Celebrating gender confusion
The rejection of God as Creator has tragic consequences, as shown by the January 2017 issue of National Geographic magazine.1 Some copies of the magazine featured Avery, a 9-year-old dressed in pink from head to toe. Avery is glad to not have to “pretend to be a boy”, as Avery is a biological male suffering from gender dysphoria.
Leave the kids out of it
How should Christians respond? First, we should be outraged that children are being used in this way. Regardless of whether one thinks it is right for Avery to be encouraged to dress in pink, no one should want a child plastered on a magazine as a front-lines warrior in the gender wars. This is an adult conversation and no nine-year-old is capable of weighing the very serious long-term consequences both individually and societally of redefining gender.
In fact, the NG issue overwhelmingly featured children, which is an odd decision if one wants to carefully weigh complex issues. A girl in Kenya is quoted as worrying about being seduced by men as she goes about her family chores (p. 36). A boy in Israel talks about how boys are stronger than girls (p. 45). Articles feature coming-of-age rituals in different places in the world for both boys and girls. But one is left wanting a more substantial conversation about the real issues involved. That’s a failure on the part of the NG editors, who made children the foundation of this magazine issue.
Civilized people are naturally repulsed by child soldiers, because we instinctively recognize children should be protected and not thrust into adult conflicts. Avery’s mom complains that she and Avery have received death threats. If anyone has actually made threats against Avery, that’s horrible. But who is ultimately to blame if not the people who put Avery on a national stage?
Confusing biology and psychology
One common tactic used in the magazine is to juxtapose people with biological/developmental anomalies such as complete androgen insensitivity (which causes genetic males to develop to appear female) and intersex individuals with ‘transgender’ individuals. Transgender individuals are normally completely healthy biological males or females without any of those biological conditions, but who feel as though they are the other sex. It is a category error to put these people in the same group. One can only conclude that the NG editors did this to confuse the readers into thinking that transgender folk suffer from an innate biological condition, which is not so (‘born that way’, as per the catch cry of the homosexual lobbyists some years ago).
Valuing ideology over the well-being of individuals
Transgender individuals have one of the highest attempted suicide rates of all groups; most estimate that more than 40 percent of transgender individuals will attempt suicide. While this is often blamed on discrimination, other groups that have experienced discrimination do not have suicide rates nearly this high, which would indicate there is more to the story.2
This fact, coupled with the statistic that most gender dysphoria in children will resolve itself when the child goes through puberty (73 to 98 percent3), makes it particularly troubling when prepubescent children are inappropriately encouraged in their dysphoria. This statistic is even acknowledged in NG (p. 68). If there is a strong chance that a gender-confused biological boy will grow up to be a happy biological man, shouldn’t everyone acknowledge that is better than surgery to remove healthy body parts, delaying normal biological processes, and ‘treatment’ with hormones that his male body is not equipped to handle? The emphasis on celebrating confused children rather than helping them to accept their biological gender is troubling. It really amounts to high level child abuse.
Anorexia is a similar psychological problem where a person has a false body image or mindset that he/she is fat and tries to get thin by self-starvation. Surely no one would suggest that a child experiencing anorexia should be given an operation or diet pills to help them lose weight, to get their body image conforming to their false mental image! No, the person needs their false thinking fixed, not his/her body. Why should it be any different for gender dysphoria?
Walt Heyer, who lived for eight years as a transgender woman, also speaks out against this trend of using children in the way NG has. He says:
“Why is the boy’s picture so disturbing to me? Because, like Avery Jackson, I was a cross-dressing boy at the age of nine. I can tell you that crossdressing a young boy is emotional and psychological child abuse and should be stopped, not celebrated on the cover of magazines.
… All too late I realized transgenderism was … a surgical masquerade to superficially project a change of gender. Like others who elect to live the transgender life, I painfully discovered it was only a temporary fix to deeper pain.”4
Heyer rightly speaks out against the use of impressionable children and the glorification of this lifestyle in such an influential publication.
The sad reality is that as programs are forced upon children in public schools, often under the guise of ‘inclusivity’ and ‘anti-bullying’ that more children will end up wondering about their gender, whereas they would never have questioned it otherwise. Modern science shows us just how plastic (malleable) our brains are. When we feed our thinking with crazy, ridiculous notions, especially at a young, impressionable age, it should not be surprising that more crazy thinking manifests itself. Children should be protected from such child abuse, and allowed to develop normally without such mind-bending ‘programs’. Indeed, the push for such programs following the acceptance of same-sex marriage in various jurisdictions looks like a deliberate attempt of the lobbyists for the radical sexual agenda to increase the number of people who are confused about their sexuality. That is, children have become pawns in a politico-sexual power struggle. This is evil.
Conversely, Scripture encourages parents to train up their children with constant exposure to Scripture and biblical principles such that they are part of the rhythm of life. Prayer, Bible study, and the good works that come out of a biblical faith have mental benefits and this contributes to spiritual peace (Philippians 4:6–9). This predates the science by 2,000 years!
Our response should be grounded in Creation
As Christians, we recognize that God created humanity male and female (Genesis 1:27). And the vast majority of people recognize themselves as men and women according to their biological sex. The fact that far less than 1% experience gender dysphoria should lead us to reject language such as someone being “assigned” the identity of male or female, as if the doctor flipped a coin before saying, “It’s a boy!” or “It’s a girl!” at birth or when looking at an ultrasound. Rather, we recognize the God-given biological sex of an infant.
We also know that creation is fallen, and that affects people in all sorts of ways. Sometimes that means that there are anomalies in developmental processes which make a child’s gender less than clear. Sometimes that means that people suffer from mental illnesses where what they believe about themselves does not align with biological reality. When we realize this, we can react with appropriate compassion without compromising biblical truth.
Finally, our response should be grounded in the Gospel, which teaches that God reconciles people back to Himself through the shed blood of Christ. The ‘transgender’ person’s biggest problem is not that he or she is confused about how gender identity relates to biological sex, but that his or her rebellion against the Creator (which manifests itself in all sorts of ways, not only gender confusion), will result in eternal condemnation apart from finding forgiveness through the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. Scripture teaches that through the power of the Holy Spirit we can overcome the wayward tendencies that we all have to one degree or another, becoming ‘new creations’ in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).
References and notes
- All references to National Geographic in this article come from the January 2017 issue. Return to text.
- Payne, D., The transgender suicide rate isn’t due to discrimination, The Federalist, 7 July 2016, thefederalist.com. Return to text.
- The Federalist Staff, 7 questions about transgender people, answered, The Federalist, 26 April 2016, thefederalist.com. Return to text.
- Heyer, W., The National Geographic transgender cover champions child abuse and junk science, The Federalist, 3 January 2017, thefederalist.com. Return to text.