4Thought.TV Covers Transgender Issues

Last week, the short religious slot on Channel 4 that covers the 7pm news featured seven interviews around the area of trans-genderism. As usual with these slots there were seven vignettes of people with differing experiences and opinions.

It’s not possible to embed the videos, so this is a link to Christina Beardsley’s entry and you can see the other six on the right hand side of that film clip. It’s well worth spending 20 minutes or so watching all seven videos to get a good sampling of the siffering stances on this issue. Christina reflects on her appearance on 4Thought.TV here.

Last time I wrote about these issues, here’s what I had to say.

I have to be totally open and honest with you (and my other readers) at this point and admit that I am currently engaged in a rethink on this issue of transgenderism. When we lost our second son to a chromosomal disorder (in his case Trisomy 18 – Edwards Syndrome), I spent quite a bit of time exploring issues around chromosomal disfunction and other gender issues. I’m still in the middle of that exploration, but at the moment my position can be summarised as follows:

  • If we lived in a perfect, Edenic, un-fallen world then issues of Transgenderism wouldn’t occur. That is to say, I am convinced that transgenderism is a result of the Fall.
  • However, if transgenderism is simply one variant expression of the brokeness of all humanity, we cannot (as you rightly point out) make its experience in and of itself as disbar to ministry of any kind. We are in a sense driven back to the behaviour / orientation distinction in the issue of homosexuality.
  • My current issue therefore is what “behaviour” in the life of those who have transgender issues is sinful and what isn’t. For homosexuality I think we have clear Scriptural guidelines on sexual expression. For those with transgender issues we do not.
  • My key current concern is whether in assuming that the displayed sex of a person (i.e. that which they appear to be biologically) is the “correct” sex, are we actually missing the truth of the situation for some people? For example, I assume Susannah that if you are a male to female transexual, your sex chromosomes are XY. A traditional conservative approach would be to argue that since you present as biologically male that is your true gender and any attempt to deny it is to embrace fallenness rather than to reject it.
  • However, might it actually be the case that your true gender is female and that the development of your sex chromosomes as XY is actually a result of the Fall (in the same way that my son having a third 18th chromosome was fallen, not “good”). If this is the case then helping you transit from male to female is actually a “good” thing rather than a “bad” or sinful thing.
  • At the same time, I am aware of a number of cases where those who have presented with very clear sex/gender self-divergences have, through bringing areas of emotional and relational brokeness to God in prayer and allowing him to heal them, have seen their self-perceived gender realign with their biological sex.

I’m not decided yet on this issue, but I am in a position where I am not prepared to condemn those who have transited sex to their self-understood gender. Certainly, I cannot see the experience of transgenderism itself as a disbar to employment in a church, though I can understand why some churches would be hesitant to employ someone who has actually transited.

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4 Comments on “4Thought.TV Covers Transgender Issues

  1. This appears to be the old conflict between biology and behavior.

    Chromosomal disorders include deletions, duplications, mutations (i.e. mistakes in the code) or rearrangment of the genetic constitution of that individual. As there is some impact of the intra-uterine environment, chromosomal disorders have variations in clinical expression.

    For example, some abnormalities in Edwards syndrome occur in 50 per cent or more patients; some abnormalities occur in 10 to 50 per cent of trisomy 18 patients. And,some abnormalities occur in less that 10% of those with an extra chromosome 18.

    Some clinical disorders, like cystic fibrosis, appear to be a single disease process; but, there are currently hundreds of chromosome mutations which have seen shown to cause this "single" disease.

    There is no current scientific literature supporting a link between chromosome disorders and one particular behavior. However, studies in autism, for example, seem to indicate multiple different chromosomal errors result in autism spectrum disorders, which speaks more to our lack of understanding of all clinical disorders.

    A normal chromosomal constitution resulting in variant expressions of our brokeness is more an expression that we are all born into a sinful, disordered world.

    My hope is there will never be found a gene disoder for homosexuals or trans-genders as it would raise the potential for fetal termination after amniocentesis. And, I think our greater concern should be does that person love the one true God with all their body and mind and soul and strength in the midst of their brokeness.

  2. Peter – Just a thought, but wouldn't it be a good idea to say exactly what you mean, or what may be meant, by "transgenderism" at the start of your article? I have had two second-hand experiences of what would, I guess, be called transgenderism, and I know it took rather different forms. By second-hand, I mean involving people I knew or worked with; and each made me think long and hard …

    Richard – "fetal termination after amniocentesis" is always wrong, is it not, never mind anything about the person being terminated.

  3. I have always had a bit of a problem when it comes to transgender issues.

    That said I think it is interesting how there is this to-ing and fro-ing between a ‘religious’ view, using Scripture to back up an argument and then switching to science when its finding might back up the same argument; but ignoring science when it raises awkward questions…

    (This is off the top of my head) I think the stats for congenital query of sex are about one birth per 1,000. These children may appear to be male or female, yet can have an unexpected chromosomal pattern. i.e. a ‘girl’ having an XY chromosome or a ‘boy’ – having a penis of sorts – having XX chromosomes. Hence a chromosomal argument is not the decider. Gender is much more complex.

    On a personal note, I can see why you need this ‘pre-Eden’ and ‘post-Eden’ worldview – it explains why a God of love lets such vile things happen in the world. And why one’s own life as a Christian isn’t hunky-dory. However it does leave you with a problem and that is why is it, so many orthodox Christians are able to ‘excuse’ God and his behaviour, but not homosexuals?

    I am not particularly interested in an answer to this question, I have just spent the afternoon at a Christian service held for homeless people and listened to a good deal of stuff about God can do anything if you ask him. When we know he doesn’t – it’s just a nice idea.

    • Two things,

      (i) However it does leave you with a problem and that is why is it, so many orthodox Christians are able to ‘excuse’ God and his behaviour, but not homosexuals? – I don't understand what you mean here.
      (ii) I am not particularly interested in an answer to this question, I have just spent the afternoon at a Christian service held for homeless people and listened to a good deal of stuff about God can do anything if you ask him. When we know he doesn’t – it’s just a nice idea. – But then that is a false gospel. Go promises us forgiveness, justification, the indwelling Holy Spirit and to be with him for eternity if we confess Christ as saviour. Nothing else is guaranteed this side of death.

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