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Transsexuality A Report by the Evangelical Alliance Policy Commission

Which acknowledges that going through transition makes people happier but it's wrong because God doesn't want it.  I never could quite figure out on what basis they were arguing that this was wrong.  - Justin Tanis speaking about the book

A Funny king od Integrity - analysis to the book and about the lack of involving transexuals in research.

EV Alliance on Scripture - Specifically about the book's use of Scripture

Page by Page

This book was published in 2000, before some significant research was available so I am less critical than I would be if it were published recently. Also, please note I am a liberal arts scientist and therefore can only compare research done by others.

Medical Considerations

P15 Causation "fundamentally affects the way in which the condition is addressed medically, pastorially, and politically." Emphasis mine.

P16 incorrectly estimates the number of transexuals according to the traditional "transwomen are 1 in 100,000, transmen 1 in 30,000" but does recognize differing reports. An excellent report by Lynn Conway demonstrates how outrageously low these numbers are; but since the figures are the status quo, I understand the mistake. I am always suspicious when these numbers are brought up in the context of ethical conversations because they have no relevance. Would transgenderism be right or wrong based on whether it occurrs in 1 of every million versus 1 in every 10? I believe it is included to appeal to our inert xenophobia that the smaller a minority, the less valid they are.

The "genetic determination" straw man argument is brought up.

The report relies largely upon the evidence of absence. This is a logical fallacy in which a person argues that if A were true, there would be evidence; because there is no evidence, A is not true. This is clearly. Remember Carl Sagan, "Absence of proof is not proof of absence." Page 18 mentions a lack of research in hormone levels, page 19 brain structure and page 20 genes. After seven pages of considering the origin of transexualism, they state etiology doesn't matter. "If physical causation was to be demonstrated, the same argument with regard to potential corrective physical or genetic treatment would apply." p23.

Writes about intersex conditions, p21, 22.  Acknowledges diversity and difficulty of labeling sex, but never considers applying this fact to gender. See Book: Sex and Intersex.  Based on definitions, an transexual is not intersex

P24-27 says most people who have SRS are happy with it and it greatly improves their life, contradicting Jerry Leach's claims that few or none are happy.

P25 Makes the assumption that God gives us our sex. Thus SRS distorts God's creation but "a problem with this argument is where we draw the line, and most Christians do happilly accept many forms of cosmetic surgery."

P26 Without explanation or references, states the cause of transgenderism is the same as all "people rejecting their bodies," namely "peer pressure, perfectionism, media images, parental and self-rejection, and the consequent poor self-esteem." None of these causes make any sense

P26 Repeats the absence of evidence fallacy concerning long term studies of SRS patients. Without explanation, assumes SRS is a "fleeting and false comfort to a hurting individual."

P26 Transexualism is an addiction with cross dressing being the first phase.

P27 "A patient with schizophrenia developed a transsexual condition. Improvements in the schizophrenia were paralleled by a decrease in transsexual behavior." Case is not referenced. Walt Heyer?

P27 Uses Marissa Dainton's testimony.

P27 "there exists no published collection of such cases in which change appears to have resulted out of choice, but other anecdotal accounts to exist.

P28 "Re-adoption of original gender roles, though difficult, is certainly possible for some transsexuals." Emphasis mine.

Legal Considerations

I'm much less interested in this section. One of the goals of this book was to deny trans people the right to change their birth certificate and marry accordingly. They failed with the UK's Gender Recognition Act passing a few years later.

P36 It is deceptive for a transexual's birth certificate not to reflect their genitals at birth but not deceptive to list a husband as father when a sperm donor was used. I would say there is a direct parallel between the sex-gender relationship and the procreation-nurture relationship of a parent. One is biological, the other social, and we value the social over the biological.

P37 A transexual cannot consumate a marriage (?).

P38 Hypocritical for a lesbian transwoman to use her male legal status to marry a woman.

P41 Even though an orphan is better off with a transexual parent than no parent, it's still immoral. Assumes a marriage involving a transexual is dysfunctional, again with no rational.

P42 Favorable view of transexual parents receiving custody.

P42 Whereas the Report emphasizes the rarity of trans people, when discussing prisons we are suddently "small but sigificant number."

Scriptural Consideration

See EV Alliance on Scripture

Ethical Perspective

P56 Complimentarianism is intrinsic in Christian Creation theology.

P57 It is critical to differentiate sex and gender.

P59 Says those who consider brain sex to be most important also consider brain sex to be true sex

P61 Souls are neuter. 

P81 Transition is better than suicide. Thank goodness!

Sources

The book hides its authors?! Most of the sources are familiar and unsurprising. 

Recommended Reading

Other References


Deception of Sources

  • A frequently referenced article is The Ethics of Transsexualism by Rodney Holder in The Lancet. The article does not appear on thelancet.com perhaps because the article is an editorial. Holder is actually a priest and cosmologist and I can find no evidence of work in transgenderism other than this one article. He makes an error about intersex people, saying, "hermaphroditism… is a congenital disorder in which both male and female gonads are present and the external genitalia are not clearly male or female" ie, only people with ambiguous genitalia are intersex and ignoring more theologically complicated conditions. I label this as deception because numerous times the books attributes ideas as facts endorsed by The Lancet (cf p25) rather than opinions of an editorial.
  • P19 references the famous BSTc study but says the differences could be caused by hormones, implying the study has nothing to say about that. However, the study specifically explained and created tests to rule out hormonal influence.
  • P26 references an paper, (abstract) and states that medication made multiple people's transexualism remit. However, the Report covers up the fact that this was temporary and was a single person, not plural.  Note this identical mistake was made previously in Whitehead's Should Transsexuality Be Freely Endorsed which the report uses. This leads me to wonder if the Report even read the original paper of just copied Whitehead's words.
  • P28 references Whitehead's Free Endorsement to cite that "change appears to have resulted out of choice" versus medication. However, Whitehead's anecdotes do not specify whether there was medication or other influences involved such as faith or peer pressure as in the cases of Michael Burke and Marissa Dainton where both were motivations.
  • I do not think uses Dainton's works is deceptive because Dainton did not fully revert to female until early 2004, 3.5 years after publication.
  • Christine Burns criticizes the Report for often referencing Louis Gooren, sometimes citing him as an authority and sometimes citing him negatively. I see no problem with this.

Errors & Contradictions

Sex & Gender

On p4, they say acknowledge the difference between sex and gender and explain it. On p55-57 they explain why this is important in depth. I am glad they do. Nevertheless, they frequently conflate the two which gives way to misunderstandings.

. . . a contradiction between the gender they feel that they are and the gender their apparent biology says they are. (p45)

Here they make a huge assumption that sex determines gender. This can only be possible if either 1) sex is a form of gender, a social construct or 2) sex determines gender. Since they deny 1 (p55 footnote) they must mean 2 which is the expected view of conservative ideas on gender. However, if sex determines, gender, there is no practical difference between sex and gender; if a female is always a woman, the two words are synonyms. Here is how they should have written their sentence using "sex" and "gender" accurately, with my changes in bold. If they were referring to all transgender people,

. . . a contradiction between the gender they feel they are and the gender their culture attaches to the apparent biology says they are.

Written this way, it becomes obvious the contradiction is not within the trans person but between the person and their culture. If they were referring exclusively to transexuals, they could use either the above sentence or

. . . a contradiction between the sex they feel they are and the sex their apparent biology says they are.

Written this way, it is clear a transexual has a biological contradiction. This weakens their view that being transexual is a psychological issue. Here's another mistake.

Some transsexual people do accept that, for example in the case of a male-to-female transsexual, a man [gender] chooses to present himself as a woman [gender] and does not become a woman [gender] with gender reassignment surgery.

No transexuals accept that! A transwoman is a woman, not presenting as a woman. I can only assume the Report meant to say, which is true, "some transexuals articulate that a male [sex] presents as woman [gender]" or "as a female [sex]." Most transwoman refer to themselves as female and a few refer to themselves as still male because their genes are male. By using the gender term "women" they are implying trans people identify by their sex rather than gender and that they are really just pretending. This is both false and slanderous.

Eunuchs and Genetics

Also most commentators accept that Isaiah 56:4-5 removes the ban on the genetically mutilated being admitted to the "assembly of the Lord." (p46)

No commentator would believe Isaiah says anything about genetic mutilation, at least no good commentator. First, the Hebrews had no concept of genetics. Second, as I discuss here, eunuchs could be either gay males or transgender but they could not have been intersex (unless also gay or trans). Most commentators (incorrectly) believe Isa 56:4-5 refers to people whose testicles were removed.

Other

Scare Quotes

A surprisingly good method of identifying sensationalist writing is by their use of scare quotes. Scare quotes are used to express disagreement with the original speaker's intended meaning without actually establishing grounds for disagreement or disdain. It infers the word is alien, unreal, and to be feared.

Many resist the demands of the transsexuals with the claim that the 'condition' is purely psychological. (p51)

In that example, "condition" has no other reason to have quotation marks: it is neither a quotation nor foreign term. Here are more.

If the case could be shown to be psychological (or as some transsexuals suggest, 'medical') . . . (p52)

Preferred option of 'corrective' treatment [SRS]. (p53)

It is perhaps a sobering thought that it has proved virtually impossible, for example, to identify a single church that has gone on record with any 'strong condemnation' of transsexual surgery. (p54)

Now the scare quotes are just getting ridiculous. They should visit my church, All Saints, for a good condemnation.

Subpages (1): EV Alliance on Scripture
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