The previous blog entry addressed the first three letters in LGBT. This entry will discuss the remaining letter, the T, which stands for transgender. Transgenederism and transgendered people are perhaps one of if not the most controversial topics in our world today. For many people, it is also probably one of the most confusing topics out there. Understanding what it means to be transgenedered is something with which most people have great difficulty. Sometimes, it even seems like many people who identify as transgendered cannot clearly explain exactly what it means. As a result, some people believe transgendered people are just confused or mentally ill. Others don’t believe transgendered people exist at all. To them transgendered people are just playing games in an effort to turn society on its head or hiding even more sinister intentions.
It would be nice if we could point to some authority and get a definitive answer on what exactly transgenderism is and what causes it, but in truth, no such earthly authority exists. Scientists are trying their best to understand it, but they are far from being able to answer every question. On top of that, there is some disagreement between experts on the few questions that do have proposed answers.
For example, one of the explanations that is commonly accepted by many biologists and doctors is that there are periods in human development where fetuses or young children reach milestones where they are either defined as male or female. The physical distinctions between the two sexes are easy to understand as we can clearly see them. However, some scientists claim to observe that there are psychological and even neurological differences between males and females that arise during early development. On rare occasions, the physical path that defines what sex a person is doesn’t necessarily match up with the psychological path that defines what gender a person is.
Based on the theory, sometimes, a person’s body can develop as a particular sex, but that person’s brain develops in a different way that doesn’t match the body. In the most extreme cases, some people will be born as one sex physically and the opposite gender mentally. That’s the case a transgendered person. However, science acknowledges that the contrast might not always be that drastic. Sometimes people can simply not fit into a clear gender category. Those people are referred to as nonbinary
As stated before, there is still much disagreement about this, even within scientific circles. Some experts still believe that gender is a social construct and doesn’t really have a basis in a person’s physical development. Still, if we accept the somewhat prevailing scientific theory, transgenderism is probably still one of those things with which a person cannot truly relate unless they are going through it. The one thing that we should all takeaway is that it’s not fake. Whether we understand it or not, it’s something that people actually experience, and denying that can be very damaging.
In a 2018 study, about half the transgender male (i.e., people born as female sexually but identify as male) participants, nearly 30 percent of trangender female (i.e., people born as male sexually but identify as female) participants, and a little over 40 percent of nonbinary participants admitted to having attempted suicide. To put things into perspective, the general suicide attempt rate in the U.S. was about 0.5 percent among adults. So, suicide rates within the transgendered people is alarmingly high. Given the way transgendered people are treated in our society, it’s not particularly surprising that many would rather just leave it all behind.
So, what should the Christian stance be? It would be nice if we could just point to the Bible and find a verse that gives us clear and direct instructions. Unfortunately, the Christian Bible does not directly address transgenderism. That’s not to say that the concept did not exist during Biblical times. The Torah is the most well known Hebrew text and is what comprises the Old Testament of the Christian Bible, but there are other Hebrew texts, such as the Talmud, that are non-canonical as far Christians are concerned but are still consulted by various Jewish sects.
Joshua Lesser, a rabbi in Georgia, believes the Talmud and Mishna identify six different genders: Zachar, Nekeivah, Androgynos, Tumtum, Ay’lonit, and Saris, which correspond to male, female, nonbinary, transgendered male, and transgendered female respectively. That is a somewhat controversial take, but at least in the case of andrgogynos, the term does at least seem to broach the concept of something with an indeterminate sex or gender. Even if Rabbi Lesser is taking some liberties, he’s probably correct that the existence of transgendered people is not something new, and transgenderism did exist as far back as Biblical times.
As Christians, we care most about what Jesus had to say about various topics, and just as was the case with homosexuality, Jesus did not comment directly on the topic of transgenderism. While it might be frustrating to not have insight from Jesus on such a lightning rod of discussion, maybe that’s the point. The fact is Jesus didn’t draw lines between people the way we do. He acknowledged that he was Jewish and that his mission on the Earth was to reach the Jews, but the commands he gave were not directed at a particular nation, race, sex, or gender.
Jesus, time and time again, told his followers about the importance of love.
“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. ’There is no commandment greater than these.” – Mark 12:29-31.
Today, we have so many people who claim to be Christians and claim to love God, but show nothing but hate towards their fellow human beings for a variety of reasons including transgenderism. Given what the Bible teaches, such behavior is ridiculous.
We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister. – 1 John 4:19-21
We are all made in God’s image regardless of how we identify ourselves. When it comes down to it whether we’re talking about sex or gender, both are trappings of the flesh. One day none of the trivial things we let divide us will matter. Matthew 22:31, says that during the Resurrection, we will all be spiritual beings like the angels. That means that for believers, we will come to a point where these dividing lines no longer exist, so shouldn’t we start treating them now as if they don’t exist?
That doesn’t mean we don’t acknowledge our differences because sometimes those differences are what cause pain for people. It just means that we believers shouldn’t allow those differences to affect our ability to obey Jesus’ command to love.
None of us know why transgenderism or all of society’s other complexities exist, but we do know that all of it is somehow part of God’s plan. What if God’s purpose for transgenderism is to give His followers a venue to really let their love shine? What if the Christian response to transgenderism is supposed to demonstrate the type of love that would reduce those high suicide rates in the trans community? If that’s God’s purpose, then we are failing.
As Christians, our goal should be to become more like Jesus. If that’s the case, we have to stop thinking with such worldly minds. The world is full of hate. If we take part in that, we’re not following the Christian God, we’re following this world’s god – Satan (2 Corinthians 4:4). If that’s true, then we’re all just as godless as many Christians claim the members of the LGBT community to be. At the end of the day, we don’t have to understand transgenderism. We don’t have to like the lifestyles that people within the LGBT live. We just have to give them the respect that all human beings deserve and show them the love that Jesus commanded.