The connection with art will all become more clear in the future, but in the meantime I have to get these issues off my chest. Hopefully I can help you understand some things, too.
The first principle here is that I am speaking from my own experience and my own knowledge base. Now, I have a lot of both, but I know that many will strongly disagree with what I have to say, anyway. In fact, I’ve been virtually crucified by some in the transgender community for what I have written here and elsewhere. So be it.
Gender Identity Disorder is a specific condition identified by medical doctors. It is formally defined in the Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – so yes, it is a mental disorder. But like depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder, it is organically based and at least the predisposition to the condition has a strong genetic component. Since about 20% of the population suffers from some organic mental disorder, you shouldn’t look down on someone just because they have this problem. Or put another way, an organic condition that affects ones mental state is just that; one is not different from another just because you might consider this one to be “icky.”
People who suffer from Gender Identity Disorder are overcome by the feeling that they should have been born in a different gender than their apparent one. This feeling tends to overshadow everything in their lives, making it difficult to function.
The standard and in fact only treatment recognized by mental health professionals is “gender reassignment” and those who pursue gender reassignment are called transsexuals (sometimes misspelled as ‘ transexuals ‘) – a word I really hate. I have a strong issue about this lack of options and I will discuss my issues in a bit.
“Transgender” seems to be a better term – at least for me – because it isn’t really about sex at all, but apparent gender. To avoid misleading you, I have to mention that the term “transgender” – abbreviated as TG – includes people who don’t go all the way to get surgery, too. This shouldn’t be a big deal: Why would you care about someone’s genitalia if you weren’t sleeping with them? But there are a lot of silly sex-obsessed people who do care about this stuff, so I just thought I’d mention that ‘transgender’ does not necessarily mean one who has had or is going to have surgery.
Gender Identity Disorder is rare compared to other organic conditions, occurring in about 1 in 20,000 live births that we know of – but that’s still a LOT of people. People who suffer from G.I.D. have a very high suicide rate – the highest of any mental disorder. In case you’ve wondered, this is why the mental health community treats G.I.D. differently from other disorders. Well, it’s one reason. Again, I will get into that later.
The identification with the opposite sex is brain-based. Several studies have shown that male-to-female transsexuals have brain structures that resemble female rather than male brains. Yes, there IS a difference, and we can use this to show that the condition of Gender Identity Disorder is based in actual physical things, not something that is just in one’s mind. We don’t know why this happens: It could be genetically based but the latest thought on the subject is that it is a combination of hormone-sensitivity and something that happens in the womb. In other words, something goes wrong in the fetal development and a male body develops with a female brain – or vice versa. Further research may lead to prevention someday, and that would probably be a good thing.
What It Is Like
With all do respect to readers who are self-assured in their knowledge, you probably won’t completely understand what I’m going to say. I will try to put it in the most direct terms: It’s very difficult to be someone on the inside and someone totally different on the outside. You know something is wrong, and you tend to blame yourself. Ignorant people reinforce this self-blame. The pain is amplified greatly by those who refuse to accept the fact that this condition was foisted upon the sufferer and is NOT a choice.
Those who consider themselves morally-superior because they weren’t born with this condition seem to delight in pointing out their superiority, as if they chose to be “normal.” Like the Pharisee who prayed, “thank God I am not a sinner like THOSE people.” Thus the self-righteous ones among us become the number one reason behind the high suicide rates.
The gender identification issue starts very young, long before one understands the real differences between the sexes. Look, we all know that despite political correct propaganda, boys and girls act differently – even as babies. GID babies act like opposite sex babies. That’s a fact. Are babies making moral choices?
It gets even more difficult when one gets to dating age: You not only don’t fit the stereotypes for your birth gender, you really can’t fit into them. Oh, everyone tries to pretend – to fake it. This becomes a further source of stress, however, so some G.I.D. sufferers commit suicide in their teens, especially if they have aggressively ignorant parents. But most survive and try very hard to lead the kind of life that the world tells them is normal. Again, this is quite a stress factor: Every moment is spent trying to figure out “how am I supposed to act? What am I supposed to be like in this situation?” You are never yourself, you are always playing a role ..one that is unnatural for you.
Stress is cumulative: Many seek help early in life but those who have a high tolerance for stress may wait until much later to get help. Ultimately, however, everyone either seeks mental health therapy or kills him or herself.
Now, I understand how this is difficult for the non-sufferer to understand: The feeling that one IS a girl even if one was apparently born a boy seems to be pretty irrational. It it easy to see, therefore, why those without personal experience find it so hard to grasp the reality of this medical condition. For those with Gender Identity Disorder, however, it is an inescapable, all-consuming reality. So whether you understand it or not, you need to start by accepting the fact that G.I.D. is a real condition, not an imaginary one, and not a moral failing.
By the way, Gender Identity Disorder is NOT “gender confusion” as some sex-obsessed self-righteous folk try to characterize it: Anyone who has this disorder knows exactly what gender is, they aren’t “confused” and they aren’t “wondering” about it – they know. The problem is that their inner personal image and feelings are at odds with their physical attributes. People who use the term “gender confusion” are either intentionally or unintentionally (due to ignorance) being condescending toward the victims of this condition. Sometimes this attitude is struck for (misguided) religious reasons, which I will deal with shortly. An overarching principle in life, however, is that you should stick to what you know through being informed of the facts, not what you think you know based on your feelings. Put another way, if you aren’t a medical expert and aren’t in possession of all of the facts, then you need to either accept the judgment of those who DO know – and/or keep your mouth shut. Otherwise you could do some serious harm. And you don’t really want to cause harm to others, do you?
The Transgender Person and God
“God doesn’t make mistakes,” is what I sometimes hear. It seems like a great argument to those who haven’t really given it much thought. This could be a case of using God as a smokescreen for ones personal prejudices, but for the sake of this discussion I will assume that the person is sincere.
Gender Identity Disorder is a medical condition one is born with. Those who say otherwise are not qualified to make such statements. People who have the facts know it is a medical condition, not a moral one. Before you decide what medical conditions are acceptable to you and to God, keep this in mind: There are MANY really bad conditions people are born with: diabetes, cancer, blindness, deafness, spina bifida, Jacobsen’s Syndrome, conjoined twins, intersex conditions (hermaphrodites), Down Syndrome …Fragile X Syndrome, Klinefelter’s Syndrome – are we getting the picture yet??? Are these all “mistakes by God”???
I don’t know that I can answer that question, even as a theologian, because it would be presuming way too much on my part. I DO know that a lot of bad things happen every single day that nobody did on purpose: Babies are born with cleft palates, organs of both sexes, and Gender Identity Disorder EVERY SINGLE DAY, and none of us should consider ourselves to be qualified to pass moral judgment on them.
At one time, before modern medicine, many religious people would have said that a child born with cancer or diabetes or Down Syndrome was a punishment from God for the sins of the parents. The child must suffer because their parents were evil. But that was before we knew about medical causes, genetic disorder, etc. Now that we know something about biology, the argument that all these birth conditions are punishments from God for sin doesn’t hold up very well – so now we accept them as part of life and we don’t try to use the “God doesn’t make mistakes” argument to defend them. Gender Identity Disorder is NOT an exception – or shouldn’t be.
“Woe to him who quarrels with his Maker – Does the clay say to the potter, ‘What are your hands making?’” (Isaiah 45:9). “But who are you, O Man, to talk back to God? Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this’” (Romans 9:20).
Okay, fine, God doesn’t make “mistakes,” but he DOES “make” (or nature makes) millions of babies with problems that shorten or adversely affect their lives. It happens everyday, even if you choose not to see it. I don’t know why the world works like this, and neither do you. All so-called answers are just human speculation intended to justify preconceptions. Give-in to reality: just accept that there are biological bad things that happen to people every day. That’s how life IS on this planet. Leave it to God as to whether these bad things are “mistakes” or on purpose and stop speaking on His behalf.
So the transgender person is part of God’s universe just like the spina bifida baby, or the Down Syndrome child, or the one with blindness or with cleft palate or conjoined twins.
I know that the fact that this condition has to do with gender and therefore sex makes people who are weird about sex very uncomfortable, but it doesn’t change the reality of it. Other biological conditions like intersex (hermaphrodites) and Klinefelters have to do with sex, too. That’s life. If you want to argue about mistakes and why people are the way they are then you should take it up with God and stop picking on the victims.
I could write a whole book on this subject, but it is my experience that those persons who are looking for excuses to judge others negatively will continue to do so no matter what evidence is presented. Those good-hearted persons who are willing to try to understand probably already have the right idea.
A God-Ordained Right To Privacy
As a matter of personal conviction, I believe that the things people do are their own business as long as they aren’t causing harm to others. It is important to understand that “harm” in this case does NOT include the thought that some people may not like what you do or may think what you do violates their religious beliefs. You are not really harmed just because you don’t like something or think it is “wrong” in some non-objective way. It would be harm if you were forced to undergo a sex change if you thought sex changes were immoral. However, someone ELSE’s sex change does no harm to you whatsoever and really isn’t any of your business. If you think it is morally wrong, then that is ENTIRELY between that other person and God. NOT YOU.
Religion is something sacred between the individual and God. If you believe that you shouldn’t drink wine, for instance, then don’t drink it. But other religious believers DO drink and that’s okay – you shouldn’t try to force others to conform to your beliefs. Again, that’s between them and God.
“Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of a feast day or a new moon or a sabbath day – which are a shadow of the things to come; but the body is Christ’s. Let no one defraud you of your prize, priding himself on his humility … and taking his stand on the visions he has seen, and idly puffed up with his unspiritual thoughts. …If you were made free, by your death with Christ, from the rules of the world, why do you put yourselves under the authority of orders: ‘Do not handle this;’ ‘Do not taste that;’ ‘Do not touch that other thing’ – (Rules which are all to come to an end with their use) after the orders and teaching of men? These rules have indeed an appearance of wisdom where self-imposed worship exists, and an affectation of humility and an ascetic severity. But not one of them is of any value in combating the indulgence of our lower natures.” (Colossians 2:16-23)
“Don’t judge, and you won’t be judged. Don’t condemn, and you won’t be condemned. Set free, and you will be set free.” (Luke 6:37)
“Give attention to the things which are before you. If any man seems to be Christ’s, let him keep in mind that we are as much Christ’s as he is.” (2 Corinthians 10:7)
Where This All Leads
Gender Identity Disorder is a complex condition some people are born with. Nobody knows enough about it to prevent it yet, but we do know that there seems to be a combination of genetic-based sensitivities and in-utero problems that cause it. People with GID have brains that are physically different, and more like the gender they believe themselves to be.
We haven’t figured out a way to re-wire brains yet. Maybe we never will. So the solution for Gender Identity Disorder remains a regimen of hormones and surgery. If you have an impossible contradiction between the gender of the physical brain and gender of the body, what else do you do? Well, you could just live with it – that’s the answer of those who lack compassion and understanding. That leads to suicide. Of course, I have been told by religious people that I should kill myself, that that is what God would prefer. I don’t think they really speak for God, though.
If hormones and surgery are all we can do, then it’s all we can do. That’s all I was ever offered. But is that all that can ever be done? Now we get into the thing that gets me in a lot of trouble..
I am very disgusted with the medical community for not trying harder to find alternatives. Okay we don’t have any NOW, but as far as I know, nobody is really trying to find alternative treatments, either. All they have is surgery or “live with it.” Nobody lives with it in the long run, of course. They get surgery, they kill themselves – SOMETHING happens. It gets them one way or another. This condition is much too powerful. So that leaves hormones and/or surgery except for those who say we should all die. But there should be more.
While the suicide rate is VERY high among those who try to just “live with it,” thanks to bigots and the self-righteous it isn’t all that much lower for those who take the route that medical science offers. One must be an outcast forever – not because God ordains it, but because aggressively ignorant people do.
Had I been offered an alternative I would have wanted to try it. The Cretans who think this is FUN or something, don’t know what they are talking about: I don’t like being treated as a freak. I resent being looked down upon. I hate the fact that so much of life the and basic joys that others take for granted are forever closed off to me, just because of whom I am. My personal accomplishments are irrelevant. The fact that I have managed to raise two wonderful human beings doesn’t matter. My life of prayer and seeking God and my vast Biblical training and knowledge – nobody cares. All that matters is that I am a freak who shouldn’t be allowed to live. That’s how SOME people feel. And they are on the winning team right now.
Personally, I would have loved an alternative. It’s a bit late now – for me, but not for others. Medical science should be trying to find a better way to treat Gender Identity Disorder.
I’m fighting the system, trying to speak out for transgender persons as yet unborn: Don’t make them go through what I’ve been through. The bigots will eat them alive and create HELL ON EARTH for them in the name of God’s love. Find a better way. We need a medication treatment, and we need it now. Look at obsessive-compulsive disorder. Look at other organic brain malfunctions.
Even if it is too late for me, let’s try to save the next generation, shall we? And until we can do that, please try to stop being so judgmental. No matter what you think you know, you don’t know enough to speak for God about this. I guarantee it!
…If you really want to know more about my experiences, go on and read my story - at least until I take it down.