FIRST-PERSON: SBC's wisdom & gender reassignment
DALLAS (BP) -- Southern Baptists passed a resolution June 10 opposing the administration's efforts to "validate transgender identity as morally praiseworthy." Messengers at the annual meeting affirmed what the resolution describes as "God's good design that gender identity is determined by one's biological sex and not by one's self-perception."
The SBC resolution upholds the creation of "two distinct and complementary sexes" while opposing such procedures as gender reassignment surgery and cross-sex hormone therapies.
Just days earlier, the latest push to elevate transgenderism as some sort of civil right came in a May 30 ruling within the Department of Health and Human Services allowing Medicare to pay for so-called gender reassignment surgery. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, also in May, stated he is "open" to lifting the ban on transgender military service, including taxpayer-funded sex change operations for those who serve.
In a June 12 op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, Paul McHugh of Johns Hopkins Hospital who holds the title of university distinguished service professor of psychiatry, argued that "policy makers and the media are doing no favors either to the public or to the transgendered by treating their confusions as a right in need of defending rather than as a mental disorder that deserves understanding, treatment, and prevention."
McHugh, who was psychiatrist-in-chief at Johns Hopkins from 1975-2001, noted that "the idea of sex misalignment is simply mistaken -- it does not correspond with physical reality" and it "can lead to grim psychological outcomes."
McHugh recounted that Johns Hopkins -- the first U.S. medical center to do sex-change surgery in the 1960s -- conducted a study during the 1970s of patients who had undergone the procedure there. Most were satisfied with the immediate results, but McHugh noted that "their subsequent psycho-social adjustments were no better than those who didn't have the surgery." The hospital discontinued the surgery.
In 2011, McHugh noted, a long-term Swedish study revealed that, beginning about 10 years after gender reassignment surgery, mental difficulties ensue. Transgendered people who have had this surgery are 20 times more likely to die from suicide than the non-transgendered.
"People who undergo sex-reassignment surgery do not change from men to women or visa versa," McHugh wrote. "Rather, they become feminized men or masculinized women." Transgender surgery solves nothing. In fact, in Dr. McHugh's view, it collaborates with and promotes a mental disorder.
Gender confusion has always been with us. McHugh cited studies by Vanderbilt University and London's Portman Clinic that tracked children who reported such confusion and found that 70 to 80 percent of them later lost those feelings. There are strategies and therapies for those whose transgendered feelings persist; increasingly, however, our culture frowns on parental or professional attempts to encourage young people away from these proclivities.
The Bible affirms God's creation of male and female and that both are created in God's image. Biological gender cannot be reassigned; rendering "sex change" is biologically impossible. Studies demonstrate that attempts to do so promote mental and psychological confusion.
Southern Baptists, in their resolution, are correct to "extend love and compassion to those whose sexual self-understanding is shaped by a distressing conflict between their biological sex and their gender identity" and to "invite all transgender persons to trust in Christ and to experience renewal in the Gospel."
Penna Dexter is a regular panelist and frequent guest host of Point of View, a nationally syndicated issues-oriented talk radio program. Her weekly radio commentaries air on the Moody Broadcasting Network and Bott Radio Network. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).