It’s been fascinating to see the issue of transgender rights migrate from a mere blip at the edge of the cultural and political radar, to a burning topic of contention, with front-page headlines seemingly every day. I’ve appreciated the frank back-and-forth that dotCommonweal readers have engaged in, in my posts and Mollie Wilson O’Reilly’s as well. It isn’t always easy to discuss this topic with openness, humility and a readiness to listen and learn.
Anyway, today I’m not here to opine, but just to provide a few resources for those who want to keep thinking about this. First is a front-page article from today’s Hartford Courant, my home newspaper, about a transgender high-school teacher and his experiences teaching in the Connecticut suburbs.
Here is a column written by a Baptist pastor in Texas, Mark Wingfield, discussing how he undertook to learn more about transgender people, and what he learned. You can also link to an NPR interview with him that aired today on Weekend Edition.
A lengthy front-page article in today’s New York Times, meanwhile, goes behind the scenes to look at how the Obama administration decided on the Education Department directive instructing schools to shape transgender-friendly bathroom policies – and turned the personal battles of transgender Americans, the headline says, into “a national showdown.”
Finally, here’s a link to a blog post, titled “The Cultural Salience of Gender Dysphoria,” on the website of Mark Yarhouse, a researcher in sexual orientation and identity -- and also an evangelical Christian. Yarhouse teaches at Pat Robertson’s Regent University, and his research aims to integrate psychology and theology, with special focus on human sexuality and sexual identity. This post discusses his attempt to apply theological reflection to gender dysphoria and the lives of transgender people. He provides links to a talk he gave on the subject at Calvin College last year; to a widely-circulated essay on the subject that he published in Christianity Today; and to critical responses to that essay, including a conservative take-down (in First Things). Yarhouse wrote the article, he says, in order to “help Christians have a more compassionate response to a complex phenomenon,” and to recommend “a thoughtful, prayerful approach, one characterized by humility about what we know and do not know, and a response that embodies conviction, civility, and compassion in all our exchanges within the Body of Christ and beyond.”