For several months now, I have contemplated the nature and problems regarding transgender individuals. Bono commented, "People focus on what's between your legs. If I never have bottom surgery [the procedure by which a penis is created], I'm fine. I feel 100 percent male as I am." That comment sent me into a serious contemplative frenzy. All of us want to be acknowledged equally for who we are spiritually regardless of biology. After all, Paul wrote of spiritual equality: "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:28) Then, gradually I realized that this verse reveals the exact problem behind transgender.
Glee recently featured a transgender character. The article I read started as this:
It was a very special disco-themed episode of “Glee” on Fox the other night. A new character named Wade from a different high school shared that he was born in the wrong body. He was black, but he said he felt he was born white, and decided to go out on stage at Regionals painted over as a white man
At first, I thought, perfect satire! I mean, can you imagine all the people claiming racism? What is wrong with being black? Aren't black people just the same as white people? Are we not all the same in the eyes of God?
Well, the character named Wade turned out to be a woman trapped in a man's body, the typical transgender dilemma. The same questions remain, What is wrong with being your original gender? Aren't men and women essentially the same spiritually? Are men and women not all the same in the eyes of God?
If gender is not biological, then gender is spiritual. There stands the problem. When Paul of Tarsus wrote Galatians 3:28, he never denied the existence of gender. All the epistles discussed gender and asserted that gender had roles and responsibilities within society. Yet, they never allowed gender to determine spiritual matters. Even though the Apostles asserted roles and responsibilities to gender, they also asserted spiritual equality between men and women.
.Paul drew a sharp distinction between biology and spirituality.
"you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness." (Romans 8:9-10)
"Now, the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." (2 Corinthians 3:17)
A sharp distinction between biology and spiritually is seen in descriptions of Jesus who left the spiritual abode to become a human.
"Every spirit that confesses Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God." (1 John 4:2)
"God was manifested in the flesh, justified in the Spirit..." (1 Timothy 3:16)
If gender is not biological, then gender is spiritual. Every effort to obtain equal rights has been an effort to assert that biology does not define our souls and biology does not define who we are spiritually. Blacks are equal to whites because a black person's soul is equal to a white person's soul. Women are equal to men because a woman's soul is equal to a man's soul. Although gender is biological, biology has no bearing upon the equality of the human soul.
The recent equality movements have gone against the historic equality movements. Early leaders of equality asserted that gender is biological while the social roles and expectations of gender are cultural. This is how women strived to obtain jobs and work in politics. Thus, they sought to overturn social roles without rebelling against biology. Today's leaders of equality take a stance contrary to how equality was first achieved. Today's leaders believe that if a person displays behaviors stereotypically or traditionally assigned to that other gender, then that person must have the soul of that other gender. A transgender male-turned-female tends to dress more feminine than a born woman.
When Bono said, "People focus on what's between your legs. If I never have bottom surgery, I'm fine. I feel 100 percent male as I am." that statement portrayed a man's soul as fundamentally different to a woman's soul. When a transgender says, "I was born in the wrong body," that means the soul is not compatible with the body. The gender of the soul does not align with the gender of the body.
But if the soul determines gender, then a man's soul is fundamentally different from a woman's soul. This means that spiritually, they cannot be equal. This in turn goes against the spiritual equality that Paul asserted, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:28)
In decades past, when African-Americans suffered under segregation and when racism prevailed, some black people did believe they had white souls trapped within black bodies just the transgender people believe they had man souls or woman souls trapped within the opposite gender.
In the early 1960s, Timothy O'seyre took his 5-year-old son Billy to a park where Billy pointed out a black man and called him by the offense N-word.
"Well, you mustn't use [that word]," O'seyre had continued, "that man is a Negro. Just like you!"
O'seyre had never seen such an expression of shock and terror on his son's face as at that moment.
"I'm not either," he screamed. "I'm not Negro! I'm not!" Billy had burst into tears, wrenched free from his father's grasp, and run down the path.
Billy could grow up and pretend he was white... or he could accept the fact of his own blackness and other people's whiteness; accept it and believe in the equal worth of both." (Robert Conot 112-113)
Young Billy O'seyre hated the color of his skin, and because he hated the color of his skin, he believed he had a white soul trapped inside a man's body. Transgender people likewise hate their bodies. A statement from a transgender youth.
When Wyatt was 4, he asked his mother: “When do I get to be a girl?’’ He told his father that he hated his penis and asked when he could be rid of it. Both father and son cried.
Which scene has your horror and sympathy and compassion? Which one has your admiration and approval? How are they different, or is there any difference at all?
As Christians, how are we to respond?.
Robert Conot. "Rivers of Blood, Years of Darkness." Bantam Books. New York, New York. 1967. A book about the 1965 LA race riot and all the events leading up to it, which includes the personal histories of the rioters, the police, victims, and innocent bystanders.