Seriously, Please!

Seriously, Please!

I know those of you who choose to read this blog because of my posts about the church are frustrated with the number of recent posts on transgender issues. I understand your frustration. However, right now there is a national attack on the transgender community, and it is critical for Christians to do their research before weighing in on the topic.

In March of this year Dr. Paul McHugh and the American College of Pediatricians published a position paper on transgender issues that has been widely quoted by pastors of Evangelical churches. There are a number of problems with that decision, all related to inadequate research.

  1. The American College of Pediatricians, which published the position paper, is not a highly respected medical society. It is a 200-member group of conservatives whose positions are often seen as radical by the mainstream medical community. In no way is it affiliated with the 60,000-member American Academy of Pediatricians, a venerable institution supportive of gender transition.
  1. The paper indicates there are no biological origins of gender dysphoria. In reality there are over 150 professional peer reviewed resources showing the biological origins of gender dysphoria. For instance, as far back as 1973 it was widely known that mothers who took DES had sons with a much higher incidence of gender dysphoria. A recent Boston University meta-study of the plethora of peer reviewed resources concluded, “Current data suggests a biological origin of gender identity.”
  1. The position paper indicates up to 98 percent of children who present with gender dysphoria will desist from expressing a desire for gender transition, a number quoted out of context and without documentation from the DSM-V. There are no known studies that support that figure or any similar figure. In fact, recent studies show a child solidly claiming at an early age to be transgender is highly likely to continue to identify as transgender into adulthood. In response to a study entitled, “Gender Cognition in Transgender Children,” by Olsun, Key, and Eaton, the New England Journal of Medicine Journal Watch concluded, “Gender non-conforming children show clear implicit and explicit preferences for their expressed gender early in life…They do not appear to be confused, pretending, delayed, gender-atypical, or oppositional in these views.”
  1. Dr. McHugh and the paper’s co-authors speak of grave medical consequences of cross-gender hormonal treatment, yet their information is based on a form of estrogen not widely used in over 15 years. In regard to today’s hormonal treatment, in July of 2014, Henk Asscheman, MD, PhD, the principal investigator in a study of 2,000 transgender individuals treated in 15 US and European centers concluded, “There are mostly minor side effects and no new adverse effects observed in this large population.”
  1. Dr. McHugh continues to refer to a study headed by Celia Dhenje, MD that researched post-transition suicidal ideation. Dr. McHugh concludes suicidal ideation exists because gender transition does not resolve gender dysphoria. That is, in fact, the opposite of what the study concludes. Dr. Dhenje has publicly called Dr. McHugh’s misuse of the study unethical. The study concludes that the cause of higher than average suicidal ideation in transgender individuals is not related to their view of themselves in their preferred gender, but is related to external discrimination, rejection, and isolation. In other words, Dr. McHugh’s position paper is one of the causes of transgender adolescents having suicidal ideation.

I appeal now to my Evangelical friends who have quoted Dr. McHugh. Just because Bob Russell, Jim Burgen, or even the Wall Street Journal quote the positions of Paul McHugh, it does not give you license to repost that information without determining if it is factual. It is unethical to reprint (or preach) what you refuse to thoroughly research.

This is not an esoteric conversation; lives are at stake. For a people who claim to “speak where the Bible speaks and be silent where the Bible is silent,” there is a lot of loose talk going on. For God’s sake, if you want to preach about a social issue, choose racial injustice, spousal abuse, misogyny and poverty. Those are real issues very present in the American church. Give the transgender rhetoric a rest. It is based on nothing but uninformed prejudice.

And so it goes.


7 thoughts on “Seriously, Please!

  1. This issue is so serious because it involves hurting lives. The church, foremost, should be on the vanguard of compassion and extending love, grace and mercy to anyone who is hurting rather than pronouncing judgment. Thank you for your boldness in speaking for those who Jesus would speak out for if He was here today for we are His voice. We are reminded, Lord when did we not do these things for you, and He reminds them when you did not do them for the least of these you did not do them for me. Amen Paula. Thank you.


  2. What a friend we have in Jesus and Paula! Thank you for sharing the research and speaking boldly against the perpetuated harm by the very people who should be the loudest cheerleaders for the trans community.


  3. This is a great read and thank you very much for the summary. I would request citations however, I have been debating this issue for a while and people continue to assert there is no research supporting this position. I would love to use this rebuttal in debates but I can’t in its current form.

    If that’s not possible I understand. I know time is limited. I’m just seeing bad information, mostly from McHugh used over and over. It reminds me of the BS around climate change and people citing out of date or misleading studies, or taking actual climate scientists work out of context.


    • I decided not to do citations, but mention the names of the studies and the people involved, so anyone looking for more information could do an Internet search and easily find the original sources. Brynn Tannehill responds to all of the McHugh stuff in the HuffPost, and includes links to all of her information sources. Her stuff is almost always well researched.


  4. Love and acceptance provide the real keys. People will only understand what they want to understand. I trust YOU enough to know that if I come into your house and announce that I am a grizzly bear that you will say, ‘Hi, Yogi!’ and give me a picnic basket. That is what Jesus brought to our world and that is what Jesus died for. I honestly think that most of the church does not actually believe this core message, or Christians would act differently.


  5. I see a blog as a cross between a diary and an essay. It needs to reflect what a person is thinking about, feeling, personally experiencing, or reading in the news to be real. All good writing takes the audience into account, and bloggers like to have readers, so bloggers will try to write about topics of interest and adapt a style that pleases readers or attracts more people, but I hope you continue to write for yourself as if you were chronicling your life, rather than forcing yourself to write something to keep your readers happy. Your theological essays and homilies are wonderful and no doubt will continue to be written as you have relevant experiences you wish to share.


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