Transgender plea or demand?

A major article on the transgender controversy over restroom access was posted during the Easter weekend by my local newspaper, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. As is typical of most media, it was couched entirely as an LGBT rights issue.

No scientist or conservative cultural commentator was quoted on whether to allow restroom access for whichever sex an individual may select.

This makes it very difficult for the average citizen to make a reasoned decision, as was demonstrated in the media frenzy concerning Bruce Jenner. Praise was heaped on him from virtually every form of media.

Serious journalism, however, would have included interviews with men like Paul McHugh, the former psychiatrist-in-chief for Johns Hopkins Hospital and its current distinguished service professor of psychiatry. Dr. McHugh was a pioneer in transgender surgeries but stopped doing them and urged others to stop. The reason? Dr. McHugh and others actually had studied the surgery’s long-term effects.

McHugh concluded this was an attempt to treat a psychological problem with a surgical solution — and it wasn’t working. It still isn’t.

McHugh is one of three signatories on an American College of Pediatricians article titled “Gender Ideology Harms Children.” The March 21 article, to be expanded this summer, urges educators and legislators to grasp that it is child abuse to encourage children “to accept as normal a life of chemical and surgical impersonation of the opposite sex” (for related Baptist Press story today, click¬†here).

As early as 2001, John Leo, a former contributing editor at U.S. News & World Report, said this should be a matter of medicine and not politics. He reported on people who were asking to have one or more healthy limbs cut off because they said they didn’t feel whole or happy with both arms and both legs attached — a psychiatric condition known as apotemnophilia. A surgeon in Scotland drew heavy publicity for amputating the healthy legs of two patients. His hospital stopped him before he could amputate the leg of a third patient, a New Yorker.

I cannot embrace the idea that one person’s psychological disturbance should override the potential danger to children who are forced to share a bathroom and, more troubling, a dressing room with someone of the opposite gender. In what world does it seem reasonable to have a pre-pubescent girl exposed to a naked adult male? Does no one care about the potential danger to her psyche?

The Star-Telegram article derisively dismissed the idea that it would lead to transgender strugglers becoming sexual predators in restrooms. But this misses the point. The concern isn’t necessarily that the transgender struggler will be a predator as the very real possibility that exhibitionists and others will use these laws as a cover.

In the Dallas-Fort Worth area we frequently see news reports of predators in public areas seeking to lure children close enough to engage in exhibitionism. The community rightly rises up and makes every effort to find and prosecute these individuals. But how do we prosecute them if they claim gender confusion?

And when transgender rights advocates refuse the privacy of separate restrooms or dressing rooms, it becomes more than a plea for accommodation — but a demand.

As Christians we should do all we can to demonstrate compassion and understanding to those who are dealing with gender confusion. But we should not sacrifice our children on the altar of political correctness. This is especially true when 1) there is no agreed-upon cause or cure in secular medicine for those struggling with this issue and 2) studies show that surgical or medical intervention does not result in significant psychological improvement.

A truly compassionate society would seek to alleviate the detrimental effects of this confusion without either engaging in radical and permanent surgical mutilation or potentially causing confusion and distress to our children.

Apart from the moral considerations, a reasonable people should be open to reasonable options that show concern for all those who are affected and not only a very small minority who are unwilling to compromise.