Transgender: Hope for Those Who Desire Healing
- Tuesday, October 19, 2004
EDITOR'S NOTE: The following article refers to content that is not appropriate for children.
It’s never easy to swim upstream. That’s what many Christian therapists are discovering when it comes to debunking cultural myths about transgender issues.
But, according to at least three well-known experts, hope and healing are available for those who desire change.
The American Psychiatric Association identifies gender identity disphoria (G.I.D.) as a feeling of being the opposite gender or being trapped in the wrong kind of body. Characteristics often include a dislike of one’s genitals, one’s social sexual role and typical activities of the biological sex. The onset of G.I.D. typically occurs at a young age, often in children as young as three, and it is not uncommon for those suffering from the disorder to take on a demeanor that resembles the opposite sex.
Dr. Jerry Leach, Ph.D., L.L.C., is a fulltime psychologist who has worked with thousands of people suffering from G.I.D.
“Healing happens when you put an end to defining yourself as ‘different’ and ‘a member of the opposite gender’ because of your natural in-born temperament and interests, which created an inward desire to do things that are naturally ascribed to the opposite gender,” he says. “This has much more to do with our God-prescribed uniqueness than with some kind of genetic flaw.”
Unfortunately, Leach says, many people are dissuaded from seeking help for two reasons: cultural falsehoods that are perpetuated by the media and the sense that God has abandoned them.
A recent episode of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” is but one example of the lopsided way that journalists usually present the issue. On the show, Winfrey interviewed two children who were struggling with transgendered feelings. In both cases, a “gender specialist” insisted, along with Winfrey, that it was important for the parents of these children to “accept who they really are.”
That meant buying into the notion that a 12-year-old girl was really a boy, simply because she felt that way, and likewise, that a 5-year-old boy was really a girl. The show’s producers, Winfrey and the show’s website all used the children’s preferred pronouns. And Winfrey even chided the boy’s father – who seemed incredulous – for not accepting that he was really a girl.
Interestingly, no other experts who might counter this opinion were present, as is usually the case on Winfrey’s shows. Also, the lone expert she did have provided no counseling or interaction with the children or their parents, except on the show, and this, despite the fact that both families were clearly suffering from serious emotional issues. No father was present or even mentioned with regard to the adolescent girl. And the young boy had admittedly failed to bond with his father, who confessed that he struggled with his son’s lack of interest in sports and desire to play with dolls. As a result, the boy had bonded in a noticeably inappropriate way with the mother, who took him along to hair and manicure appointments, where he wanted to participate – thus fueling the mother’s conclusion that he was a girl.
Some might say that despite evidence to the contrary, the prevailing myth about G.I.D. – that people are “born in the wrong body” – might well have led the 17th century philosopher René Descartes to re-define today’s emotion-centric culture as, “I feel, therefore I am.”
Either way, the sense that transgender is uniquely a genetic issue has become a foregone conclusion which leads more and more people to assume that God simply somehow made a mistake.
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