By Jojo Ruba
This is the first of a two part series. For Part 2, see "Loving Our Transgendered Neighbours."
"When I grow up, I'm free to be what I want to be."
That was the message written on a little boy's shirt marching at the local Pride Parade. He didn't look old enough to read the message he was promoting, and whoever made him wear it likely intended it for good. But his innocence contrasted with how his message is now understood. In the past his shirt would have invoked thoughts of him becoming an astronaut or a hockey star or Prime Minister. Today, his shirt at a Pride Parade means he can grow up to sleep with men or women or that he could become a woman himself. And worse, our cultural leaders bully anyone who disagrees.
One of the worst examples of this is in my own province of Alberta. The government here has demanded that all schools in the province, including private schools, Christian schools, and the Catholic schools, which are constitutionally protected, must adopt policies that embrace their view of sexuality. It imposes gay-straight alliance clubs that promote homosexuality as equal to heterosexuality, contradicting the faith taught at these schools, and limits what parents could know about what their children are taught about sex.
Worse, the new guidelines demand that all schools teach that gender identity is merely something a child can choose based on how they feel that day. Gender identity is what gender—male, female or even other—a person chooses to be. That "gender identity" has nothing to do with the biological sex of a person but how that person feels "inside." Based on that gender identity, then, the government has mandated that schools accommodate that child's feelings. Bathrooms, sports teams and any other gender-based activities can no longer be limited to those who are biologically male or female but must accommodate those who feel male or female as well.
If this appears odd to you, just wait. Legislation like this is appearing all over North America, and the Canadian government already indicated that plans are in place to make this kind of legislation national.
It's not About the Bathrooms
Publicly-funded journalist Neil Macdonald mocks those opposed to these kinds of changes, particularly conservative Christians. He accuses us of being obsessed with bathrooms and those who use them. His argument boils down to how Christians have inflated the problems caused by people using the washroom of their choice, and how we severely limit the rights of others, particularly LGBT people, to live as they wish—to be whatever they want to be.
He ignores the fact, of course, that Christians never wanted to talk about public washrooms. The debate over bathrooms started as transgendered activists fought to be recognized as a minority group who are deserving of legal protections and rights. They are the ones imposing their morals, including their definition of "minority" rights, on others. Equality, for them, means they should be able to do and be whatever they feel like. He also ignores legitimate concerns by parents, rape victims and others that badly written laws simply declaring someone transgendered based on how they feel can be abused. A recent example at the University of Toronto, where men recorded women showering in non-gendered bathrooms, is a good example of the kinds of incidents we should be concerned about. The university quickly reversed their policy.
How Do We Determine Reality?
Though we should share the concerns that this kind of legislation will be abused and that the safety of the most vulnerable is threatened, the biggest problem with this kind of legislation is what it teaches about how we view reality. The underlying assumption made by the legislation is that gender is merely a social construct, something society determines arbitrarily. In some cultures, for example, men cook while in other cultures men are discouraged from cooking. Because these practices are arbitrary, we can choose to act in whatever way we wish and define our sexual identity in whatever way we wish.
What this ignores is that despite the differences in each culture about how they view gender, all cultures still have a gender binary of male and female. They have to! They must acknowledge the basic biological differences that exist between men and women, right down to our DNA. Men have different personality traits, strengths and weaknesses than women, and vice versa. Men have more muscle tone while women have more acute senses, like the sense of smell. And though some cultures view one gender as more important than the other, each culture provides space for our biological sexual identity because they recognize that each is necessary to produce a healthy culture. Remember, gender may be socially constructed, but that does not mean our biology is.
Transgendered activists implicitly agree when they make their arguments. When they insist that gender is a social construct and a child can identify as whatever gender they choose, they are still trying to justify that child acting and dressing like the other gender! In other words, they are still reinforcing our culture's gender identity of what boys and girls do by saying we can choose between the two. Transgenderism then doesn't get rid of gender identity, but merely encourages children and adults to think that reality doesn't define gender identity.
This kind of thinking is already wreaking havoc in some lives. One Christian student asked what he should do to help a friend who was very confused. He said a classmate told him that every morning before coming to school, he would decide what gender he would feel that day and dress and act accordingly. In Ontario, a 46-year-old man abandoned his wife and seven children so that he could live as a six-year-old girl. Heartbreaking letters from his children are available online. Even some members of the LGBT community felt uncomfortable with this decision.
But this man's decision is indicative of what happens when feelings determine reality rather than facts. The only reason why this man is acting like a six-year-old is because he feels like one. There is no biological or scientific evidence that this feeling is anything other than psychological. What's of course interesting is to see how those who advocate for transgender rights could also tell this man that he shouldn't act like a six-year-old. If feelings truly determine our reality, then his need to feel like a six-year-old should be just as celebrated. If not, where do we then stop? Why should we treat as mentally ill the woman who thinks she's a cat or the man who has sex with a car or the man married to a doll who considers himself "technosexual"?
And it won't stop there. If reality is determined by how we feel, every human whim and desire will then determine reality. It reminds me of what God saw when He looked down at Israel during the time of the Judges, where everyone did "what was right in their own eyes" (Judges 21:25).
That's why this issue is such an important Christian apologetics issue too. If we can determine reality by how we feel, than we won't be able to function properly in reality, either physically or spiritually.
First, if our feelings determine reality, we never have to accept ourselves for who we are. In the recent past, in fact, the message we passed on to youth was that they should accept themselves for who they are because there is nothing wrong with being a male or female. This also teaches them that we can't always do what we feel like because often feelings lie or are inaccurate. Especially during childhood, feelings can change constantly, and they need to be assured that those feelings don't change their masculinity or femininity.
Moreover, we treat people with bulimia or anorexia as having a disorder because their perceptions of their bodies doesn't match what their bodies actually look like. If a child thinks they are fat when they are not, doctors don't attempt to change the body to "fix" the child's perception. They fix the real problem, the child's perception of her body! If that's the obvious treatment for times when we have a false perception about weight, than why not for a false perception of our gender?
In fact, treatment for transgender feelings works! Margaret Wente, a Globe and Mail columnist who is not a conservative Christian, recently featured the work of a doctor in Toronto who helps youth deal with gender dysphoria. Dr. Ken Zucker has a high success rate in helping children accept their biological sex and gender, most of whom live happy lives after their treatment.
Secondly, if we can create our own reality, than we don't have to live in God's reality. The world that He made, including the bodies we inhabit, are merely constructs in our mind and we can do whatever we want with them. Scripture is full of stories of what happens when we choose to live in a different reality than God's reality.
So how should Christians respond to this issue of determining reality and to the practical issue of what to do with a sexually confused child? I'll give three tips in my next post on what we must do to help others see their need to embrace reality.
This is the first of a two part series. For Part 2, see "Loving Our Transgendered Neighbours."
 "10 Things That Every Parent Should Know About the New Gender Guidelines and Bill 10," Parents for Choice in Education, accessed April 25, 2016, http://parentchoice.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Bill-10-Guidelines-Fact-Sheet.pdf.
 Neil Macdonald, "Looking to Reframe LGBT Fight, U.S. Conservatives Head to the Bathroom," CBC News, April 20, 2016, accessed April 25, 2016, http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/north-carolina-transgender-1.3543439.
 Jessica Chin, "University of Toronto Gender-Neutral Bathrooms Reduced After Voyeurism Reports," Huffington Post Canada, updated October 7, 2015, accessed April 25, 2016, http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2015/10/06/u-of-t-bathrooms-voyeurism_n_8253970.html.
 "Sex Differences in Humans," Wikipedia, updated April 11, 2016, accessed April 25, 2016, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sex_differences_in_humans.
 Emily James, "'Canadian Man Leaves Family To Be Transgender Six-Year-Old Girl Stephonknee Wolscht," Daily Mail Online, December 11, 2015, accessed April 25, 2016, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-3356084/I-ve-gone-child-Husband-father-seven-52-leaves-wife-kids-live-transgender-SIX-YEAR-OLD-girl-named-Stefonknee.html.
 "46-Year-Old Trans Woman Starts New Life as a 6-Year-Old Girl," Queerty, December 11, 2015, accessed April 25, 2016, http://www.queerty.com/46-year-old-trans-woman-starts-new-life-as-a-6-year-old-girl-20151211. See the comments section of this article.
 Siofra Brennan, "Norway Woman Says She's a Cat Trapped in a Human Body," Daily Mail Online, January 27, 2016, accessed April 25, 2016, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-3419631/Woman-][http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-3419631/Woman-says-s-CAT-trapped-human-body.html says-s-CAT-trapped-human-body.html.
 Rob Leigh, "Man Who Has Had Sex with Over 700 Cars Reveals First Physical Loving Experience with a Volkswagen Beetle," Mirror Online, October 14, 2014, accessed April 25, 2016, http://www.mirror.co.uk/tv/tv-news/man-who-sex-over-700-4435804.
 Julie Beck, "Married to a Doll: Why One Man Advocates Synthetic Love," The Atlantic, September 6, 2013, accessed April 25, 2016, http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/09/married-to-a-doll-why-one-man-advocates-synthetic-love/279361/.
 Margaret Wente, "Transgender Kids: Have We Gone Too Far?" The Globe and Mail, February 15, 2014, accessed April 25, 2016, http://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/transgender-kids-have-we-gone-too-far/article16897043/; Wente, "Kids Pay the Price of Transgender Politics," The Globe and Mail, January 19, 2016, accessed April 25, 2016, http://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/kids-pay-the-price-of-transgender-politics/article28250068/.