An Empathetic Response to the Transgender Bathroom Debate

There has been a lot of talk about which bathrooms transgender men and women should or should not use, and unfortunately, a lot of the talk has been fueled by fear. If you frequent social media, you will notice a large segment of the population demanding that transgender women stay away from women’s bathrooms because they are just using their gender identity as an excuse to see women in a vulnerable environment. Even more saddening, the majority of the population using this type of language has also been Evangelical Christians. As an Evangelical myself, I had to ask myself, is this actually a Christian response, or is this simply a result of a homophobic culture now being exposed to more and more transgender men and women?

I hold a traditional view of the Bible, and I believe that all sexual activity outside of the marriage between one man and one woman, is sinful. Howeverwhen I think about the animosity online from Christians and conservatives towards the transgender community, I wonder if sex even has anything to do with it. The biggest fear that seems to have spread is about the safety of women and children in public bathrooms, especially within schools. Many are afraid of sex offenders having free range to dress up as the opposite sex in order to have access to potential victims. I wonder how easy this is to actually do, at least within the context of a high school or a middle school.

If someone decides to act upon their feelings in high school, and wear clothes that are associated with another gender, they immediately put a target on their back. As the awareness of sexual minorities in our communities have increased, the level of bullying in our schools has remained consistent. It is still very difficult for LGBTQ+ students to feel safe in their own places of learning, especially in bathrooms and locker rooms where there is minimal adult supervision. In middle school, I was bullied for not being the most athletic, cool, or masculine guy in the locker room. I have been physically and verbally attacked simply for not always fitting into the societal gender roles assigned to young boys. How much worse must it be for students who are openly transgender?

Contrary to what many Evangelicals believe, sexual orientation cannot be chosen. No one wakes up and actively decides to be gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. For someone to decide to follow through with the way they feel inside and be openly transgender in high school, they would have to be completely convinced of their orientation, or otherwise, they would be putting themselves through years of torment for absolutely nothing. Transgender youth are often shunned by their peers, disowned by their families, and bullied at school. No one wishes that upon themselves. And if your response to this is something along the lines of “well, why can’t they just wait until they graduate to come out?”, I would challenge you to think about who the victims are in this scenario. It is not a transgender student’s fault that someone in their class feels disgust for another human being simply because they don’t understand. Even outside of the classroom, and into adulthood, the transgender community is not to blame for the discrimination and violence against them. As people, we are all worthy of love, regardless of gender, race, religion, and yes, even sexual orientation.

If you are a fellow Christian reading this post, please remember that I love Jesus, and trust Him as my Lord and Savior. It is because of His great love for me, that I feel compelled to write this. If we as Christians hold tightly to the love, grace, and mercy of God, then who are we to withhold that from anyone else, simply because we have a difference in lifestyle? Jesus shared meals with the poor, the tax collectors, and the homeless. If He had the ability to show compassion for the marginalized people of His day, then we certainly have the capacity to show love and mercy to the marginalized of ours. And if your response is to say that conservative Christians are being discriminated against in America for their traditional values, I would challenge you to research Christians in Iraq, in Libya, and in North Korea. I am not yet convinced that American Christians are the victims of a culture war, taking away our rights to believe and proclaim what it is we stand for.

To anyone who in any way identifies with the LGBTQ+ community, especially to anyone who identifies as transgender, I am sorry. As a Christian who also identifies with the LGBTQ+ community, my heart is in pain. It hurts to see sexual minorities being pushed further away from the church because of fear-driven misconceptions about them. In the words of the famous Christian speaker, Jefferson Bethke, “The church is not a museum for good people, it’s a hospital for the broken.”

I will not tell you that you’re not allowed to disagree with me. But, please allow me to challenge you and ask how as a Christian, are you demonstrating the love of Christ to the LGBTQ+ community, especially to the T part of this acronym?

Matthew 25:35-40

 

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