The current transgender bathroom issue illustrates the importance of messaging. While the debate should focus on human rights and dignity, those who oppose transgender people using the bathroom that matches their sexual identity (versus the gender that appears on their birth certificates) have changed the debate into a moral crusade. Society’s relationship with God is now at issue.
Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest of North Carolina stated a few weeks back on talk radio, “We have a lack of moral compass in our country right now, we’ve taken our eyes off God in America, we have turned our back on God, we have forgotten God in a lot of ways, so the moral compass is broken here.” Southern Evangelical Seminary President Richard Land stated, “In North Carolina, we stand for traditional family values, and we’ll stand up for our right as citizens not to be put upon in this way.”
To characterize the transgender issue as one based on morality is to start with the premise that transgender people are immoral and purposefully engaging in sin. Society is, therefore, obligated to object to their sinful, wayward behavior.
It’s easy to see how people are opposed to—even frightened by—transgender people. People who undergo sex change operations or just doubt their given gender are, well, different. They go through a transformation that is beyond the average person’s understanding, and people are generally repelled by that which they do not understand. From there, it’s easy to make the leap that transgender people are immoral.
But here’s the problem. It’s not a matter of choice. Catherine Dulac, a Harvard professor of biology, told Time magazine (May 30, 2016) that “gender dysphoria” (the official diagnosis) is recognized by the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association and other major medical institutions. According to Time, it is irreversible, and the most of the negative effects associated with it do not come from the syndrome itself but from society’s reaction.
Look at it from another angle. How many people would endure the humiliation and ostracism that comes with changing their names and gender presentation just so they could use a different bathroom? This was the question asked by a 13-year old transgender student who sued his Virginia school district for the right to use the boys’ bathroom. It seems unlikely that former Olympian Bruce Jenner underwent a sex transformation on a whim or to be adventurous. Nobody does this out of simple choice.
People respond to the transgender issue in one of two ways. One group says, “Transgender people are different. I don’t understand it, but they’re still human beings entitled to the same rights as everyone else.” The other group looks at transgender people as a moral aberration that threatens society.
Take a look at what this means for a parent. Glenn Sheller, a Columbus Dispatch editor, wrote candidly about what his family has experienced.
“But being transgender is not a lifestyle choice, not a whim, not a mental illness. A transgender person is someone who simply is living the gender identity that feels natural. Just as everybody else does.
“But for transgender people, coming to this realization and living it often comes with a big problem: other people. In the eyes of some, being transgender is a willful violation of the natural order, or of divine will, an act of rebellion, or a mental condition that requires treatment. Because of such views, transgender people suffer discrimination, harassment, bullying and shunning from many quarters.”
What about the dangers we are warned about if transgender people have their choice of bathrooms? Columnist David Brooks thinks “these laws are in response to a problem that doesn’t seem to exist. They are in response to a threat of sexual predators that has no relation to the existence of transgender people. They are about legislating a group, not about what constitutes good behavior. They are an attempt to erect crude barriers when a little local consideration and accommodation could get the job done.”
Is Brooks right? According to Time, The Los Angeles Unified School District, with 550,000 students, has allowed transgender students to use the bathrooms they identify with since 2005. Judy Chiasson, who runs the district’s office of human relations, stated, “I have never had misconduct by a transgender student. A lot of fears people expressed, we have never realized those, we have never seen them. “
Brooks suggests a new societal view. “If public life were truly infused with the sense that people have souls … We’d understand that citizenship is a covenant, too, and we have a duty to feel connected to those who disagree with us.”
Jack D’Aurora writes for considerthisbyjd.com
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