Gender Confusion – Give Me a Break!
Gabe Lyons is the director of the Q conference, an evangelical gathering. Recently Lyons wrote this Tweet: “Christian leaders” who celebrate same-sex relationships and gender confusion aren’t leading the church. They’re following the culture.
I have been aware of Lyons increasingly inflammatory rhetoric about the LGBTQ community. To say I am disappointed is quite the understatement. I am appalled that someone seen as forward-thinking could be so horribly misinformed. I will confine my response to the transgender reference in his Tweet.
Lyons suggests transgender individuals have gender confusion. Over the last few months I have noticed this is the new language used by evangelicals who would prefer I not exist. The language is condescending, arrogant and dangerously misinformed. I do not have gender confusion. I am transgender.
I spent over twenty years with a therapist who initially believed it might be possible for someone to overcome gender dysphoria, the DSM V designation for being transgender. Over the decades we both came to understand this is not an issue of confusion, upbringing, the Oedipal complex, or any other psychological phenomena. It is an issue of biology. That has been confirmed by a plethora of peer-reviewed studies. It is also the conclusion of every major psychological and psychiatric body in the developed world.
Gender confusion is not the condition of an individual who is transgender. Gender Confusion is the condition of the person who uses the term!
Their confusion stems from not being willing to take the time to truly study the issue. As a Christian, who do you want to believe, a person of faith who has grappled with this issue since childhood and read every relevant piece of information that has ever been published on the subject, a psychiatric or psychological professional who has submitted his or her research for peer review, or an evangelical leader who is really uncomfortable with the topic and has therefore spent a few hours or even days studying it? You decide. As for me, I’m listening to the first two. They are the ones who do not begin with a conclusion already in mind.
As evidenced by this most recent presidential election, people believe what they want to believe. They will name their own “experts” and only read information that confirms the view they already hold. Too often their regard for the truth does not include intellectual rigor. It is based on maintaining the status quo.
I have never been afraid of the truth. I have always believed and will always believe the truth sets us free. It seems someone I hold in high regard said that a couple of millennia ago. And while I believe there is no such thing as objective truth, I do believe rigorous inter-subjective truth can lead us forward, whatever the discipline. I find it ironic that those who say they believe in objective truth, and site the Bible as their example, are those who embrace such sloppy research.
So Gabe Lyons, and other evangelicals, I implore you, stop using the term gender confusion. The damage you will do to a vulnerable transgender child may bring about the end of his or her life, a tragedy for which you must accept responsibility. Reparative therapy for transgender children does not work, period. Show me one single peer-reviewed study that indicates any kind of desirable result from treating gender dysphoria as gender confusion. I’m sure you can find someone who will tell you such a study exists, and maybe even mention it on an alternative news site. But that does not make it so. (Why do I feel more and more like I am in the middle of a Lewis Carroll book?)
This is a time for thanksgiving. Be thankful God made us with the capacity to love first and judge later. Be thankful the Lord of the Universe chose to make room for people who live on the fringes. Be thankful Jesus came to love the discarded, disenchanted and marginalized. Be thankful the Holy Spirit brightens our eyes to see a human where others see a diagnosis. And Gabe, be thankful you are not transgender, because I can tell you with great certainty that the uninformed judgment, the blatant scapegoating, and the utter dismissal evidenced in a pejorative phrase like “gender confusion” are pretty tough to endure.
And so it goes.