Are we close to reaching 'peak transgender'? Is the once-seemingly inexorable march of contemporary transgender ideology about to be halted?
I wonder. That hilarious satirical news site The Babylon Bee published a very funny parody article entitled 'Motorcyclist Who Identifies as Bicyclist Sets Cycling World Record'. You can read it here (though not before you have finished the rest of this article please)!
Since the item was put online it has had over 3 million shares, including more than two million on Facebook alone. And the thing is, it strikes a chord because we all immediately get it, don't we? We all understand the point that it is making. And because it resonates so widely and so clearly, it has gone ultra-viral ultra-quickly.
There are some straws in the wind that maybe – just maybe – the 'transgender bubble', as we might call it, might be about to burst. But even as we consider them, it's important to remember that there are those for whom struggles with gender identity and feelings of being born into the 'wrong' body are very real indeed. As Christians, we want to be the most welcoming communities on the whole planet for such people. The question is how we do that – whether within the framework of contemporary transgender ideology, which many believe to be oppressive and mistaken, or within the context of a more nourishing Christian framework of grace.
Keeping that important point in mind, what are some of the indicators that maybe transgender ideology is reaching a peak?
1. Prominent supporters of Stonewall, the gay rights charity, have split away from the organisation over its seemingly slavish obedience to contemporary transgender ideology.
According to The Times, Stonewall 'advises schools to outline differentiations between sex and gender, and sexual orientation and gender identity, in lessons' – whereas one of those leading a new breakaway group describes such views as 'a cult belief'. As the writer Janice Turner explained elsewhere in the paper, those leaving Stonewall believe the organisation now 'endorses sexist stereotypes promoting the notion that a "butch" girl or a "feminine" boy is in the wrong body'.
And as Christians we could wholeheartedly endorse that particular point. Contemporary notions of gender have little to do with Biblical teaching on manhood and womanhood.
2. Liberal thinkers who voice concern about transgender ideology are gaining traction.
A 2016 video by author, art professor, feminist, and cultural commentator Camille Paglia which talks of the 'current transgender mania' is being shared online more and more.
According to her, 'the explosion of gender identities is a recurring sign of cultural collapse throughout the history of civilization'. The video has now been viewed more than 2.6 million times.
Interestingly, the top comment underneath the video says this: 'I've been a tomboy all my life. I don't relate well to other women; I always feel much more comfortable around men. I've often joked that I'm a "guy in a girl's body". But thank God I wasn't going through puberty in the past several years. I'd be taken aside by some school counsellor and told that I'm transgender, that I need counselling to start my courageous transition, and that if I refuse, I'm denying my true nature. The thing is, tomboyish as I am, I am 10,000% heterosexual female. I may not fit in smoothly with the chick crowd, but that's okay. I'm different. I'm unique. I'm me. I'm just a tomboy who's still utterly and completely female.'
And that, too, is wholly consistent with a Christian viewpoint.
3. People who have had transgender reassignment but then seek to revert to their original sex are increasingly hitting the headlines.
As Sky News reported earlier this month: 'Hundreds of young transgender people are seeking help to return to their original sex,' according to a woman setting up a charity to help them. The report revealed that she 'has been contacted by "hundreds" of people seeking help - 30 people alone in her area of Newcastle'.
So where is the tide of popular opinion on this? Olympic swimmer Sharron Davies tweeted this week that she is among those being consulted by the International Olympic Committee about transgender rules. She added: 'I'm proposing more scientific research is desperately needed before rule changes, to protect a level playing field for females...'
Too right. There is an opportunity to vote to 'agree' or 'disagree' under her tweet and so far, of the 1,061 votes cast at the time of writing, 99% agree with her and only 1% disagree.
So maybe – just maybe – the bubble that is the unsustainable fashion for transgender ideology is about to burst. But, that said, we should and must again recognise that this is not an abstract issue: it's about people. And while Christians and others may have a real problem with the ideology that has been fashionable in recent years, this shouldn't stop us being the most welcoming and loving communities in the world for those who struggle with this issue themselves.
As Mark Yarhouse wrote wisely a few years ago: 'Let's say Sara walks into your church. She looks like a man dressed as a woman. One question she will be asking is, "Am I welcome here?" In the spirit of a redemptive witness, I hope to communicate to her through my actions: "Yes, you are in the right place. We want you here".'
He adds that we should 'extend to a transgender person the grace and mercy we so readily count on in our own lives. Christians believe that God holds that person and each and every chapter in his hands, until that person arrives at their true end—when gender and soul are made well in the presence of God.'
And that is something true for all of us, whatever particular struggles we all face. For all of us, churches are to be places of grace. Because grace is what we all, without exception, need. And only grace will change us.
David Baker is a former daily newspaper journalist now working as an Anglican minister in Sussex, England. Find him on Twitter @Baker_David_A
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