In a day of “fake news,” (serious as it may be) it is the under-reporting of serious news that may be more culturally dangerous. Particularly when that news goes against a larger narrative that is being used to promote particular agendas.
Case in point? The transgender debate, which I’ve written on HERE and HERE. The essence of the argument is that there is a difference between gender and sex—the first being completely subjective and largely independent of the latter. As a result, if I were born a male anatomically, but desire to be a woman, then that is my choice. Gender is a cultural appendage that is ours to embrace, dismiss or alter.
So what is being under-reported? The rise of gender reversal surgery. As in transgender persons who have undergone surgery to remove, say, male genitalia who then changed their mind and desire surgery to return to their original state.
It’s called “gender reassignment reversal surgery.” Those seeking it are “united by an acute sense of regret.” This is no small task. In the case of a male, reattaching the male genitalia is a complex procedure taking several operations over the course of a year at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars.
Ironically, those seeking to return to their original state cite the same reasons often touted in mainstream media stories in support of the transgender movement and, specifically, those seeking reassignment surgery. Those wishing to reverse their gender reassignment have spoken about “experiencing crippling levels of depression following their transition and in some cases even contemplated suicide.”
So why aren’t we hearing this side of the story as much as the other?
Recently it was alleged that Bath Spa University turned down an application for research on gender reassignment reversal because it was a subject deemed “potentially politically incorrect.” The university had initially approved the proposal to research “detransitioning” due to the “growing number of young people – particularly young women – who were transitioning their gender and then regretting it.”
When the proposal was referred to the university ethics committee, they “rejected it over fears of criticism that might be directed towards the university. Not least on social media from the powerful transgender lobby.” In other words, instead of having a robust and healthy cultural debate on such matters, “that debate is simply being shut down.”
But it should not be surprising why the “powerful transgender lobby” wouldn’t want this reported, much less researched. An anonymous transgender person revealed to the Guardian earlier this year that “they expressed their regret at transitioning and called for greater emphasis on counseling, with surgery promoted as the very last resort: ‘Had that been the case for me, I might not have transitioned. I was so focused on trying to change my gender, I never stopped to think about what gender meant.’”
Caught up in the cultural maelstrom of sexual fluidity, countless numbers of people are rushing to what they are being told is the answer, only to find themselves more confused and distraught than ever before. Hoping to find sexual sanity by separating gender and sex, they find that they are simply adding to their pain.
And the most obvious reason is that there isn’t meant to be a difference between gender and sex.
To be sure, the Christian community needs to show ever-increasing levels of compassion and concern, help and support, to those who face gender identity issues. There are people truly in pain who need the loving embrace of Christian community and the help of all that can be brought to bear on their gender confusion. But the answer is not in considering gender something fluid and our biological sex something of small concern.
And the answer certainly isn’t found in an operating room.
James Emery White
Joe Shute, “Sex Change Regret: Gender Reversal Surgery Is On the Rise, So Why Aren’t We Talking About It?” The Telegraph, October 1, 2017, read online.
Mark Yarhouse, “Understanding the Transgender Phenomenon,” Christianity Today, June 8, 2015, read online.
About the Author
James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also served as their fourth president. His latest book, Meet Generation Z: Understanding and Reaching the New Post-Christian World, is available on Amazon. To enjoy a free subscription to the Church & Culture blog, visit ChurchAndCulture.org, where you can view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world. Follow Dr. White on twitter @JamesEmeryWhite.