WHAT SHOULD BE THE CHRISTIAN’S RESPONSE to the demands of the transgendered community? For example, should we use the pronouns a transgendered person asks us to use (an ever expanding list of words like ze, sie, hir, co, ey and so on). Is it being “intolerant” and “abusive” not to do so? I’ve felt conflicted about this, especially since I know personally and care about some transgendered persons and their parents. On the one hand I believe that God defines and assigns gender, that we are to follow his will no matter what we or others feel or want and that human happiness is fullest in his will. On the other I want to be compassionate and I don’t want to hurt, offend or push people away from me and perhaps God. When I met Walt Heyer I decided to ask his opinion.
Though born with the male markers, getting married and having children, Walt had identified as female since the age of five. After his divorce he had the surgery needed to help his body look as he felt. He experienced an initial period of euphoria and a feeling of freedom but during his eight years as a woman he began to have doubts about his change. There was a conflict between his body (his DNA) and his mind that he could not deny. Eventually he came to faith in Jesus and reverted to his genetic or birth gender. He has married again (a second woman) and now has a ministry helping those with transgender regrets. I asked Walt whether Christians should use the pronouns a transgendered person prefers. He responded that when he identified as, and looked like a woman he never expected others to use his chosen name, Laura, or his chosen pronoun, she. He always felt that was quite “narcissistic.” I think he meant that such a demand requires others to center themselves around one’s own desires and convictions even to the point of denying their own and that is immensely self-centered. Ironically, those who demand tolerance of their views and practices are often intolerant of the contrary view and practice.
I’ve come to the conclusion that the demand to use certain pronouns is a demand to express by my language agreement with the idea that we have authority to define gender and that God does not. It is not simply a demand to be kind. Under the guise of compassion and tolerance I am being compelled to speak contrary to my conscience. How we respond to that pressure should always be respectful and gentle but ultimately I cannot let myself be put in a position where I feel I am complying with rebellion against God. People have all kinds of names and so I may call a “Walt,” “Laura.” But saying that there is no male or female, or that one with male markers is actually a female is a denial of the revelation, “…in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27). This may result in persecution, for example the loss of jobs, but this is the cost of following Jesus.