Now that California law protects transgender students, conservatives are pouncing on the opportunity to proudly display their anti-trans positions, and the mainstream media is unfortunately entertaining it. The Washington Post is the latest guilty party, having published a Christian condemnation of trans people from Russell D. Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Moore contends that trans people are “pretending” to change their gender, which he believes is a “rejection of the goodness” of God’s creation. To truly abide by God’s teachings, they must deny their true gender identities:
The transgender question means that conservative Christian congregations such as mine must teach what’s been handed down to us, that our maleness and femaleness points us to an even deeper reality, to the unity and complementarity of Christ and the church. A rejection of the goodness of those creational realities then is a revolt against God’s lordship, and against the picture of the gospel that God had embedded in the creation.
But this also means that we will love and be patient with those who feel alienated from their created identities. We must recognize that some in our churches will face a long road of learning what it means to live as God created them to be, as male or female. That sort of long, slow, plodding and sometimes painful obedience is part of what Jesus said would be true of every believer: the bearing of a cross. That cross-bearing reminds us that God doesn’t receive us because of our own effort but because God reconciled us to himself through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
Our transgendered neighbors will disagree with us, of course, that discipleship means an acceptance of who we are as men and women, and that our selves are not separate from our bodies. We should expect such disagreements. But we believe we can no more surgically alter our gospel than we can surgically alter our gender.
Moore’s rhetoric is no different from that of ex-therapy or calls for gay people to be celibate. His religious beliefs take precedent over medical experts’ understanding of transgender identities, and the “disagreements” he suggests refer to outright rejections of who trans people are. Rather than drawing an understanding of how best to help transgender people from the Bible, he is instead reinforcing his transphobia with a loose interpretation of his own conservative faith. It’s unclear what value the Washington Post sees in promoting such views; transgender people already experience astounding levels of discrimination throughout society. The elevation of condemnations like Moore’s only stifles the progress of transgender equality.