Children at Risk: Transgender Ideology – Part 1

Ever since I was a kid I have been a reader of the National Geographic magazine.  So I was both intrigued and concerned when the January 2017 issue, “Gender Revolution,” arrived. How would the story on gender and transgender be told, with an objective analysis or a subjective slant?  On the cover was an elementary-aged transgender girl, with the caption reading, “The best thing about being a girl is, now I don’t have to pretend to be a boy.”

I got my answer.  I found myself looking at that picture and feeling much sadness.  I couldn’t help but think that this young child is still pretending, but now being encouraged by adults to exchange reality for fantasy.

I don’t want to criticize National Geographic for this issue.  After all, transgender issues are in the forefront of our news and culture. Christians must look at this issue from both a cultural and individual level. We should not dismiss out of hand these stories of children and adults who feel out of sorts with their own gendered bodies.

But we must equally examine how the media presents this issue. There is a concerted effort to complexify issues of gender, designed to leave the reader agreeing that biology has no essential connection to gender, and that we can be whatever we want to be regardless of the anatomy with which we are born.

That’s a deeply mistaken notion. But what’s most tragic is seeing where this viewpoint has led — that we let even the youngest children make life-altering decisions that will lead them to steadily transform and even mutilate their bodies, with parents and other adults encouraging them onward. Our hearts should feel for how these children struggle with their sense of self, but we should grieve even more for the kind of help they are being offered.

The main article in the magazine, “Rethinking Gender” by Robin Marantz Henig, is the one to read carefully. It is well-written and presents itself in a measured tone, and that is what makes it all the more uncomfortable, if not disturbing. Unless you carefully read what it is saying and what is subtlety not being said, you might walk away thinking, yes, science is indeed showing us that what we believed about the connection between gender and biology — the normative gender binary — has been all wrong.

But that is not what the article proves at all. And you’ve got to read it carefully to know that.

Here’s what I mean:

Henig begins by writing about the complexities of being born intersex.  The brief summary is excellent in describing how complicated intersex conditions are for the child and their family. These are difficult situations for parents, doctors, and the children involved, to sort through, and we should give wide leeway to acknowledge the tough decisions that have to be made here.

Intersex conditions have long been seen by the medical establishment as disorders of sex development.  In other words, something has gone wrong in the fetal development of the child. A Christian worldview sees intersex conditions in the same light, placing it within the biblical story of the Fall, where the introduction of sin brought about brokenness in all things, including our bodies.

But what’s most tragic is seeing where this viewpoint has led—that we let even the youngest children make life-altering decisions that will lead them to steadily transform and even mutilate their bodies, with parents and other adults encouraging them onward.

But in a post-Christian culture, energized by an increasingly aggressive LGBTQ agenda, intersex conditions are now seen as evidence of multiple genders, as normative as the binary view of gender once was.

Henig, however, makes a connective leap from intersex to transgender, slipping in a paragraph that mentions Caitlyn Jenner becoming a trans woman. Here’s the paragraph:

As transgender issues become the fare of the daily news—Caitlyn Jenner’s announcement that she is a trans woman, legislators across the United States arguing about who gets to use which bathroom—scientists are making their own strides, applying a variety of perspectives to investigate what being transgender is all about.

Step back and notice what has happened here.  Henig has linked here the complex issues about intersex conditions to someone being transgender. The reality is, these are two very different things. Jenner’s transformation has nothing to do with being born intersex.  The phenomenon of transgenderism is quite distinct from intersex complications. This unwarranted (and virtually unnoticeable connection), if not challenged, will leave the casual reader thinking the two are related, and that science is finally coming to understand, through its research, a new understanding of gender.

Transgenderism is a radical redefinition of what it means to be human, and the implications are likely to bring tragic results.

Henig casually drops hints that, indeed, something more than science is driving this phenomenon.  She writes about a 14-year-old girl: “She’s questioning her gender identity, rather than just accepting her hobbies and wardrobe choices as those of a tomboy, because we’re talking so much about transgender issues these days” (emphasis added). Did you catch that? So much of what these children are struggling with is how to fit into cultural roles of gender, many which change from one generation to another. How did we go from ongoing generational discussions about gender expression (or roles) to encouraging children to alter their bodies to fit into those roles?

What is driving the issue of transgenderism and its acceptance is not scientific research (let’s not as Christians oppose legitimate scientific inquiry into this issue), but a dominant cultural idea which has persistently deconstructed gender and gender roles for more than half a century. In a materialistic worldview that refuses to see a divine plan for how we should live, we now arrive at truth by means of our own individual stories and experience. This personal-truth-for-me cultural mindset is seen in a photo of a six-year-old boy who describes himself as “gender creative” and who, the caption says about him, “is very sure of who he is.”

But when it comes to sexuality and gender, we must not let our children learn on their own, passively absorbing the constant bombardment of cultural voices. We must intervene…

A six-year-old who knows with certainty who he is? Childhood has always been observed as the journey in which young boys and girls wrestle with who they are, and eventually emerge into adulthood with a clearer understanding (sometimes still not fully formed) of themselves and the world in which they will live. Now we think children are wise enough to short-circuit that process by more than a decade.

The real difficulties these children experience will not be fixed by encouraging them to pretend to be what they are not, and especially to put their bodies at the mercy of hormone-altering drugs and surgical knives. Walt Heyer, a former transsexual, says about this issue, “Like others who elect to live the transgender life, I painfully discovered it was only a temporary fix to deeper pain… if National Geographic truly wanted to explore the complexities of gender change, they would have included stories of people who discovered that living the transgender life was an empty promise.”

There are a lot of risks our children face as they grow up; some we can protect them from, and some we can’t, where we must let them stumble and learn. But when it comes to sexuality and gender, we must not let our children learn on their own, passively absorbing the constant bombardment of cultural voices. We must intervene, not to shield them inside a protective bubble — as if we could — but to teach and persuade them to see and believe that life is found by living within God’s design and purpose.

P.S. Read my follow-up blog that will post on Friday that links to several online stories and articles that will show you how this issue is reaching deep into the lives of families, with frightening consequences. More reasons to not be passive and silent in raising our children to learn to embrace the gendered bodies God gave them at birth.

Part 2.

Nicholas Black
About The Author
Nicholas Black is the Program Resources Director for Harvest USA. Along with being part of the teaching staff, he oversees the writing and editing of all Harvest USA publications. Prior to joining Harvest USA, he was the Shepherding and Children’s Pastor at New Life Presbyterian Church, Glenside, PA for 14 years. He is a ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). He is married to Nancy, and is father to two adult children.

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