The whole issue of human sexuality has been a difficult one for my age group to comprehend fully. I straddle an era in which homosexuality and transgender, in all its forms, were hidden behind closed doors, whispered about or only seen publicly in the world of entertainment. In the 1980s New Zealand faced the task of decriminalising male homosexuality, because, ironically, lesbianism wasn’t illegal; Queen Victoria couldn’t imagine that women would engage in such behaviour, so no legislation was passed against women. I still remember Christians wandering the street of my home city cornering unsuspecting neighbours to sign a petition fighting decriminalisation. However, in fairness, it wasn’t just Christians. The vast majority of secular society was against it too, a point forgotten by those railing against religious conservatism. The issue was compounded with the fear surrounding Aids, a fear that dwarfed Coronavirus and had people living with Ebola level terror. Eventually, the gay community was suddenly free, and the world didn’t fall apart. However, it did create a landslide that no one could foresee as, in time, gay rights transformed into LGBT rights, then more recently to LGBTQIA etc.
In many ways, the last forty years have been a sexual revolution that mirrors the sexual revolution of the 50s and 60s. However, it has been more militant politically, socially and educationally. Subsequently, when intertwined with postmodernism, we find ourselves navigating some of the most challenging times, not just politically and economically, but confronting in terms of fundamental worldview, and the politicisation of language. At its heart, there appears to be a message that world is incredibly unequal, filled with injustice and it all stems from the evils of those who were born and died in the 20th century; not to mention Christianity as a whole.
Transgender and Gender dysphoria are unique in the sexual revolution because they represent such a tiny portion of the population whose coming of age dovetailed nicely with developing philosophical questions about sexual identity. As a result, transgender has driven a wedge between various sectors of the LGBTQIA community and traditional feminists by claiming that sexual orientation and identity is biological; it not a lifestyle choice. Of course, such a position is in opposition to the dysphoria and identitarian crowds who claim the sexuality is merely a social construct. Unfortunately, it can’t be both.
I’m a reasonably intelligent person, and I don’t like lying about what I believe or don’t believe to keep people happy. When we begin living like that we participate in our personal totalitarian world – we tell the world a story we don’t personally think is right and we expect others to join in the deception. The reality is, despite all the academic pronouncements, we know almost nothing about the science of being gay, lesbian or gender dysphoric. The ideologically driven language shifts of the last decade are politically motivated and defy what we do know about what it means to be male and female and how sex works and what evolutionary biology reveals. So, in all honesty, I simply don’t get it. It’s not just a feature of my age – I’m not alone, but no one is prepared to say so in public – and that is the great political lie of our time and the basis of totalitarianism; we ‘must’ tell a story we don’t much believe.
In his book, The Madness of Crowds, the neoconservative author Douglas Murray uses an illustration that defines some of my frustration and perplexity. Murray writes that at the end of the 20th century, we had accumulated and navigated several issues from gay rights and marriage, women’s rights and equality alongside global poverty that was being addressed as never before. It felt as if western society was like a train slowly arriving at a destination worth of reaching. Then, for some inexplicable reason, the train picked up a head of steam and careered of the end of the tracks, hell-bent on killing everyone in its path; leaving the bodies of celebrated and courageous 20th-century activists for social change in its path.
At the opening of his review of Heather Brunskell-Evans and Michele Moore’s edited book, Transgender Children and Young People: Born in Your Own Body, Michael Bird writes, “For those of us in such a position, triangulated between being curious, caring, and critical, Transgender Children and Young People: Born in Your Own Body is a much-needed book.” I didn’t buy the book (it’s a hundred $$), so I read the reviews. And they are all mostly positive because the book unpacks the stories of tragedy and difficulty resulting from medical and psychological interference in the lives of complex people for ideological ends. Perhaps the biggest concern being the adult of manipulation of children towards socio-political ends by taking a child’s simple questioning of identity and inadvertently confirming their identity queries as an identity diagnosis A point observed very recently in the British Guardian Media titled, “Teenage transgender row splits Sweden as dysphoria diagnoses soar by 1,500%”. From all accounts, the book is carefully and sensitively written and has been welcomed by those working closely with trans people of all ages.
On the positive side, the last forty years of worldview confusion and religious moral conflict has driven me back to scripture to find a way forward. In Ephesians 2, the Apostle Paul say of Jesus that, “he is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility…” In our liturgy, it is written as a combination of Isaiah 9 and Eph 2, “The Prince of peace who breaks down the walls that divide.” For me, it is an ongoing reminder that in following Jesus, I move toward all people of difference, never away from them. I move toward them as a participant in God’s grace, acceptance and love. I move towards them because, through Christ, they are as acceptable I currently am. I may never fully understand the whole sexuality, language and identitarian political debates. Still, I do understand grace, which I guess is why I get on with my congregation of gay, straight, confused, racist, activist, and gender-fluid people who irritate each other – in love.
 Douglas Murray, The Madness of Crowds: Gender, Race and Identity, Kindle ed. (London: Bloomsbury, 2019).
 Ibid. 119ff
 Heather Brunskell-Evans and Michele Moore, eds., Transgender Children and Young People: Born in Your Own Body, (Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars, 2018).
 Michael F. Bird, “A Must-Read Feminist, Queer, Disability & Psychoanalytic Critique of Transgenderism,” 2019, Accessed 3 March 2020, https://www.patheos.com/blogs/euangelion/2019/05/a-must-read-feminist-queer-disability-psychoanalytic-critique-of-transgenderism/.
 Richard Orange, “Teenage Transgender Row Splits Sweden as Dysphoria Diagnoses Soar By 1,500%,” The Guardian, Accessed 28 February 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/feb/22/ssweden-teenage-transgender-row-dysphoria-diagnoses-soar.
Bibliography – of sorts
Bird, Michael F. “A Must-Read Feminist, Queer, Disability & Psychoanalytic Critique of Transgenderism.” Last modified 11 May 2019, Accessed 3 March 2020, https://www.patheos.com/blogs/euangelion/2019/05/a-must-read-feminist-queer-disability-psychoanalytic-critique-of-transgenderism/.
Heather Brunskell-Evans, and Michele Moore, eds. Transgender Children and Young People: Born in Your Own Body. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars, 2018.
Murray, Douglas. The Madness of Crowds: Gender, Race and Identity. Kindle ed. London: Bloomsbury, 2019.
Orange, Richard. “Teenage Transgender Row Splits Sweden as Dysphoria Diagnoses Soar By 1,500%.” Last modified 22 February 2020, Accessed 28 February 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/feb/22/ssweden-teenage-transgender-row-dysphoria-diagnoses-soar.