Thursday, July 2, 2015

Glen or Glenda -- Lutheran Style

Written by a Lutheran pastor who is suffering from wishing he were a woman. So what do you think? The Bear doesn't have any organized take on this yet. He probably wouldn't have even posted it, except Catholics are obviously going to have to hash this out, too.


  1. Well, my first reaction is that this is a person of integrity -- I.e., he is honest about his affliction, and -- unlike militant gay activists -- does not expect society to pretend that it is not an affliction. He does not label as "haters" those who were taken aback when his affliction was revealed to them, but rather he empathizes and I expect that he has received empathy in return.

    Rather than constructing a world of denial, he accepts and continues to honor the authentic Christian perspective on marriage and gender relations.

    He does not have to stop helping others! There are a million ways to help others, every day. I hope that he will be able, with God's grace, to find joy and fulfillment in doing so.

  2. God bless him as he suffers from this disease.

  3. Good thoughts. I will have to re-read. I suppose the seed thought is: how would this play if he were bipolar? A pedophile? Psychotic? It's there a distinction between supporting the patient and supporting his illness? If a person thinks the CIA is implanting thoughts into his mind, do we play along with his delusion or seek to make the man as whole as possible? Will political pressure eventually remove Gender Dysphoria from the DSM altogether, as happened with homosexuality in the 70s? Ultimately, will more people become persuaded that they are "trapped in the wrong body?" Will SRS become not so much a "treatment" as a "choice?"

    The Bear knows from crazy, and it's not unsympathetic. He is, however, haunted by this man's wife. He may seem sympathetic, but is there an argument to suck it up when you've made a commitment and focus treatment on dealing with whatever depression and other symptoms your creepy feelings create?

    I hope you two have something more to contribute, since the Bear is seriously pondering this issue.


    1. I do definitely maintain a distinction between supporting a patient and supporting his illness. One of the things that I find admirable in this man's remarks is his humility: he does not make excuses or ask/demand to be placed on a pedestal -- he just describes what his affliction does to him. He is not delusional in the way, for example, a paralyzed person would be who claimed that he was not paralyzed.

      Wrt the wife, 1) I hope that she has been getting counseling of her own, and 2) it seems to me that she has legitimate grounds for an annulment in civil law, but has apparently decided that, for whatever reasons, staying with her husband is the best thing to do..

      I think that political pressure to remove Gender Dysphoria from the DSM is now probably inevitable. It must be resisted. And sadly, in our current cultural climate that favors the enshrinement of gender confusion, I think it is likely that we will see an increase -- hopefully only temporary -- in people becoming persuaded that they are "trapped in the wrong body". There are a lot of psychologically fragile people out there who are sitting ducks for the enemies of healthy sexuality.

  4. Yes, his wife - and four children, and seven grandchildren - are also suffering. He seems very aware of this, and says he tries to renew his fight.

    He quotes one of my favorite verses: "A bruised reed He will not break". I rely on that promise too, though my struggles are completely different. I cannot understand how hard his are, but he seems to be asking for help, so praying for him is definitely indicated.

  5. Thank you, ladies for your compassionate insight.

  6. I always get stuck on the question of what it means to feel like a member of the opposite sex. What does it feel like to be a woman? If I were experiencing such a feeling, how on earth could I be sure I was identifying it correctly? If someone were to ask me to explain how it feels to be a man, I wouldn't know where to begin.

    I share Elizabeth's and Jane's sympathy for the man, and I appreciate his relatively reserved approach compared to other "gender dysphorics." Ultimately, though, I am old enough and Catholic enough to be firmly in the "suck it up" camp, especially given the anguish this is causing his family. So you have the subjective, completely unverifiable notion that God put a female soul in your male body? Leave aside the question about whether this quasi-gnostic idea of the body/soul relationship is even compatible with Christian theology in the first place; should you indulge, even for a moment, the idea of "transitioning"? No! It would be an astonishingly narcissistic act. Yes, this will crush my wife and probably wreck my marriage, divide my children among themselves, and throw my grandchildren into confusion, but I gotta self-actualize! No, you really don't. Live out the rest of your years as the man your family knows, not the woman you somehow think yourself to be.

    This may be another instance of a surprisingly common, if bizarre, phenomenon: men who announce out of the blue in middle age that they have always felt like a girl inside, and are now planning to "come out" as the woman they really are. There are many high-profile cases, and they always seem to fit the same pattern: masculine-presenting, high achieving men in male-dominated careers, often married more than once with several children. Off the top of my head: movie director, Surgeon-General of Pennsylvania, sports writer I, sports writer II, Navy SEAL, "Highest-paid CEO in America", travel writer.

    And, of course, gold-medal winning olympic decathlete.

    Other curiously common features of these transformations: the announcement often comes as a complete shock even to the most intimate family members, who never suspected their husband or father was anything but a regular guy. The man in question usually does not adopt the gay lifestyle, but continues to be attracted to women. Finally, these hard-driving, masculine men are proving to be incredibly disruptive within the LGBT community. As high-achieving men who know how to get things done, they readily assume leadership roles in the movement, where they push for access to (what had previously been) women-only spaces. This has set off an increasingly bitter turf war with lesbians and radical feminists, who aren't prepared to accept some middle-aged dude's womanhood just because he says so.

    It's an odd world!

  7. I think all of these are good points, and I want to delve more deeply into this subject. I'll admit frankly that the idea of "reassignment" strikes me as kooky. If your problem is that being a man makes you dysphoric, the goal of treatment would seem to be to remove the dysphoria through therapy and medication. A lot of people are "dysphoric" just being whoever they are. It's called depression. So it's not like we have no experience treating clinically unhappy people. It's there something clinically unique about gender dysphoria? Other than the possibility of surgery to "give in" to the illness rather than combat it? Very interesting.

    1. For further reading, may I recommend Charlotte Allen's Weekly Standard article The Transgender Triumph? It's a long (52 pages on my Kobo) but utterly fascinating tour of the bizarre socio--psycho-political world of the men who believe themselves to be women.

      The most prominent characters in Allen's article are the men I mentioned above: hypermasculine, heterosexual high achievers who suddenly announce, seemingly ex nihilo in mid-life that they have always felt like women on the inside and will be "transitioning". (The other MtoF transgender type--highly effeminate homosexual men who "transition" relatively early and much more convincingly--get relatively short shrift in the article, perhaps because they are more straightforward and far less prominent in LGBT activism.) Allen appears to subscribe to J. Michael Bailey's theory that these men are suffering from autogynephilia: in effect, they "fall in love with the idea of contemplating themselves as women." The Lutheran pastor in the article above seems to fall squarely into this camp.

      What really struck me in reading this article was the unbelievable level of narcissism exhibited by these men. Once they announce themselves, they seem to become so obsessed by their desire to "transition" that they don't mind destroying their marriages and family relationships to do so. I hope that the Lutheran pastor doesn't go down this road, but his public agonizing probably isn't a good sign.

  8. It wouldn't greatly suprise me if some commonalities in brain chemistry exist among gender-dysphoric people, but (and this may sound incredibly naive) it seems to me that the first and best approach to this affliction is to help the individual see past the dysphoria those qualities that link him (I'll use that pronoun) to "normal" people -- the capacity for kindness, creativity, joy, the perception of beauty, and the development of one's own innate talents. Our culture is so sex-obsessed that it has got to be a challenge to disengage from hyper-consciousness of gender or, in this case, gender confusion. The question is, why is it so much harder to do that than to go to painful, costly and grotesque lengths to embrace an illusion?

    I guess that someone might argue that wearing a prosthetic limb is also embracing an illusion, but if the illusion helps one function better -- ? To that, I would simply say, is Bruce Jenner functioning better now?


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