Clearly, transgenderism is the new “it girl” in American culture today. This raises all sorts of questions for us as Christians as we are called directly by our Lord to love our neighbor as ourselves. There is no qualification on this command like, “Don’t worry, it does not apply to your gay, lesbian or transgender neighbors, so breathe easy.” In fact, when questioned as to who our neighbor actually is, Jesus chose the most unsavory example in his listeners’ cultural context. We are commanded to love our transgender neighbors as we are anyone, regardless of how lost or damaged we might consider them.
How might we do this while extending the grace which Christ extends to all of us in never ending supply yet also standing in uncompromising truth? Getting the balance between truth and grace right is essential as John 1:14 tells us that our Savior is full of both grace and truth in equal measure. To that end, we must start by understanding some basic characteristics about transgenderism, what it is and what it is not.
What does it mean to be “transgender”?
In order to truly understand the transgender person, we have to understand the nature of the thing itself. When one refers to themselves as transgender, it means they identify with the gender opposite their natal or biological gender—my body is male, but my sense of self is female. This is based on one’s gender identity, which the Human Rights Campaign—the largest and most powerful gay advocacy organization in the country—defines as:
One’s innermost concept of self as male, female, a blend of both or neither—how individuals perceive themselves and what they call themselves.
The phrase “one’s innermost concept of self” is critical as it demonstrates that being transgender is not a diagnosable, objective thing determined by any psychic or physical reality. It exists in one’s sense of self. There is no physical, psychological or legal criteria a person must meet to be “officially” transgender. It exists in the inner feeling and personal declaration of the individual, and one does not need to meet any “sex-change” criteria to legitimate the claim. No such change, according to trans politics, is just as legitimate as drastic surgical change. Given this, one is not “transgender” as one is male or female, Asian, Hispanic, left-handed or brown-eyed. Only the person who claims it can verify it.
It might be helpful to clarify that cross dressers are different from the transgender. These are men who are sexually stimulated by dressing like women. Also, the intersexed are not transgender. These are people who are born with some type of objective physical or genetic ambiguity regarding their sex and typically do not struggle with their identity.