Category archives: Human Sexuality

Those with Gender Dysphoria Can Find Healing

by Peter Sprigg

July 12, 2017

Last month, it was my privilege to attend the annual conference of the Restored Hope Network (RHN) in San Diego. The Restored Hope Network is the nation’s largest umbrella organization for Christian organizations engaged in “transformational ministry” with those who suffer from unwanted same-sex attractions (SSA). (It is often seen as a successor to Exodus International, an organization that shut down in 2013 after its leadership abandoned its original message that change is possible for those with unwanted SSA.)

LGBT activists in the San Diego area organized protests against the conference (although they did not turn out anything close to the 1,000 protesters they promised). Ironically, the protests had some positive effect—at least one person struggling with unwanted SSA who attended the conference said he would never have known about it if not for the publicity about the protests.

I was struck, however, by the sharp disconnect between what the protesters assumed was actually happening in the conference and what was actually happening there. As just one example, critics of “sexual orientation change efforts” (SOCE)—which they (not its practitioners) refer to as “conversion therapy”—often charge that such programs damage participants by instilling “shame” in them. The truth is the exact opposite—participants come into SOCE with shame, and a key goal of the counselling is to overcome and remove that sense of shame.

One thing striking about this year’s conference was the increased emphasis on issues of gender identity as well as sexual orientation—a clear reflection of the growing prominence of the transgender issue just in the two years since I last attended an RHN conference. Since RHN is an explicitly Christian organization, the twin issues of homosexuality and gender dysphoria (dissatisfaction with one’s biological sex) were both addressed by several speakers in the theological context of the “image of God,” as expressed in Genesis 1:27:

And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female he created them.

In other words, our maleness or femaleness, and the complementarity of the two, is part of the “image of God” with which each of us is created by God. Linda Seiler, who struggled with gender identity issues growing up, said this means that “gender is sacred” and that “rejecting one’s God-given sex is rebelling against the Creator.” Speaker Nate Oyloe applied the concept to marriage, saying, “Divorce is the image of God, masculine and feminine, being torn apart.” Another speaker, who formerly lived a lesbian lifestyle and is now living a life of chastity, gave a personal testimony in which she declared, “I was born with a sinful and rebellious nature, but I was reborn in the imago dei (image of God).”

The highlight of the conference for me was seeing the world premiere of a new documentary film called TranZformed: Finding Peace with Your God-Given Gender. While the movement that believes sexual orientation change is possible has been around for decades, and numerous testimonies of those who have experienced change have long been available, until now only a few people have publicly come out as “ex-transgender” (the most prominent being Walt Heyer—see his website).

TranZformed, however, features the dramatic testimonies of 15 ex-transgender individuals who “bear witness to what Jesus Christ can do for those who struggle with gender dysphoria.” The film, which is over an hour long, was very professionally produced by Pure Passion Media, a ministry dedicated to “equipping the church to redemptively minister to those who are trapped in sexual sin and brokenness” (a focus which definitely includes heterosexual sin and brokenness, such as pornography addiction). In fact, two of the testimonies included in TranZformed are available on the Pure Passion website.

However, the DVD of the entire documentary is available for order at the TranZformed website. I highly recommend it for the dramatic personal insight it gives into the transgender issue.

School Board Rigs System for Transgender Win

by Cathy Ruse

June 30, 2017

The Chairman of the Prince William County School Board didn’t want to leave anything to chance last week when he pushed for the passage of transgender norms in public schools.

Apparently, he stacked the deck before the vote, front-loading citizen speakers in favor of his position, and relegating those opposed to the end of the line, after the vote. 

The transgender policy passed 5-3.

Delegate Bob Marshall (R-13) obtained text messages (below) from Prince William School Board Chair Ryan Sawyers via FOIA request showing that Sawyers hand-picked speakers who favored imposing a new transgender policy in Prince William Schools to speak prior to the School Board vote on that issue at their June 21st meeting.

A Legislative Services attorney advised Marshall that the Prince William School Board’s own regulations (133-1) in sections B and E, provide that persons are to speak in the order in which they have put in their requests to speak. 

Not only did Chairman Sawyers fail to follow the rules, he trampled on the First Amendment rights of Prince William county residents according to attorney Caleb Dalton.

If the transgender agenda is so appealing, why do you need to rig a meeting to get it passed?

Taxpayers and parents in Prince William County deserve better than this.

Taxpayer-Funded Transgender Tutorial for Schoolchildren Tanked

by Cathy Ruse

June 29, 2017

The Fairfax County School System will not get to have a taxpayer-funded transgender “panel discussion” after all.

Last week, Fairfax County Schools announced the “Coming Out and Coming Around” event to be held in July: “Join us for an LGBTQ panel discussion.  Parents, counselors and LGBTQ adolescents will share experiences and answer your questions. Browse LGBTQ resources in the Parent Resource Center library.”

This did not sit well with Fairfax County property owners, who send most of their property taxes every year to the Fairfax County School Board. Aren’t “panel discussions” supposed to be fair and balanced, especially if they are funded by taxpayers with a broad range of views?

Fairfax families pushed back, and the bureaucrats buckled.

One savvy mom called and peppered a counselor with questions:

Are you representing both sides on this panel? “We have no sides.”

Oh really, well, will there be anyone on the panel discussing negative consequences to children from transitioning? Or that it might not be in the best interest for a child to transition?  In so many words, “No.”

Anybody on the panel that does not advocate children transitioning? In so many words, “No.”

Since this is an academic setting, have you considered including diversity of thought on this? Diverse perspectives from medicine, science? Ever heard of Dr. Paul McHugh? No. No. And No.

This tax-funded “panel” has been officially “postponed” until the fall.

It’s a small victory in the fight against political indoctrination of public school children.

Testimony in Opposition to H. 1190 and S. 62

by Peter Sprigg

June 7, 2017

Regarding practices to change sexual orientation and gender identity in minors

Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities
The General Court [Legislature] of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Boston, Massachusetts
June 6, 2017 

By Peter Sprigg
Senior Fellow for Policy Studies
Family Research Council
Washington, D.C.

My name is Peter Sprigg, and I represent the Family Research Council from Washington, D.C.

However, I am a former 14-year resident of Massachusetts.

It is reasonable for a legislative body to have concern about the safety and effectiveness of medical and psychological interventions for physical and emotional conditions.

For example, I have recently learned of a treatment for a widespread condition. I was surprised to read that this treatment is more effective than no treatment at all in only 20 percent of those experiencing the condition.

It was also troubling to learn that relapses are common with this condition—and the treatment under study was more effective than no intervention in preventing relapses in only 27 percent of those experiencing the condition.

And perhaps most troubling of all was to read “that teenagers consider suicide more often when [undergoing this treatment] … and also actually attempt to take their own lives more often.”

However, I am not aware that Massachusetts—or any other state—has taken steps to outlaw this treatment, despite its limited effectiveness and potential harms.

That’s because the condition I am talking about is not unwanted same-sex attractions, and the treatment is not sexual reorientation therapy (commonly, but inaccurately, referred to as “conversion therapy”).

Instead, the condition I was referring to is—depression. The treatment I was referring to is—antidepressant drugs. And the source of the information I have just shared with you is the National Institutes of Health.

I raise this comparison as a way of pointing out that the arguments used against sexual reorientation therapy and in favor of restrictions upon it—such as this bill—often hold such therapy to a standard which is wholly unrealistic for any medical or psychological care.

Is it possible to find people who will say that they underwent sexual reorientation therapy and found it ineffective? Of course—the same is true of any other treatment, especially for psychological conditions. However, there are also many people who have testified that such therapy was effective for them.

Is it possible to find people who will even say that they underwent such therapy and considered themselves to be in a worse condition after than before? Of course—but this, too, will be true of any psychological condition and any therapy. However, it is also possible to find people who underwent sexual reorientation therapy and felt that they were better off afterwards—even if the therapy was not effective in changing their sexual orientation.

Holding sexual reorientation therapy to a standard of 100 percent effectiveness together with zero risk is so unreasonable as to be irrational.

Therefore, I hope it is clear to everyone in this body that the purpose of this bill is not to protect anyone’s physical or psychological health. The real purpose is to impose an ideology, and outlaw a desire—the desire that some individuals, including some minors, unquestionably have to overcome unwanted same-sex attractions and abstain from same-sex sexual relationships.

That is not the business of this legislature.

Questions Abound Regarding Air Force Academy Commandant Nominee

by Peter Sprigg

May 8, 2017

A mere five years ago, Air Force officer Kristin Goodwin could have been discharged from the military for engaging in a homosexual relationship or a same-sex marriage.

Yet last month, it was announced that Col. Goodwin has been nominated for promotion to brigadier general—and to be the next commandant of cadets at the U. S. Air Force Academy. Goodwin is a 1993 Academy graduate who openly identifies as homosexual and will be moving to Colorado Springs with her same-sex spouse and two children they are raising together. Her promotion and appointment, however, must be confirmed by the Senate.

When the news broke publicly in the Colorado Springs Independent, Mikey Weinstein, founder of the ironically titled “Military Religious Freedom Foundation,” could hardly contain his glee that “the Air Force has chosen a gay female officer to be its next USAFA Commandant!” However, Weinstein also groused, “Should not USAFA and Senior Air Force leadership be touting this action as an historic milestone of jovian magnitude as well?”

Christians, however, may have legitimate concerns about what Goodwin’s appointment will mean for the future of religious liberty at the Academy. Since the repeal of the 1993 law against homosexuality in the military, the Air Force has seen incidents in which airmen have been punished for espousing the biblical view of human sexuality and marriage. Senior Master Sergeant Phillip Monk was relieved of duty by a commander who identifies as homosexual at Lackland Air Force Base for defending marriage as the union of one man and one woman (although after the intervention of pro-family groups, he received a commendation instead).

At the Air Force Academy itself, a cadet was recently ordered to erase a Bible verse written on a whiteboard that was provided to cadets in their dorms to write personal messages. Although Weinstein insisted that the words of the New Testament created a “hostile environment” for non-Christians, the flap merely encouraged more cadets to exercise their freedom of speech and religion by posting Bible verses on the whiteboards, and brought members of Congress down on the Academy for engaging in “viewpoint discrimination.” Can we expect more such discrimination under Goodwin’s leadership?

A few days after her appointment, however, the website God and Country (devoted to “Military Religious Freedom and Christian Service”) raised a different question:

BGen(S) Kristin Goodwin, soon to be the newest Commandant of Cadets at the US Air Force Academy, commissioned into the Air Force with the Academy Class of 1993.

The policy known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was instated in February of 1994. Anyone who entered the military prior to that date answered a question about homosexuality during the enlistment process. Those who answered in the affirmative were refused enlistment.

How was Col Goodwin — an open homosexual — able to enter the Air Force?

The author acknowledges that many may see this as a non-issue in the post-DADT military. But he does raise a question unique to Goodwin serving as commandant of cadets at the Academy—namely, the Academy’s honor code.

The code declares, “We will not lie, steal, or cheat, nor tolerate among us anyone who does.” God and Country notes that “cadets practically venerate the Honor Code (in spirit, if not in deed).”

The article speculates, “No doubt someone will work a hypothetical story into an early Philosophy class”:

It could make for a fascinating thought experiment.

Is it “wrong” to lie to enter the US military — or the Air Force, whose first core value is “integrity”?  Is it wrong to “live a lie” as a cadet under the Honor Code?

What if you eventually become a leader, a General, or the Commandant of Cadets — now charged with enforcing that standard of integrity and honor?

This was too much for Mikey Weinstein. He filed a 14-page complaint with the Air Force Inspector General, charging the Air Force officer he believes to be responsible for the God and Country website with several violations, such as “Disrespect Toward a Superior Commissioned Officer” and “Conduct Unbecoming an Officer and Gentleman.” (The author did not seem alarmed—noting that this is the 9th time Weinstein has filed such a complaint, to no effect.)

If anything, however, the God and Country post may have understated the concerns raised by Goodwin’s appointment to a position enforcing the Academy’s Honor Code.

That’s because the author seems to have fallen prey to the nearly universal misunderstanding of the difference between the 1993 law enacted by Congress and the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy proposed by President Bill Clinton.

During his 1992 presidential campaign, Bill Clinton had stated his intention to lift the long-standing ban on military service of those who identify as homosexual. Within days of his inauguration in January 1993, he announced moves to make good on that promise.

This triggered a firestorm of criticism, both from Congress and within the military. By the time his six-month deadline for drafting an executive order arrived, it was clear that Congress would not tolerate a complete removal of the policy against homosexuality.

So in July 1993, President Clinton proposed a compromise policy colloquially referred to as “don’t ask don’t tell.” As usually described by the media, “DADT” meant that the military would no longer inquire about the sexual orientation of service members (“don’t ask”), and therefore people with same-sex attractions could serve as long as they did not publicly identify themselves as homosexual (“don’t tell”).

However, Congress did not simply accept President Clinton’s proposed compromise. Instead, they continued to debate the issue, and ultimately enacted a statutory “Policy concerning homosexuality in the armed forces,” 10 U.S.C 654, as part of the National Defense Authorization Act. President Clinton signed this into law on November 30, 1993.

The new law (which Elaine Donnelly of the Center for Military Readiness retroactively dubbed the “Military Personnel Eligibility Act of 1993”) did not reflect the relatively laissez-faire attitude toward homosexuality that is usually associated with “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.” Instead, it explicitly restated the principles behind the existing policy of exclusion, declaring:

The prohibition against homosexual conduct is a longstanding element of military law that continues to be necessary in the unique circumstances of military service.”

and

The presence in the armed forces of persons who demonstrate a propensity or intent to engage in homosexual acts would create an unacceptable risk to the high standards of morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion that are the essence of military capability.”

The law also declared flatly that “A member of the armed forces shall be separated from the armed forces” [emphasis added] if it was found:

(1) That the member has engaged in, attempted to engage in, or solicited another to engage in a homosexual act or acts . . .

(2) That the member has stated that he or she is a homosexual or bisexual, or words to that effect . . .

(3) That the member has married or attempted to marry a person known to be of the same biological sex.

However, Department of Defense regulations announced in December 1993 and codified in February 1994 bore more resemblance to the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy proposed in July than they did to the actual law enacted by Congress and signed by the president in November.

For example, the regulations stated, “Sexual orientation is considered a personal and private matter, and homosexual orientation is not a bar to service entry or continued service unless manifested by homosexual conduct.” The law, however, says that “persons who demonstrate a propensity or intent to engage in homosexual acts would create an unacceptable risk.”

Note that “sexual orientation” is an umbrella term that, depending on the context, can refer to any one, or a combination, of three separate things—a person’s sexual attractions, their sexual conduct, and their self-identification.

By the time the 1993 law was repealed in December 2010 (and the repeal took effect in September 2011), the popular concept of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” had evolved to where people thought “you can be gay in the military”—in both attractions and behavior—as long as you were not “out of the closet” with your self-identification.

However, in 1993, the proposed DADT “compromise” allowed a focus on both self-identification and conduct. For example, a July 1993 newspaper article described it this way:

Conduct is the key. Even people who have admitted being gay have a chance, under the language of the policy, to stay in the military if they can prove they are celibate, have always been celibate and will remain celibate.

The actual law enacted by Congress, however, made clear that all three elements of a “homosexual orientation”—attractions, conduct, and self-identification—remained problematic for the military. The statement, “The presence in the armed forces of persons who demonstrate a propensity [emphasis added] or intent to engage in homosexual acts would create an unacceptable risk,” addresses sexual attractions. And both the conduct (“the member has engaged in … a homosexual act”) and the self-identification (“the member has stated that he or she is a homosexual”) remained grounds for separation from military service. This was the state of the law until September 2011.

In light of this, it should be clear that the issue involving Goodwin’s integrity is not just limited to how she may or may not have answered a question in 1993 or 1994. Whether she complied with federal law regarding eligibility for military service relates to both her sexual conduct and her sexual attractions at any point up until September 2011.

To be specific—if anyone at any point during Goodwin’s accession into the military and the repeal of the 1993 law in 2011, engaged in a homosexual act, they would have been in violation of the law (both the 1993 law and possibly the law against sodomy in the Uniform Code of Military Justice) and subject to separation from the military. If, during that time, a person experienced same-sex sexual attractions, it could be interpreted as “a propensity … to engage in homosexual acts.”

In my research on Goodwin’s career, I have not found any published evidence that she violated the law. Weinstein, citing a source he says spoke with Goodwin, declared in his complaint that Goodwin “relates that she did not become aware of her sexual orientation until well after DADT went into effect.”

However, there is nothing to prevent members of the Senate from raising these questions, as well as questions about her commitment to freedom of speech and religion for cadets. They may be crucial to determining whether she is suitable for promotion, or fit to command the Air Force Academy—and, as God and Country pointed out, to oversee its honor code.

Joseph Nicolosi, Father of “Reparative Therapy” for Homosexuality, Dies Suddenly

by Peter Sprigg

March 10, 2017

I was shocked and saddened to learn of the sudden death, on March 9, of Dr. Joseph Nicolosi. His passing came after a brief illness and hospitalization.

Dr. Nicolosi was one of the most important leaders—historically, and right up until his death—of the “ex-gay therapy” movement (more on terminology in a moment).

Joseph Nicolosi was one of the founders of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), which was later re-named the Alliance for Therapeutic Choice and Scientific Integrity.

He was also the father of “reparative therapy” for men—a particular branch of the larger movement to provide assistance in seeking change to those who experience unwanted same-sex attractions.

There is a great deal of confusion about the terminology used regarding this subject. LGBT activists who are critics of “sexual orientation change efforts,” or “SOCE” have begun referring to such efforts as “conversion therapy”—even though virtually no practitioner of such therapy refers to it that way. Nevertheless, the media have followed in lock-step behind the activist critics in using that term.

Sexual orientation change efforts” (SOCE) is a broad and legitimate term that can encompass both therapy conducted by licensed therapists and counseling provided by religious or pastoral counselors who seek to help clients with the same goal—that of overcoming same-sex attractions and/or resisting the temptation to engage in homosexual conduct.

Among licensed therapists, the term “sexual reorientation therapy” is preferred—although recently, the Alliance for Therapeutic Choice and Scientific Integrity has coined the term “Sexual Attraction Fluidity Exploration in Therapy,” or “SAFE-T,” to better describe what actually happens in such efforts.

Regardless of the terminology, what distinguishes sexual reorientation therapy or SAFE-T is not a particular therapeutic technique, but rather the goal that the client is pursuing. A range of different psychological or therapeutic techniques can be used toward that goal.

For a period of time, after Dr. Nicolosi first came to prominence in the 1990’s, the term “reparative therapy” was widely used in the media to describe all SOCE. However, properly speaking, “reparative therapy” refers only to the particular technique in which Dr. Nicolosi specialized.

Even when the term “reparative therapy” is being correctly used to refer to a specific psychotherapy technique, it is easily misunderstood. Most assume that the premise of such therapy is that homosexuality itself is a form of “brokenness,” and the task of the therapist is to “repair” the homosexual person.

This is not, however, how Dr. Nicolosi used the term “reparative therapy.” I highly recommend his brief (about 2,000 words) essay, “What Is Reparative Therapy? Examining the Controversy,” which is available online.

In brief, Dr. Nicolosi’s working theory was that homosexuality itself is a “reparative” drive—an effort to “repair” some other, underlying trauma. In his own words:

 … [H]omosexual behavior may be an unconscious attempt to “self-repair” feelings of masculine inferiority and … such feelings represent an attempt to meet normal, healthy, masculine emotional needs.

 . . .

Reparative therapy views most same-sex attractions as reparations for childhood trauma. Such trauma may be explicit, such as sexual or emotional abuse, or implicit in the form of negative parental messages regarding one’s self and gender. Exploring, isolating and resolving these childhood emotional wounds will often result in reducing unwanted same-sex attractions.

Dr. Nicolosi was the author of several books, including a guide to “reparative therapy” for clinicians (Reparative Therapy of Male Homosexuality: A New Clinical Approach, Jason Aronson Inc., 1991), and an important work for a more general audience (A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Homosexuality, with his wife Linda Ames Nicolosi; InterVarsity Press, 2002).

The Joe Nicolosi I knew was compassionate toward his clients, persuasive and intellectually rigorous in his writing and speaking, and gregarious and entertaining in personal relationships. I will miss him personally, as will all who knew him and the movement he helped found.

However, he leaves behind a tremendous legacy in defense of the right of those with unwanted same-sex attractions to seek their own path in life.

On School Bathrooms and Bullying

by Daniel Hart

February 27, 2017

In a White House press conference last Thursday, a reporter stated that “82 percent of transgender children report feeling unsafe at school.” She then asserted that by rolling back Obama’s May 2016 school transgender bathroom guidance, the Trump administration was leaving transgender children “open to being bullied at school.” She followed this up by saying: “Transgender children say that their experiences [of] not being able to use the bathroom that they feel comfortable using makes them vulnerable to bullying.”

Just to be clear: It is tragic to know that such a high percentage of students who identify as transgendered feel unsafe at school. It goes without saying that bullying must be fought by any and every reasonable means at educators’ disposal. Anti-bullying policies and laws that are currently in place in all 50 states play an important part in this. But even more important is the education of children at home, where parents need to instill in their kids Christ’s golden rule from Matthew 7:12: “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them.” This underscores the Christian principle that every human being, no matter what sexual identity they present, is a precious creation of God that deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.

With that being said, do single-sex bathroom policies contribute to an “unsafe” environment for students who identify as transgendered, as the reporter asserts? The Obama administration’s solution to this perceived problem was to require schools to implement the following policy for restrooms and locker rooms: “A school may provide separate facilities on the basis of sex, but must allow transgender students access to such facilities consistent with their gender identity.”

It remains unclear how this policy would have achieved its goal of mitigating bullying. For example, if a biological male who identifies as a female felt uncomfortable going into the boy’s restroom because of the potential bullying he would receive from other boys, how could he reasonably expect to feel safer if he were instead to go into the girl’s restroom? In the latter situation, the girls already in the restroom may feel (at the very least) uncomfortable or possibly threatened, which would lead to a less safe situation for everyone involved. How is this in any way a desirable outcome?

A common-sense solution to this situation is for schools to provide a third gender-neutral bathroom option. This solution is endorsed by the National Association of School Psychologists in a study entitled “Safe School Environments for Transgender Students.” In the study, students at a school near Chicago who identified as transgendered gave positive feedback on gender-neutral facilities: “Students revealed that having more gender-neutral facilities eliminated tardiness and having to go to an opposite area of the building to use the bathroom during classes. Students also said that the private locker room felt safer than having to share it with nontransgender students…”

To be clear, all schools were free to implement the bathroom policies that they deemed appropriate for the needs of their students, including gender-neutral options, before the Obama bathroom directive was handed down last year. There was never a need for this kind of “top-down” approach that infringes on the effectiveness of solving problems at the local level. By rolling back this misguided policy, the Trump administration is leaving states and school districts free to craft the policies that best protect their particular students’ needs.

Don’t Be Misled By National Geographic and Katie Couric: Three Things to Know About “Gender Identity”

by Peter Sprigg

February 16, 2017

National Geographic—both the magazine and the cable TV channel—have taken the plunge into the warm, politically correct waters of “gender identity.”

First, the January 2017 issue of the magazine featured a set of cover stories on “The Shifting Landscape of Gender,” also dubbed the “Gender Revolution.” News of this “Special Issue” broke with the announcement that the cover model would be a child who identifies as “transgender”—a nine-year-old boy who claims to be a girl. It turns out, though, that the cover with the boy in pink was only for the “subscriber’s edition” of the magazine. Perhaps they realized that this image would not sell well at the newsstand. For that market, the cover featured a posed assortment of young people in trendy clothing styles, identified (in small print) as everything from “male” to “androgynous” to “bi-gender.”

Then this month, a new special premiered on the National Geographic Channel: “Gender Revolution: A Journey with Katie Couric.” Full disclosure—I have watched most, but not all, of it. However, I have watched all of the video clips on the website for the show, and read most of the articles in the print edition of the magazine.

Here are three key facts to help the viewer or reader avoid being confused by National Geographic’s take on this “revolution.”

1)      “Transgender” has nothing to do with “intersex.”

This is actually made clear in a glossary found in the magazine. Adapted from a publication called The Teaching Transgender Toolkit by Eli R. Green of Widener University and Luca Maurer of Ithaca College, the glossary features this definition of “Intersex”:

A category that describes a person with a disorder of sexual development (DSD), a reproductive, genetic, genital, or hormonal configuration that results in a body that often can’t be easily categorized as male or female. Intersex is frequently confused with transgender, but the two are completely distinct [emphasis added]. A more familiar term, hermaphrodite, is considered outdated and offensive.

This fact could not be any clearer. Yet often, people speaking in defense of the transgender movement will say something like, “Well, some people are born with ambiguous genitalia,” in an effort to persuade the listener that some people are “born” transgender—but “the two are completely distinct.” Couric falls prey to this in the NatGeo special, devoting nearly the entire first half hour (of a two-hour special) to the subject of “intersex” individuals—and then moving seamlessly into a discussion of transgender persons without clearly explaining that “the two are completely distinct.” Writer Robin Marantz Henig makes a similar error in the magazine’s article on “Rethinking Gender.”

The fact is, the vast majority of “transgender” people—people who psychologically do not wish to identify with their biological sex at birth—are not “intersex.” Their biological sex characteristics are 100% normal and of only one sex—their “gender dysphoria” is entirely a psychological condition, not a biological one.

2)      Left to themselves, most children with gender non-conforming feelings and behavior will not grow up to be “transgender” adults.

The cultural trendiness of the transgender movement is leading increasing numbers of people to assume that if a boy declares at age 3, 4, or 5 that he wants to be a girl, he must “really” have a female gender identity and should immediately be given a new name, a new wardrobe, and new mandate that all teachers and peers must address him by feminine pronouns.

To suggest that gender non-conforming children are “going through a phase” is now considered offensive—yet many of them are in fact going through a phase. The magazine’s article on “Rethinking Gender” cites a 17-year-old biological female now called “Charlie” who

went through a process of trial and error similar to that described by other gender-questioning teens. First he [sic] tried “butch lesbian,” then “genderfluid,” before settling on his [sic] current identity, “nonbinary trans guy.”

In addition to this anecdote, the magazine includes “guidance” from the American Academy of Pediatrics. It includes this caution: “For some young children, identifying as another gender may be temporary; for others, it isn’t … There is no way to predict how children will identify later in life.”

The magazine article also cites an academic expert:

Eric Vilain, a geneticist and pediatrician who directs the UCLA Center for Gender-Based Biology, says that children express many desires and fantasies in passing. What if saying “I wish I were a girl” is a feeling just as fleeting as wishing to be an astronaut, a monkey, a bird? When we spoke by phone last spring, he told me that most studies investigating young children who express discomfort with their birth gender suggest they are more likely to turn out to be cisgender (aligned with their birth-assigned gender) than trans—and relative to the general population, more of these kids will eventually identify as gay or bisexual.

If a boy is doing things that are girl-like—he wants long hair, wants to try his mother’s shoes on, wants to wear a dress and play with dolls—then he’s saying to himself, ‘I’m doing girl things; therefore I must be a girl,’ ” Vilain said. But these preferences are gender expression, not gender identity. Vilain said he’d like parents to take a step back and remind the boy that he can do all sorts of things that girls do, but that doesn’t mean he is a girl.

It is ironic—and tragic—that in a society which is already extending much greater latitude to young people in terms of “gender expression” (breaking gender stereotypes in preferred activities, for example), we should be locking them into a permanently changed “gender identity” at an early age. I would hope that even those who support “transgender” identities could agree—this is a decision to be made in adulthood.

3)      There is no evidence that undergoing “gender transition” can be generally expected to improve someone’s long-term well-being.

This is perhaps the crucial issue. Some of us who are conservative may find a change in one’s public “gender identity” to that of the opposite biological sex to be morally problematic as a violation of natural law. But if there is clear scientific evidence proving that people who make such a change are physically and mentally healthier and enjoy a longer lifespan than people with gender dysphoria who do not publicly “transition” (or who seek therapy to help them feel comfortable with their biological sex), then that would provide an argument for supporting (or at least legally permitting) such “transitions.”

Such evidence, however, does not exist. There is certainly anecdotal evidence of individuals who will testify that they are happier after transitioning, receiving hormones, or undergoing gender reassignment surgery than they were before. But subjective testimonies of greater happiness in the short run are not the same as tangible evidence of greater physical and mental well-being in the long run.

For one thing, there are physical risks associated with transition-related medical procedures. The Gay and Lesbian Medical Association (GLMA) has warned of some:

Estrogen has the potential to increase the risk of blood clotting, high blood pressure, elevated blood sugar and water retention. Anti-androgens such as spironolactone can produce dehydration, low blood pressure, and electrolyte disturbances. Testosterone, especially when given orally or in high doses, carries the risk of liver damage.

And:

Some trans women want physical feminization without having to wait for the effects of estrogen. They expect injectable silicone to give them “instant curves.” The silicone, often administered at “pumping parties” by non-medical persons, may migrate in the tissues and cause disfigurement years later. It is usually not medical grade, may contain many contaminants, and is often injected using a shared needle. Hepatitis may be spread through use of such needles.

The inherent risks of substance use and abuse may be even higher in transgender people:

Alcohol combined with sex hormone administration increases the risk of liver damage. Tobacco use is high among all trans persons, especially those who use tobacco to maintain weight loss. Risks of heart attack and stroke are increased in persons who smoke tobacco and take estrogen or testosterone.

The GLMA also acknowledges that “trans people are particularly prone to depression and anxiety”—although it attributes this to a lack of social acceptance. LGBT activists often argue that transgender people may become suicidal if not supported in their efforts to transition—yet GLMA admits, “Suicide is a risk, both prior to transition and afterward” (emphasis added).

In fact, one of the most dramatic findings on transgender health after transition was found in a rigorous study—conducted on every single person in Sweden (324 in total) who had surgical sex reassignment in that country between 1973 and 2003. It found, “Persons with transsexualism, after sex reassignment, have considerably higher risks for mortality, suicidal behaviour, and psychiatric morbidity than the general population.” In fact, it found the risk of suicide—after sex reassignment surgery—was 19 times higher than among the general population.

It is certainly important to have compassion for people who experience gender dysphoria. But it is hardly compassionate to encourage them to follow a course of action that not only requires denying biological realities, but also gives no realistic chance of improving their lives in the long run.

Everything The Women’s March Movement Wants You To Believe About It Is A Lie

by Sarah Perry

February 9, 2017

In January, it was a march. In February, it’s become a movement: a developing, inelegant phenomenon quivering with the latent energy of a post-march high. The covers of Time and the New Yorker recently featured a certain cat-eared pink hat. Organizers have developed 10 action steps for the first 100 days.

At USA Today, author Heidi M. Przybyla argued that “The march’s biggest asset — that it was completely organic and grass-roots — is now its challenge going forward.” Nascent march group organizers in New Jersey are hoping their collective acts as a clearinghouse on reproductive rights, climate change, and a free press.

READ ENTIRE ARTICLE

Obama’s Farewell Praised “Democracy” — But His Support for Judicial Tyranny On Marriage Shows He Doesn’t Mean It

by Peter Sprigg

January 18, 2017

President Obama’s farewell address in Chicago on January 10—although overshadowed in the news cycle by President-elect Trump’s press conference in New York less than a day later—deserves some attention.

There were some interesting tidbits in the speech for those of us who seek to bring our faith to bear in the world of public policy. My former boss, Rob Schwarzwalder, quickly took the president to task for declaring that “the essential spirit of this country … that guided our Founders” was “born of the Enlightenment … a faith in reason …” In reality, the Founders were guided by faith in divine Providence, as well as a biblical worldview that included a realistic understanding of the depravity of human beings.

Perhaps we should at least be grateful that President Obama did not censor out the Creator when he quoted the Declaration of Independence, citing “the conviction that we are all created equal, endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights.” And after eight years of promoting a cramped vision of “freedom of worship,” Mr. Obama actually cited the broader “freedom of religion” as one of the principles of the post-World War II democratic order.

The Obama address had one over-arching theme: “the state of our democracy.” He used the word “democracy” a grand total of twenty-two times. The outline of the speech identified four “threat[s] to our democracy”—lack of economic opportunity, racial division, increasing polarization, and apathy.

I welcome Mr. Obama’s primary emphasis (appropriate under the circumstances) on over-arching principles rather than specific policy goals.

And I give him credit for laying down challenges that can apply to those on both the left and the right of the political spectrum. For example, there was this passage:

For too many of us, it’s become safer to retreat into our own bubbles, whether in our neighborhoods or on college campuses, or places of worship, or especially our social media feeds, surrounded by people who look like us and share the same political outlook and never challenge our assumptions. The rise of naked partisanship, and increasing economic and regional stratification, the splintering of our media into a channel for every taste — all this makes this great sorting seem natural, even inevitable. And increasingly, we become so secure in our bubbles that we start accepting only information, whether it’s true or not, that fits our opinions, instead of basing our opinions on the evidence that is out there.

Unfortunately, when President Obama did recite a list of policy accomplishments, it belied his professed love of democracy—at least with respect to one issue. In a long paragraph (actually, one long sentence) beginning, “If I had told you eight years ago …,” he included this:

[I]f I had told you that we would win marriage equality … you might have said our sights were set a little too high. But that’s what we did. That’s what you did.”

Although the line drew cheers, it was historically inaccurate. “Marriage equality”—the left’s euphemism for changing the definition of civil marriage to include same-sex couples—was not something either “we” (President Obama and his administration) or “you” (the voters who supported him) achieved. Until the second to last year of his presidency, efforts by LGBT activists to achieve a redefinition of marriage in all fifty states were a notable failure in the vast majority of them.

No, nationwide marriage redefinition was not achieved by President Obama, his administration, or his supporters. It was certainly not achieved by the processes of democracy that the president extolled in his farewell address.

Instead, it was imposed upon the country by the smallest, most elite, and least democratic group imaginable—five justices on the Supreme Court, a bare one-vote majority.

Let’s look at some of the things President Obama said about democracy—and how the outcome of the marriage debate contradicts them.

For example, he declared that “the beating heart of our American idea” includes the conviction “that We, the People, through the instrument of our democracy, can form a more perfect union.” It seems, though, that Mr. Obama and the Court decided that “a more perfect union” required a different definition of our most basic social institution, and since “the instrument of our democracy” was not producing it, other means would have to be used.

President Obama also declared:

The work of democracy has always been hard. It’s always been contentious … Understand, democracy does not require uniformity. Our founders argued. They quarreled. Eventually they compromised. They expected us to do the same. 

Note that this is precisely what had been happening for two decades on the marriage issue. Both politicians and ordinary citizens “argued” and “quarreled.” A few states actually redefined marriage using the democratic process. Many more formally defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman. In some cases, people “compromised” by giving some or all of the benefits of marriage to same-sex couples through civil unions or domestic partnerships. States were fulfilling their role as the laboratory of democracy. This is what the founders “expected us to do”—but it wasn’t enough for President Obama, or for the Supreme Court. Instead, they decided to “require uniformity” by imposing marriage redefinition on all fifty states.

Continuing to extol the give-and-take of democratic debate, President Obama said:

[P]olitics is a battle of ideas. That’s how our democracy was designed.  In the course of a healthy debate, we prioritize different goals, and the different means of reaching them. 

He then went on to caution:

But without some common baseline of facts, without a willingness to admit new information, and concede that your opponent might be making a fair point, and that science and reason matter — then we’re going to keep talking past each other, and we’ll make common ground and compromise impossible. 

In referring to a “baseline of facts,” and to “science and reason,” Mr. Obama probably had in mind the liberal consensus on an issue like “climate change.” But a “common baseline of facts” on the marriage issue would have included an acknowledgment that same-sex relationships are not identical to natural marriages, and that children do best when raised by their own, married biological mother and father; and “science and reason” would have dictated that society has a greater interest in unions that can result in natural procreation than in those that never can.

President Obama spoke about the international order when he warned against

the fear of people who look or speak or pray differently; a contempt for the rule of law that holds leaders accountable; an intolerance of dissent and free thought; a belief that … the propaganda machine is the ultimate arbiter of what’s true and what’s right.

However, “the fear of people who look or speak or pray differently”—intended by Obama to refer to foreigners and immigrants—could just as easily be a warning to the left, who fear people who look like “rednecks,” speak with southern accents, or pray in faith to the God of the Bible. Advocates of marriage redefinition were outraged when Iowa voters used “the rule of law” to hold state Supreme Court justices who redefined marriage “accountable”—by removing them from office. And few social movements are as intolerant of “dissent and free thought,” or have built as effective a “propaganda machine,” as the LGBT movement, which seeks to discredit every dissenter from their agenda as being motivated by “hate.”

Finally, President Obama exhorted Americans to higher levels of citizen participation in our democracy. At the beginning of his speech, he said that Chicago was where “I learned that change only happens when ordinary people get involved and they get engaged, and they come together to demand it.” At the end, he warned:

Our democracy is threatened whenever we take it for granted. All of us, regardless of party, should be throwing ourselves into the task of rebuilding our democratic institutions. When voting rates in America are some of the lowest among advanced democracies, we should be making it easier, not harder, to vote . . .

It falls to each of us to be those anxious, jealous guardians of our democracy; to embrace the joyous task we’ve been given to continually try to improve this great nation of ours . . .

So, you see, that’s what our democracy demands. It needs you. Not just when there’s an election, not just when your own narrow interest is at stake, but over the full span of a lifetime. If you’re tired of arguing with strangers on the Internet, try talking with one of them in real life. If something needs fixing, then lace up your shoes and do some organizing. If you’re disappointed by your elected officials, grab a clipboard, get some signatures, and run for office yourself. Show up. Dive in. Stay at it. Sometimes you’ll win. Sometimes you’ll lose. 

It’s good advice. I worry, though, that historians will fail to note that one of the most effective examples of such citizen activism in recent decades was the movement to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman through state constitutional amendments. “Get a clipboard, get some signatures”? In virtually every state where a constitutional amendment can be placed on the ballot through citizen initiative (that is, a petition process without the involvement of those disappointing “elected officials”), marriage amendments were placed on the ballot and adopted.

Yet President Obama and his allies did everything they could to make it harder for citizens to vote on marriage, not easier. And they celebrated when the Supreme Court overturned the constitutions of thirty states, which had been amended through that admirable citizen activism.

President Obama declared that “our nation’s call to citizenship” was “what led patriots to choose republic over tyranny.” Yet when it came to marriage, Mr. Obama was happy to choose judicial tyranny over the product of our democratic republic.

And when it came to the activism of those who sought to defend marriage, his motto was not, “Yes, we can.”

It was, “No, you can’t.”

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