A Case Study in Rebuttal, Part 5
Let’s just dive right in here and continue deconstructing Denny Burk’s latest anti-trans polemic. See previous entries in this series first for a better understanding.
“Again, to accept wholesale that someone’s gender identity is at odds with his or her biological sex is nothing more than ideology without any verification or empirical data to support such a claim. It is metaphysically impossible to verify the claim that one’s professed gender identity confirms a more accurate understanding of one’s gender than one’s biological sex.”
Let’s assume for one brief moment that Burk is correct here and their is no evidence to support a physiological origin for being transsexual. Even were that the case (it’s not) the reverse of this statement is also true: if there is no objective proof that the psychological gender identity is paramount, then by definition there can be no objective evidence that the genital sex is paramount. What we do know from vast experiential evidence is that trying to force the GI to conform to the genitals creates human suffering, whereas manipulating the body to conform to the GI produces relief from pain and distress. If in fact there were no other evidence on the subject, the compassionate and medically sound response would be crystal clear.
“If it is wrong to attempt to change a child’s gender identity (because it is fixed and meddling with it is harmful), then why is it morally acceptable to alter something as fixed as the reproductive anatomy of a minor? The moral inconsistency here is plain.”
The most simple of answers – to relive suffering. If a man has a cancerous testicle we remove it in order to relieve the suffering caused by cancer, we do not consider the testicle, or any other organ associated with reproduction, to sacred to be altered in the pursuit of that relief. Burk and his peers would argue “ah, but that’s an unhealthy organ and we are referring to the removal of healthy tissue” which is true but ignores the point that people are suffering. His solution to address the suffering has failed, inevitably, for many many decades. Our solution works effectively every time it’s employed.
“there is no scientific consensus on what causes transgenderism. Brain-sex theories are hypotheses, but Henig writes as though the revolution we’re now encountering is sound and deserves unquestioned affirmation.”
First of all, let’s remember that this comes from the same segment of our culture that denies a great many scientific conclusions when they run contrary to their theology, so for a Southern Baptist to say “It’s just a theory!” is pretty equivilant to one saying “let us pray.” Beyond that, it is not necessary for all scientists to concur with a thesis for it to be valid. The preponderance of those scientists qualified to speak to the subject do concur, but as long as Burk can find some doctrine-first guy with “Dr.” in front of his name to dissent, then of course there is no consensus. That said, there are still many unanswered question, and some aspects of the subject are hypothetical (such as what specific region of the brain controls gender identity, and what role genetics play in the process) however, since there is exactly ZERO scientific evidence of any sort, not even enough to form a working hypothesis, about how a child experiences gender dysphoria if it’s NOT a result of something going on in her brain from before birth, Burk is in a very weak position to be saying “your science is weak.”
“According to an important report published by Lawrence Mayer and Paul McHugh in The New Atlantis, “There is also little evidence that gender identity issues have a high rate of persistence in children.” In fact, about 80 percent of children who experience transgender feelings completely resolve their difficulties without any intervention after they reach puberty.”
Okay, if you are ever discussing transsexualism with anyone and they cite Dr. McHugh cut them off right there. I won’t repeat work that has already been very well done but if you don’t know what’s wrong with citing McHugh, there are lots of good resources out there. McHugh is the go-to guy for religious critics of trans people but, as I mentioned above, give them even one guy with “Dr.” in front of his name who agrees with them, even though that agreement is rooted in theology not science, and he’s their hero. It give them a way to claim “there’s no consensus” and pretend they are being fair minded. As to the 80% desistance claim, you’ll never find a better resource to knck that down than Brynn Tannehill.
“At one point, Henig describes an individual who is searching for an identity that “feels right.” This is frighteningly subjective and subject to endless self-reinterpretation. What “feels right” for one person offers no pathway to what is right. It is also an example of why the gender revolution consists of “broken cisterns that can hold no water” (Jer. 2:13). As one viral video illustrates, taking the language of “identity” and “identify” alongside “gender” leads to frivolous and ridiculous claims that in our conscience we know to be false.”
Two important points here. First, even if one is skeptical about “gender creative” claims – even I am willing to allow the possibility that there are in fact individuals out there who are acting out a disdain for cultural gender roles rather than experiencing actual gender dysphoria in relation to their physicality – this does not by definition discredit the transsexual person who simply needs to transition from one binary sex to the other. While they are both (all?) defined under the so-called “transgender umbrella” they are, in fact, different in nature and discrediting one, if you can, says little about the other.
Secondly, Burk and his co-author never get around to explaining why they have any more standing to battle against trans expression of identity, even the “creative” sort, than he does to battle against getting tattoos or women wearing pants.
Burk & Walker (no idea why it takes two men to write such an essay) conclude their argument, as befitting the site, with an openly theological coda. Which they should, since it was a theological position attempting to wear the mask of science all along. I have an epilogue of concluding thoughts on this subject but in consideration of length, I’ll save that for next week.
Photo by: Vishal Charles