by Bob Wheeler
Here we are, in the midst of a presidential election cycle, and what should become one of the most hotly debated issues of the day, but who should be allowed to use which restroom? The State of North Carolina recently passed a law requiring individuals to use the public restroom that corresponds to the gender listed on their birth certificates. The Obama administration responded by threatening to cut off all federal aid to North Carolina. At the same time the administration sent out a directive to school districts all over the country on how to avoid discrimination against transgender people.
It should be noted that the policy adopted by North Carolina is perfectly reasonable. If we understand things correctly, individuals in North Carolina who undergo sex reassignment surgery can have their birth certificates changed to reflect their new gender identities. And in the case of a public restroom there has to be a means of identifying a person’s gender. To allow anyone to use any restroom he pleases is to defeat the whole purpose of having separate restrooms. It especially puts women at risk of becoming victims of voyeurism.
Contrary to the way the issue is often portrayed in the press, it is not a simple matter of some people identifying with one gender or the other. Gender Identity Disorder is just one in a whole range of sexual behaviors. Some people are homosexuals; some are bisexual. Some are transvestites; some engage in sadomasochism. There are even some persons who identify as “trans” who are still attracted to the opposite biological sex. How, then, does one identify a person as one gender or the other? Where does one draw the line?
There is, of course, a formal psychological definition of “Gender Identity Disorder.” But once the diagnosis has been made what is the most appropriate treatment? Logically one could go either one of two ways: either change the body to conform to the mind or change the mind to conform to the body. The approach favored by the LGBT community is the former: undergo hormone treatment or even sex reassignment surgery to make the body conform more closely to the person’s psychological identity. But surgery cannot make the person a perfect specimen of the opposite sex: some of the old features are bound to remain. This puts the transgender person in an even more awkward position: he does not conform entirely to either gender. He is neither truly male nor female.
But an even deeper problem remains: what caused the gender identity disorder in the first place? There is no hard evidence that the underlying cause is biological or hereditary. Rather the available evidence seems to suggest problems in early childhood socialization. And if that is the case surgery is unlikely to cure the underlying problem, and will leave the “trans” as frustrated as ever. Is this really a wise or humane way to handle the situation?
Why, then, would we attempt surgery? Part of the problem is that modern secular psychology does not have a clearly defined value system, and thus has difficulty defining social norms. Psychiatrists are inclined to think in terms of the patient’s own inward sense of well-being. Since most people do not want to change the way they think, the therapists tries to find a way to change or cope with circumstances. In the case of a “trans” person that means transitioning to the opposite sex, enabling the person to live out his fantasy.
But most likely there is a philosophical agenda here as well – the idea, borrowed from Existentialism, that we exist as autonomous individuals and that we should be free to define our own “essence” or identity (“existence precedes essence”). Seen from that perspective social norms are artificial and oppressive. This perspective was taken up by the Feminist movement and from there spread to the LGBT community. It is no longer a matter of “fitting in”; rather it is a matter of “being accepted.” Hence the calls for “diversity” and “inclusiveness.”
The underlying premise is atheism – that there is no such thing as Intelligent Design, that we live in a meaningless, purposeless universe, and thus are free to define ourselves any way we please. But this creates a huge problem for society as a whole. If each individual is free to define himself any way he wishes, and should not be required to any particular gender role, who will assume the duties and responsibilities of marriage and parenthood? Marriage, by its very nature, is confining and demands self-sacrifice. And marriage is the very foundation of society. Without it there is no stable environment in which children can grow and mature. Human society as a whole depends on the interaction between the sexes, and society simply cannot function in the absence of standards and norms of some kind.
“So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Gen. 1:27; NKJV). We do not, in fact, live in a meaningless, purposeless universe – it was created by an intelligent Supreme Being. Try as we might we cannot escape God’s created order. We ignore God and His purposes for us at our own peril.
Are we witnessing the collapse of Western civilization?