Gender Dysphoria on Waterloo Road

Kacey Barry played by Brogan EllisThis month Waterloo Road, the BBC One “School” drama (though frankly I don’t know any school like that one) has been exploring the issue of gender dysphoria as the youngest member of the Barry family, Kasey, struggles with her gender identity.

It’s fascinating watching mainly because it’s being handled so well. Forget the overt and outrageous trans stereotypes you see in American dramas like Glee (what is that Unique character all about?), in Waterloo Road Kasey is being portrayed as a young woman simply trying to recognise what she is struggling with, putting a name to what she has been living for a number of years. The two most recent episodes (18 and 19)  that concentrate on this issue are still available online and are well worth a watch, helping us see not just how gender dysphoria issues affect the individual involved but also those around them and also making the important point that this is not the same as homosexuality.

Conservative Christians on the whole haven’t done a lot of thinking about this issue, and often the gut response is to point to someone’s sex chromosomes (as it were) and to assume that that settles the matter. In reality, transgender issues, whilst still rare (and definitely much rarer then homosexuality), appear to be more complicated then that. Although there are a number of people who have discovered that their gender dysphoria, on deeper examination, seem to have deep psychological roots, for others there seems to be an even deeper disconnect between sex and gender. Although I am instinctively cautious at the idea that people should pursue sex changes, especially given the numerous stories of those who find on the other side that they are still not happy, isn’t there a sense that if we believe that the world is fallen and that humanity is corrupted from its Edenic perfection that experiences like gender dysphoria might be one natural consequence of that?

Kacey Barry scores the winning goalIn that sense Conservatives should view gender dysphoria in a different manner then homosexuality. With the latter, although we recognise that same-sex attractions are largely uncontrolled, we have clear Scriptural prohibitions on sexual activity. With gender dysphoria there is no such clear guidance – indeed, if in some cases it is a “simple” matter of a biological maldevelopment, might we not even see gender reassignment surgery as doing the right thing, correcting that which the Fall has corrupted?

Of course the problem with this approach is that in society today there is the assumption that gender dysphoria is almost always a biological issue rather than a psychological one. In that sense gender reassignment surgery might actually act only as a temporary catharsis for deeper emotional identity issues. Transgender regret is an ever-present reality and points to the danger that we push younger patients towards final outcomes that they are not yet ready to own and ultimately accept.

I’m fascinated with how the Waterloo Road writers are going to take this storyline forward. Let’s hope that the avoid the clichés and expend some real effort doing this issue some justice on prime-time TV.


7 Comments on “Gender Dysphoria on Waterloo Road

  1. Correct me if I am right or wrong but is there not a part of the bible that says “has God not made them man and woman”? When you talk about biological mal-developmental it sounds to me like you are thinking about embryonic problems which can cause varying degrees of hermaphroditism. Everyone human is still a male of emale, yes we should give surgery to any a sexually maldeveloped person (like any birth defect) but I am not sure that gender reassignment is a thing that *IS* teleological possible. I.e the pregnant “man” was still a woman, peopel try to argue that peopel who don’t conform to “gneder steretypes” or feel that they are another gender were born as the wrong sex. But I am not sure that are boy liking to be “girly” or a Tom-boyish girl are “maldeveloped” or “corrupted”. If a boy likes ballet and makeovers it shouldn’t mean he is any less of a man (well maybe it does a little lol ;d), but you get my point, hopefully.

    • I’m not suggesting this is like hermaphroditism, no. What I’m suggesting is that it might be possible that because of the Fall some people might genuinely have a dissonance between their chromosomal sex and their gender. We know already that female and male brains exhibit structural differences and so gender identity might not be as tightly united with chromosomal sex identity as some would want.

      At the same time I’m urging a note of caution – there are too many cases of those who have a sex change who later go on to regret it OR those who find that it is emotional issues. not biological ones at the core of their condition to simply assume that gender dysphoria is automatically a condition that can be solved through corrective surgery.

      • A relative if mine has gender dysphoria and had exacvtly the experience you describe- living as the other gender didn’t make them happy either – so they are now back living in their genetic gender… after several years of disruption for their familiy relationships and children!

        If politicians and campaigners put the prioirity on relationships, rather than just on sex and individual’s desires, there would be a lot less of thos sort of mess around, and we would all be A LOT happier!

  2. What are we to make of the case in Colorado where parents are suing their 6-year-old’s school for not allowing their child to use the girls’ toilets? The boy was four years old when they started allowing him to wear girls’ clothes. They say he was 18 months old when they realised he wanted to be a girl.

    Can an 18-month-old baby really understand this? Is it possible that the parents are projecting this onto him?

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