Another Double Standard

Last time I commented on the ridiculousness of the double standards that exist in our country, thanks in no small part to our elected officials and (often unelected) judges. Here’s another excellent example for you. New Jersey, California and Washington, D.C. all have laws which ban state-licensed counselors from talking to minors about changing their sexual orientation. In New Jersey and California the law also states that counselors cannot talk to minors about changing their sexual behavior or trying to minimize feelings of attraction toward members of the same sex. This means, according to reporter Jamie Dean in an article published in the May 16 issue of WORLD, that the laws prohibit “any counseling that suggests it’s possible for a person to change–or even reduce–same-sex attractions.” Furthermore, Dean reports, at least eighteen other states have considered such bans. Worse, the Obama administration has indicated that it would support federal legislation on this matter if Congress were to act.

Why is this so problematic? Consider, please, what these bans do not prevent–namely, counselors talking to minors about changing their bodies if they want to switch to another gender (like Bruce Jenner). If a young person feels a sexual attraction to someone of the same gender, and does not like it, counseling would be a logical next step in most people’s minds. Yet, according to these laws, the counselor could not discuss this with the young person. Apparently it is not okay for a young person to want to change the fact that he or she feels a sexual attraction to someone of the same sex, but it is perfectly fine to discuss with that young person changing their body and almost every other aspect of their life in order to assume an identity as a member of the other gender. In other words, state legislatures are giving their seal of approval on what kinds of feelings are perfectly acceptable (such as changing one’s gender) and those which are not (such as trying to overcome unwanted sexual attraction).

What we are seeing here is not only a horrible double standard but a frightening invasion by government into the most private and personal areas of personal lives. Here the media and many in our nation have been celebrating Bruce Jenner’s decision to abandon his life as a male and switch to a female, and counselors are more than welcome to assist young people in exploring these feelings and desires, but when a young man does not like the fact that he sometimes feels attracted to other men (or a young women does not like that she sometimes feels attracted to other women), young people cannot discuss those feelings with the very people who, theoretically, should be most equipped to help them deal with these feelings. The government, then, is deciding what feelings are okay and what feelings are not okay. It is perfectly okay to want to switch genders and it is perfectly okay to be attracted to people of the same gender, but it is not okay to not like it when those same-sex feelings pop up. The pendulum has swung far in the other direction! Not too long ago there was considerable debate over whether or not a person who felt same-sex attractions was mentally stable. It was even less long ago that someone who felt same-sex attractions would have been extremely reluctant to speak about, much less act on, those feelings. There has been a shift toward accepting those who feel that same-sex attraction, embracing them, and helping them accept those feelings. Now, instead, a person who feels a same-sex attraction and does not like it is not allowed to talk about it, is discouraged from feeling that way, and is told that trying to deny that feeling is wrong. When you see how far we have come in this area it is not really all that difficult to envision the lunacy I described in the last post that will come from giving human-like rights to chimpanzees. The government cannot tell anyone what to think, and it ought not try.

Funny, isn’t it, that our culture seems to encourage people to think whatever they want, to eschew any ideas of right and wrong and pursue whatever makes them feel good–yet when something is making them feel bad, that the culture thinks is just fine and should make them feel good, all of a sudden there is a wrong! This is just the kind of foolishness that stems from man messing with what God has already decided; we just make a big mess of everything.

How do you feel?

Another element of that slippery slope I seem to talk about here so frequently is the matter of “gender identity.” It used to be that we would hear occasionally about individuals who had had sex change operations, or about crossdressers. I think the first time I ever heard of any such thing was when I saw the movie Crocodile Dundee II, and there is a scene in which someone who appears to be a woman is actually a man. I was a teenager by the time I saw that movie. Granted, I grew up in a Christian home and may have lived a somewhat sheltered life, but the entire concept was foreign to me. Now, just 25 years after Crocodile Dundee came out, the issue has gone far beyond crossdressing and sex change surgeries.

So what is gender identity anyway? Dictionary.com defines it this way: “a person’s inner sense of being male or female, usually developed during early childhood as a result of parental rearing practices and societal influences and strengthened during puberty by hormonal changes.” Notice that this definition says nothing about anatomy; gender identity has to do with whether one feels make or female.

The Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago has a not-as-yet-officially-launched entity under its umbrella called the Center for Gender, Sexuality, and HIV Prevention, led by Dr. Rob Garofalo. According to a March 23 article in WORLD Magazine the clinic has already “treated about 25 patients.” One of those patients was a child younger than nine who began “wearing dresses, identifying as a girl, and struggling with anxiety.” According to the article, the clinic is “one of a handful of children’s gender identity clinics to spring up in the United States over the past six years. These clinics provide psychological counseling intended to help children choose whatever gender they feel is best, and offer hormonal treatments to delay the onset of puberty.”

A couple of things jump out from those sentences.

First, recall the uproar in recent months in California and other places where there are efforts underway to ban counseling for individuals who want to overcome homosexual thoughts. Reparative therapy, as it is called, is just about guaranteed to fail, according to the powers that be in California, and also to cause stress and depression in those undergoing such counseling, despite the fact that it is only done at the request of the individual being treated. So while California has passed a law banning “anyone under the age of 18 from receiving licensed counseling that in any way steers them away from same-sex attraction, including away from sexual acts,” (according to an article in the Washington Times), it is perfectly fine to provide counseling and even hormone treatment for children who just are not sure whether they want to be boys or girls? And no one sees any contradiction here? There is plenty of debate over the idea that some people are “born” homosexual. There is, however, no debate over the fact that people are born male or female; it is obvious at birth (often even before birth with today’s sonogram technology) and the sex of every child is on their birth certificate! So, just to be sure we are clear, it is not acceptable–and indeed California wants to make it illegal–for a professional counselor, upon request of the counselee, to provide treatment to help someone who is struggling with homosexual thoughts to overcome those thoughts, yet it is perfectly fine for a therapist to help a child decide whether he/she feels like being a boy/girl, and even for a doctor to provide hormone treatment to prevent the child’s body from doing what it was designed to do.

Second, notice the important word “feels.” The counseling in these gender identity clinics is designed to help children determine which gender feels the best. So if someone is born a boy but feels like being a girl, we should both encourage and allow that. (But if someone feels homosexual tendencies and does not want to, we must not discourage them or help them overcome those desires!) We must be extremely careful of creating a world where we both encourage and allow people to do what they “feel is best.” If we remove absolutes and standards and facts and leave it all up to whatever anyone feels is best we will soon have complete and utter chaos. Notice, though, too, that those who encourage this “whatever feels best” attitude toward gender identity are the same ones who want to shut up anyone who takes the opposition position, presumably even when that “feels best” to them.

The WORLD article goes on to point out that the website for the Gender Management Service Clinic at Boston Children’s Hospital says that its doctors “help children cope with the disconnect they may feel between the body and gender they were born with. … Therefore, we try to help them develop a body that is consistent with their identity.” For the record, there can not be many things more absolutely clear than whether someone is born male or female. we are in trouble when we start encouraging and allowing that disconnect between anatomy and gender identity.

The WORLD article concludes with the statement that “children’s feelings aren’t a reliable guide for deciding on life-altering treatments, though: studies show many kids who question their gender stop doing so after puberty.” Quite frankly children’s feelings are not a reliable guide for much of anything; that is part of the growing up process–the development of preferences and likes/dislikes and so on. I cannot think of any other area in which children are permitted to voluntarily make permanent or life-altering decisions; why in the world would we allow it with something so significant as one’s body?

This is not just an academic discussion, either. A colleague in another Christian school (in California, as it happens) recently shared this: “Our middle school is part of a sports league for small private schools–some Christian, some secular. One of these secular schools has just announced that they have an eleven year boy who believes that he is a girl. The parents and the school have decided to support the child’s feelings by allowing him to dress in girls’ clothes and use the girls’ bathrooms.” This creates all kinds of challenges for this school. Surely the Christian school has policies preventing boys from dressing in girls clothes or from wearing make up. Surely boys are not allowed to use a girls restroom–and I am confident the girls and the parents of the girls very much prefer it that way! But this boy has decided that being a girl “feels best.” I do not know what the outcome in that situation will be, but I hope that school stands its ground, even if it means leaving the sports league as a result. We cannot allow the whims and feelings of a few people to alter the Truth of God’s Word or to dictate our obedience to His Word. The rights of a very small minority cannot trample the rights of a vast majority.

What we need is someone with a backbone to look this boy in the eye, or anyone else who feels as he does, and say, “You are a boy. You were born a boy, God made you a boy, and whether you feel like it or not, you are a boy. When you become an adult, if you want to wear a skirt or put on make up, you go right ahead. Until then, you will dress like a boy and be treated like a boy. And when you’re an adult, we’re still going to call you a male and treat you like a male whether you feel like one or dress like one or not. You can call yourself a girl, you can dress like a girl, you can act like a girl, you can even claim to be a girl. But guess what? You’re a boy.”

One last thought…. We must, as always, be careful where this road will take us. If gender identity becomes a choice, why not species identity? Suppose someone says they feel best as a dog or a monkey or a platypus? Shall we allow that? What about national identity? Suppose someone says they feel like their Egyptian despite the fact that they’re Canadian, or they feel Australian even though they’re Chinese? Racial identity? If I feel black does that mean I am, even though I am obviously white? What about age identity? I hear people all the time say they don’t feel their age. Suppose a 38 year old says she feels 16. Do we let her enroll in high school, play on the school volleyball team, be claimed as a dependent on her parent’s tax returns? Silly examples all, but they are the logical conclusions of letting people make decisions that have always been determined by birth based on how they feel.