I already said how varried sexual behaviour in trans people is, we cannot even apply the sexual behaviour part — after all, a gay transman would be a person with XX genes desiring a person with XY genes; so what would the fruit fly treatment change there (if indeed it would change anything in humans in the first place)? Ponder that, before you argue with the fruit flies again, and for this discussion, exit the fruit flies.

    Second, Harry Benjamin Syndrome — sorry to say (or not) but no such thing exists. What we currently know is that in some transwomen (male-to-female transpeople) some brain structures are, after their death (because those can only be examined at an autopsy), more in the female range than in the male. Those are parts of the brain, however, which are only fully developed at age 3-5. Those brain structures seem to have some influence on what we can only see as sexual behaviour in some animals. (But see above for what that can mean.) We do not know whether those brain structures are inevitable in trans people or whether there are trans people with the “normal” varietey. We do not know what exactly they influence in human beings. We do not know whether they could develop from experiences of the child instead of being caused by plainly physical/prenatal factors. We have no idea how that looks in transmen. So for now all we can say is that maybe there are structures in the brains of trans people which do not match the sex of the body. I personally am willing to bet, though, that whatever physical thing is found in transpeople that seemingly sets them appart from cisgender people, one will inevitably find cispeople with this and transpeople without.

    I might also remind the people advocating HBS that most transpeople out there are not such neat, clearcut cases who just have to walk through a standard set of medical and legal procedures to become “the other gender” and live happily ever after. As usual in humans, it is a lot more complex than that. This, and what I said above, does not matter, though. We do not just have rights because we have funny brain structures. We have rights because we are what we are, whatever the reason. God know that, because God made us this way. And I for one will not have the audacity to provclaim to know Gods will better than God himself. Being trans, precisely being a queer gay transman, is one of the tasks God gave me in life. I will try my best not to fail him, and that means finding a way to live with it — and that does not include denying his gift to me.

  • Evan

    Alex,

    No one said that the fruit fly case has direct relevance to the human case. That’s why I mentioned the part about homology and the role of animal models in developing schemas that, in a rudimentary way, could still be present in the human constitution too. However, neither writing books, nor waging wars make a compelling argument for humans to have a unique type of sexual variety, but they do make a case for having the variety of behaviours we all are familiar with. Researchers actually hold true that human sexuality is part of the mammalian type of sexuality, if you are familiar with Helen Fischer’s work in the field (which is also based on brain anatomy similarities). So, for all the differences, there are also many similarities that are worth investigating, if any light is to be brought to this field. We do assume that animals and other creatures do not have the human capacity to choose behaviour against their inclinations or to envisage the long-term effects of their choices, so it’s easier to study their behaviours.

    In humans, there is some scope for developing one’s gender identity which is not strictly biological, just as it is for interpreting one’s attractions and identifying according to a culturally developed outlet for sexual behaviour: sexual orientation. In the case of transpeople, the biological component may be more marked than in homosexuals, let’s say (research has identified that, on average, homosexual men are more effeminate than heterosexual men). It’s about variating not just orientation, but also the sexual/gender status of the person. The thing is that we are used to discuss about sexual orientation as if it were as certain as the existence of iron is to chemistry. The truth is that it is mostly based on self-report, either of fantasies, frequency of behaviour etc. Sexual orientation, if it were a rigurous concept, it would mean that a homosexual man was, is and will not be able by any means to have sex with any woman at all. That would be a clear concept of homosexuality without having to use words like “primarily” to hide the big margins of error or the lack of proper tools to identify and measure the same thing each time no matter what point in time after a certain age. Otherwise it looks like ingrained sexual preference based on a way of identifying and interpreting one’s attractions. I think that can hide whatever scope for choice was stifled for some reason. Just the same, in the case of transgender people, the gender atypicality is taken to a level where the person experiences desire to shape one’s gender according to sexual feelings. It’s about being excited about becoming and being the other gender (excluding the strictly biological cases of intersexuality). There is a propensity to metamorphosis that is common to all transgender people, which even prompted some to refuse both gender labelling and sexual orientation boundaries. Some of them claim that existing genders are cultural and the result of age-old oppression. I wonder if they mean to imply that most people have no gender but they are oppressed…

    Alex Here said:

    And I for one will not have the audacity to proclaim to know God’s will better than God himself. Being trans, precisely being a queer gay transman, is one of the tasks God gave me in life. I will try my best not to fail him, and that means finding a way to live with it — and that does not include denying his gift to me.

    How do you know God’s will?

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/ Warren

    Thanks to all commenters thus far. I am reading along as I said I would and have one comment at this point, with more later…

    RE: Intersex conditions – My understanding (see the Intersex Society of North America) is that Intersex conditions are not the same as the transgender experience. As I see it, there are different medical, psychological and theological issues when thinking about the two conditions.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/ Warren

    AM – Who is the individual in question? If you mean the Christian school administrator, is there documentation of intersex status somewhere?

  • Cathryn

    Warren, I believe you know Dr. McMahon, she can answer your questions about intersexuality as well as anyone but the long and short of it is that if you were surgically assigned an inappropriate sex at birth, you pretty much have to correct it as an adult within the same framework as transsexuals.

  • Alex Here

    Evan said:

    Just the same, in the case of transgender people, the gender atypicality is taken to a level where the person experiences desire to shape one’s gender according to sexual feelings.

    Nonsense. Sexuality is in most cases the least concern for transpeople. It is about all facets of life, including how your baker talks to you, and not about whom you can have sex with and how. In fact, many transpeople are perfectly aware of the fact that they can have any kind of sex before transitioning, and many quite expect their chances to get worse on transitioning, not better. That is, those that are interested in sexuality at all — as I said, asexual transpeople are not exactly rare. It is not a sexual thing, despite some (clueless and not exactly based on facts) writings that claim otherwise. Those writings all come from a corner that does not exactly promise a neutral point of view, to put it mildly.

    An example: Yours truly. Who do you think had a better chance to pick up men: A decently looking girl, or a not quite so decently looking undertall guy with an odd anatomy and bad scarring? Exactly, and that was predictable. But even if I had never been able to find anybody again, I would still have transitioned. Because it is not about sex.

    As for the fruit flies, this is all very interesting, but, as I said, as long as we cannot figure out that those male (?) fruit flies that go for other males do that because they think they are straight female or because they are gay males, there is no point in taking it as evidence for anything. You know, that is because of that “gender identity is not sexual orientation” thingy.

    As for me knowing what God’s will is, well, I listen to him, as I hope everybody does who claims that they do his will. I also use the facultaties given to me, namely reason. I was obviously made to be what I am, a transman who loves men, I had no choice in the matter, and since therefore it has to be given to me by God. Plain and simple.

    Warren, Intersex. Intersex is defined as physically not being within the normal range of one of two sexes. There are more than 30 different intersex conditions, ranging from genetic varriations to two (mostly) complete sets of genitals. Trans is defined as wanting to be the other / another gender than the one one was assigned; and, for a medical diagnosis, any intersex condition has to be excluded. It’s not quite so simple, though, to seperate them. On the one hand, intersex people assigned a gender wrongly (which is however the exception with IS people, not the rule) experience the very same feelings of being stuck in the wrong gender as non-IS-transgender people do, and are in fact treated very often exactly the same, and often learn about being actually IS very late, in the middle and sometimes even after other-sex-treatment. On the other hand, what Drowssap and I were refering to are studies that have shown that in case of some non-IS-transwomen certain brain structures are much more in the female range than in the male, and that this cannot be from the female hormones they took. There are however, as I already pointed out, problems with making a definite claim that this shows that trans is another intersex, and therefore physical condition. It is certainly not impossible, but we don’t have enough facts yet. And since with current medical technology more facts can only be gained from autopsies of transpeople, preferably some of very young children, it will be difficult to get those facts for the time being.

    One might also add a more subjective similarity: Just as wrongly assigned IS people feel, from the very beginning, that they were assigned the wrong gender, transpeople usually feel from a very early age that something went quite wrong. About my own first memory is the utterance of my most form conviction that “that thing”, which I missed and which made people assume I was female, would still grow. Minor mistake somewhere. And while I shed the idea that “that thing” was really the important thing for me, I never, no matter how I tried, fitted into the — very wide — range of female identity or behaviour. And that goes for most transpeople.

  • Julie Nemecek

    I appreciate your comments on CTs decision to shape what you said into a way that supports their rather one-sided view. I had the same experience. Here is what I wrote CT:

    I commend Christianity Today for its willingness to tackle a very difficult topic in discussing transgender Christians. A medical condition which is identified through a psychological diagnosis and treated both socially and medically is complicated enough without the added complexity of some Christians holding the opinion that the diagnosis or treatment or both are anti-Christian. (Not a position held by all evangelicals by any means. At the insistence of my former university, I worked with an evangelical Christian counselor connected with the university who notified the university that my diagnosis was accurate, my treatment necessary and that neither my diagnosis nor treatment had any impact on my ability to do my job or live a faithful Christian life. In fact, many Christian colleges and universities teach the standards of care that I follow.) While generally accurate, as related to me, the article did have some factual errors.

    I never appeared on campus as me until after the settlement. The “wig and dress on campus as a reason for dismissal” was a total fabrication by a usually reliable journalist. This was then repeated by journalists who piggyback on the work of others rather than do their own fact checking. Had I seen the story before publication, I could have prevented the continuing life of this falsehood.

    My name change was in 2007, not 2005.

    Due to a confidentiality agreement, I cannot comment on what took place during mediation other than to say that the words at mediation attributed to me in the story were part of a document I published prior to mediation.

    I am very sorry that the author chose to omit the lengthy conversations he had with both Joanne and I about our faith. Coming out and living with integrity has strengthened our faith. God has led throughout the process so clearly that at times His presence was nearly overwhelming. He directed our steps, comforted our sorrows, and gave us the courage to go on. In the process of living with authenticity, worship has become more precious and my prayer times deeper and more intimate. God has also drawn us closer to each other with a love deeper than any in our nearly 36 years of marriage. This strengthening of faith is not an unusual occurrence for transgender Christians who come out; an irony in that this same process also often leads to being ostracized by The Church. It is an important part of the story that was sadly omitted.

    I was quite disappointed that the author chose to quote pseudo scientific organizations and fringe counseling groups as authoritative. These “science” organizations have been universally condemned by real scientists – sometimes even those they quote (see http://www.TruthWinsOut.org ) – as using unscientific methods and/or misusing the data from reputable scientific studies. In the same way nearly all of the medical and counseling organizations in the nation (including the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Counseling Association, and the National Association of Social Workers) have condemned the practices of the “counseling” organizations quoted as being ineffective and even harmful.

    These criticisms aside, I hope that Christianity Today’s leadership will be a catalyst for a meaningful dialogue among brothers and sisters in Christ who may disagree on this subject but are nevertheless brothers and sisters in Christ . . . and who should be treated as such. Churches that are open and affirming are growing in number and a unity in the body, even with our differences, would be a great outcome. I am saddened that many Christians refuse to celebrate the rich diversity of God’s creation in humankind, but I believe the day will come when that will happen. Thank you again for your courage in bringing this topic to light.

    Rev. Dr. Julie Nemecek

    As to your comment on transgender people being different than intersex, a leading researcher on intersex (Milton Diamond) would disagree because of the apparent biological differences in the transgender brain.

  • Julie Nemecek

    Thanks

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/ Warren

    Dr. Nemecek – Thanks for the clarifications and for your comments. Regarding the transgender – intersex distinction, I think this is controversial in that the ISNA believes the two experiences are different and other experts do not see the distinction. Dr. Diamond is well respected for sure.

  • Alex Here

    I said that currently, we cannot, as somebody else claimed, say with any certainty that the brain differences found are a) there in all transpeople and no or very few cispeople have them, and b) that they are indeed prenatal or caused by prenatal factors. I said not that this is not the case, but that we cannot say for sure.

    I would also be rather careful with looking for biological causes in the first place — I doubt it would convince all that many people, and as the long and friutless search for biological causes for homosexuality has shown, even if we find something, it will not be that simple anyway. I also do not think that we need them in the first place.And if not every transperson turns out to have them, we are just going to have another war about who is “really properly trans”. And I can do without those.

    We are what we are because we are, not because of the reason for what we are.

  • Julie Nemecek

    Yes, controversy surrounds transgender in both science and the Church. Maybe some day we will have the answers. Until then, perhaps we can advocate for Augustine’s advice:

    In essentials unity;

    In non-essentials liberty;

    In all things charity.

    Blessings.

  • http://CarynLeMur.com Caryn LeMur

    Warren: So that I can understand your thoughts better:

    1 – during the interview did you address all four bands of transgender behavior as one band? That is, did you note that some have a congruency with their birth-assigned-gender, some are blended, some are not congruent with their birth-assigned gender, and some are ‘others’? [the TG-Christians site tried to collect multiple views and obtained a good bit of consensus on 4 different 'bands' in the spectrum. See: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/tg-christians/ , join as member, click on "Files", and find "Transgender Spectrum v2" as PowerPoint and MS Word (read the Notes in PowerPoint).

    2 - did you record your interview? may we see the full/partial recording?

    3 - did you discuss how the church/pastors should show mercy towards those that are (a) not diagnosed, (b) self-diagnosed, (c) professionally diagnosed, and/or (d) certified with GID as defined by DSM-IV? what is the definition of 'mercy' and its implementation that you used?

    4 - what is your position on Pastors over-riding professional psychological diagnosis and/or professional psychological treatment protocols? That is, do you view the pastor as part of the 'team', or as the highest authority of the spiritual health / mental health team?

    5 - same question as the previous, but now concerning the medical diagnosis world (team is now spiritual / psychological / medical ). Who over-rides whom and why?

    6 - same question as last two previous concerning bi-polar disorder. [This is a consistency check on your philosophy, but you can tell that, right? After all, if you believe that a pastor can excommunicate someone certified with GID, then it follows that you believe the same for bi-polar disorder. It is a hard burden to have bi-polar disorder and be faced with threats of excommunication if you continue treatment as prescribed by a psychological / medical team - the choice may become being accepted by a church-support network while being non-functioning; or being rejected by a church-support network while becoming functioning.] As in other correspondence on Exgaywatch, these questions are not meant to cause others to attack you, but to provoke a clarity in the ensuing dialog.

    You are in my prayers, always, k? Much love in Christ; Caryn

  • http://justjenniferblog.blogspot.com/ Just Jennifer

    My only question is from a scientific standpoint what exactly is a male/female brain? When did that get figured out?

    There has been a lot written on this. Contrary to the views that are particularly popular with the more radical feminists, it is now known that much of what makes us male or female is hardwired into the brain. For many years, the theory was that we effectively started out as a blank slate and our upbringing and environment “wrote” our gender identity.

    Research in this area started with animal experiments. There it is easy to test things like the effects of different hormone levels in utero. It was observed, for example, that female mice exposed to excessive testosterone in utero would behave like male mice, and that male mice exposed to excessive estrogen would behave like female mice. Of course, this cannot be ethically tested in humans. So, researchers looked at transsexuals (or, as is preferred, those with Harry Benjamin Syndrome). One study, which has been replicated and expanded on, found differences in a part of the brain that is known to be related to sex specific behavior that correlate to one’s sense of being male or female. That is, in male to female transsexuals this area is the same as the female norm. The second study included controls to rule out the effects of hormones.

    Also, it should be noted that there are NO valid cases where a person who was truly transsexual has been “cured” by any form of psychotherapy. There are cases where someone who clearly was not transsexual has changed their mind, but this is not the same.

  • http://WWW.roxanneross.com Roxanne Edwards

    Dear Warren,

    Your comments on the differences in your views and the words in print by CT point out a sad but frequent experience we have all had with the media. Misquotes and misunderstanding can multiply confusion over one’s position exponentially. I commiserate.

    However, the main issue at hand is still the disconnect that we as transgender people of faith feel from the pulpit, the pew and the classroom. I know the the most commonly held idea and strong fear is that we are deluded, sick, perverse or worse. How many generations of the earthly Church have run to defend the ramparts and the honor of God against the latest brand of “infidels” and sinners such as we are perceived to be? The blood shed of the ‘different’ cries out from the ground. We do ask to be heard and responsibly considered as sane, reasonable people with a difference that is not sin, nor a threat to others.

    Yes, you do need to be educated. There is no shame in that, as you are an educator yourself and know the value of it!, I applaud your openness. One major problem is that we as a people have been forced to live/hide “underground” for so long, that there is little standardized scientific research or thoughtful spiritual reflection on our issue!

    I know this is changing. I would invite you, if you are willing, to attend the next International Foundation for Gender Education (IFGE) conference and begin some personal research.

    Thank you for your consideration of our pleas for understanding and dialogue.

    Sincerely, Roxanne Edwards, AIA

  • Drowssap

    Just Jennifer

    I have no doubt that male/female biology is hardwired. I’m just saying that whatever the wiring is scientists haven’t figured it out yet. Masculine and femine personality traits and preferences are spread across the entire population and exist in both men and women. Did Margaret Thatcher have a male brain? Does Christopher Lowell have a female brain? I doubt it. Something else is going on with transexuals. My guess is there is a tiny part of the brain that produces a neurotransmitter that registers identity. For some reason, that part has gone awry in transexuals and people “feel” like they are the opposite sex. Research on mice suggest this is probably the case because both male and female wiring is present in ALL mice. It just depends on how it’s turned on/off.

    Time will tell.

  • http://justjenniferblog.blogspot.com/ Just Jennifer

    My guess is there is a tiny part of the brain that produces a neurotransmitter that registers identity. For some reason, that part has gone awry in transexuals and people “feel” like they are the opposite sex.

    That is an interesting idea, but it is a bit overly simplistic. Unless you have experienced this, it is hard to understand. Quite frankly, it is more than just “identity.” Men and women think differently. This can be observed, and in some cases, measured. The reason we identify as we do has to do with how we relate to others. I know growing up, I often felt like an outsider when I was with a group of males. It was not just that I did not “identify” with them, I could not understand how they saw things the way they did. They did not realize that I was that different, so they were in full male mode, so to speak. They would say things they would never say if they knew a female was present. At the time, I didn’t realize what was going on, but I knew something was wrong. Now, I realize that I simply did not think like a man, and could not relate.

    Advances are being made in these areas. Transsexualism, or better, Harry Benjamin Syndrome, is more than just identity. And it is certainly not a choice.

  • Drowssap

    Just Jennifer

    I agree that it certainly does appear to be very complicated. But what I’m saying is that a single neurotransmitter could be responsible. The boys you didn’t relate to have all the female wiring that you do, but theirs is kicked off. Likewise you probably have all the male wiring stored in your head that they did, but it’s not turned on.

    Example:

    Orexin is a specialized neurotransmitter that regulates human sleep patterns. Without it humans experience narcolepsy and some strange secondary symptoms including slight changes in body temperature.

    Something like this could be afoot with sexual identity. Humans probably depend on a specific neurotransmitter to trigger either their male or female wiring. If it turns out that everybody has both (like mice) something is triggering one or the other to be turned on.

  • Alex Here

    How much sense does it make to speculate here about what a neurotransmitter might or might not do? We do not have that information yet, and frankly, I seriously doubt it will be that simple. Not to mention that neither sex nor gender are simply binary, that is not something that is either 1 or 0. Yes, there is evidence that “the average” female is different from “the average” male. However, the differences between females (or males) are, in all those researches, bigger than those between females and males. So even if it is a neurotransmmiter that does some m or f wiring in the brain, and we can control it, we still will not have a binary sex/gender system.

    I might add that even Genesis backs that up — it says we are made as “man and woman” not “man or woman”. Just something to ponder …

    Oh, and something else: Transsexualism is not the only thing under discussion here; we were speaking about the whole transgender spectrum and not about its self-styled elite.

  • http://justjenniferblog.blogspot.com/ Just Jennifer

    Harry Benjamin Syndrome — sorry to say (or not) but no such thing exists.

    Some who identify with transgender do not agree with the Harry Bejamin Syndrome concept. They wish to dismiss it out of hand. Part of that probably stems from the fact that rejection of the transgender model is part of the HBS view. Of course, one has to keep in mind that “transgender” is an artificial social/political construct that has no objective meaning. If one identifies as “transgender, then one is transgender. Beyond that, it has not real meaning. It is often spoken of as an umbrella term, but the problem is, the various groups under the umbrella really have nothing in common.

    I might also remind the people advocating HBS that most transpeople out there are not such neat, clearcut cases who just have to walk through a standard set of medical and legal procedures to become “the other gender” and live happily ever after.

    Well, I would not really disagree with that, though I would point out that I am not a “transperson.” I am simply a person. I feel no need to qualify myself, my sex, or my gender with “trans.” HBS, or as Harry Benjamin referred to us, “true transsexuals,” are extremely rare. The various groups that comprise “transgender” are much more numerous.

    Now, an increasingly popular concept among people who identify as transender is the rejection of binary gender. That is certainly their right, but I do not share that view, and find it quite repungnant. I did not go through what I did to be a “gender rebel.” I am simply a fairly ordinary, Christian woman. That is all I wanted to be, and that is all I am.

    And no, those who identify as HBS are not being elitst. We are simply being truthful. Some seem to want to muddle everything together. We wish to make sure that people understand where we are coming from.

  • wendy

    Thank you to all who have shared their personal stories with honesty and transparency. While this is a tremendously complex area to navigate, I pray that each will encounter the love of Christ in their journey.

  • http://CarynLeMur.com Caryn LeMur

    Just Jennifer: Help my understanding, please. HBS is not in my texts that I work with… am I missing something in the DSM-IV? Is this a new theory? Has the theory received endorsement of any major psychological group? Is this a term that is self-diagnosed? What are the criteria accepted/proposed for professional diagnosis?

    Beware of muddying the water when the church is refusing to even take a drink.

    I think that the Christianity Today (CT) article was aimed at Pastors and Elders within the conservative to ultra-conservative ‘evangelical’ protestant church. I think that the branch of Christianity that reads CT is having great trouble with the concept that any mental disorder can exist, and even maintain that all mental disorders can be overcome by ‘godly sorrow’, ‘repentance’, ‘deliverance by God’, ‘hard work’, ‘yielding to the Spirit instead of the flesh’, and so forth.

    But my research shows that Bi-polar disorder is seldom overcome… it is lived with and becomes part of the person’s life and lifestyle; OCD is seldom overcome… it is lived with and becomes part of the person’s life and lifestyle. GID is no different.

    We that have certified mental disorders, per the DSM-IV, have softly offered the model of II Corinthians 12, Paul’s thorn in the flesh, to these pastors and elders.

    Even then, we have been told that we are deceived by Satan and so are the Christian psychologists that have ‘lied’ to us, and the medical doctors as well. We have been told that there is no ‘thorn in the flesh’ or ‘messenger of Satan’ from whom our Lord cannot deliver us … or told to ‘live in conflict, fighting the evil one’ until we die. A life of rejection or a life of eternal conflict… what happened to ‘his yoke is easy and his burden is light’ and ‘God has called you to peace’?

    We have not even gotten the church to agree that psychologists matter. Pastors are still known for excommunicating or shunning people with Turret’s Syndrome, Bi-polar Disorder, OCD, and a dozen other disorders. Even Christian psychologists and their reports are being ignored in the name of Christ….

    I offer that HBS is still theoretical. I offer that we need the diagnosis of GID to stay within the DSM-IV. Perhaps the diagnostic criteria should be broadened to include your HBS folks.

    But at least some of the Transgender community must be considered in the equation: GID=mental disorder = II Corinthians 12…. and then we have a chance at some of the wounded being taken back into the platoons of the church, and overcoming their collateral wounds of rejection, loneliness, and lack of support network.

    As it is, the entire Transgender spectrum is living through the saying, “Christians are the only soldiers that shoot their own wounded.” If it were not for God rescuing a few of us, all of us would be emotionally/mentally killed off by the conservative church pastors and elders.

    More than a few Christians have done their best to wash their hands or to walk ‘on the other side’, and avoid us like an epileptic in slow motion. I see far too much collateral damage among those that God brings to my ‘medic’s tent’. GID causes men and women to kill their own selves. I pray that the collateral damage will stop adding to the death toll. We need to save at least a few.

    I cannot stop GID. But I can work hard to stop the collateral damage done by the conservative brothers and sisters in Christ. Creating a new category of HBS will not help us save more of the wounded, in my opinion.

  • http://justjenniferblog.blogspot.com/ Just Jennifer

    Help my understanding, please. HBS is not in my texts that I work with… am I missing something in the DSM-IV? Is this a new theory? Has the theory received endorsement of any major psychological group? Is this a term that is self-diagnosed? What are the criteria accepted/proposed for professional diagnosis?

    Well, it is a new term for transsexualism. We are working on getting it accepted. It would NOT be in the DSM, as it is not meant to be seen as a mental health issue, but is intended as a recognition that, at least for some, that this is a physical condition, not a mental illness. You can learn more about the concept at our website:

    http://www.harrybenjaminsyndrome-info.org/

    HBS is not “transgender.” Transgender, as I said, is a broad term based on an artificial construct. It is essentially meaningless, especially for the purposes of a discussion like this. I am sorry, but I cannot see a Biblical defense for much of what is included under that umbrella.

  • Alex Here

    Since there are probably people reading this which are not familiar with the problems within the trans community, allow me to point out a few ressources for those; especially since I already had the debate of “true transsexuals” vs. the rest of the trans-world this week, and I doubt this is a good place to repeat it. In fact, I have to appologise to make yet another sharp statement about this ongoing debate, and since it is really other things we are discussion here, may I suggest that if somebody feels to have another battle about this now, we do it at another place. Thank you.

    For a decent introduction of pretty much all topics related to trans issues:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_transgender-related_topics

    Regarding the double meaning of “transgender” today:

    http://www.gender.org.uk/conf/2004/04ekins.htm

    This weeks discussion about the matter took place on http://groups.yahoo.com/group/TGV_Advocacy/ under the headings “TS vs TG The term “transgender”” “Acceptance” and “WBT and HBS” (Women Born Transsexual and Harry Benjamin Syndrome respectively; both terms that make it quite clear where the person using them to describe themselves stands.)

    If the archives there are not accessible to everybody, here are two other pages dealing with the debate; there are tons more out there.

    Very pro HBS: http://harrybenjaminsyndrome-info.org/

    Wondering whether this is a good idea: http://harrybenjaminsyndrome-not-transsexual.com/

    Several biographies:

    http://ai.eecs.umich.edu/people/conway/TSsuccesses/TSsuccesses.html

    http://www.genderpsychology.org/ Has also information about the research on brain differences.

    Let me also remind those discussion the issue that only half of transpeople are born with a male body and strife to present their female gender to the world — us other half have been born with female bodies and now do or want to present a male image to the world. Just because we tend to be forgotten.

  • Pathia

    Warren,

    If you are an individual that has a documented intersexual condition, or a condition that causes hormonal anomalies during puberty that can lead to physical misdevelopment of your sex in any way and view yourself as opposite of the assigned sex you were at birth have no choice but to enter the transgender network for care. There are no other options.

    There is no care network for intersex individuals, that view their assignment as wrong so there is a tremendous intermingling of transgender and intersex in some areas. I am a chromosomal mosaic and did not have a male puberty, but I was raised male and forced to take testosterone to replace that which I would never make, yet as far as the mental health field I am transsexual and nothing more. I’ve heard my story repeated over and over again in others in support groups.

  • http://justjenniferblog.blogspot.com/ Just Jennifer

    For a decent introduction of pretty much all topics related to trans issues:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_transgender-related_topics

    Wikipedia has to be taken with a grain of salt on anything as controversial as this. It all depends on who got to the article last.

    Regarding the double meaning of “transgender” today:

    http://www.gender.org.uk/conf/2004/04ekins.htm

    This is an interesting article that provides verification of all the reasons I decline to identify as “transgender.”

    This weeks discussion about the matter took place on http://groups.yahoo.com/group/TGV_Advocacy/ under the headings “TS vs TG The term “transgender”” “Acceptance” and “WBT and HBS” (Women Born Transsexual and Harry Benjamin Syndrome respectively; both terms that make it quite clear where the person using them to describe themselves stands.)

    Unfortunately, the archives here are for members only. And the subjects say nothing about this sort of debate. Generally it boils down to one group saying they do not wish to be labeled “transgender” and the other side telling them that they are “elitist” and “delusional.” And that is before they get really nasty.

    If the archives there are not accessible to everybody, here are two other pages dealing with the debate; there are tons more out there.

    Very pro HBS: http://harrybenjaminsyndrome-info.org/

    Wondering whether this is a good idea: http://harrybenjaminsyndrome-not-transsexual.com/

    This is a very misleading comparison. The first group is the one I am a member of. The second site is a person who, at best, is confused, and at worst, is being deliberately deceptive.

    Please note that the Yahoo group the second site refers to is named “Harry Benjamin’s Syndrome,” not Harry Benjamin Syndrome. The use of the possessive is significant for several reasons. First, it is improper. Conditions do not belong to the person they are named after. But more important, it is a different group. The Harry Benjamin’s Syndrome group was started by a person, Charlotte Goiar, in Spain who used to be a member of the group I am part of. She is as described in the web site. She attacked me, and several other members, and was banned from the Harry Benjamin Syndrome list. She has continued her group. Our group is working to change terminology, not to condemn people who don’t fit an extremely narrow view. Goiar, for example, will attack anyone who was married before transition.

    Now, I don’t know if Laura Amato fully appreciates that she is confusing two totally separate groups, with two different viewpoints, or not. But our group is not associated in any way with Goiar. Some have used this confusion to attack us.

    And yes, Female to Males do exist. They have many of the same issues, but it should also be noted that after six months to a year of testosterone, they have no trouble being accepted as having been born male. That can make life easier for them. On the other hand, the surgical options for FTMs are not as advanced as they are for Male to Female transsexuals. The group I am a part of recognizes this, and accepts that FTMs with HBS may be forced to choose more limited surgical options.

    Some of us simply seek to live normal lives as who we really are. Others seek to rebel against society’s gender standards.

  • http://CarynLeMur.com Caryn LeMur

    Alex: I appreciate your commentary. And, I think that you are correct that the debate of HBS and removal from the DMS-IV is probably not mainstream to Warren’s original post. I’ll drop that particular thread of the discussion.

    I also appreciate the reminder that approximately half of the GID/Transsexual population is female-to-male.

    May I ask you a question, Alex? My own observation is the the male-to-female group is ‘female-minded’ and seems to seek protection, networking, and support just as born-females do. My observation is that many are deeply wounded by the church and that those wounds take years to heal.

    On the other hand, the few females-to-male that I have known seem very ‘male-minded’, and seem to seek being the protector/provider, do not need the extensive peer-support network, and do not mind the rejection of the church. In a sense, they take it on the chin, quite well, even as a confirmation of their maleness.

    I realize the above observations are broad generalizations. But I would appreciate insight from your side of the fence, so to speak. Sincerely; Caryn

  • Alex Here

    Caryn, well, that is not quite so simple, and not so simple to answer for me, either; so this posting might be a tad long (especially since I am not good a being short either). I’ll try anyway, also because transmen rarely ever participate in such debates. (Please understand that I use “transmen” for all female-to-male transpeople, and transwoman for all male-to-female ones. Probably a German quirk, but in any case, shorter.)

    First of all, I am German and live in Germany, which makes the whole situation of churches rather different; evangelical and/or fundamentalist churches being definitely the exception here. Also, it is not necessarily that people are less religious here, but it is a very private matter, and many religious people are just not affiliated with any churches, even if nominally they are members of one. That is especially the case for members of the Roman-Catholic church and of “the” protestant church in Germany. (But it is not much different from other Western European countries.)

    There are also quite a few differences for transpeople outside of churches here as well, not just socially (we have, for example, very few murders of transpeople in the whole of Western Europe here), but also because we have mandatory health insurance that pays for trans treament, legal procedures that while long and costly give you complete recognition in your new gender in most countries, and so on. Nevertheless, I am sure that what I have to say is relevant enough to your questions, as far as I can gather from what I know about the situation of transpeople in the US. It might lack some specific deeper insights, though.

    I have, for obvious reasons, always been curios about the obvious behavioural differences between men and women. Being a child of the 70s, I also had some quite firm theories about what behaviour was innate and what was learned. Let’s just say once I had a good look at transpeople, I had to revise most of those. Girls, and those assumend to be girls, are taught, for example, that when there is trouble, just leave. (For the rest of what I say, I will merely say “girls” when I talk about those assumed to be girls, including trans-boys, because this is a social thing. Same for “boys” including trans-girls. And of course these are rather generalised statements.) Girls are also taught that there are many acceptable ways to be “real girls”, and that it is impossible to follow all of those different ways, so they learn to choose early on –and they know somebody will complain about their choice anyway, so they will have to defend it. Boys, on the other hand, are taught that one has to fight through situations, and that running away is bad. The much more liminted options of being a “proper boy” impress them often with the idea that there is exactly one right way of doing things so that one is accepted into a community, and in fact very often that there is only one community. Those learned behaviours influence transpeople as well as cis-people for the rest of their lifes.

    Add to this what is not learned — a wish for companionship with those of ones gender identity, ways of communicating that none of us leaned and which much better fit our gender identity than our assigned gender and all that.

    Hence, to come back to your question, a transwoman who wants to be accepted into a specific community will think less about alternatives, and do her best to get accepted, and her wishes will make her look for “protection, networking, and support”, and that need is communicated with definitely female undertones and desires — those we did not learn. And of course, having been taught that there are not many alternatives, being rejected at one place (and that does not just happen with churches) feels often a lot worse for transwomen than for transmen, who will merely move on to the next place and try again.

    On the other hand, a transman will come into a church already aware that there are alternatives, and already perfectly ready to defend his choice. And presenting a male picture, those fights will also be far more accepted than they would be coming from a person presenting female. And, as I said, if it does not work, they will just move on.

    Add to that the fact that those trying to join an evangelical church will probably be rather on the conservative side and stick to classical gender roles, and you get exactly this behaviour you observed.

    Let me also use this posting to address another often encountered comment: “God does not make mistakes”. Actually, there are two things wrong with this: First, it is of course easy to see being a transperson as a mistake somewhere. Especially since that is the classical explanation of transsexualism, and it is also what one tends to hear: “You know, you really should have been a boy, I am sure there was a mistake somewhere.” I don’t think, however, that it necessarily is a mistake. What if being trans is task given to us by God? Making those experiences, seeing both sides of the matter (or even a few more), teaching people by our mere existance that neither sex nor gender are binary, and so on? That would not be a mistake.

    Secondly, this “God does not make mistakes” sounds good, at first, but brings up a few questions. What about children being born thoroughly sick and/or disabled, merely be accident? Are we to assume that God said: “Oh, let’s give little X no legs, that will be fun!” Sorry, but that is not exactly the God I believe in, and I doubt anybody here does. So, obviously, accidents happens. And if they happen with other parts of the body and brain, what exactly would preclude them happening to the sex/gender system? Nothing whatever. (Providing, of course, that they are mistakes or accidents in the first place, which, see above, I doubt.)

  • Alex Here

    Just Jenifer:

    Like all sources, Wikipedia has its problems. However, potentially controversial articles tend to be on many people’s watchlists, so that problems are often found early. I am sure, though, that by now everybody using Wikipedia is aware of the potential pitfalls — and the potential of Wikipedia.

    As for HBS and the like, as I said, let’s not have this discussion here. Otherwise we will just confuse people — and we will just repeat a decades old discussion. If you — or anybody else — is really interested in last weeks discussion, just subscribe to the Yahoo mailing list and read it. Just one thing: It is, I guess, OK to be so bent on surgical options. Other people consider those to be far less important. Just so that not everybody not familiar with the subject assumes this is all about surgery.

    I also do not quite understand how you can know that transgender has a double meaning, one of them indeed not applicable for the HBS/WBT-crowd, yet the other equally clearly including them, and still complain if one includes you when using the latter definition. That does not make a whole lot of sense, it is akin to complaining that one is not and never will be German when being from Cologne. One can of course insist that one is not a gender-bending transgender person, but a transsexual/HBS/WBT-one. But claiming one is not transgender does not make sense.

  • jayhuck

    Warren,

    When you say “pastors must do so”, I’m assuming you mean those pastors that agree with your interpretation of scripture, right? I don’t think all or even most pastors would necessarily agree with your view on this issue.

    I’m curious (sincerely curious) how you deal with hermaphrodites.

  • http://justjenniferblog.blogspot.com/ Just Jennifer

    As for HBS and the like, as I said, let’s not have this discussion here. Otherwise we will just confuse people — and we will just repeat a decades old discussion. If you — or anybody else — is really interested in last weeks discussion, just subscribe to the Yahoo mailing list and read it. Just one thing: It is, I guess, OK to be so bent on surgical options. Other people consider those to be far less important. Just so that not everybody not familiar with the subject assumes this is all about surgery.

    Actually, I think this is very pertinent to the discussion here. A large part of the problem that HBS/transsexual people face is being confused with the larger “transgender” crowd. Much of what people object to is behavior that is more properly referred to as transgender. Personally, I have no desire at all to subvert the bi-gender system, and I oppose efforts to do so as strongly as anyone.

    I also do not quite understand how you can know that transgender has a double meaning, one of them indeed not applicable for the HBS/WBT-crowd, yet the other equally clearly including them, and still complain if one includes you when using the latter definition. That does not make a whole lot of sense, it is akin to complaining that one is not and never will be German when being from Cologne. One can of course insist that one is not a gender-bending transgender person, but a transsexual/HBS/WBT-one. But claiming one is not transgender does not make sense.

    Really? It looks to me like you pretty much have the answer right there. The first meaning has a lot to do with why many of us reject the second meaning. I have nothing in common with the other groups that are included under the transgender banner. That is to say, their issues and motivations are not the same as mine, and the combining of the various groups has no real meaning, other than as a political effort that I believe is misguided. Simply put, I am rejecting the concept behind the second definition.

  • Alex Here

    - Nothing whatever can be gained from repeating a discussion that has to be close to its fiftithy birthday; nothing has been gained from a small group declaring themselfes to be so different (and most of the time, so much better) than a lot of other people in those 50 years, and I sincerely doubt that will ever change. (Note to those not familiar with it: Not every person self-identifying as transsexual or whom the definition happes to fit is part of that small group. That is a minority within a minority within a minority.)

    - What people object to is that transpeople just cannot be what their bodies suggest they should be, according to prevaling norms. It hardly matters whether that is “mere” gender-bending behaviour or sex reassignenment surgery. In fact, some people object far more to the latter than the former, arguing with “destrying their god-given (or natural) body” or something similar. I don’t agree on that, either, but you know, that happens.

    - Transgender is mostly used to define all people who do consider the gender assigned at birth to be a false or incomplete description of themselves. That obviously includes HBS/true transsexual/WBT. We are all of us discriminated against on that reason. That is not artificial. Yes, there are differences between, say, a person wearing occasionally flashy and stereotypical stuff associated with the other gender (and who may even get sexually excited about it), and people who need the whole program of social, medical and legal gender reassignenment. Those people beating up a “bloody fag” however won’t care very much where exactly that person is on the transgender spectrum. (And I may remind you that this happened before transgender got quite so colourful as well.) Not to mention that there are quite a few HBS/true transsexual/WBT-people who started out with occasionaly wearing the flashy stuff, trying to convince themselves that this would to for them. It’s your alleged big difference that is artificial, not transgender itself.

    ‘Nuff said. EOD, as far as I am concerned. At least this part of the discussion. I’d love to hear more about the original subject.

  • http://www.wthrockmorton.com Warren

    Caryn – I did not record the interview. The more I try to recall the more I am afraid my recollections are elusive and probably altered by how I wish I would have been quoted. I know I intended my remarks to be taken as if a transgender person had already determined through consultation that the desire for reassignment was not consistent with the Scriptures. And so for the person who comes to believe it would be wrong to elect reassignment surgery, they would view their values as taking priority over the scientific opinion about the proper course. I am all about people having freedom to weigh all opinions, take into account the reality of the situation and then choose based on values that are core to them. I know that was the context and framework for my remarks to Mr. Kennedy and I believe he may have missed the importance of placing those remarks in that context. As a counselor, I do not tell clients at the outset that you cannot explore grey areas (which I believe this whole area is one massive area of grey) and make a hard decision based on that exploration.

    I did go into the various types of transgender experience and distinguished this from cross-dressing and intersex conditions.

    I am reluctant to be critical of Mr. Kennedy because I know this is a very confusing area. I also think he may have felt that the context was assumed with his readers but I have not talked to him as yet.

    I feel remiss about my response to this thread and the one Wendy Gritter’s talk at Exodus. I got those going with full intent to participate. However, the research study I am doing, the ACA initiative and other more mundane issues have conspired to make blogging tough to stay with. This will pass and I hope to get more fully engaged soon.

  • http://www.wthrockmorton.com Warren

    Jayhuck – Yes, I mean for those who hold that view. This was the proper context for my remarks in the article. And do you mean intersex?

    Just Jennifer said, “Some of us simply seek to live normal lives as who we really are. Others seek to rebel against society’s gender standards.” Could you draw out this distinction a bit more? Thanks.

  • http://CarynLeMur.com Caryn LeMur

    Warren: I do appreciate your situation, and I think many of us look forward to your dialog, when you are more able to participate. I am sorry that you did not record the entire interview…. I think that others wish that they had done so in their interviews, so that the entire interview could be released after the fact, and that a better clarification could be obtained. After all, many quotes-out-of-context have become the ‘evidence’ used by an interviewer, filtered by an editor, slanted by a marketer, and lastly, misunderstood by the reading public.

    You wrote:

    I am all about people having freedom to weigh all opinions, take into account the reality of the situation and then choose based on values that are core to them.

    In may ways, I do concur with you, for our Jesus said, “Count the cost.” Cost is a term that implies a unit of value; count is a term that implies the ability to measure.

    I am concerned that some of your writings imply almost a binary of ‘individual’ versus ‘conflict’ or ‘values’ versus ‘conflict’. Thus, one criticism handed to you (on Exgaywatch.com, as I recall), was that you implied a client was choosing between their values and their conflict, thus choosing in essence between Christianity and homosexuality. (per a CNN interview?… it has been a time, and my memory may be in error.)

    I guess I should ask, are you using a binary model? Are you using more of a Ishikawa (fishbone) multi-cause to single effect model? Also, how are you helping the client to measure/weigh each cause of their conflict?

    Hang in there! Much love in Christ always and unconditionally; Caryn

  • http://justjenniferblog.blogspot.com/ Just Jennifer

    I know I intended my remarks to be taken as if a transgender person had already determined through consultation that the desire for reassignment was not consistent with the Scriptures. And so for the person who comes to believe it would be wrong to elect reassignment surgery, they would view their values as taking priority over the scientific opinion about the proper course. I am all about people having freedom to weigh all opinions, take into account the reality of the situation and then choose based on values that are core to them.

    That is an interesting way of putting things. I have seen many conservative Christians make dogmatic statements to the effect that “reassignment surgery is clearly forbidden by the Bible” or that it is “clearly against God’s teachings,” etc., but when challenged, I have yet to see one who can actually cite chapter and verse that says any such thing. This seems to conflict with their own principles. My former brother-in-law, whose name you might well recognize, coceded that he could not show, from the Bible, that it was wrong for me to pursue that path, and yet, he has refused to acknowledge my correct name or sex. He avoids using pronouns or my name when referring to me. It does make things awkward when we encounter each other, which is thankfully rare. Personally, I made my choice after considerable prayer, and I have found that my relationship with God is closer since I transitioned. I am comfortable in my role as a Christian woman.

  • http://justjenniferblog.blogspot.com/ Just Jennifer

    Just Jennifer said, “Some of us simply seek to live normal lives as who we really are. Others seek to rebel against society’s gender standards.” Could you draw out this distinction a bit more? Thanks

    Yes…I would be glad to. As I have said, the term “transgender” is far too broad to actually be meaningful. Clearly, some of the behaviors defined under “transgender” specifically relate to a rebellion against gender standards. But one group that, in many, if not most cases, that does not fit this description is transsexuals, or as I prefer, Harry Benjamin Syndrome. People such as myself were almost certainly born with a brain that was sexually differentiated at odds with our bodies. Our entire motivation is based on having a brain that functions at odds with our bodies. For the vast majority of humanity, this condition is unfathomable. We feel like one gender, and yet our bodies are at odds. Now, some, such as radical feminists, will claim that such behavior is learned. That boys learn to be boys, and girls learn to be girls, but that has proven to be mostly false. Now, some people who fall into various categories of transgender have a strong desire to be a “woman who is male,” or a “man who is female.” You will actually find them expressing just that idea. They will say things like “some women have penises.” In what may seem irony, I could no more relate to that idea that I imagine you can. Even though I was born with a penis, and even though I saw myself as a woman, I did not remotely wish to be a “woman who is male.” After many years of trying, quite unsuccessfully, to “be a man,” I realized that I was what I was, and I accepted that. My life has improved considerably. I have grown as a Christian, I am far more successful in my work, and I am, in general, a happy person. I do not publically identify as transgender, or as transsexual. I consider that to be personal and private medical information. You may notice that I keep my name private. Some people in my life know my past, but most don’t. I simply do not broadcast. Others seem to have a obsessive need to be known as “transgender.” They may demand to be acknowledged as women, or men, depending on the situation, but they also insist on people knowing what they used to be. Again, I cannot relate to this. My life is fairly ordinary. I work as an administrative assistant. I go to church. My life, to be honest, is fairly boring. if you met me, you would no doubt see me as an ordinary woman. And that is how I like things.

  • Eddy

    Caryn–

    Please drop by more often. I like the way you articulate. LOL! This sentence, in particular, caught my eye.

    After all, many quotes-out-of-context have become the ‘evidence’ used by an interviewer, filtered by an editor, slanted by a marketer, and lastly, misunderstood by the reading public.

    It would have taken me three paragraphs easily to say all that! Very well put!

  • Mark

    First of all, it is technically possible for a female to be trapped inside a male body. It is called fetus in fetu, and probably has no relevance for the transsexual condition. Secondly, brain studies in live transsexuals (fMRI by Gizewski) demonstrate female activation patterns in the amygdala, insular cortex and hypothalamus (fMRI by Gizewski) and hypothalamus (PET by Berglund). When comparing the Berglund study to that of Savic of homosexuality, we see that this result is independent of sexual orientation. Also, the Gizewski study is independent of sexul orientation. The amygdala and insular cortex are dimorphic far before early childhood. The seperation of gender identity from sexual orientation, is in clear opposition to what would be predicted by the BBL model. Thirdly, romantic love is unlikely to be directly relevant to the understanding of transsexuality as the fMRI studies of regions involved in these, are totally seperate brain regions (even when considering

    sexual dimorphism). Fourthly, Benjamin did describe a significant subgroup of transsexuals who were hypogonadal. This group was asexual (didn’t have ejaculations and rarely if ever erections). Nonetheless they were typically male oriented, although the HYPO-sexualism again is in contradiction to the BBL model. As Benjamin did also describe those who have been described under a variety of other labels by various researchers, it is likely that HBS would or should consist of the subgroup characterized as hypogonadal, often being mistaken as androgynous or of another gender, when presenting in one’s assigned gender, sparse hair, high pitched voice, .as well as lack of male sexual functioning and experience. Fifth, the basal brain is the master controller governing the functioning functioning of the reproductive self, and therefore, cannot take a back seat to any criteria when classifying such. Thus transgenderism may represent a social/cultural interaction conflict , so-called transsexualism may represent a conflict in self/genital interaction, but in true neuro-endo discord, we have a reversal of the neuroendocrine basal system involved in reproduction,

    including the neural basis of investment, whereby the the basal neural system is fixed toward motherhood or fatherhood, yet the gonadal/genital system can’t comply.

  • http://CarynLeMur.com Caryn LeMur

    Mark: would you please provide references/links for your citations? I would be interested in reading the studies.

    I wish to point out that Warren made a statement in his first post that implies that (1) Evangelical pastors believe that spiritual reasoning trumps all medical reasoning:

    I do not think research findings supporting an innate source of gender identity conflict is likely to sway pastoral advice much, in the same way that finding an innate source of homosexual attractions is unlikely to change traditional views.

    Let’s add another Evangelical concept: (2) “the corporate conscience dominates the individual conscience”. [Granted, our Catholics also believe this, but my focus is on the Evangelical position.]

    One of the pillars of faith in the Evangelical church is that (3) ‘outward behavior must dominate (is more important than) the peace/conflict of the inner heart’. Thus, the Evangelical position is often willing to demand incredible levels of internal conflict within the client (often couched as “we must fight temptation/the flesh/deception/etc.”).

    Thus, if we could prove homosexuality or transsexualism was genetic 100% at all times, the Evangelical church would be unmoved. They would give ‘mercy’, ‘compassion’, and ‘godly counsel’, but the mercy/compassion/godly counsel would be tightly defined within the context of (1), (2), and (3).

    Let’s be silly for a moment.

    By analogy, if the Bible clearly stated that ‘a man must walk on two legs’, and if a man had lost two legs in battle, the Evangelical church would feel highly obligated to render a strong vote on the solution to the man’s ‘sin’ and then even demand that the corporate solution be implemented over objections of the individual’s conscience. Lastly, they would not care about the internal conflict the church-endorsed and church-selected solution forced on the man.

    The church meets; the highest council decides that ‘wheel chairs’ are God’s solution to the medical condition of ‘no legs’. What about the man that is proud about his loss of legs and wishes to walk on stumps? He will be given the mercy of excommunication by the church. What if he wishes to take a doctor’s advice, and use artificial legs supplied by the highest professional therapists in the land? He will be given the ‘godly counsel’ that until he ‘repents’ and accepts a wheelchair, he is no longer welcomed in the Evangelical congregation.

    This is the culture of the Evangelicals. While they are my brothers and sisters in Christ, our own culture needs to be resolved to the following:

    (1) we are spirit, soul, and body; the spiritual cannot always trump the medical or the soulical; [I Thess 5]

    (2) the individual will answer to God on the Final Day; the individual answers to “his master” in this present life; therefore, the individual conscience must be honored above the corporate ‘conscience’ and corporate selected-solution; [Romans 14]

    (3) we must learn to look upon the heart (inner man) and weigh out the internal conflicts and internal peace; we must not keep demanding an external solution that causes chaos within the soul of the man [John 14:27 and many others].

    I highly respect that Warren and Mark Yarhouse and others are trying hard to understand the Transgender Spectrum. But in my opinion, the greatest challenge is not the healing of the client with GID, but the healing of the Evangelical culture.

  • http://www.sexualidentityinstitute.org Mark Yarhouse

    Caryn,

    .

    Thank you for your thoughts on this topic. Here are a few of mine: I am not sure I would frame the issues in quite the same way (i.e., #1, “Evangelical pastors believe that spiritual reasoning trumps all medical reasoning”). The Evangelical pastors I know seem to be firm on theological understandings but struggle more with pastoral applications, particularly in the area of gender dysphoria and the needs of transgender persons.

    .

    My experience with Evangelicals is that they often do talk about the person standing before God (#2). However, many Evangelical pastors I know would also feel that they are responsible for the spiritual well-being of the persons in their congregation. So rather than it being “individual” vs. “corporate”, perhaps the language spiritual “covering” is sometimes used. I agree with you that Evangelicals are not alone in a corporate emphasis.

    .

    I do think there has historically been an emphasis among Evangelicals on “outward behavior” (#3) (the expression of personal piety). I think this can lead to an expectation that there may be “incredible levels of internal conflict” that many Evangelical pastors might see not in quite the same way you describe but as a way to grow in personal spiritual maturity or Christ-likeness.

    .

    Obviously, gender dysphoria is a unique experience of internal conflict and one that most Evangelical pastors do not deal with on a day-to-day basis in their pastoral care. When they do, I wonder if pastors draw upon principles for dealing with internal conflict to this issue while not fully appreciating some of the very real differences.

    The three points you believe transgender persons ought to adopt are thoughtful and worth unpacking further. I wonder if pastors are responding to the spiritual (#1) based on the principles I mentioned above – perhaps not recognizing the medical but also not being clear whether there is genuine consensus on ways to resolve dysphoria.

    .

    Again, my experience with Evangelical pastors is that they do see the person being accountable before God, but they also talk about being responsible for those under their “care” (all the more reason to offer wise and thoughtful spiritual counsel and pastoral care, of course).

    .

    Your third point is especialy thought provoking to me. There may be near consensus among Evangelical pastors about what not to do to resolve dysphoria, although I haven’t seen too many formal reports on this. For what it is worth, I have not seen consensus among those I know who report gender dysphoria on how it ought to be resolved, and the professional discussions on this point also continue.

    .

    Thanks again for your thoughts. I genuinely appreciate your perspective.

  • sean

    ive been reading these comments its amazing how so called christians can hop on the wagon to persecute anyone who does not fit into their definition of being a christian. Simply put the bible says to judge not lest ye be judge ,let he that is without sin among you cast the first stone or the parable of the man who thanks God that he is not like the others as opposed to the man who ask God to have mercy on me a sinner . simply put true christians are to love unconditionally their soul purpose is to preach jesus to everyone in their lives that they can. So comments like this original post to me are from people who have nothing better to do than to point the finger to make themselves feel better.

  • sean

    before transgendered people it was black before that what was it jewish. All of this is hatred its a lack of ability to understand anything other than what you’ve been taught. As a christian church is that what your supposed to teach? hatred?

    what i mean by this is that as a christian you should understand that we all are human and have made many errors in our own lives and will to the day we die! so if you are full of errors then should you look at someone elses issues and rightly be able to judge whether or not they are right. it doesnt matter the denomination of christianity all of them should be able tp agree that the bible says that if any man say hes not a sinner then he is a liar and the truth is not in him. as paul says in the bible who was in times past a persecutor of the saints but recieved salvation because he did it ignorantly. so if your a sinner should you cast a stone. God is the only true judge !!! (I know that hatred is not of good so if anyone hates you need to understand why)

  • http://CarynLeMur.com Caryn LeMur

    Mark:

    When the Spirit brought a saying to my mind about a year ago, I wrote it down and then investigated it against the Gospel accounts of the life of Jesus. The saying has held very true:

    “Christ affirmed the highest path as the highest path, but He welcomed all that sought Him no matter what path they walked upon.”

    This saying has explained John chapter 4 to me better than any other. It has explained to me why Christ said many things to many people, from Roman to Canaanite to leper to King. It explains why He suffered little children to crowd in upon Him or a woman with chronic bleeding to touch Him.

    I do want Evangelical pastors to affirm the highest path as the highest path. That is, I fully want them to say “When Jesus taught the stability of life-time marriage, He subsumed the arguments of stability of gender identity, and stability of sexual orientation.” This is one aspect of an argument-of-framework. I have no problem with this approach, and even endorse it.

    So, Jesus will say to the pastor on Judgment Day, “Did you affirm to Caryn that the highest path was stability of gender identity?” The pastor will say, “Yes, Lord.” And Jesus will say “Well done.”

    And then, Jesus will say to the same pastor, “Did you welcome Caryn each time she attempted to seek me, no matter what path she walked upon? If she was in your opinion disruptive, did you give to her the steps of reconciliation (Matthew 18, also called formal excommunication), and then did you seek her out as one of the ‘lost’ or ‘strays’?”

    What will then the pastor say?

    [Please notice that I deliberately left out any issues of the 'inner person' (or the 'heart') in my hypothetical question from Jesus. In this example, I have 'Jesus' asking two questions that can be answered by outward behavior. After all, the Parable of the Sheep and Goats is about the Final Judgment, and that Parable is all about outward behavior, right? [Matt 25] Thus, I am responding in terms of ‘personal piety’.]

    What will my former pastor say, Mark? “Lord, I wished to imitate your life. So, when Caryn came to the outside of the church upset over her friend dying of cancer, I noticed that she did not wish to come inside, so I met her outside, made the conversation very short, did not offer to pray with her, ordered her to never contact me again, and then stalked away and locked the door of the church with her standing there watching me lock her out. Isn’t that just like you Jesus?”

    Will Jesus then say, “Well done”?

    Or, will my former pastor say, “Lord, I wished to imitate your life. So, when Caryn visited my church a year later, I deliberately avoided going anywhere near her. I did not speak with her. I did however send her a secret letter 5 days later demanding she never attend again, until she repented and was delivered by God. I refused to allow her a defense per Matthew chapter 18. I later found out she attended that day because she was having repetitious nightmares, but I decided to never seek her out nor apologize. Isn’t that just like you, Jesus?”

    Will Jesus now say, “Well done”?

    Mark, that pastor is now forgiven. I relate the above two true histories so that others can learn from the perspective of the Samaritan, the Roman, the leper, the non-Jew-that-is-repulsive….. If these Evangelical pastors cannot see the damage that they do by only ‘affirming the highest path’ — if they cannot see the need to imitate the Seeking Shepherd and the Welcoming Christ — then I shall still pray for them, even as our Lord sunsets many of their ministries.

    Oh, and that particular pastor that I knew? Our Lord is gently shutting down that pastor’s church, and giving him just a few people like his own self… so, that pastor will indeed have a few sheep to feed, and will serve our Lord among those he can no longer harm. In terms of Romans chapter 14, God is indeed ‘making him to stand’. My prayers for God’s blessing upon ‘the one that cursed me’ are being answered.

    Much love in Christ always and unconditionally; Caryn

    A pastor shall indeed answer to our Lord Jesus on that Final Day for his conduct among the sheep, especially among ‘the least of these, my brothers’.

  • Pingback: Caryn LeMur’s Blog For Dialog » Blog Archive » Human feelings… perhaps too many this week.

  • http://CarynLeMur.com Caryn LeMur

    Sean: I think it is good that our Lord has opened your eyes to see many scriptures. And I think it is good that your sense of justice is alarmed at what others have done.

    May I offer that forgiveness is like a series of dance steps? It consists of first noticing the wrong that was done; then realizing how much we are like the wrong-doer; then seeing how much ‘more’ we have been forgiven by our own Master. The last steps are that we offer forgiveness and even blessing upon those that do not imitate all of the fullness of Christ, and then we move in close to feel their worries, their concerns, and their fears, gently healing their wounds… even to the point of seeking them out and offering reconciliation. These steps are shown in Matthew 18′s parable; then Matthew 5′s blessings; and then Galatians 6:1&2.

    It is an incredible dance, and one that takes much practice. Many times, emotionally, I have only been able to do a few of the steps. The full dance takes time and practice. No one is saying that it is an easy dance…But it is worth it….

    And this becomes our blessing: when we read “Forgive as Christ forgave you”, we see more than just one step — we are given opportunity to imitate our Lord and learn the full dance — not just one step (forgiveness), but every step that our Lord Jesus took… from the speaking of the Sermon on the Mount, to the wooden cross on Golgatha, to even being given the highest esteem by the Father.

    Much love in Christ always and unconditionally; Caryn

  • Melissa Malena

    I was reading the NARTH updates, and it seems that Dr. Nicolosai has made another statement of half-truths. As Dr. Throckmorton also discussed a potential brain substrate for transsexualism, so does Nicolosai, imply this by his following half-truth statement about a boy rejecting “innate maleness”.

    “even if the cause of that rejection is a biological ‘wiring problem’….. no boy can ever make himself a girl by dressing differently and having mutilating surgery.”

    Why is this a half truth? Because, A) he doesn’t define boy or girl B) if a so-called boy did have a female brain, then this person is not rejecting their innate maleness in this regard, but is embracing their innate femaleness of the brain. C) mutilating surgery is not described in detail.

    Thus, the statements would need to have the following, to be not half-truths-

    “no XY child can ever make himself an XX child by dressing differently or by having sex reassignment surgery.”

    “no CHROMOSOMAL boy can ever make himself a CHROMOSOMAL girl by dressing differently or by having sex reassignment surgery. ”

    The following statement is also an acceptable non-half truth

    “a pehenotypic boy CAN make himself a phenotypic girl by dressing differently and having sex reassignment surgery.”

    It surprises me, that people still use chromosomes (see Mathew Staver’s errant report) in a way which is not accurate. See in the following fine article, Sex beyond the Karyotype

    http://www.alicedreger.com/beyond.html

  • http://justjenniferblog.blogspot.com/ Just Jennifer

    “even if the cause of that rejection is a biological ‘wiring problem’….. no boy can ever make himself a girl by dressing differently and having mutilating surgery.”

    I always find comments like this rathter interesting. First off, it appears that Nicolosi is having to face the fact that HBS or transsexualism is almost certainly caused by a physical issue, but he is still not willing to exhibit simple Christian charity.

    Now, I do wonder, what does he mean by “mutilating surgery?” Why is it mutilating? It changes an undesired anatomy into one that is both desired and functional. This reminds me of the line from “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex…” There, Dr. Rubin refered to post-op transsexuals as having “a gaping wound where their genitals used to be,” or something to that effect. That is hardly true. Does Nicolosi think that women are somehow “mutilated men?” How strange.

    Oh the other hand, I would certainly not consider Alice Dreger to be a reliable source after her remarks concerning Michael Bailey and his rather nasty bit of bigotry.

  • http://aebrain.blogspot.com Zoe Brain

    Dear Dr Throckmorton,

    I invite clergy and transgender advocates to comment and offer rationale for their views. Some think I need (to be) educated; so educate me.

    I’ll comment later about the issue in question. I just want to say what a refreshing relief it is to have an attitude like that expressed!

    It’s possible that people of goodwill and rationality can disagree. Not so much about the facts, but how much weight and credence should be given to various pieces of scientific and scriptural evidence. I may never convince you of the rectitude of my views – but your words indicate that at least you will give them as fair a hearing as you are able. That, alas, is rare in this area. I can ask for no more, and you have my thanks. As for me, if my own views are so correct, they should be able to survive a little testing, a challenge conducted with integrity from someone with honestly-held contrary views.

  • Taz

    “Even if science does determine differentiation in the brain at birth,” Throckmorton says, “even if there are prenatal influences, we can’t set aside teachings of the Bible because of research findings.”

    There are widely differing interpretations of the “teachings of the Bible”, even among Christians. And yet you feel perfectly justified in ignoring data in order to cling to yours. Perhaps your direct link into the mind of God isn’t is clear as you’d like to believe.

  • http://carynlemur.com Caryn LeMur

    Taz: My review of Warren’s works do not show any claim to a direct link to understanding the will of God.

    II Cor 12, and Paul’s decision to accept a ‘thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan’ is key to those that reason Biblically. This allows those of us that are certified with GID to accept that God will not heal us. [GID is normally considered under the TG umbrella.]

    The question then becomes, ‘How shall we then live per the Bible?” As a believer, I take great comfort in Romans chapter 14, and listen closely to my conscience, it’s limitations, and the conscience of others. Yet, other TG Christians are tortured that (1) God does not heal them and (2) they are non-functional continuing in life as an extreme male or female. For some, this is the first deep moment of humility, the first ‘sin’ they could not overcome, and the first time they must learn to walk within the mercy of God.

    Many Christians pursue not the imitation of Christ, but the goal of ‘holiness’ (normally defined as free from all entanglements of sin). Those that are TG often find that their goal of holiness will never be realized in this life, and a grief process ensues. They learn to accept the imitation of Christ’s life on this earth as their new goal, without perfect ‘holiness’. They live authentically, and humbly, and soon find God’s spirit closer than ever before — the sacrifices God desires are a broken and contrite heart, right?

    Those that stutter learn the same thing; those that are bi-polar learn the same (and more, I think). We that are certified with GID (and those that are TG) learn to walk with Christ in His mercy, and to share the love of Christ freely and unconditionally, despite our ‘limp’ that was given to us, as it was to our spiritual ancestor Jacob/Israel.

    I am thrilled that Warren and Mark Yarhouse and others are studying this area of life as a transgender. And, I urge them to not abandon the scriptures at all, but to ask even deeper questions than the journalism of CT: is there a limitation to pastoral care of certified mental disorders? is there a body of Christ that should team with the pastor in treatment? can a pastor overrule medical and psychological protocols, and when should he/she do so? what is the Safe City of Deut 19 all about, or should the church continue to execute judgment against those with GID (or TG) prior to gathering all the facts?

    I pray that my Lord Jesus gives them wisdom.

    Much love in Christ always and unconditionally; Caryn

  • Taz

    My review of Warren’s works do not show any claim to a direct link to understanding the will of God.

    Anyone who believes the Bible is the word of God, and admits to the obvious fact that the Bible is also open to interpretation, must also admit that when they make pronouncements based on the Bible they are claiming to understand the will of God. If that person also claims that facts revealed through research will not change their opinion, they must feel they have a pretty strong understanding of that will. It seems rather arrogant to me. But then, it seems incredibly arrogant to me that people feel God is deeply concerned about the details of their sex life.

  • Kyle Allen

    I just wonder to Jennifer and others, from a Christian theological point of view, why is being born with something, or as something, necessarily make it correct spiritually? Are we not born sinners. Someone above “I had no choice in the matter, and since therefore it has to be given to me by God.” Does it? And on what grounds do we base such ideas?

    Are we not fallen by nature? Was that given to us by God?

    I am interested to talk with you about your idea that transsexualism cannot be called into question from biblical text. I’m a seminary student researching a topic on transgenderism for a Pastoral Care class. I would love your notes and info on this.

  • Kyle Allen

    Thus, if we could prove homosexuality or transsexualism was genetic 100% at all times, the Evangelical church would be unmoved. They would give ‘mercy’, ‘compassion’, and ‘godly counsel’, but the mercy/compassion/godly counsel would be tightly defined within the context of (1), (2), and (3).

    But again, theologically speaking, why does it matter to either camp if transsexualism, etc is 100% genetic? Is it ignorant to compare something closer to the issue than the wheelchair/amputee one? I’m a healthy, heterosexual man. I feel in my bones, in my loins, a strong desire to have sex with mutiple women. I have felt this since puberty. I feel it deep inside me.

    Yet this urge, this desire, no matter how genetic, biological, or perfectfly realized is at odds with Scripture. The world tells me to be the animal I am, “do not deny yourself,” but the Bible says die to yourself. Which do I uphold?

    Can you dare tell me to suppress these natural, genetic impulses? Why? They are innocent, I was born with them, and I never chose them. Then they must come from God?

    Does this logic hold as compared to transsexualism/transgenderedism?

    And I would be interested for a more apples to apples statement from you (I am not transgendered and honestly do not know you Christian tg/ts perspectives) about transgenderism in the Church being

    a) living a transgendered life but being abstinent or

    b) living transgendered and having a single partner of the same biological sex or

    c) living transgendered and having a single partner of the opposite biological sex

    I know sex/gender are not the same. I know, I know, I know!

    My point is about ethics and morals within the Church, not identity. Which do you advocate as TS Christians?

  • Kyle Allen

    Secondly, this “God does not make mistakes” sounds good, at first, but brings up a few questions. What about children being born thoroughly sick and/or disabled, merely be accident? Are we to assume that God said: “Oh, let’s give little X no legs, that will be fun!” Sorry, but that is not exactly the God I believe in, and I doubt anybody here does. So, obviously, accidents happens. And if they happen with other parts of the body and brain, what exactly would preclude them happening to the sex/gender system? Nothing whatever. (Providing, of course, that they are mistakes or accidents in the first place, which, see above, I doubt.)

    Sorry, but in all due respect, this betrays a very juvenile theology, and an incorrect logical of God, His creation and the naturee of the fall. No God does not decide to tempt us. But can you say that God does/doesn’t decide what to do with humans and that then makes a God you can’t beleive in. Then you are an idolator making your own god.

    God says that He is the potter and you are the clay. He makes whatever He feels like. Yes, you live with the results. But there is another side of the coin–since the fall there can be genetic, biological, emotional, and psycholohical as well as cosmic ramifications, disorders and brokenness. We became broken from God, our fellow man/woman, the earth and ourselves. This is Genesis and basic Christian theology.

    So disorders being hardwired into us or not does not logically dismiss sin. I can be born with alcoholic or obesity predispositions, or other disorders/conditions. Being born with something, given Christian theology of the natural state of sin/corruption of all men/women, does not then dismiss it, make it ok, or acceptable spiritually speaking. It makes it just as any other sin, or temptation which when acted upon becomes sin. It is not less or more than other sins, sexual or otherwise.

  • http://carynlemur.com Caryn LeMur

    Kyle:

    In order to help me frame an answer to you, can you please answer the following:

    1. Is divorce a sin-of-choice? What mercy do you wish the church to give those that divorce, remarry, or marry a divorced woman?

    2. Is complete certified insanity a sin-of-choice? What mercy do you wish the church to give those that are so certified and institutionalized?

    3. Is being reduced to a ‘living vegetable’ by a massive stroke a sin-of-choice? What mercy do you wish the church to give those that are unable to sustain body-life (without higher brain functions) except by machine?

    Your answers will help me understand your view of sin, your views of cognitive choice, your views of mercy, and your view of the highest path for the church’s response to each situation above.

    4. In Matthew 12, the history of David’s sin concerning the holy bread is discussed by Jesus. Given that David was ‘held without guilt’ even though he sinned and had never repented, by what mechanism was David then forgiven?

    Your answer will help me to understand your view of repentance, and the necessity of such for forgiveness.

    5. Given that Jesus said to Pilate, “He that delivered me unto you has the greater sin”, we then conclude that some sins are greater (and by default, some are therefore ‘lesser’). What are the greater sins and why?

    Your answer will help me to understand your view of what is a plank and what is a mote, so to speak. After all, we should remove the planks from our own eyes, to see clearly to remove the mote in another’s eye, right?

    6. Given that the mature church is shown in Galatians, and the immature church in Corinthians, what is the proper response for the church to take in regards to someone ‘overcome’ by a sin? Let us, for the sake of this question, assume that ‘no longer fighting GID’ is a sin. Then, what is the proper response for the church to take in regards to someone overcome by GID to the point of no longer resisting the GID?

    Your answer to #6 will help me to understand your views and personal involvement to the mature approach to handling sin in another believer.

    By the way, thank you for your post. It is refreshing to find someone willing to show the love of Christ, and willing to engage with His people that have GID.

    Much love in Christ always and unconditionally; Caryn

  • http://justjenniferblog.blogspot.com/ Just Jennifer

    Sorry, but in all due respect, this betrays a very juvenile theology, and an incorrect logical of God, His creation and the naturee of the fall. No God does not decide to tempt us. But can you say that God does/doesn’t decide what to do with humans and that then makes a God you can’t beleive in. Then you are an idolator making your own god.

    God says that He is the potter and you are the clay. He makes whatever He feels like. Yes, you live with the results. But there is another side of the coin–since the fall there can be genetic, biological, emotional, and psycholohical as well as cosmic ramifications, disorders and brokenness. We became broken from God, our fellow man/woman, the earth and ourselves. This is Genesis and basic Christian theology.

    So disorders being hardwired into us or not does not logically dismiss sin. I can be born with alcoholic or obesity predispositions, or other disorders/conditions. Being born with something, given Christian theology of the natural state of sin/corruption of all men/women, does not then dismiss it, make it ok, or acceptable spiritually speaking. It makes it just as any other sin, or temptation which when acted upon becomes sin. It is not less or more than other sins, sexual or otherwise.

    Well, it appears to me that there are two extremes in the view of God and how He deals with the world. At one extreme, there is the Diest view, which holds that God created the world, and has since let it run without any intervention on His part. At the opposite extreme, there is the hyper-Calvinistic view that seems to hold that God is so powerful that nothing can happen apart from His active will. That is, that God is incapable of having a permissive will.

    Now, it is kind of hard to figure out exactly where your views fit in. On the one hand, you seem to hold that God causes things like birth defects. Now, if that is true, and we take your view to the logical conclusion, then correcting birth defects is contrary to God’s will. I find that view to be unacceptable. First off, while I believe God is in control, I do believe He allows things to happen, and does not directly cause evil to happen.

    Now, you presume that correcting one’s body to match one’s mind is sin. Before we can even hope to continue this dialog I will have to ask that you quote specific Biblical passages to back up your assertion that it is sin. Unless, of course, you wish to claim the right to determine what is and is not sin without resorting to Scripture. As far as I have been able to tell, the Bible is pretty much silent on the topic.

  • http://justjenniferblog.blogspot.com/ Just Jennifer

    But again, theologically speaking, why does it matter to either camp if transsexualism, etc is 100% genetic? Is it ignorant to compare something closer to the issue than the wheelchair/amputee one? I’m a healthy, heterosexual man. I feel in my bones, in my loins, a strong desire to have sex with mutiple women. I have felt this since puberty. I feel it deep inside me.

    Yet this urge, this desire, no matter how genetic, biological, or perfectfly realized is at odds with Scripture. The world tells me to be the animal I am, “do not deny yourself,” but the Bible says die to yourself. Which do I uphold?

    Can you dare tell me to suppress these natural, genetic impulses? Why? They are innocent, I was born with them, and I never chose them. Then they must come from God?

    Does this logic hold as compared to transsexualism/transgenderedism?

    And I would be interested for a more apples to apples statement from you (I am not transgendered and honestly do not know you Christian tg/ts perspectives) about transgenderism in the Church being

    a) living a transgendered life but being abstinent or

    b) living transgendered and having a single partner of the same biological sex or

    c) living transgendered and having a single partner of the opposite biological sex

    I know sex/gender are not the same. I know, I know, I know!

    My point is about ethics and morals within the Church, not identity. Which do you advocate as TS Christians?

    I am sorry, but I would submit that the “desire to have sex with multiple women” is born of temptation and your fallen nature rather than anything genetic or biological. Of course, you may well believe in humanistic evolution, which is the only basis for such a view.

    That said. you are comparing apples and oranges. The Bible makes it clear that fornication and/or adultery are sins. The Bible does not make clear that being a transsexual is. Now, I would ask that you refrain from conflating transsexualism, which is a medical condition, and transgender, which is a lifestyle choice. They are not the same thing. Transgender is an artificial political/social construct that attempts to justify certain behavior (much of which is arguably sinful.

    Again, until you establish, from the Bible, that being a transsexual is a sin, you have no basis for your arguments.

  • http://justjenniferblog.blogspot.com/ Just Jennifer

    I just wonder to Jennifer and others, from a Christian theological point of view, why is being born with something, or as something, necessarily make it correct spiritually? Are we not born sinners. Someone above “I had no choice in the matter, and since therefore it has to be given to me by God.” Does it? And on what grounds do we base such ideas?

    Are we not fallen by nature? Was that given to us by God?

    I am interested to talk with you about your idea that transsexualism cannot be called into question from biblical text. I’m a seminary student researching a topic on transgenderism for a Pastoral Care class. I would love your notes and info on this.

    I was born, though no fault of my own, with a medical conditon which I had treated. Before I began the process, I sought God’s will, and continued to do so thoughout the process. Yes, we are born sinners. Now, let’s take an example that is close to the one we are discussing. Are you familiar with the condition known as Complete Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome? A person with CAIS has XY chromosomes (male) but is born physically female. Now, the condition is usually discovered when puberty fails to occur. Now, again, this person is genetically a male. But because their body cannot react to male hormones, they become, in effect, a natural born “transsexual.” Now, would you demand that such a person adopt a male presentation? Or would you allow that they are female, in spite of their chromosomes? Keep in mind that such a person is mentally female, and tends to be extremely so. That is, they tend to be hyperfeminine because their brain is completely unaffected by androgens. But, some would say that such a person must be viewed as a male.

  • http://justjenniferblog.blogspot.com/ Just Jennifer

    Kyle,

    I wrote an article, which was presented at the most recent bi-annual meeting of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (formerly the Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association) on a Christian view of Harry Benjamin Syndrome (a newer, and preferred term for transsexualism). I would be glad to let you see a copy of it, but I need your contact information.

  • petia vowell

    In the opening articles the reference of transgender with sexuality is flawed.

    reference to gender biblically at least for mtf transsexuals is in part to Eunichs.

    who are blessed by God

    as for sexuality well thats another and involves all genders.

    My final point is why get bogged down in the law. when the blood covenant is what we enter and its relationship with the holy spirit that change happens. For the transgendered individual a journey of grace just like us all. Change of lifestyle is between god and the individual. To be so law focused we forget the power of Gods love to change anything.

    Im not a liberal certainly more a fundimentalist who says the law is what it is.

    If we are to impose the law we become judges . not our job. Religion is despicable for imposing lifestyle and the law. Telling how we should live before God.

    Its not by our works we are saved.

    love love love

  • kellisuzanne

    as i hear people talk about ” homosexuality” in comparision ( constantly) to being transgendered, it angers me. and actually in a strange way amuses me ,because this tells me that these people havent a clue as to what being transgendered means! comparing fruit flies to people, riciculous, but its comfy isnt it! i was raised in a southern baptist family, i see how everything has to be comfortable and fit into a ” sweet little compartment!” if it doesnt then you ( right wing) are not comfy and thats a no no isnt it? when you can explain hermaphroditism,, and the neat little place that these innocent , good people fit, then you have it all figured out! but remember , dont mess up , or your gonna be uncomfortable, and we cant have that now can we?, lol, so riciculous!, kelli , texas

    oh , and by the way ive had so many people praying for me in my life but they always pray for what ( once again) makes them comfortable! maybe God , the un-affiliated and seemingly “comedic” being that he/she is , might be having a good laugh right about now! , does that make you “uncomfortable”?? , ks

  • Eddy

    comparing fruit flies to people, riciculous, but its comfy isnt it!

    Ranks right up there with the Bonobos chimps. Oh wait, a different set of people using them as an example.

  • Hank

    I am a transgendered man (ftm), and I am a member of the Methodist church. I’m only out to my pastor because I feel he needs to know. I’ve been reading the Bible cover to cover in order to find any evidence that how I live is a sin. So far I haven’t found anything but the gay stuff and that doesn’t apply. I can’t even use the “a man shouldn’t wear a woman’s clothing” bit because now I’ve got all the guy parts. So…I say we’re cool with God. Plus, He loves us no matter what, except when we do something really horribly bad, then we’re in deep doo doo. :) I’m learning though, thanks to my pastor, that we’ve all got problems, so we can’t be judgmental no matter how much we want to be.

  • http://CarynLeMur.com Caryn LeMur

    Hi Hank.

    I was amazed to see this old thread come to life. You are always welcome to check out my website. Although I am MTF, I think you might enjoy some of the writings.

    And, Warren, I am wondering if your thinking has evolved to a new position over the years. I recall telling people that I’ve observed that the Bible has much to say about sexual minorities: a lot about the divorced man, a good bit about virginity before marriage, a bit about marrying a divorced woman, less about homosexuality, and very little about transgenderism.

    I believe I obtained some of that concept from one of your comments (here?), that transgenderism was very much not a black-and-white issue in the Bible, but much more a shade of gray.

    Soooo, all that said, what are your current thoughts, may I ask?

    Much love in Christ always and unconditionally; Caryn

  • Charlie

    A TRANSGENDER SPIN-OFF

    I’m a little kid and I feel that inside of me there is a real adult.

    Yes, I have what you could say is an “adult identity.” I know I was born an adult because I never did choose to be an adult.

    Since I’m really, really an adult deep down inside, why is it I’m not allowed to go to “adult only” places and act like adults?

    I mean, kids in Palestine can carry adult guns. Kids in other Muslim places can cut off heads in videos. And kids in San Francisco can watch gays having sex in public, so why can’t “adult” kids like me act like those adults?

    If a man can be the “woman” inside of him, and if a woman can be the “man” she says is inside of her, I demand to live out the “adult identity” that I know is really, really inside of me!

    Since a cat may think he’s the “mouse” inside of him, and since our “Christian” President can be the “Muslim” inside of him, I demand the right to be the transbeing adult that was inside of me even before I was born!

    signed, Charlie (I mean – Mr. Brown)

  • Ito Condro

    Hi Charlie..

    Your letter make me smile. I guess the answer is that you just have to be patient and wait a lil longer to enter adult places and become real adult person…:D just like all of us we just wait till the time come…many transgendered waits for years before they can fit in the society, so just wait..hehehe

  • Charlene

    Your statement:

    I want to emphasize that persons who experience gender identity conflicts should reach out and seek advice from medical and mental health professionals, as well as their spiritual advisors.

    My Answer: This can be compared to Gallileo or Bruno asking the Medieval church for help after their astronomical findings.

  • Anonymous

    First let me say that the Bible does talk of gender variant people. Please look up eunuchs and topics like transgenderism and religion specifically in religions such as judaism, islam, and christianity. Also research topics like Intersex people and the different types of intersex people that exist. And read scripture regarding Eunuchs in the bible. For example Isaiah 56:4-5, “For thus says the Lord, To the eunuchs who keep my sabbaths, who choose what pleases me, and who hold fast to my covenant, I will give them, in my house and within my walls, a monument and a name, better than sons and daughters; an eternal name, which shall not be cut off, will I give them.” Interesting part of this scripture is that God does not regard eunuchs as a son or daughter. Jesus speaks of eunuchs in Matthew 19:12. Some versions of the bible distort the term eunuch to mean a celibate man which is completely false. Eunuchs were always someone who is either intersex or someone who had their testicles removed, which is why they were often employed within harems during biblical times. If eunuchs were celibate men, then Jesus and Paul would have regarded themselves as such. Granted there was no access to hormone therapy or plastic surgery during those days, those that survived testicle removal before puberty had a feminine appearance and characteristics due to a lack of testosterone. One of the first christian converts was an ethiopian eunuch. It’s also interesting that Iran where strict adherence to islamic law and a country that bans and outlaws homosexuality, yet allows people to become transgender and is second to Thailand in number of transgender surgeries. It is clear that transgenderism and homosexuality are disparate things. Most people speak against transgender people in ignorance and only view the world as themselves, yet the world is a much more diverse place. Yes God created Man and Woman, but he also created intersex people, dwarfism, conjoined twins, people of all varying characteristics. Maybe for this reason He forbids those from his temple (Leviticus 21:18-21), but not from his kingdom. Only he knows the reasons for this, but it doesn’t negate the fact that gender variance and a third gender exists, is something that is both natural and something that can be altered later in life. In the end I believe that God has purpose for all, despite circumstance or gender, and that there isn’t a one fits all paradigm in leading a life of faith and belief in God.


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