In the province of the mind, what one believes to be true either is true or becomes true.
“Because I said so” often means “I have no good argument”, or “My position is so flimsy I can’t afford to let it be challenged, so shut up!”
I’m a Dad, so I should know. I’ve used that line more than once, usually when I’ve been too impatient to explain myself, or irritated because my sons wanted me to defend whatever I just told them to do.
Regardless, the “I said it, that’s why!” approach doesn’t fly too well in most adult interactions. Just try it the next time you’re standing in line at the bank. When the teller says, “Who’s next?”, even though there are three people in front of you, try saying “I am, because I said so.” The reaction you’ll get from those three will be well deserved.
Granted, some things are and should be determined subjectively, according to what we feel or think. When it comes to whether or not I’m happy, whether or not I like yogurt, or whether or not I’m convinced of something, you don’t have much more than my word to go on. So in those instances, if I said it, case closed.
But when it comes to observable fact versus internal feelings or perceptions, fact wins. At least, it should.
Yet it’s losing big time in our national debates over gender identity. Laws protecting access of anatomical males to women’s facilities, or vice-versa, require no more than self-identification from the individual wanting access. Therefore, “I want to use the women’s room because I perceive myself as female” is all it takes for an adult with male parts to enter what was once strictly a female domain.
Our objections to this are largely fueled by concerns for the safety of women and girls. (We’ll discuss more about the protection of natural modesty in tomorrow’s post) But they’re also fueled by the underlying assumption these laws make, which is that a person’s sex can be determined by what she or he feels, as opposed to what her or his body plainly states.
Is it Rational?
A few years ago, when Barbara Walters interviewed a therapist who both treated and encouraged a transsexual boy to embrace his female identity, the therapist admitted:
“I cannot say he is a girl … I can’t say biologically, chromosomally (that the boy is female.)” Yet she went on to insist that if the boy is female according to his own intuitions, then that’s enough.
Bruce Jenner, declaring himself female and adopting the name “Caitlyn”, expressed a similar disconnect between fact and perception when he told Diane Sawyer:
“For all intents and purposes, I am a woman…I was not genetically born that way and as of now I have all the male parts… But I still identify as female.”
When genes, biology, and chromosomes take a back seat to a boy’s intuitions or a grown man’s identification, it’s hard not to conclude that rational thought has been ejected to the back seat as well.
“The Emperor is Naked!” (And a Surprising Variety of Voices Agree)
Dr. Paul McHugh, Distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Hospital, seems to agree. Noting that John Hopkins has stopped performing sex-change surgery because sex change is, in his own words, “biologically impossible”, he goes on to say:
“This intensely felt sense of being transgendered constitutes a mental disorder in two respects. The first is that the idea of sex misalignment is simply mistaken – it does not correspond with physical reality. The second is that it can lead to grim psychological outcomes.”
But it’s not only conservatives who deny the possibility of subjectively revising your gender. Lesbian feminist author and activist Camille Paglia (a provocative and funny woman who’s nobody’s idea of a conservative) recently said:
“Sex reassignment surgery, even today with all of its advances, cannot in fact change anyone’s sex … Ultimately, every single cell in the human body, the DNA in that cell, remains coded for your biological birth … I think that the transgender propagandists make wildly inflated claims about the multiplicity of gender.”
Wildly inflated and irrational to boot. Compare the idea of renaming your sex to almost any other form of “renaming” and you’ll get the point. In fact, when people declare themselves to be Napoleon, John the Baptist, or Jesus Himself, no matter how strong their self-perceptions, we call the declaration the problem, not the bodies they inhabit. Yet on this one issue we suspend common sense and adopt “Because I said so” as sufficient evidence to override what DNA and anatomy continue to say.
None of which discounts our mandate to show respect to transsexuals, serving them as our neighbors who we’re to love as we love ourselves, and having all due compassion for someone who surely didn’t choose their gender identity confusion, and must feel it more profoundly than we can ever imagine or appreciate.
Yet neither our appreciation for someone’s struggle, nor our call to treat our neighbor with love and respect, compels us to join in that neighbor’s delusion, nor to conform our lives to it. If my neighbor, friend, or loved one attempts to change sex, that person can count on my care, my fair treatment, and even my affection as a fellow human.
But should he or she demand I go along with what is at least irrational and, at worst, an immoral rejection of what God intended, I must fall back on Winston Churchill’s blunt assessment of what reality is versus what we wish it to be:
The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.
We need to talk about this! Won’t you join me tomorrow, Saturday November 18, at 10:00 am PST for a 90 minute webinar on how to understand, relate to, and dialogue with transgender people from a Biblical perspective. My good friend Linda Seiler, former transgender and Director of Chi Alpha ministries at Purdue University, will be co-teaching with me for an hour, and we’ll take a full 30 minutes for Q and A afterwards. To register just log onto joedallas.com.