Friday, June 19, 2015

Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner--What Are We To Make of All This?

I have to say that the entire transgender issue has been quite a mystery to me for a long time.  I've done a lot of reading about it lately. My heart does go out to those people who are suffering in this way. It seems to me that this issue is most likely a psychological issue, rather than biological, but in either case, these are people who are hurting and very distressed. I pray that they can find relief.

What could motivate a person to want to have sex reassignment surgery--something that could quite accurately be described as mutilation of the human body.

It seems to me that the evidence is not really there that gender identity (as something different from biological identity) is in the brain and determined for a person from birth. It is curious, however, the number of people, even children, who are seriously distressed by the gender that their biology says is theirs.

How is gender dysphoria diagnosed? A child needs to have six of the following true to have a gender dysphoria diagnosis. This list is from PsychCentral.

  • repeatedly stated desire to be, or insistence that he or she is, the other sex
  • in boys, preference for cross-dressing or simulating female attire; in girls, insistence on wearing only stereotypical masculine clothing
  • strong and persistent preferences for cross-sex roles in make-believe play or persistent fantasies of being the other sex
  • a strong rejection of typical toys/games typically played by one’s sex.
  • intense desire to participate in the stereotypical games and pastimes of the other sex
  • strong preference for playmates of the other sex
  • a strong dislike of one’s sexual anatomy
  • a strong desire for the primary (e.g., penis, vagina) or secondary (e.g., menstruation) sex characteristics of the other gender
I was shocked to read that six of these items would result in a diagnosis. That's it. There is no blood work that indicates it, no other tests. No brain scan. A girl who wants to wear boy's clothing? Haven't tomboys been around forever? A strong rejection of toys/games typically played by one's sex? These situations are really not that uncommon! And it is estimated that 70-80% of children with gender dysphoria outgrow it.

For adults, Psych Central says "In adolescents and adults, the disturbance is manifested by symptoms such as a stated desire to be the other sex, frequent passing as the other sex, desire to live or be treated as the other sex, or the conviction that he or she has the typical feelings and reactions of the other sex."

It sounds to me that these diagnoses are all about feelings. Feelings are not facts. 

Flooding a body with hormones of the opposite sex is a very drastic measure! Would it not be safer to treat the individual's feelings and help them to accept the gender that they are biologically? Estrogen therapy is carcinogenic, for heaven's sake!

And sex reassignment surgery? Does this surgery really help the problem? Why do transgenders who have had this surgery have a suicide rate that is 20 times higher than others? Twenty times! That's a 2,000 percent increase! Are these people truly being helped?

Regardless of the source of distress for the trangender individual, how could it help to dress as the other sex, take hormones to make you look like the other sex, and have surgery to change your body into some semblance of the other sex? The suicide rate alone seems to indicate that these actions do not help.

Are the trangender's relationships helped by these actions? Are they really given any relief?

Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner said that he used to wear pantyhose under his clothes when having interviews as an Olympic athlete. My thought was what the heck does that prove? Is being a woman about wearing pantyhose?? I hope not! And how would wearing them help him at all? 

I don't want to be insensitive to the pain that Jenner clearly has experienced but wearing women's clothes under yours sounds more like a fetish than any kind of expression of identity.

I think I have to agree with Peter Kreeft when he said, "No empirical psychologist can be a dualist; the evidence for psychosomatic unity is overwhelming. No pervasive feature of either body or soul is insulated from the other; every sound in the soul echoes in the body, and every sound in the body echoes in the soul."

We are who we are. Some men are more typically masculine than others. Some may have characteristics that are more typical of women. Some have preferences that are not typical for their sex. But they are all men. There are all kinds of men. The same is true for women. There are all kinds. Some are typically feminine in every way. Others are not. They are all women.

It seems to me that transgenders are hurting themselves and the people who love them. I pray that they will come to embrace who they truly are and that they will find comfort from what seems like a disordered and inordinate desire to be something they are not. May they be embraced by the love of God!

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