Clearing the Confusion about God, Transgender, and Bathrooms

I’m going to be honest with you. I’m confused – and I know that many of my fellow cisgender male friends are confused, too. I even hesitate to use that word … cisgender … it’s so new to me. I think it means someone who identifies with the gender they were given at birth. At any rate, I identify as a male, which aligns with the gender I was assigned at birth, which makes me cisgender.

Now that I’ve cleared that up … let me clear up another part of the confusion for my cisgender friends: We are the ones confused. My transgender and fluid gender friends aren’t confused about their gender. For them, once they claim a transgender or a fluid gender identity, it’s like coming home.

So, what should we do with our confusion? First, let me tell you what we shouldn’t do. We shouldn’t create legislation that prohibits the transgender community from using bathrooms of the gender they identify with. We shouldn’t go along with that legislation because the logic is demonically flawed. That’s right. I said demonically flawed. As Erin Wathen points out in her brilliant article “10 Things Scarier Than a Trans Person in Your Bathroom,” the logic is that our women and children will be put in danger by transgender women using the woman’s room.

But here’s the thing. Do you know how many times a transgender person has attacked someone in a bathroom? 0. That’s right. It’s never happened. Ever.

The transgender community is being labeled as violent sexual predators. Whatever our confusion about the transgender community might be, we cannot stand by while the transgender community is falsely labeled as sexual predators. Let’s clear the air of any confusion; where the transgender community pees is not a “public safety issue.” If cisgender men want to have a real conversation about the safety of women, then as Erin says, let’s talk about rape at college campuses. “Let’s talk about the military. Let’s talk about football players and domestic violence. Let’s talk about a culture that worships masculinity, objectifies women and glorifies violence—all adding up to a pervading world of male entitlement that is, always and everywhere, a danger to your wives and daughters.”

Some might think this is male bashing. But it’s not. It’s evidence that we are dealing with scapegoating, which is a satanic mechanism that assigns blame onto an innocent victim. The Hebrew word “satan” means “accuser.” The accusation that the transgender community poses a threat is absurdly, satanically, false. The transgender community poses no threat. They are not the violent ones they are being made out to be. In fact, 2015 “set a record number of transgender murders.” I’m not confused about this point – the transgender community doesn’t pose a violent threat to anyone peeing in a bathroom.

Scapegoating protects accusers from the painful task of owning up to their own guilt. Cisgender males don’t know what to do about our violence against women, so we project guilt upon the harmless and largely defenseless transgender community, who tragically have been victimized by others, including cisgender men. They experience constant threats of violence, exclusion from their families and their religious institutions. And now we’re debating about which bathrooms to exclude them from because they are the threat?

But here’s what cisgender people should do with our confusion. Realize that our confusion is about us, not about transgender people.

One of the most shameful parts of this whole debate is that it’s mostly Christians who are leading the crusade against transgender people. As a Christian, I feel compelled to speak up. This is not what Christianity is about.

Jesus destroyed the barriers that divided people so that they could find reconciliation. Gender even played a role in this. The closest we get to our modern concept of transgender in the Bible is the eunuch. There was a religious law that relegated eunuchs to outsider status.

But other aspects of the Hebrew Bible sought to include eunuchs into the religious community. Jesus, as always, stood within the tradition that sought to include those who were marginalized by religious laws. He brought eunuchs into his community, saying, “For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuch for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.”

Someone will protest, “But eunuchs and transgender are not the same thing!” That may be true, but look in the Bible and you will never find the word “transgender.” But you will find gender variant “others” who generated a confused, violent, and scapegoating response from the community. The point is this: What did Jesus do with people who were born with a gender variant? Whereas a religious law excluded them from full participation in the community, Jesus included them as full members into his band of followers, the very people through whom Jesus founded the church.

One of Jesus’ disciples, Philip, baptized an Ethiopian eunuch into the early Christian community. And Peter, the rock upon whom Jesus built the church, received the message from God that he “should not call anyone profane or unclean,” saying “I truly know that God shows no partiality.”

Philip may have been confused. Heck, Peter was always confused! But he didn’t let that confusion block him from the truth that – no matter what religious laws said – he shouldn’t call anyone profane or unclean.

So, to my cisgender friends, we may be confused, but God isn’t. God shows no partiality. God doesn’t care where his beloved transgender children go to the bathroom. And neither should we.

Image: Flickr, Samir Luther, “All Gender Restroom Sign,” Creative Commons License, some changes made.

7 replies
  1. PC Mularkey
    PC Mularkey says:

    “Everything I needed to know I learned in kindergarten.” Same holds true for this ridiculous, PC bathroom issue. At the back of my kindergarten room there was a small room. Everyone used: boys, girls and even our teachers. You know how the room was labeled? BATHROOM. Not Boys Room, not Girls Room, not Trans this or gay that. For God’s sake, why do we feel we need to kowtow to the smallest minorities that exist? Just don’t make a big deal of this crap. Live your life and don’t encroach on mine.

    Reply
    • Adam Ericksen
      Adam Ericksen says:

      Ha! “PC Mularky”! That’s funny.

      “Live your life and don’t encroach on mine.” That’s fine, but that philosophy goes against your kowtow statement. “Why do we feel we need to kotow to the smallest minorities?” I don’t feel like I’m kowtowing. Why do you feel like you are? My bigger concern is an attitude that is hostile towards transgender folk. It’s an attitude that labels them as violent, when they suffer so much violence. This debate about exclusion in bathrooms is indicative of that hostility.

      Reply
    • Adam Ericksen
      Adam Ericksen says:

      It’s a good question, Justin. Not sure how to answer, but will share some initial thoughts. I personally don’t feel like I’m being scapegoated for being a cisgender male. Others might. In my interview with my friend Amber, she alludes to the idea that cisgender men do have a certain stereotype that culture expects us to live into. That stereotype is often negative. So, although in many ways we are expected to live into those negative aspects (macho, tough, lacking emotion), we get criticized and possibly scapegoated. It’s a double bind. But, I do think that we have a responsibility to live into a different more compassionate view of male-ness. There are a few models for how to live that way. It would be helpful to have many more – but then we might be scapegoated for being sissies. So, no matter how we identify ourselves, we are at risk of being scapegoated. The question is always how we will respond. Will we respond in a resentful and accusitory way? Or in a way that might acknowledge feelings of being scapegoated, but also with the hope of reconciliation?

      If you are interested, here’s my interview with Amber – http://ravenfoundatio.wpengine.com/ravencast-god-gender-queer-conversation-rev-amber-churchill/

      Reply
  2. Alastair M
    Alastair M says:

    When you say things like this then you make yourself a hostage to fortune:
    “But here’s the thing. Do you know how many times a transgender person has attacked someone in a bathroom? 0. That’s right. It’s never happened. Ever.”

    A quick search of the internet casts doubt on your perspective:
    http://www.dailywire.com/news/5190/5-times-transgender-men-abused-women-and-children-amanda-prestigiacomo

    So after that, do you wrestle with real evidence or just affirm your ideology.

    Reply
    • Adam Ericksen
      Adam Ericksen says:

      Hi Alastair. Thanks for the comment. I’m not surprised by your article, but I do see a distinction here. The article isn’t about the transgender community. It’s about men who identify as male dressing up as females to do nefarious activities in bathrooms and justifying it by saying, “Oh, it’s the law.” So, the article doesn’t so much provide evidence against the transgender community using certian bathrooms as it is against cisgender men abusing the law. That should be our focus.

      Thanks again,
      Adam

      Reply
      • Marty
        Marty says:

        Adam, thank you for your thoughts and being willing to challenge public wisdom.

        Regarding the comments above – your reply to Alastair invalidates a good portion of your written argument about this issue. Contrary to your stance, keeping bathrooms male and female does not have to scapegoat anyone (including anyone who is transgender). The point being that transgender people will still be scapegoated even if every bathroom in the nation is unisex. But such legislation will create new problems. The point of protest about the legislation is that the issue is not so much about someone being “transgender,” but instead about creating foolish legislation that creates more opportunity for nefarious characters to use the legislation in harming others – as you argued in your response to Alastair. I think to believe that such nefarious behavior would not increase with this legislation is not understanding the nature of evil and the “need” for scapegoating to begin with. Sex offenders will not care given the sickness they are struggling with.

        I don’t believe the unisex bathroom legislation issue is really about protecting “transgender” people or about somehow improving their quality of life. The idea that more legislation will somehow decrease them from being scapegoated seems very short sited. The way to reduce scapegoating of any person/s is by allowing ourselves to fully receive God’s love for us – only then will we have the compassion to see others as our Bridegroom sees us (including anyone who is broken – name whatever flavor of brokenness you like, because we all have some manifestation – some are more socially acceptable than others – some have different consequences than others).

        God created male and female. He did not create an in between version – that is not said to minimize the struggle of anyone who feels happier as the opposite gender. God did not create people to be “transgender,” just as He did not create any of us to have autism, cancer, to be liars or sex offenders. Yet, we all struggle with something. Bathroom legislation is not the answer.

        Additionally, your commentary that heterosexual men are somehow the most confused is not valid other than as an expression of your opinion. The idea that someone is distinctly transgender or not is not an accurate representation of the reality for them. There is a range or spectrum of identification and CONFUSION about who they are from a gender perspective and who they are sexually. Any distortion of what God created is demonic by its very nature. Different distortions come with there own set of challenges and problems. Some are more socially accepted, which is not a moral statement because all sin creates separation between us and Him and each other.

        http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/Gates-How-Many-People-LGBT-Apr-2011.pdf
        “Defining the transgender population can also be
        challenging. Definitions of who may be
        considered part of the transgender community
        include aspects of both gender identities and
        varying forms of gender expression or nonconformity.
        Similar to sexual orientation, one
        way to measure the transgender community is
        to simply consider self-identity. Measures of
        identity could include consideration of terms
        like transgender, queer, or genderqueer. The
        latter two identities are used by some to
        capture aspects of both sexual orientation and
        gender identity.
        Similar to using sexual behaviors and attraction
        to capture elements of sexual orientation,
        questions may also be devised that consider
        gender expression and non-conformity
        regardless of the terms individuals may use to
        describe themselves. An example of these
        types of questions would be consideration of
        the relationship between the sex that
        individuals are assigned at birth and the degree
        to which that assignment conforms with how
        they express their gender. Like the counterpart
        of measuring sexual orientation through
        identity, behavior, and attraction measures,
        these varying approaches capture related
        dimensions of who might be classified as
        transgender but may not individually address all
        aspects of assessing gender identity and
        expression.”

        “It should be noted that some transgender
        individuals may identify as lesbian, gay, or
        bisexual.”

        Reply

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