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The Transgender Controversy, A Broken Heart, and a Faith I Am Having a Hard Time Recognizing

Posted by Joseph Beckley , 26 April 2016 · 1494 views

Yesterday I was posting some thoughts in a discussion group of which I am a part. I took a break from writing to have lunch and Debbie asked me what was wrong. What was wrong is that my heart was sad and breaking…not necessarily from anything being said, but rather from the division and animosity I see taking place among Jesus’ followers—a division and animosity that Jesus pleaded with us not to let happen.


Among the posts being made are those questioning the wisdom of [or outright criticizing] passage of Non-Discrimination Ordinances (NDOs) which include allowing transgender persons’ usage of bathrooms and other facilities according to their chosen gender identity. Other posts take Target stores to task for their policies supporting gender identity use of their restroom facilities. I deeply respect my friends making these posts and I also respect their deeply held convictions. I also understand that one of their deepest concerns is the safety of loved ones from perceived threat.


For the purpose of this post, I wish to humbly offer thoughts of my own for you to consider. You have my assurance these thoughts emanate from a sincere heart that is slowly breaking for a Christian faith I am having a hard time recognizing.


Again for the purpose of this essay I am going to accept all of the arguments and conclusions from my friends who believe that Non-Discrimination Ordinances (NDOs), as well as Target Store policies, are unwise and increase the possibilities of harm from predators. I simply will offer some alternative thoughts and again I welcome all of your discussions and thoughts…and even criticisms. And if by doing this I inadvertently wound anyone’s faith I sincerely apologize. My heart and conscience will break if I do not at least try to speak words that I hope may heal.


1] The arguments and conclusions of my friends generally stated are:
-- > Non-Discrimination Ordinances (NDOs) which include gender identity may allow criminals to pretend to be transgender in order to gain access to bathrooms [and I will add showers, locker rooms, saunas, etc] for evil purposes
-- > and that sexual assaults and rapes in women’s rooms would increase.
-- > and to try and prevent this we should err on the side of safety and patience
-- > in expressing this we do not promote hatred or bigotry or “phobias”
-- > after all we have rights also


In my accepting these arguments and conclusions, I also must offer to you my realization that “the numbers” simply do not support those conclusions. Citing just one small set of numbers:
-- >When looking at this statistically, over the 35 year history of NDOs protecting transgender people all over the world, only one case of a person abusing an NDO and committing sexual assault (in Canada) has ever been found, even by those most interested in demonizing transgender people.
Think about that for a moment.
Every NDO, every person, every bathroom, every day, every trip to a restroom, for 35 years, and it’s happened once in the entire world.


2] in accepting my friends’ conclusions I realize that while our “wives and children” will be “safe once again,” I also have sadness when I realize that in defeating NDOs harassment and violence WILL increase against transgender persons.


I played 4 sports competitively and was urged to walk on at KSU in football. I also golfed and played racquetball so I have used saunas and spent many hours in locker rooms, bathrooms, and showers. The conseqauences in defeating NDOs is not in “making life safe for regular folks.” It is that these laws usually also require that transgender persons use facilities that coincide with the gender identification on their birth certificates.


Because of this please consider this example:
-- > I am a transgender woman. I have taken hormone supplements, I have long hair, breasts, almost no testosterone levels, and have undergone surgery to have my male genitalia removed [however this example would still be valid even if I choose to keep my genitalia]. I ask a simple question: what bathroom should I use?


If you are adamant that I must use the facility of my birth certificate gender, if there are no NDOs, please hear me. I KNOW what will happen in male locker rooms, saunas, bathrooms, and showers. I will be harassed and beaten,


-- >Or please consider a second example of a transgender man with beard, cowboy hat, male features, and testosterone [but no male genitalia]. What bathroom should he use?


If you are adamant that he must use the facility of his birth certificate gender, if there are no NDOs, please hear me. I KNOW what will happen. He will certainly face harassment and probably at some point will be required to prove he “is who he says he is” but also who his birth certificate says he/she is. I KNOW this because there are documented cases where this has happened.
And then there will be increased harassment, threats, and possible violence from the husbands, boyfriends, male classmates, and fathers who are waiting outside and watched this “man” enter the women’s facility.
I KNOW these things will happen, not just from my own experience, but from the growing number of documented cases of harassment and violence against transgender persons, and also the alarming suicide rate in the transgender community.


3] Lastly,
-- > while defeating NDOs so as to not risk allowing criminals to pretend to be transgender in order to gain access to bathrooms for evil purposes…
-- > and in “erring on the side of safety” so that sexual assaults and rapes in women’s restrooms would not increase…
-- >and in making these areas safe for “normal folks” because after all we have rights also…
-- > my fear is that we will have successfully defended our own rights while limiting the rights of the transgender community and certainly continuing [and possibly increasing] harassment and violence already being documented against the transgender community.


The problem with this is that as Christians every NT writer, but especially Jesus and Paul, pleads with us not to do that. Jesus and Paul are clear that our rights [yours and mine] are submissive to those of others. We are to “look not just to our own selves but also to the interests of others” and the interests of others as more important than our own.
I could be wrong, but it seems to me that we as conservative Christians are far more vocal concerning our fears of what “might possibly” happen in bathrooms [and other facilities—even with only 1 documented case in 35 years] rather than the harassment, violence, and increased suicide rate already being documented within the transgender community. I humbly do not think this is what Jesus and Paul had in mind when they urged us to be submissive, to be meek, to put others’ needs ahead of our own, to treat others the way we would like to be treated, and to love our neighbors as ourselves [just to mention a very few references]


Philippians 2
Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? 2 Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.
3 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. 4 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.
5 You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.


Matthew 5
3 “God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him,
for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
4 God blesses those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 God blesses those who are humble,
for they will inherit the whole earth.
6 God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice,
for they will be satisfied.
7 God blesses those who are merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8 God blesses those whose hearts are pure,
for they will see God.
9 God blesses those who work for peace,
for they will be called the children of God.
10 God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right,
for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.

I am a new member - just becoming a part of your community. This issue in part and issues related to the whole LGBT community are ones of great interest to me. My younger son (38) is gay. Our family is Lutheran and as a teen, when he was realizing his predisposition (which I had recognized several years before) he was really struggling because he couldn't reconcile who he was with his understanding of the bible. And, not surprisingly, mom's just can't explain everything! As God would have it, at the time I was the administrative assistant to a senior pastor of a large ELCA church. When I sought his advice, he took my son under his wing and counselled him through to an acceptance of who he is! As an aside, that pastor is now the bishop of the NALC. Understanding by the church comes in many forms; is that not a God thing? So, when my son met his lifetime partner, who was raised in a strict Catholic family, and who only finally came out about ten years ago because he feared his family's criticism, my son was eventually able to help his now partner and his family to reconcile their concerns by using what he had learned as a teenager from, beyond any doubt, the most incredible pastor I have encountered. A long intro to the issue you have addressed. There is an additional individual under my son's roof. His partner's cousin who is a transgender female who only a few years ago was comfortable starting the transition. Fortunately they do not live in a state where these laws have created so much turmoil. However, for obvious reasons, they have been following the issue as the responses have evolved. She, as many others, is absolutely panicked about the idea of having to use a men's room when she is now quite obviously a woman. Today is the first time I have been on the cmalliance website so I was really just browsing through it. When I saw the short "blurb" about your blog entry I had to read it, although with trepidation not having any idea of your leaning. I absolutely cannot say enough about your take on the issue! So will we be in the minority? Certainly time will tell. I can only hope that reason prevails as so wonderfully demonstrated by an incredibly understanding pastor twenty years ago.
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Joseph Beckley
Apr 26 2016 06:37 PM

To bparisi.....i struggled with whether or not I should post my blog.  My dear wife [who is 4th generation CMA] is concerned about controversy as well as how my blogs may affect others' faith.  However with deepest humility my heart and conscience compel me to write.


And now your kind comments have deeply encouraged me and been healing to my soul.  Thank you from my heart.

To answer your question honestly [and yet I hope also with deep respect to the CMA] "yes" we will be in a decided minority.  The CMA in its teaching statements recognizes birth gender however does not recognize transgender identity as either a viable alternative lifestyle or Biblical  [they also believe all LGBT+ practice to be sin.  They differentiate between “orientation” and “practice.”  One may be gay in orientation however may not act on those desires.  They must remain celibate.  Also no CMA minister may officiate, or take part in, a same-sex or transgender wedding on pain of censure].


I am sincerely hoping a thoughtful [and Biblical] discussion may be started.  I will write more later however may I again thank you for your thoughtful comments.  You have touched my heart  

this night.  May your evening be kind.......joseph

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Joseph Beckley
May 02 2016 01:38 PM

Good day everyone.  I hesitate posting again. 
After considering a number of concerns from friends of mine, I read another article regarding HB2. 


The Governor of North Carolina was defending the measure he signed into law.  The measure overturns Charlotte’s Non-Discrimination Ordinances [NDOs], prohibits cities and municipalities from independently passing their own NDOs, and requires transgender persons to use the restrooms matching the gender on their birth certificate.  The Governor was clear, as many of my friends have been, that this is about safety and minimizing trauma for children. 


Personally I think this is a very multi-faceted and deeply complicated issue, however the Governor and many of my friends do not.  They insist that men and women have been using gender-specific bathrooms for years and until we know more we should exercise caution. 

My own denomination that I have served for over 30 years of my life only recognizes the gender of an individual as identified at birth

[I am tempted but will not comment on the dangerous “simplicity” of that position]. 

And further, they consider transgender identity and practice to be contrary to God’s will and design and thus sinful.  


Here are some brief comments from the article that generally communicate my friends’ and my denomination’s positions.
-->Thursday night, the much-maligned governor argued that the primary purpose of House Bill 2 (HB2) is to protect the privacy of children in locker rooms, showers and bathrooms.
“It’s the basic expectation of privacy that I hear from mom and dads and families that when their daughter or son goes into a facility, a restroom, they expect people of that gender … to be the only other ones in that. That’s the expectations that we’ve had for many, many years,” McCrory said to Fox News host Megyn Kelly.
House Bill 2 essentially requires a person to use only the public restrooms that correspond with his or her biological sex — as indicated on their birth certificate — and  prohibits local governments from passing their own antidiscrimination ordinances.<--


I do not wish to complicate this post.  So let’s keep this very basic.  In a discussion group I am part of and in my last essay I have asked 2 very basic questions and NO ONE will answer me.  That is alright I guess.  However maybe trying to discuss this at a very basic level would help?


So, remembering the Governor’s and my friends’ words,
-->“It’s the basic expectation of privacy that I hear from mom and dads and families that when their daughter or son goes into a facility, a restroom, they expect people of that gender … to be the only other ones in that. That’s the expectations that we’ve had for many, many years,”<--
I would ask these very basic questions, “Which bathroom would you wish these individuals use?”


Scenario 1…Here is a transgender man…

--the gender on his birth certificate is “female”

--and part of this person’s anatomy would confirm that gender. 

--Your young granddaughter and her friends are in the restroom and the law you support requires him [her] to use the Ladies’ bathroom.  --Are you comfortable with that?

[personal note…actually I am comfortable whichever bathroom this person uses because he is neither perverted nor pathological and he will not hurt anyone]




Scenario 2…Let’s say I am a transgender woman

--I have taken hormone supplements. 
--I have long hair, breasts,

--almost no testosterone levels,

--and may [or may not] have undergone surgery to have my male genitalia removed. 

--The gender on my birth certificate is “male”

--and parts of my anatomy may confirm that OR may be deeply confusing. 

--Your young grandson and his friends are in the restroom and the law you support requires me to use the Men’s bathroom. 

Are you comfortable with that?


[personal note: many people have less of a problem with this scenario because if “push comes to shove” they know that men can handle themselves and will just beat me up.  The problem many people have is when I don’t look so beautiful but more like a “man in a dress.”  Either way, violence and harassment is very possible]


I have kept you long enough.  Again, I am sincere and am not wishing to upset anyone’s faith.  I simply wished to ask the 2 questions above.
I shared 2 passages from Paul and Jesus last time.  I will close with the passage below from Jesus that has touched my heart and I humbly think applies here.  May your days be kind.


25 One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: “Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?”
26 Jesus replied, “What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?”
27 The man answered, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”[c]
28 “Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you will live!”
29 The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
30 Jesus replied with a story: “A Jewish man was traveling from Jerusalem down to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road.
31 “By chance a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. 32 A Temple assistant[d] walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side.
33 “Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. 34 Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. 35 The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins,[e] telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’
36 “Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked.
37 The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.”
Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.”

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