This article was adapted from an interview by Tom Hess with Jeff Johnston, research analyst for Focus on the Family, Citizen magazine, April 2009.
A growing number of schools and hospitals seem ready to help children ‘transition’ from one gender to another. How should Christians respond?
How did you become aware of the “transgender” agenda in schools?
I was working and living in Baltimore, and I learned that the local school district used the book Beyond the Binary: A Toolkit for Gender Identity Activism in Schools to train teachers in “diversity.” Gender is changeable from one day to the next, they’re told, and comes in an infinite number of varieties. The goal is to encourage gender confusion, bring it into the mainstream of society and silence those who disagree.
How widespread is this effort?
Groups like the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) encourage libraries to carry books addressed to “transgendered” children. GLSEN also organizes “Transgender Day of Remembrance” and “TransAction!” to combat what it calls “transphobia.”
How does this play out in schools?
In Colorado last year, an eight-year-old boy said he wanted to become a girl. His parents and school administrators were coached by “Trans-Youth Family Advocates.” They told his fellow students that “John” was now “Jane,” and “Jane” would have separate bathroom facilities. Instead of helping this boy embrace his true identity as a male, the parents and school indulged the child’s fantasy and required the rest of the school to join in.
What’s next on the “transgender” agenda?
There’s a serious effort to discredit “Gender Identity Disorder” (GID) – the traditional diagnosis of someone who rejects his or her birth biological sex and “feels” he or she is the other sex. Activists want to strike GID from the next edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. If that happens, we can expect more children’s hospitals to do what the one in Boston has done since 2007—giving GID children as young as seven puberty-blocking hormones, prescribing opposite-sex hormones as they grow and then performing what’s called “sexual reassignment surgery” as they reach adulthood.
On the legal front, groups like the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force are incorporating “gender expression” or “gender identity” in lobbying for non-discrimination and “hate-crimes” legislation.
And you’ll see more movies, “documentaries” and news stories about “transgendered” children and adults, who simply want to live as the gender they “feel” they really are.
How should Christians respond?
Pastors must teach their congregations that men and women each bear God’s image in distinctive and complementary ways, and that those who reject their biological sex and envy the opposite sex will find freedom from despair if they follow Christ. It’s not an easy road, but I’ve known a number of men and women who’ve come to their senses and found healing. Loving individual believers and safe churches were keys to that transformation.
Parents should also investigate what their kids are being taught in school – and react appropriately when truth is compromised. And they should speak the truth in love when lawmakers seek to redefine gender and enshrine “gender expression” or “gender identity” as a protected class.
Caleb Price is a research analyst for CitizenLink, an affiliate of Focus on the Family.
This article was originally posted to the Focus on the Family website on 26 June 2009.