In the news recently Bruce “Caitlyn” Jenner has received much support for undergoing the process of gender transition, while Rachel Dolezal has received much criticism for stating that she identifies as black even though both of her parents are white. So these stories among others have got me thinking about our society and identity issues.
Today in psychology it is argued that there is a difference between sexuality and gender identity. Male and female individuals can identify with either masculine or feminine character traits. However, it is also taught that people can identify as the opposite gender, meaning that a person with male physical traits can identify as female, and a person with female physical traits can identify as male. Logically speaking, if one can identify with traits not inherent to a person’s physical make-up regarding gender, then one should also be able to identify with traits not inherent to a person’s physical make-up regarding skin color.
So why is it applauded when a person chooses to identify as the opposite gender, but not when someone choose to identify as a different ethnicity?
I think it is because as a society, we are not yet comfortable with that. But then, why would someone want to identify as a person of another ethnicity in the first place? Some noted that it takes more than braiding your hair and tanning your skin to become an African American. Others have noted that having gender reassignment surgery does not allow one to really experience life as another gender. One person on Facebook argued that being a woman was carrying a child for 9 months, having hot flashes, and hoping that the men who stopped to help you on the side of the road were not planning to rape you. Even with surgery, it is not likely that Bruce Jenner will ever experience such things.
I was born a white male in west Texas. I grew up in an oil field town, went to college, got a job, and learned to love philosophy. No matter how much I wish I could see what it would be like to grow up as a poor African American in an urban community, I cannot ever experience that. As such, I cannot ever really identify with someone who was raised in that condition. So how can someone born as a male that grew up as a male say that he can actually “identify” as a woman? How can a white girl who grew up in a middle class home say that she can actually “identify” as a black woman? In short, neither really can. It is just not possible. What I think I see happening is that Rachel Dolzal, based on some experiences she has had in life, has developed such a heart for African American culture that she wishes she could be part of it. Bruce Jenner, based on his own particular experiences in life has developed such an interest in all that makes up being a woman that he wishes he could be a woman. So this leads to a number of questions, regarding gender identity, and the Christian faith.
- What does the Bible say about transgender issues?
- Are transgender issues part of a mental disorder, or is it something else?
- Does God allow people to be born in the wrong bodies?
- Is it sinful for someone to identify as the opposite gender?
- Can transgendered people love God?
- How should churches deal with transgender issues?
- If someone who has had sexual reassignment surgery joins a church, should the person reverse the surgery?
- Should a transgender person who accepts Christ live in celibacy?
- What implications do the answers to these questions have on issues regarding homosexuality, ethic identity, and polygamy?
Over the next several posts, I intend to answer each of these questions from a Biblical standpoint. In the meantime, if you have more questions surrounding this topic, share them in the comments section and I will include my answers to them in the coming posts.