NOTE: This article deals with sensitive and difficult issues and contains content for mature readers.
"I think the fluidity of gender is the next big wave in terms of adolescent development. … Gender has become part of the defining way that youth organise themselves and rebel against adults."— Caitlin Ryan, clinical social worker at San Francisco State University, past president of the National Lesbian and Gay Health Foundation, and consultant to the Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) on the issue of Gay Straight Clubs on high school campuses.
Last November, Felicia Archuleta tried to sign up her 7-year-old son as a Girl Scout. Initially, the Denver Girl Scout troop refused to admit the boy.
Archuleta told a local news station, "I said, ‘Well, what’s the big deal?’ [The troop leader] said, ‘It doesn’t matter how he looks, he has boy parts, he can’t be in Girl Scouts. Girl Scouts don’t allow that; I don’t want to be in trouble by parents or my supervisor.’ "
After receiving pressure from gay activists, Girls Scouts of Colorado announced that the troop leader had made a mistake:
"Girl Scouts is an inclusive organisation and we accept all girls in Kindergarten through 12th grade as members. If a child identifies as a girl and the child’s family presents her as a girl, Girl Scouts of Colorado welcomes her as a Girl Scout. Our requests for support of transgender kids have grown, and Girl Scouts of Colorado is working to best support these children, their families and the volunteers who serve them."
Did you catch that?
If a child identifies as a girl and the child’s family presents her or him as a girl, the Girl Scouts of Colorado welcome the child as a Girl Scout — even if the child is biologically and anatomically male.
The events received national attention, and gender activists quickly latched onto the story to push for acceptance and celebration of boys who believe they are girls — or girls who believe they are boys. But it’s just the tip of the iceberg in the growing movement to eliminate all male-female distinctions — for adults and children alike.
Hormones and Surgery… for Children?
In 2007, Dr. Norman Spack, a paediatric endocrinologist, started a new clinic at Boston’s Children’s Hospital. He said some children with gender identity disorder (GID) have resorted to cutting themselves and even attempted suicide; therefore, they should be allowed to choose the gender they want. The clinic offers puberty-blocking drugs to children as young as 10-years-old. These children may go on later to receive opposite-sex hormone injections and surgery.
This drastic route of treatment is recommended by many gender activist groups. They view their condition as a physical disorder, where the sex of the body does not match their real gender identity, a disorder to be physically repaired. GID is not a mental disorder to these groups, and children — regardless the age — should be allowed to express their "internal gender."
Others argue, however, that this process amounts to experimentation on children, and that such gender dysphoria is treatable. Dr. Richard Fitzgibbons, a psychiatrist who has been in practice for over 30 years, said in a recent interview with Family News in Focus:
"This is a disorder which is preeminently treatable. …In treating this disorder, you help children identify [and] come to understand why they did not embrace the goodness of their masculinity or femininity. The success rate with this treatment is highly effective — 80 percent. There are very few medical conditions or psychiatric conditions where you get 80 percent recovery; here, you do."
The issue has become highly politicised; when left untreated, about 75 percent of boys with GID will grow up to identify as homosexual or bisexual. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) activists argue that GID might be a "pre-homosexual phase," and that classifying it as a disorder means that homosexuality is in some sense a mental disorder.
Dr. Kenneth J. Zucker and Susan J. Bradley have studied GID for years. In "Gender Identity and Psychosexual Disorders," they note that while more research should be done on this issue, existing research indicates that children with this disorder often have other behavioral difficulties and a greater degree of psychopathology. Separation anxiety, depression, social withdrawal and general anxiety are all common in boys with GID, especially those who experience an unstable home environment.
One informal survey of transsexuals showed that 56 percent reported unwanted sexual touch between the ages of 0 and 12-years-old. Another 38 percent reported unwanted sexual touch between the ages of 13 and 15, and 32 percent between the ages of 16 and 18. Victims of sexual abuse often experience gender confusion as a consequence.
Dressing as the opposite sex or undergoing hormone therapy and surgery will not erase the DNA that determined whether they were born male or female. Nor will these attempts wipe away the underlying psychological issues. Children with gender dysphoria deserve help in resolving their confusion and any underlying factors — not hormones and surgery.
Redefining Male and Female
Transgender activists and their allies attempt to redefine the separation of humanity into male and female. The movement has a wide variety of roots. One root — Marxist ideology —began tearing at religion, at the family and at male-female distinctions because these structural groups separated people into different classes, brought struggle between classes and brought disunity to the workers.
Communism, according to its followers, puts an ends to class struggles and offers a veritable utopia of oneness and cooperation.
As Fay Voshell observed at American Thinker:
"How ironic that those who purport to desire diversity actually are seeking the abolition of diversity at the most fundamental level. That is because they favor the communal versus the individual. The elimination of individuality starts with the elimination of sex, and the new unisex identity is always an indicator of tyranny, as faceless and sexless masses are more easily manipulated by an all-powerful state. It is notable, for instance, that Mao Tse Tung’s blue-suited masses were without obvious sexual distinction."
Extreme forms of feminist ideology have also borrowed from Karl Marx, moving well beyond the idea of equal rights and equal treatment under the law toward the idea that there should be no distinctions between men and women. Ask any college graduate today about male-female differences, and you’ll probably hear that such differences are a "social construct."
Combine these belief forces with anti-establishment ideology from the ’60s, identity politics and the sexual revolution, and you have a perfect storm of false, confusing and often incompatible ideas about sexuality and gender, such as:
- Men and women are not different
- "I’m a man trapped in a woman’s body"
- There are five sexes
- There are an infinite number of sexes
- Biological differences between men and women are insignificant
- You may have an infinite number of genders inside you
- "I can choose my own gender"
- Gender is fluid
- Relationships between two men are the same as between a man and a woman
- Gender is purely a social construct
- Two women can provide mothering and fathering for a child
- Men can give birth.
Made in His Image, Male and Female
In light of this cultural "perfect storm," Christians must continue to teach clear theology of God’s intent for human sexuality.
Scripture tells us that in the book of beginnings, Genesis, God created the heavens and the earth. Within that creation there is also a series of separations: light and darkness; day and night; heaven and earth; the seas and dry land; evening and morning. He calls forth plants and animals; sea creatures and creatures of the sky; land animals and humans. And God calls all His separations and creation "good."
But His making of mankind is distinct from all else, as we read:
"So God created man in His own image,
In the image of God He created him;
Male and female He created them." — Genesis 1:27
He made us male and female in His image; both genders good, but distinct and complementary. After God creates humans male and female in His image, He blesses and commissions mankind, and calls His creation very good.
God points to the differentiation of humans into male and female as that which reflects His image. Every person, whether male or female, is designed to reflect something of who God is. And when a husband and wife come together in marriage, they mirror the image of God in a unique way. It is beyond the scope of this article to articulate this fully; notice this, however: the image of a man and woman coming together in marriage is the deepest and most intimate analogy in Scripture of God’s relationship with His people. When we distort male and female in humans, we distort the image of God and the picture of His relationship with us.
All of this calls for a response from Christians. We should teach a clear theology of God’s intent for human sexuality. Reaching out with grace and truth to those who are confused about their gender is also critical. This is not an easy task, but reaching out with God’s love to the sexually broken and confused is part of our calling as believers. In education and the political arena, we should advocate — with all respect, truth and kindness — for curriculum and laws that acknowledge male-female distinctions, which are not just rooted in Scripture, but in biology and human experience.