By the time you read this, the news will be all over the country. The New York Times reports that President Obama has released a letter directing every public school in the country to recognize and accept transgender identities. In particular, the directive has to do with bathroom and locker room use. Here’s the relevant excerpt from the report:
The Obama administration is planning to issue a sweeping directive telling every public school district in the country to allow transgender students to use the bathrooms that match their gender identity.
A letter to school districts will go out Friday, fueling a highly charged debate over transgender rights in the middle of the administration’s legal fight with North Carolina over the issue. The declaration — signed by Justice and Education Department officials — will describe what schools should do to ensure that none of their students are discriminated against.
It does not have the force of law, but it contains an implicit threat: Schools that do not abide by the Obama administration’s interpretation of the law could face lawsuits or a loss of federal aid.
The move is certain to draw fresh criticism, particularly from Republicans, that the federal government is wading into local matters and imposing its own values on communities across the country that may not agree. It represents the latest example of the Obama administration using a combination of policies, lawsuits and public statements to change the civil rights landscape for gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgender people.
Just to be clear what this means. The Obama administration is announcing its intent to coerce through force of law every public school to accept this. He expects your local school to allow boys to use bathroom and shower facilities with girls and vice versa. So long as the child’s parents are willing to go along with their child’s new identity, the school has to let students into the bathroom and locker room of the opposite sex.
This directive is jaw-dropping. The Obama administration doesn’t care whether the local or state school system supports such a move. It doesn’t care whether parents want male students showering with the female students or vice versa. President Obama’s letter…
…requires schools to provide transgender students equal access to educational programs and activities even in circumstances in which other students, parents, or community members raise objections or concerns.
The Obama administration is saying that every public school must accept the new rules or face the music. It has decided that anyone (even parents!) who refuses the new rules will be guilty of invidious “discrimination.”
What is going on here? The answer is very simple. President Obama feels the wind at his back in advocating LGBT rights. Gay marriage is now the law of the land, and gay people are now serving openly in the military. Now President Obama is turning to the “T” in LGBT, and he’s making bathrooms and locker rooms the issue. As the Attorney General has made clear, those who refuse to go along will be treated like Jim Crow bigots.
This radical directive is a heavy-handed, unconstitutional overreach in order to force Americans to pretend that some boys are girls and some girls are boys. It is absurd and wrong. And I wonder if this may not be a bridge too far even for people who are otherwise liberal. Are fathers going to be okay with their daughters undressing in locker rooms where boys can see them? No matter how much one may support President Obama, what dad would go along with this?
Transgenderism is a fiction that harms real people and undermines the common good. It is not good to treat boys as if they’re girls nor to treat girls as if they’re boys. That may be how some students “self-identify,” but indulging that fiction doesn’t help them. It hurts them, and it ultimately undermines the social fabric of the communities they inhabit.
There will be much said and written about this directive in days and weeks to come. This is going to cause unrest and conflict all over the country. It is one thing for an individual to embrace a fictional identity. It is another thing for the federal government to coerce everyone else to embrace it too. This is far from over. Indeed the conflict has only just begun.
My government is the enemy of my church and my family. It has come to that. I figured it would one day. But not so soon.
— Rod Dreher (@roddreher) May 13, 2016
Christians must not give in to the distortions of this coercive directive. We must recognize that it is not only harmful to children and adolescents but to everyone who is swayed by it. Why? Because it contradicts what God has revealed to us about ourselves and about His intention for us. Scripture teaches that God has made us in his image as male and female (Gen. 1:26-28). This sexual binary is one that Jesus himself recognized and affirmed as good and right (Matt. 19:4). Understanding this binary used to be common sense, and this traditional understanding is no less true even if it is less common.
This latest transgender battle line points to a much deeper spiritual rot. It exposes what has always been at the heart of the sexual revolution. The Creator’s purposes for male and female must give way to the creature’s autonomous will. If a guy feels like he’s a girl, then he is one even if his biology says otherwise. The Creator’s distinction between male and female must bend to accommodate the sovereign will of the creature. And if God’s will can be defied, then so can everyone else’s.
Even though in a fallen world people do experience gender identity conflicts, the scripture reveals a normative connection between biological sex and gender identity. Attempts to deny this, therefore, are an attempt to suppress the truth in unrighteousness (Rom. 1:18). That means that gender identity conflicts—in children or in adults—should be resolved in keeping with one’s biological sex. It is neither loving nor compassionate to conceal this truth from our neighbors—especially from the children.