LGBT activists denounce those who disagree with them as “bigots” and “haters.” Indeed, they insist that those who embrace traditional sexual morality refuse to “affirm” people in their true identity. But biblical Christianity has the most loving response to those who struggle with gender dysphoria, and it promises a more genuine hope than any transgender surgery, identity, or acceptance.
“Gender dysphoria” refers to the long-term sense that you were “born in the wrong body.” A man struggles with persistent feelings that he is really a woman, or a woman struggles with persistent feelings that she is really a man. This leads suffering people to embrace an identity opposite their biological sex, making them transgender.
The problem is, no matter what they do, they can never fully reject their birth sex. The genetic code in every single cell of a person’s body determines whether that person is male or female, and it impacts nearly every aspect of physical form. Underwear covers the most obvious parts, but biological sex determines so many different features of the human body: hair growth, wide hips, broad shoulders, even hands are masculine or feminine.
Bruce Jenner, the Olympic athlete and reality television star who recently “came out” as a transgender woman, still has masculine hands. He has undergone hormone treatments, plastic surgery, and even a procedure to have his male sex organs removed — but his hands still reveal the fact that he is a man. It would be nearly impossible for cosmetic surgery to trim the bones, muscles, and sinews to make them resemble those of a woman.
But the tragedy of transgender identity is worse even than this. Many men and women who identify as transgender later reject this identity, but still suffer from the effects of hormones and surgeries.
“I am a real, live 22-year-old woman, with a scarred chest and a broken voice, and five o’clock shadow because I couldn’t face the idea of growing up to be a woman, that’s my reality,” Cari Stella, a YouTube artist who once identified as transgender, painfully admitted in a deeply personal video.
The lie that a person can change their gender has also unleashed other identities, and not just the
51 58 71 genders on Facebook. Deranged men have gotten expensive surgeries to become a “transgender dragon lady” and a genderless “alien.” This is obviously insane, but if Americans accept transgenderism, can they rationally reject it?
Is a movement that encourages such things truly loving?
The Bible’s declaration that God made humans male and female may seem a bit stifling at first (Genesis 1:27). Must each person be one or the other? What about people who are “intersex,” born with both pairs of sex organs? What should Christians tell people who suffer from gender dysphoria?
The Bible does not stop there, however. God made the world good, but Adam and Eve — and every single human after them, except Jesus Christ — disobeyed God. Most people (even Christians) don’t realize how heinous this sin was. In rejecting God, Adam and Eve weren’t just eating too many cookies from the cookie jar. They were rejecting their creator, and the source of the only possible good things for them.
C. S. Lewis argued that when Adam and Eve sinned, “a new species, never made by God, had sinned itself into existence. The change which man had undergone was not parallel to the development of a new organ or a new habit; it was a radical alteration of his constitution, a disturbance of the relation between his component parts, and an internal perversion of one of them.” After the Fall, humans are a “spoiled species.”
This may sound fanciful, but how else can people explain the wicked bent of the human heart? People do not just want to live and let live — they envy, they cheat, they steal, they hate, they launch wars to kill one another. Human history is littered with the ravages of depravity, injustice, and all forms of wickedness. Racism, sexism, slavery, oppression, human sacrifice — these prove something has gone tragically wrong in humanity.
The Bible also teaches that when Adam and Eve sinned, God turned creation against them. Childbirth became painful, and the very dust rebelled against Adam’s touch. These effects of sin help explain all sorts of natural disasters — drought, famine, tornadoes, hurricanes, and even disease.
Mankind is afflicted with two kinds of perversion — a broken heart and a broken body. Jesus Christ came to solve both of these problems. He was anointed “to proclaim good news to the poor…to proclaim liberty to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18-21).
Christians deny transgender identity, but they should never deny gender dysphoria, nor dismiss those who suffer from it. Jesus came to heal the broken, and His followers should extend His love to everyone.
The Bible has three promises that should bring joy and hope to gender dysphoric people.
First, the New Testament promises that those who believe in Jesus will be “born again,” and they will be given new, perfect, spiritual bodies. “So it is with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body” (1 Corthinians 15:42-44).
In his first letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul wrote that “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.” But he told of a “mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this moral body must put on immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:51-53).
Christianity does not just promise eternal life — it promises eternal life in glorious, perfect, heavenly bodies. This passage always moves me, because I think of my own physical frailties — bad teeth, weak vision, short stature — and know that God will fix these things at the resurrection. If this hope can bring joy to a healthy 27-year-old, imagine what this promise means to those suffering with cancer, paralysis, or gender dysphoria.
This is the central promise of Christianity — in Jesus, “Death is swallowed up in victory.” This does not just mean eternal life, it means glorious, incorruptible life in bodies without weakness or ailment. Could there be a more powerful hope for people suffering with gender dysphoria?
But the Bible also makes two more promises to gender dysphoric people who accept Jesus, and this is fundamentally important for all Christians to understand. The Bible promises a radical change in identity, and a community to share joys and sorrows.
LGBT people often feel alone, judged, and unloved. They embrace an identity — lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender — for a sense of purpose, for community, and because they think it’s right. Biblical Christians have to disagree that LGBT identity is right. But the Bible promises both purpose and community to those who accept Jesus.
As for a new identity, the Bible compares accepting Jesus to a new birth. The gospel of John rings with this theme from the very first verses. This new birth gives people power to “become the sons of God,” giving them the Holy Spirit of adoption, by which creatures of flesh and blood call the creator of the universe “Father.” Christians are “heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:15-17).
Elsewhere, St. Paul explains that this identity enables Christians “to answer those who boast about outward appearance and not about what is in the heart” (2 Corinthians 5:13). It is in this context that he explains “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
Christianity promises gender dysphoric people a new identity, a much more hopeful identity than that of a transgender person. This identity is as a child of God, a co-heir to the entire universe, and a person who is not to be judged by appearances.
Finally, the Bible promises community. It is in God’s nature to “set the solitary in families” (Psalm 68:6). God’s will for the church is to be a home for all, to reach out in love, and to welcome fellow believers and bear with one another.
Jesus promised that “there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life” (Mark 10:29-30). Accepting Jesus may separate a gender dysphoric person from the LGBT community, but God promises a larger community on the other side.
Paul tells the Galatians to “bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2). Paul writes to the Corinthians, “God has so composed the [body of Christ, the church,] that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together” (1 Corinthians 12:24-26).
Christians must work to make the church a place of safety, acceptance, and love for those who suffer with gender dysphoria. The church is the family tht Jesus promised, and Christians need to be ready to embrace people who are tempted to identify as LGBT, for whatever reason.
How can transgender identity compare to an identity as the child of the creator of the universe? How can transgender surgery compare with a perfect spiritual body? How can the transgender community, based on a lie, compare to the community of believers in Christ Jesus?
The problem with the LGBT movement labeling Christians “bigots,” “homophobes,” and “haters” isn’t so much that it’s an insult to the Christian community. After all, Jesus promised persecution. The problem with this rhetoric is that it hides the loving, hopeful promise of Christ from those who suffer from gender dysphoria. Like all people, they need the gospel dearly, and Christians need to be able to offer them this love and hope.