This post deals with a very complex issue. I urge readers to study it carefully. It talks of a another sea change in society’s view of sex and sexuality, and the implications are quite profound.
The subject is equal protection legislation for the LGBT community – more particularly, for those persons in that community who are identified as transgender. I dealt with this subject at some length in my August 28 post entitled, “A Cautionary Tale: The Great Bathroom Controversy.” I suggest that you re-read it. I cover the subject again at this time because of the very distinct possibility that the Democrats will be in charge of the United States House of Representatives beginning in January 2019 (I’m posting this on election day).
Nancy Pelosi recently announced that the Equality Act, long promoted by LGBT activists, will be one of her top priorities. The Equality Act would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of classes protected by the 1964 Civil Rights Act. That Civil Rights Act already includes race, color, religion, sex, and national origin and bans gender discrimination in shops, healthcare, loans, housing, and jury selection.
Perhaps the most controversial aspect of the Equality Act is that it would prevent employers and retailers from withholding services based on the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). The RFRA was introduced by the late Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy, approved by all but three Senators, and signed by President Bill Clinton; and it protected Americans from government intrusion into their religious practices. The Equality Act would overrule the RFRA should there be a legal conflict.
Pelosi’s spokesman Drew Hammill said that the Equality Act would receive “a place of honor” in the new Congress. This would be accomplished by giving the bill a low number so it will be introduced near the beginning of the session. 198 Representatives, 196 Democrats and 2 Republicans, have signed on as co-sponsors of the Equality Act.
During his first two years in office, President Trump pulled back on the Obama administration’s efforts to advance the LGBT agenda. He rescinded regulations on how schools deal with transgender students, sought to ban transgender people from military service, and is considering language that would define gender by a person’s biological sex at birth.
The bill’s passage would set up a showdown with President Trump and what observers believe will be a Republican-controlled Senate. The Senate version of the bill has 47 sponsors, none of whom are Republican.
Over the past several decades the LGBT community has enjoyed remarkable success in the ongoing culture wars. Supported by liberal pundits on the left, the mainstream media, and the powerful entertainment industry, they have won battle after battle for gay and lesbian acceptance and protection from discrimination. In broadening social circles, to be called gay or lesbian is no longer a condemnation but a mark of acceptance or approbation. Bisexuals and transgenders follow in this triumphal march.
Many observers think this is a wonderful thing. They see it as a movement to a more open society, free from the stifling pressures of our Puritan past. Those in opposition are often pictured as narrow-minded religious bigots.
Many people of faith are shaken, battered, and bruised. Some of them have succumbed to the pressure. Even though the Bible seems to be quite clear in its condemnation of homosexuality, certain churches no longer interpret scriptures that way, and they have gone so far as to open high church offices to gays and lesbians. Christian traditionalists stand firm in their opposition to this trend, but they feel more and more isolated. I’m no theologian, but I believe their thinking flows along the following lines:
A core element in all Biblical teachings about sexuality and moral conduct is that it teaches behavior designed to promote and protect the health of the individual and of the family. The teaching is never arbitrary, it is consistent, and it makes sense. For the true believer, it is not a question of one’s wishes or desires, natural or not, but a question of what is the will of God. His will, as expressed in the scriptures (the ultimate authority for Christians), is for a monogamous heterosexual union (a family) into which children are to be born and in which they are to be nurtured physically and spiritually. For the faithful, there is also a firm conviction that man’s higher nature, with God’s help, can control his more brutish or unnatural instincts — in other words, self-control and responsibility.
A married man may be attracted to a nubile young girl, but he is expected to overcome that attraction. A man might have sexual feelings for another man, but he is expected to repress those feelings. Those persons who do not fit into the pattern of a blissful, monogamous, male-female relationship may feel that God has somehow let them down, but remember that God never promised us lives of tranquility or complete physical and emotional fulfillment. The life of faith is a life of joy, but it is also a journey of discipline and self-denial for all of God’s children, whatever their sexual or other predilections. All of us are sinners. Gays and lesbians sit in church pews along with adulterers, wife beaters, charlatans, and hedonists. Hopefully, all hear a Biblical message, and each person has the capacity to repent and be changed. Pray that it will be so. In most Christian churches no one is rejected from love and fellowship unless they flaunt their sins and openly reject God’s word.
There is nothing new about sexual deviancy. It has helped lead to the decay and decline of some great civilizations of the past.
Let us try to examine the proposed Equal Rights legislation honestly and rationally, looking at it from various sides.
We understand the terms gay, lesbian, and bisexual, but what is a transgender? Repeating the information from my previous post and using a definition supplied by an LGBT spokesperson:
A transgender person is one who feels and acts as if his or her gender is different from that gender assigned at birth. That original assignment was based on the infant’s physical (sexual) features. The awareness that one is transgender can occur at any age, and this awareness becomes one’s gender identity (or innate knowledge of who one is). When this occurs, the person self-identifies as a transgender man or woman. This becomes their gender identity. Also, whether or not a person is transgender has nothing to do with his or her sexual orientation. A transgender woman (a person who has masculine physical characteristics but self-identifies as a woman) may be sexually attracted to males, females, or both, and the same is true for the transgender man. Some, but not all, transgender people undergo medical treatments to make their bodies more congruent with their gender identity.
In essence, this description of a transgender means that a person’s sexual identity is determined by that person’s mind, not by his or her physical features (including genitalia). Perhaps 99.7% of the time a person’s physiology and his/her mind are in agreement about sexual identity, but when there is a disconnect the mind rules.
Medical professionals have developed the term “gender dysphoria” for the distress a person experiences when the sex and gender they were assigned at birth does not agree with their own sense of sexual identity. The distress is real and can have severe consequences. Evidence from studies suggest that people who identify with a gender different from their assigned sex may experience such distress due to psychological or behavioral causes, from biological triggers related to their genetics, or because of prenatal effects. In other words, the distress is real, and the condition is not caused by a conscious or voluntary choice of sexual identity by the person experiencing these symptoms. Some people might consider gender dysphoria a form of mental illness, but the LGBT community and its supporters (even many in the medical community) insist that transgender persons are normal and their sexual proclivities and practices fall well within the spectrum of acceptable social behavior.
Transgenders are present in every society. In some nations they are subject to intense persecution and remain largely invisible. In western nations, however, they have emerged from the shadows. Some studies suggest that there may be as many as 1 to 1.4 million Americans who self-identify as transgender. Other estimates are much lower.
As do most Americans, I do not wish ill to gays, lesbians, bisexuals, or transgenders. They deserve the right to live their lives peacefully without being subject to maltreatment. I consider a person’s sexual orientation and practices to be of concern to no one but himself/herself so long as they not infringe on the beliefs and rights of others. There are questions, however, about the proposed Equality Act and its potential effects on our society.
Anti-discrimination laws that elevate LGBT persons to protected classes are often used to persecute people with more traditional beliefs. As examples, consider the following instance when individuals have been prosecuted for violating some state or local anti-discrimination ordinance:
- A baker creates custom wedding cakes for marriages but won’t design or create them for same-sex unions. That is considered discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
- A Catholic adoption agency works to find permanent homes for orphans where they’ll be raised by a married mom and dad but won’t place children with two moms and no dad, or two dads and no mom. That is considered discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
- A small business provides health insurance that covers a double mastectomy in the case of breast cancer, but not for women who want to transition and identify as men. That is considered discrimination on the basis of gender identity.
- A school provides separate bathrooms and locker rooms for male and female students but won’t let male students who identify as women into the female places. That is considered discrimination on the basis of gender identity.
Recently, in Anchorage, Alaska, a woman’s shelter ran into problems with anti-discrimination laws. A faith-based women’s shelter had been established to provide a haven for battered women, the victims of abusive husbands and boyfriends. One evening a man, drunk and bleeding from facial wounds, showed up at the facility. He said he was a woman and demanded admittance. Instead, someone from the shelter drove him/her to a hospital where he/she was treated for his injuries. Later, this man/woman (transgender) filed a complaint with the city’s Equal Rights Commission claiming that she was denied housing at the shelter. A shelter spokesman said that the abused women at the shelter were terrified at the thought of admitting transgenders, and, if forced to do so, the shelter would probably close.
Transgender women (biological males) have occasionally dominated women’s track and field events. Should there be any restriction on their participation? Should there be separate contests or different awards for transgenders?
One problem with transgenders is self-identification. In the United States, LGBT supporters accept such self-identification as honest and true, and they demand that the rest of us accept such self-identification without question. In this regard, perhaps we can learn something from the British.
According to some British experts, enabling individuals to change their gender by a the simple process of self-declaration has profound implications for the safeguarding of children, women and vulnerable adults. This is not because transgender people as such represent a safeguarding threat. It is because empirical evidence shows that the overwhelming majority of sex offenders are male, and that persistent sex offenders are often skilled manipulators who go to great lengths to gain access to those they wish to abuse. One way they can do this is by claiming to identify as women, either to gain access to single-sex spaces or to take up roles which are normally reserved to women for safeguarding reasons.
In their submissions to the parliamentary inquiry into transgender equality, both the British Association of Gender Identity Specialists and the British Psychological Society stated that some male sex offenders claim to identify as women as a means of making it easier to commit sexual offences against women and children. The British Psychological Society warned of the need to be “extremely cautious of setting law and policy such that some of the most dangerous people in society have greater latitude”.
To avoid the hazards posed by self-identification of one’s sex, the British passed the Gender Recognition Act. Under provisions of this law, a person may acquire a gender recognition certificate (GRC) that identifies his or her gender as different from that assigned at birth. To get a GRC, the applicant must provide evidence of a diagnosis of gender dysphoria (see above).
Perhaps we in America should consider the equivalent of a GRC. It might avoid a host of potential problems that would be posed by sole reliance on transgender self-identification.
I believe that the United States government should tread cautiously as it extends Civil Rights protections to lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders. Do what is right, but carefully contemplate the possible consequences of every action. Consider the beliefs and sensitivities of the community of faith as well those of the LGBT community, and have equal respect for the rights of all.