Tuesday, February 19

Trans article in ChristToday

I'm excited to say that last week Christianity today featured a lengthy article about on trans people! The full text of The Transgender Moment. Not that the article is particularly good, but I praise any good attempt that doesn't use the p(erv*rt) word. I want to remark on it, first the postives:

  • The article begins with the story of J. Nemecek, a MtF who transitioned while a prof at Spring Arbor University, a conservative Christian college. Always nice to start with a real person and a real experience.
  • Another story is of Bill Gray, a MtF, whom a Florida church embraces and even gets a job.
  • The story of Drew Gordon, a FtM and current Methodist minister and even allowing her quote that the Holy Spirit led her to transition.
OK, now the long list of negatives: the lack or research, hidden agendas, and weasel words.
  • I'm not sure about the title "Trans Moment." Feeling transgender stays with a person for life and in our culture it will only become more prevalent thru out this 21st century. I won't say the title is trying to minimize something about the trans issues, but it is suspicious.
  • Even the title tries to minimize us.
  • The whole article assumes that transgender=transexual. Wrong. I love and support my transexual brothers and sisters just as my cisgender siblings, but we are different. By ignoring the variety with the trans community, you stereotype us.
  • Page 1: "Advocates say transgendered individuals are at great risk . . ." Fact - but misleading. The US census even says that trans people are at great risk. We are more at risk than gays, blacks, Muslims, Jews, and we're even under-reported compared to every other group.
  • Page 2: "In order to be diagnosed with gender identity disorder, there must be a strong desire to be the other sex . . ." False. First, the author, Kennedy, implies that trans=GID which is false. I am trans but would not be diagnosed with GID. Second, desire to change sex nor body is not required for diagnosis.
  • Page 2: " some 13 states have laws prohibiting employers and landlords from discriminating" Wrong. It's 12. The number 13 is often thrown around because Wash DC has this law.
  • Page 3: "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." There are so many levels of problems with this statement, I could write a book! To be brief: 1 it is a straw argument that trans people are homosexual! 2 it is hypocritical of CT, a Protestant publication, to use tradition as argument when they don't like something but ignore tradition when they deem it negative. (For Protestants, that's most of the time.) Sola scriptura, my dear Protestants, anyone? 3 Church Tradition has little or nothing to say about trans people now or ever because it has always assumed that trans people didn't exist, at least not in the Church. No wonder the theology doesn't accomidate us! I love Tradition, but to talk about trans issues, we need new wineskins.
  • Page 3: CT quotes Warren Throckmorton. Throckmorton had his own criticism on the usage of this "quote," so I leave it to him to explain.
  • Page 3: "Individual evangelical congregations across the land are trying to figure out how to welcome lonely, hurting, seeking visitors who exhibit GID without offending long-term members." First, if they're afraid that welcoming an outcast in the name of Jesus will offend some members, then for the sake of Christ, please offend them! Did Jesus worry about offending when He welcomed whores? Samaritans? Tax collectors? Lepers? Did Philip worry when he welcomed a eunuch? Offend them! Perhaps their political correctness is the reason I've never heard of these churches. Perhaps that's why trans people think Christians hate us. I know the elders of the church is your family, but Jesus said if you cannot hate your own family, you cannot be His disciple.
  • Page 4: "American Psychiatric Association, which declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder in 1973, still classifies the condition of transgender as a disorder." OK, common mistake, but still wrong. The APA answers this exact question on their site.
  • Page 4: "Barber says the political left wing is facilitating more gender confusion by counseling the afflicted to feel good about themselves rather than find a treatment for this disorder." If Barber had read what the APA says, Barber would know we're doing exactly that.
  • Page 4: ""You are what you are—male or female," Barber says." Only ignoring the 3% of people who are intersex. And if you ignore .05% of the human genome, you get a monkey.
  • Page 4, using a Family Research Council quotes. Funny, Kennedy doesn't mention the sole function of FRC is lobbying. I don't think a group that first denied global warming exists, then denied human are responsible, and is made of lawyers, not scientists anyway should be talking about Scripture and science.
  • Page 4 "Outside quote: "The pressure for acceptance is ultimately a challenge to the authority of Scripture and a violation of natural law." What? I thought there was no Scripture relevance? Regarding natural law, see previous bullet point.
  • Page 4 Same guy In the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender movement there is a tendency to continually push the envelope in trying to demand the acceptance of what most people perceive to be unusual behavior." This sick accusation that the LGBT movement is moving from gay to trans to polygamy pedophilia to beastiality to marrying your toaster is absurd and totally unfounded. Check our record: the gay movement include trans from the beginning and vice versa. Remember Stonewall? Trans people started that. We've never pushed other things. The only move to plural marriage comes from Mormons (Christians!) and the move toward pedophilia from cisgender people.
  • Page 4 In a couple ways strongly implying that trans=gay, including a quote from Alan Chambers. Hands down, psychologists agree that transgenderism is not homosexuality. Chambers's organization, Exodus, seems to agree: http://exodus.to/content/view/60/55/
  • All of page 5 is about Jerry Leach. Leach is the only person I've found in the "ex-trans" ministry. I thought he disappeared because he website was down for so long, as recently as a couple months ago. Some day he'll even get a real email. Or real website, or office, or book besides what comes from his home printer. Until then, he's not only the best ex-trans ministry, he's the only thing. He's removed his biography from his site, but I'm quite sure he has no education in counseling. His only claim to authority is being himself ex-trans and that no one else is rivaling him. If I were suddenly to reject my gender, I'd be just as qualified as him. Of course, CT only describes him as a "director" of an ex-trans ministry and gives him more space than anyone else in the article. Meanwhile, there are affirming trans people with PhDs, ordinations, and published books under their belts. Yet CT implies Leach is more qualified.
  • Whole article: over-usage of the word activists when referring to trans people and groups. If you haven't caught on, "activist" is EV-speak for "evil manipulator who will pillage and destroy to manifest your nightmares." Or more realistically, "manipulator." Like I said, we're too poor and shy and too jaded by the Church and others' own manipulation of us. But if by "activist" you mean trying to change laws and the status quo, Yes we are. So is CT itself. And FRC, Exodus, and Focus on the Family. Evangelism, too, is activism.
  • I might say the biggest mistake of this article is not to address transgender intersex people. The crux of the Church's current criticism with trans people is that "they deny their bodies." Trans intersex people make that impossible, making the Church's whole theory of gender impossible. But I guess that wasn't worth the one paragraph to mention?

Speaking of throwing babies out, the article does the same with cross dressors, drag queens, and some genderqueer people. Cross dressors and drag queens aren't denying their bodies, they're just pretending and having some fun. Some genderqueer people love their bodies as much as anyone - it's the gender attached they don't like. But CT can't acknowledge their presence either because they haven't figured a way to criticize them yet.

There's one more poor quote, but I won't blame CT since it was an outside quote and a very common mistake. Page 3: "Creech says. "Scripture doesn't address the issues of transgender experience." It does: eunuchs. See Peterson Toscano's blog entry on the CT article and eunuchs.

Now, notice I not once criticized Kennedy's point of view, just showing that it is irrational. There's a lot of bad research. Is he an idiot? Readers of CT more devoted than I can compare his other articles to see if he's just innocently stupid. Is he lazy? Writing on transgenderism requires a lot new ideas and weeks of work if you're new to it. If he's lazy, that could explain it. The last possibility is that he's just lying.

Update: A second article on Christianity Today.

Update: See strike-outs.

Update: Julie Nemecek points out even more 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.


vegan in furs said...

hmmm...i'm not a fan of CT either.
for different reasons, but never the less, not impressed by the publication.

i hope you're well.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Any trans sexual who is willing to stop pretending to be the opposite sex would be welcome to become a member of my church. However, I will not nor can I administer communion to someone who refuses to repent of such sinful behavior.

The only danger I can see for the transgendered individual is the danger of going to hell because of their rebellion against God and nature.

Ephilei said...

So you're implying that I would not be welcome at your church. Likewise, my Eastern Orthodox church wouldn't give you communion for your beliefs. (A point I'm not proud of.)

As a 5 point Calvinist, there are many other reasons you think I'm going to hell - I don't believe in Original Sin (in the sense you do), I reject all 5 points, I believe good works are necessary for Salvation, etc. Perhaps I'm going to hell because of my parish has the wrong carpet!

If you're interested in my actual thoughts, go to transchristians.org