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Mascots and manipulators

Mascots and manipulators

Students hold stickers for a new gender neutral bathroom as members of the cheer squad applaud during a ceremonial opening for the restroom at Nathan Hale High School in Seattle. (Associated Press/Photo by Elaine Thompson)

The Obama administration on May 13 directed public schools to allow students to use the bathroom of their choice. Withholding of federal funds could be the prod for schools that don’t fall in line. How might Christians think through the transgender issue?

A generation ago some conservatives sneered at “welfare queens” and some liberals made them all heroines. Both generalizations were wrong. A similar problem is evident today in discussion of the much smaller minority known as “transgendered.” To some conservatives they are perverts, and that’s the end of the discussion. To some liberals they are nature’s nobility. A Christian perspective is different from both.

Genesis 1:27 states, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” In the next chapter Adam looks at Eve and says, “Bone of my bones, flesh of my flesh.” Chapter 2 ends, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.” That’s it. Everything’s great. That’s the end of the Bible, right?

Not exactly. Chapter 3 describes the Fall and its terrible consequences: “Cursed is the ground … pain … sweat … you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Physical disease. Psychological disease. Things aren’t right. In looking at anyone, including ourselves, we need to keep in mind both Genesis 1-2 and Genesis 3: We are all made in God’s image. We are all sinners. For a small number of humans, one aftereffect of Genesis 3 is gender dysphoria, a profound state of depression about one’s God-given sex, either male or female.

To grasp that particular effect of original sin, visit the “asktransgender” subreddit of Reddit, which with 83 billion page views last year is one of the most visited U.S. websites. One afternoon’s comments included this one: “I’ve been crying all morning. A friend posted a candid picture of me and all I see is the horrible man I can’t escape. … This is never ever going away even after years and years of hormones. I want to die … why can’t I just disappear?”

And this comment: “I feel absolutely like I am a woman stuck in a man’s body, and I spend a lot of time thinking and reading about transitioning. I occasionally have these insidious doubts. … I’ve had anxiety since childhood and struggled with depression through my teen years … What if these thoughts of being trans are just me trying to escape from these problems? ... Maybe I just want a fresh start, and this is the most extreme way of getting that?”

And this comment: “I want to look like a girl. I never could. My body’s an inverted triangle shape. … My feet are size 12. … People say ‘suicide is never the answer,’ but I need to know WHY it’s not the answer. Because as far as I can see, it is. That, or I get some bolt of inspiration from God. … I pray every night. I don’t even know who to or what for. Because I need something to change.”

Should the rest of us who aren’t mixed up in this particular way (we’re all mixed up in some way) be trans-despising or trans-phobic? No: The joys God designed in making us male and female, and letting us unite in marriage, are so great that we should be sad regarding anyone who doesn’t have them. Our battle is not with depressed transgenders but with those who make them “mascots”—to use Thomas Sowell’s expression about liberal use of poor people—and put them on display. (Sowell: “The problem with being a mascot is that you are a symbol of someone else’s significance or virtue. The actual well-being of a mascot is not the point.”)

Here’s one comment I ran across on Reddit last year: “I’m transgender. … Countless trans people tell me and others … the only reason we feel badly about ourselves is because of how cis [non-transgender] people judge us. I knew my body was screwed up before I even knew what the term cis meant. … Whenever I go to support groups or LGBT events I’m always lumped in with people who hate non-trans people, want to break down all of the oppressive systems around them, and frankly just want to be seen. The thing is, I don’t want to be seen. I don’t want to be a femme genderqueer trans boi. I just wanna be a normal guy.”

Since it’s now a legal requirement in New York City to address a person with the pronoun and title the person wants, here are two more relevant Reddit comments: “I’m trans … and I have never met anyone who says … ‘fight the cistem’ or insists upon flavour of the month makey-upey pronouns, or tells anyone else the only reason we feel bad about our bodies is cis people.” And, “I knew a genderqueer couple that required you use rotating pronouns for them. (xe, she, he, xis, his, her) I just said ‘they’ or didn’t talk to them. … Most trans people just want to live … and not turn everything into a battle.”

When Christians enter into bathroom-use debates, we should distinguish between those building careers as transgender activists by deliberately rebelling against God’s order, and those who resent mascot treatment and merely want to find a way to minimize their soul-tearing misery. Strugglers should be shown the love of Christ. Agitators for whom “equality” is not an end-state but an industry—and, sadly, perhaps even a religion—also need compassion, in the form of truth delivered in love.

All of them, like all of us, need God, and we reduce the possibility of their finding Him if we react to the “We win, you lose” demands of media-designated spokespeople merely by shouting back, “No—we win, you lose.”

Wise policymakers will look for ways to make bathrooms safe for children and adults. We’ll report on their efforts.


  • campmom's picture
    Posted: Wed, 06/08/2016 11:32 pm

    Thank you for this great article that is compassionate and truthful. I can always count on World and you, Mr.Olasky, to present hard issues in a Biblical light. 

  • Ben K
    Posted: Wed, 06/08/2016 11:32 pm

    Very, very good to see the photo from Lansing Michigan included.  It has been a big issue there.  Thanks for this piece.

  • Richard H's picture
    Richard H
    Posted: Wed, 06/08/2016 11:32 pm

    Thank you for focusing attention where Christ directs us.
    Ephesians 6:12-13 (NASB)   For our struggle is not against flesh
    and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces
    of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the
    heavenly places.  Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that
    you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to
    stand firm.

    Posted: Wed, 06/08/2016 11:33 pm

    I love the point of this article. The idea of being so unhappy with who you are that you would go to such incredible lengths to change is heartrendingly sad. What happens if they complete every possible change and find that they are still unhappy? Can you even imagine the despair? I part company with Mr. Olasky a bit at the end. I agree that Christians should discern between those with an agenda and those in pain but I have trouble with belief that we reduce the possibility of their finding God if we react improperly. God is bigger than that and their salvation does not rest in our hands. What I do believe is that Christians who react poorly, without grace, mercy or compassion, will lose out on the incredible joy of being aligned with God's plans and ideas.

  • LindaWM's picture
    Posted: Wed, 06/08/2016 11:33 pm

    Another good, informative, thought-provoking article.  Thank you.

  • SueQ's picture
    Posted: Wed, 06/08/2016 11:33 pm

    I certainly learned one thing from this article. I never heard the word “cisgender” used. It is a word which means that people identify with the gender that they were assigned at birth.  I don’t know how the bathroom/locker room drama will play out, but it seems inordinately ridiculous  that such a small population can manipulate the law. I do appreciate the idea of private “family” bathrooms which allows children to be with their parent  I remember vividly a trip to Hong Kong when my son was 5. Unsure what to do, I sent him into a men’s restroom and waited outside the door...and waited...and waited. I had no idea what/who was behind that door.  I finally had to ask a gentleman coming out if he could go in and retrieve him. He was having a great tie flushing the urinals. Thereafter, we used a sort of blindfold system. My Mom and I actually kept a bandana in our purses. This was less shocking for the women that we might encounter. When he was older and we traveled to a foreign place like Busch Gardens in Tampa( the bathrooms used to be called by African names). My son had no problem, but my Mom accidentally went into the men’s restroom(which remained a joke for many ears).  Perhaps we should reinvent the outhouse with a composting toilet to line the locker room walls and those at the mall?? Transgender people have probably been using the bathrooms of the sex with whom they identify that day for years. Locker rooms...I don’t know?

  • JerryM
    Posted: Wed, 06/08/2016 11:33 pm

    @sawgunnerShould someone ever undergo sex change surgery if they are clearly biologically one sex (that is, not intersex) but feel they are the other sex? More directly, is it ever right for someone who proclaims to be a Christian? Your post clearly suggests it is, as a last resort?

  • Sawgunner's picture
    Posted: Wed, 06/08/2016 11:33 pm

    This is much needed. Hutch and Greg Burtnett etc speak for me as well. I guess the dilemma for many of us is the whole idea of doing trans surgery. Can we not all agree that this procedure should only be done after all other non-invasive non-mutilating therapy modalities have been exhaustively done? Of course multiple hours of counseling add up to a huge price tag and I'm sure for insurance its cheaper to just reimburse a surgeon/endocrinologist etc. If I thought I was overweight but was in fact anorexic and underweight would you as a surgeon do lipo on me to assist me in my erroneous delusion? Some years back there was a man who had his appearance altered to resemble.... a cat. I don't know if it made him happy. In fact I believe he committed suicide.

  • Greg Burtnett
    Posted: Wed, 06/08/2016 11:33 pm

    Excellent article. Thank you brother.

  • JerryM
    Posted: Wed, 06/08/2016 11:33 pm

    Thanks for your article.  As with the issue of homosexuality, Christians have too often acted like the better than thou Pharisee.  What is indeed needed is truth in love.  However, on the flip side, I also hope you cover the love not in truth, which some (paricularly leaders) in the Christian psychological community appear to be espousing regarding gender dysphoria.

  • Nat Manzanita
    Posted: Wed, 06/08/2016 11:33 pm

    Very helpful article. Thank you.

  • NitroBob
    Posted: Wed, 06/08/2016 11:33 pm

    Well-timed and well-said Dr. Olasky.  And yes, we'll be praying that God shows us wisdom and compassion over this issue.

  • TxAgEngr
    Posted: Wed, 06/08/2016 11:33 pm

    The Democrats are at it again.  Shoving a divisive issue down our throats and then claiming the moral high ground from which to condemn their political opposition as hateful monsters.  The sad thing this time is that these poor troubled, tormented souls are getting destroyed in the process.  Since the Left has no moral principles, any means are justified to accomplished their political ends.  And their end is to usher in an irrational dream of heaven on earth without God.  It is amazing, and heartbreaking, to see the levels these people will descend to in an attempt to gain political power.  All of life is politicized by the Left.

  • Tim G Larsen's picture
    Tim G Larsen
    Posted: Wed, 06/08/2016 11:33 pm

    Thank you for verbalizing and organizing what I have been trying to square away in my thoughts. As I listen to the secular commentators in the news rooms battling without the infallible, inspired and inerrant Word it seems hopeless but with the clarity of God's Word we have the only Truth that will bring peace to a tormented soul that has been seduced and corrupted by sin. We have the best news for everyone and that is the Gospel. Lord we need your Spirit to open the ears, eyes and minds of those that are called to Your glory. Thanks again for this article for it has put me back on tract for what is most important, the salvation of lost souls, not who is right and who is wrong (the love I had at first, Rev 2:1-7).

  • Carolyn
    Posted: Wed, 06/08/2016 11:33 pm

    Thank you for a breath of wisdom in this situation.

  • Janet S
    Posted: Wed, 06/08/2016 11:33 pm

    Thank you for this article.  We all live in a fallen world that has been messed up by sin.  We all sin and we are all messed up.  As Christians we are sinful, messed up people that God in His Sovereignty has lavished His grace and mercy on.  Now we are to be the hands and feet of Christ - reaching out to those sinful, messed up people who have not yet experienced the grace and mercy of God personally in their lives.  A personal relationship with our Creator and Savior changes everything. May we use these time God has given us to glorify our Lord.  The most important decision any of us will ever make is what we do with Jesus.

  • Hutch
    Posted: Wed, 06/08/2016 11:33 pm

    Thank you for identifying the players to this drama. It brought clarity and compassion ,and it felt very balanced on where we all stand.