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Friday, February 03, 2017

Too Hot to Handle: The Wrong Set of Chromosomes

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

Bill C-16 amends the Canadian Human Rights Act to add gender identity and gender expression to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination. It also amends the Canadian Criminal Code to protect any section of the public that is distinguished by gender identity or expression against “hate propaganda” and to increase sentences accordingly against those who violate it.

Tom: The bill was rammed through Parliament with little discussion, no public consultation and no recorded vote. Thank you, Justin Trudeau! Last I heard it’s before the Canadian Senate for final approval. If the bill becomes law, people who say they’re transgender become a specially protected class of citizens in Canada.

How do you feel about that, Immanuel Can?

The Political Game is Afoot

Immanuel Can: Well, two things: first of all, I guess we could remark on the legal angle. Trudeau’s been very unwise there, of course. But the other issue is transgenderism itself. Now that men who want to be women and vice versa have become a matter of both public celebration and of law, it looks as though one way or another Christians are going to be facing issues related to that.

Tom: In fact, I know of a situation in which transgender activists are already impacting a Canadian local church. So yeah, here we are. The political game the Left is playing with the Canadian public is that the so-called discrimination that transgenders and would-be transgenders face from their fellow citizens is quite literally killing them; therefore, society must change its tune. Do you buy that?

Discrimination and Suicide

IC: No. First, we have to bear in mind that by “discrimination”, all people mean is “not agreeing with” or “not endorsing”. (We’re not talking about purges or stonings here!) So the question becomes, “Can disagreeing with people kill them?” The suggestion is patently absurd in the first place, and clearly refuted by all the science.

Consider this: if any link between discrimination and suicide was remotely reasonable, then the very highest documented suicide rate would surely be among visible minorities and women. But among blacks in the real world, the suicide rate in 2015 was 5.6%. Hispanics were at 6.2%. And at the same time, it was 15.1% among whites; highest, as always, among males by 3.5 times compared to women. If discrimination causes deaths, then these statistics would surely be reversed: more women than men, more visible minorities than whites, and so on. For sure.

Tom: So they’re scamming us as usual. Why am I not surprised? But you were talking about the science. What’s the scientific scoop on the legitimacy of transgenderism?

Biology and Desire

IC: There is a difference between people who have definite, legitimate gender problems and those who do not. On the legitimate side there are some infant victims of what’s called “gender-assignment surgery”. That’s an awful thing if it goes wrong, and it apparently results in many later-life transgender issues that are very real, very physical in origin, and no fault of the victim. People who deal with the fallout from that deserve 100% of our sympathy, I would say. But most of the “transgender” conversation today has to do with people who simply either want to become, or want just to act like a different sex than is mandated by their chromosomes or physiology.

Tom: What if they feel in their bones that they were born in the wrong sort of body?

IC: Well, there are legitimate desires and illegitimate desires, aren’t there? Just because one has a feeling one is not duty-bound to act on it. In fact, we are often better for not acting on such things.

Tom: Well, you understand the argument: “It’s not a mere desire. Because it’s constant, it’s clearly an indicator of who I am at the core. You’re denying me my true self! You’re denying me authenticity!

Letting Out My “True Self”

IC: Have you ever noticed something about the “true self” argument? It contradicts itself. If you already have a true self, then you can’t be anything other than that and be authentic, according to the argument. The problems is this, though: if you have a true self, then people are NOT free to become whatever they want to be in terms of gender, and their real identity as male or female is a given. But what the trans lobby wants us to accept is that you can have it both ways: I can be whatever I want to be, and if you say otherwise, you’re oppressing me and denying me choice; at the same time, I want you to believe I have a true self which I have no choice about. So which is it? Are you making a choice to which you feel entitled, or is it not a choice for you at all?

Tom: Wait, you mean the Left is being intellectually incoherent AGAIN?

No, it’s a very good point, but not one you can argue with them. They want what they want, whether it’s logically defensible or not.

IC: The idea of authenticity you mention also seems to me to be a key to the trans arguments. The way they use it reminds me of your recent post on the new conception of “honesty” as saying whatever one feels rather than telling the truth. The New Authenticity means “conforming my exterior choices to whatever I feel inside”, not “staying consistent to what I actually am”.

Tom: Let alone conforming my behavior to what is socially acceptable and pleasing to God; developing my character as it ought to develop regardless of my natural impulses. That’s right off the table.

IC: By their standard, an alcoholic who gives in to his addiction would be more “authentic” than the AA member who refuses to drink, or an angry woman who explodes on her husband is being more “authentic” than the one who controls herself.

The Word of God Says …

Tom: So it’s unscientific, it’s incoherent, and now, maybe, it’s about to be law. What’s our biblical basis for rejecting the notion of transgenderism, other than the fact that it doesn’t conform to observable reality and is therefore a violation of the truth?

IC: Well, just viewed as one of many human temptations to sin, it’s a thing which one is to overcome, and for which God has promised to be sufficient: that answers the “orientation” argument. As a practice, of course, it’s wrong by both OT and NT precepts, so that puts paid to the “alternative lifestyle” argument. The “can’t help it argument” is just a denial of human autonomy, so we ought to disregard that. Like any sin, we can’t go excusing it.

Tom: For those keeping score, that’s 2 Corinthians 12:9, Deuteronomy 22:5, Romans 1:24-27, 1 Corinthians 11:3-15 and Romans 6:1-2.

IC: However, like homosexuality (with which it is usually, but not always paired), we need to realize that the route that takes someone to that sort of degradation is often complex. Common factors associated with professions of “transgenderism” range from promiscuity to unhealthy parenting, to mental illness (like body dysmorphic disorders), to self-loathing and self-abuse, to a past involving sexual abuse or exploitation, to cognitive challenges (such as Aspergers Syndrome, which is also associated with dysmorphia), and so on. Some people are struggling with sin, pure and simple; but more are struggling with some variety of mental illness.

Tom: Interesting.

Normalizing and Traumatizing

IC: This is where the Liberal story gets really cruel: according to the progressive advocates of transgender “rights,” the thing these people need is normalizing. Per this narrative, the only problem is discrimination, and the sufferers are not sufferers at all. Thus they are not to be offered therapy, counseling or any kind of practical mercy. First, their illness is to be celebrated and then, secondly, they are to be told to carry on as they are, or to get body-mangling surgery if that’s the direction their disease rages. They are not to be delivered from their delusions; and anyone who would suggest they should be is simply to be labeled a bigot.

Tom: I have read that the rate of post-surgery suicide is equal or higher to the rate of pre-surgery suicide among transgenders, so surgical intervention is not a reliable fix.

IC: Quite right. But how does the progressivist narrative play out when that has happened? If you’ve been “normalized” and indulged in your transgenderism instead of helped out of it, and then it turns out you’re still unhappy and mentally ill afterward, you are in despair. The thing that was supposed to solve it all did not. But now the sanctimonious liberals who advocated for your “normalization” have no further stake in you. In fact, you’re now a problem for them: being transgendered was supposed to make you “normal”, meaning as happy and well-adjusted as anyone else. If it hasn’t, you’re now a stroke against the narrative. You needn’t look to them for any further sympathy or help, because they’re busy telling everyone that people like you don’t have a problem!

Truth vs. Fiction

Tom: And this is where Christians come in, in that we can as kindly and lovingly as possible point out the truth rather than perpetuating a fiction. But of course if that becomes illegal, we have to make a choice …

IC: Oh, right … but let’s dwell on that for a minute. These mentally-ill people are not going to be loved by the progressivists. The liberal set will be done with them in the very minute they get their “rights”. Furthermore, their narrative will not allow such people any further help. It’s at that point that we come into the picture.

Tom: Well, yes. With a different narrative, and hopefully one that is more in keeping with reality. As the Lord himself said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.” You can’t fix it if you won’t admit it’s broken in the first place.

Loving the Mentally Ill

IC: Right. The question here is really, “Who is going to love the mentally ill — especially those who are in this debased, self-loathing and distressed condition?” Historically, there have been other questions like this: for example, “Who will love the slave?” or “Who will love the poor?” or “Who will love the addicted?” or “Who will love the criminals?” And historically, the answer has never been “The liberal left”. But Christians have reached out to all of these groups, and many more like them.

So I’m suggesting we need a wise and genuinely Christian way of responding to this very difficult (and quite disturbing) problem. It won’t appear often, because by any count “transgenderism” is very rare by percent. But I know some people who are struggling with it, and I wouldn’t be surprised if others among us did too. One thing we need to do is to distinguish among cases ...

Tom: Which is not something most Christians are equipped for.

A Better Story

IC: I mean only in the most rudimentary way. We cannot “fix” transgenderism. It’s a sin problem, and a very complex one. But we need to remember our duty to resist the false narrative about it, refuse to “normalize” it, and if we have means, point its sufferers to as much counseling or other medical aid as we can find.

Tom: Easier said than done.

IC: Yes. Sadly, in this political environment, there are few counselors and hardly any resources for helping these folks, so there aren’t many places to direct them. (Ironically, that’s not because of discrimination, but because of the liberal narrative that forbids medical professionals from identifying their condition as unhealthy.) So some of these people will remain victims of that cruel narrative.

But the church’s most important role here is as the alternative to that evil, self-serving, virtue-signaling, liberal “story” about transgenderism.

Tom: Because we have a better story to tell …

IC: The church is forever a pointer to the story of how a gracious God made us who we are, loves us unconditionally and meets our need for love, has sent his Son to free us from all sins, and yearns to receive every sinner who repents. That is the only road for the transgendered ... indeed, the only road for any of us.

1 comment :

  1. Thank you for letting us in on this important conversation. Things are only going to get increasingly difficult for anyone willing to stand up for the truth, particularly the Truth. One has to wonder how much worse things will be allowed to get before the Lord comes back. Makes me shudder to think of how bad things must have been in Noah's days...