Transgender ideology sets up an opposition between the body and an inner sense of being male or female, between physiological facts and subjective feelings. The best counter is a positive Christian worldview that affirms the value of the body and the unity of the human being.
From the time “Brandon” was quite young, people would remark that he was not a typical boy. Before he was even walking, his babysitter told his mother, “He’s too good to be a boy,” by which she meant he was gentle, sensitive, and compliant—traits we stereotypically associate with girls.
Every day when his mother picked him up from preschool, he was playing with the little girls instead of the boys. He was not interested in toy guns or trucks. He preferred imaginary games using stuffed animals to act out complex social relationships. From an early age, he sensed he was different from most other boys.
Today we would call him gender nonconforming. This is the story of how his parents helped him stop from pursuing a path of despair and genital mutilation.
In elementary school, Brandon came to his parents weeping—repeatedly—because he did not fit in anywhere. Most of his friends were still girls, but they did not fully accept him as one of their own because, of course, he is a boy. He told his parents, “I feel the way girls do, I am interested in things girls are. God should have made me a girl.”
By his early teens, Brandon was scouring the internet for information on transgender ideology. So what did his parents do?
First, they made sure he knew they loved him just the way he was. They did not try to change him. When I was in seminary, one of my fellow students was a former homosexual, and he told me, “When I was young, I liked art and poetry, and my father kept trying to ‘toughen me up’ by pushing me into sports and other more traditionally male activities.”
But Brandon’s parents did not pressure him to be different. They told him it is perfectly acceptable to be a gentle, emotional, relational boy. It did not mean he was really a girl.
They told him it might mean God had gifted him for one of the caring professions, such as psychologist, counselor, or health-care worker. In the same way, of course, it is perfectly acceptable for a woman to be gender nonconforming—to be more take-charge, rational, and assertive.
His parents’ favorite line, which they said over and over again, was, “It’s not you that’s wrong, it’s the stereotypes that are wrong.”
My Body, My Self
Brandon’s parents encouraged him to base his identity on his biological sex. Our feelings can change and often do. But our body is a stable, empirically knowable fact that does not change. So it makes sense to treat the body as a reliable indicator of our identity.
By contrast, transgender ideology devalues the body. A BBC video features a young woman who identifies as nonbinary, saying, “It doesn’t matter what living, meat skeleton you’ve been born in. It’s what you feel that defines you.” The body has been demoted to a meaningless lump of flesh and bones.
Gayle Salamon, a Princeton University professor, wrote a book defending transgender ideology. Salamon says, “What the ‘real’ [physical] body tells us…is nothing…It has no meaning at all.” This is the core of what’s being taught to young people in public schools today: that their bodies are worthless.