Christianity,  Culture

Speaking the truth about the “Dragon Lady” and sex-reassignment surgery

This strange story has to be seen to be believed. Here is the report from The Daily Mail:

A transgender former banker claims to be the first and only person to have both ears cosmetically removed as part of her ongoing quest to become a ‘dragon’.

Born Richard Hernandez in Maricopa County, Arizona, the 55-year-old has undergone a number of painful procedures over the past few years including nose modification, tooth extraction and eye colouring.

She also has a forked tongue and a full-face tattoo as part of her transformation into a ‘mythical beast’.

Most people reading this would probably agree that something has gone deeply awry with any person who would do this to themselves. Many people would probably also agree that something is deeply wrong with a medical profession that would allow surgeons to take part in this.

If you believe that, however, it raises questions about transgenderism and sex-reassignment surgery in general. On what basis can you condemn the “dragon lady” but celebrate sex-reassignment surgery?

The “dragon lady” contends that he is being true to his perceived identity saying, “never will I make any compromise to my integrity.” In other words, he seems to believe that this is who he is and thus that his body must be reshaped to fit his self-perceived identity. If that means cutting off healthy body parts, then so be it.

If any of us had a loved one making such claims, would we not try to help them see that it is not their body that needs changing but their mind? Would we not tell them how destructive and harmful it is to have body parts surgically removed in order to accommodate a troubled mind?

If we respond with moral censure and alarm to the “dragon lady,” why would we respond differently to someone who wishes to have their reproductive anatomy surgically removed or altered? In terms of consistency, it seems that one would have to either affirm both or oppose both. But to affirm one (sex-reassignment surgery) but to deny the other (ear and nose removal) is a morally inconsistent and indefensible position.

From a biblical perspective, we ought to be coming at this problem rather differently. Proverbs 25:20 says,

Like one who takes off a garment on a cold day, or like vinegar on soda,
Is he who sings songs to a troubled heart.

The word is simple but profound. When it’s cold, you are not helping a person if you take their coat away. In fact, you are doing something cruel to them. If a person is troubled in heart, you are not helping them by singing happy songs to them and pretending that everything is okay. In fact, you make things worse. And it’s the opposite of love.

When a friend or a loved one assumes a psychological identity at odds with their bodily identity, they often report feeling troubled—or as the clinicians put it “dysphoric.” But that “dysphoria” is not evidence of a problem with their body. It is evidence of a problem with their heart and with their mind. And if that is where the problem is, then that is where the change needs to occur.

We should acknowledge their suffering. Something is “troubling” them, and their despair ought to arouse our compassion. But that compassion must not include encouraging them to destroy otherwise healthy organs and body parts. They may feel that they need to make such changes, and they may feel it deeply and sincerely. But we do not serve them if we encourage them to do so—if we sing songs to their troubled heart.

There is another proverb that says,

Faithful are the wounds of a friend,
But deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.
Prov. 27:6

In a nutshell, this means that a real friend doesn’t tell you what you want to hear. He tells you what you need to hear—even if the truth is difficult to hear. It is your enemy who tells you want to hear. Your enemy uses flattery to manipulate you. Your friend brings the truth to help you.

When it comes to friends and loved ones struggling with gender identity issues, we would do well to speak the truth in love to them (Eph. 4:15). We would do well to tell them that God made them for a purpose. He even made their sexual identity for a purpose. But because of the brokenness of creation and our fallen nature, we can experience painful alienation from those purposes.

The remedy, however, is not to disfigure our bodies to erase the alienation one might feel. The remedy is to be reconciled to the One who made us. It is true that some people feel themselves to be painfully at odds with their own bodies. But it is also true that the grace of God can make whole what feels to be so broken.

This kind of truth-speaking is hard—especially when a friend or loved one is despairing. But it is no less necessary. A faithful friend will say what needs to be said in the moment that it needs to be said (Prov. 25:11). And he won’t shrink back from love when the spirit of the age attempts to silence the truth. Because love always rejoices in the truth (1 Cor. 13:6), so should we.


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