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Gender ideology is a universal acid | Jonathan Saunders

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Jonathan Saunders explores the all-pervasive effect of gender ideology, drawing on a recent BBC documentary about Gender Dysphoria. 

Last night (12 January) the BBC broadcast a documentary called 'Transgender Kids: Who Knows Best?'. Set almost entirely in Canada, it tells the stories of several families dealing with 'gender confusion' and exposes the effect that gender ideology has had on individuals and society. The story of Kenneth Zucker was particularly striking.

Kenneth Zucker is a world-leading child psychologist specialising in Gender Dysphoria. He treated more than 1000 children over three decades in his gender identity clinic in Toronto. He does not believe in the increasingly popular 'gender-affirming' approach to treating Gender Dysphoria which encourages children to embrace how they feel about their gender. Rather he practises what he calls 'developmentally informed therapy'. 'Transgender' activists accused Zucker of practising 'reparative' or 'cure' therapy, and when a new law in June 2016 banned all 'reparative therapy' he lost his job and had his clinic shut down.

One of Zucker's former colleagues explained the reaction from other psychologists practising developmentally informed therapy:

"People are now probably fairly terrified of taking any stance that is out of step with what trans activists are demanding. They would certainly look and say 'If somebody as prominent as Ken Zucker could lose his job for being reluctant to join the trans bandwagon, what could happen to me if I expressed any reservations?'" Dr Ray Blanchard, CAMH Adult Gender Clinic (retired).

Zucker's experience is just one example of the profound influence gender ideology has had on public life over the past few decades. It is now affecting everything:

  • Medicine: In the medical literature, the name of the condition involving cross-gender identification has changed from 'Gender Identity Disorder' to 'Gender Dysphoria', "shifting the emphasis from incongruence as a disorder to the distress (dysphoria) associated with the experience of that incongruence". [1] This has the effect of changing the focus from a disorder in the mind (so fix the mind) to a disorder in the body (so fix the body). Those who wish to treat Gender Identity Disorder as a disorder (such as Zucker) have their clinics shut down and lose their jobs, no matter how many people they have helped in their long careers.
  • Politics: There has been a concerted effort to include 'transgender people' by name in increasing amounts of legislation. 'Sex reassignment' is a protected characteristic in the Equality Act 2010. And there is now a Private Members' Bill in the House of Commons seeking to make 'gender identity' a protected characteristic. This would be a huge step, extending the reach of the Equality Act from those who have had or are proposing to have 'sex reassignment' surgery to anyone who 'identifies' in a cross-gender way.
  • Law: The Crown Prosecution Service recently issued a consultation reviewing its policy on 'homophobic and transphobic hate crime'. The concept of 'hate crime' creates a separate category for crime against certain groups of people and privileges them above others.
  • Language: There has been a shift in language in many government, EU and UN documents from 'sex' to 'gender'. This changes the definition from a fixed characteristic (sex) to a more malleable one (gender). 
  • Science: Activists deliberately ignore scientific studies which challenge the 'new normal'. If these evidence-based studies suggest that it may be harmful to encourage children to change their body in order to conform with their cross-gender identification, the authors are labelled the "Anti-Trans All Stars" and subjected to all manner of vitriol and false accusations
  • Education: This week MPs narrowly rejected a new clause to the Children and Social Work Bill which would have made 'LGBT inclusive' sex education compulsory in all schools. Before Christmas a new book was published entitled 'Can I Tell You About Gender Diversity?', saying that the terms 'boys' and 'girls' should not be used in schools because students who identify as 'transgender' might feel excluded. 
  • Family: At the heart of it all are individual cases. 'Bethany' is a 14-year-old girl who wants to change her name to a boy's name. Her parents are concerned for her mental health (she started self-harming) and fear that she will be taken away from them because, like Dr Zucker, they do not think a 'gender-affirming' approach is in her best interests. Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) told the parents that unless they allow 'Bethany' to change her name, she will be at risk of suicide.  

Why is it so all-pervasive? Isn't this just about people's personal and private lives? And why are activists ignoring so much scientific evidence and so quickly overhauling medical practice and historic legislation?

We like to think that we are rational people, that we think before we act and that all we do is based on empirical evidence. In our minds, rational enquiry is the first filter we put on anything. But these examples reveal this is not entirely true. Scripture has the truth:

"Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it." 
(Proverbs 4:23)

There is of course an exhortation here but also a maxim; everything we do flows from our hearts. And the object on which our hearts are set will determine all else. Gender ideology is pervasive because everything we do flows from our hearts, and the hearts of many are set on anything but the God who made us. When we reject God we try to remove every trace of him from private and public life. Like a wife rejecting her husband we clear out the house and get rid of all his possessions and anything which reminds us of him. But this means removing all images of him as well. And we are his image:

"So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them." (Genesis 1:27)

He made us 'male and female' and this is a significant part of what it means to be made in his image. We cannot expect to reject God and keep his world intact. In seeking to remove every trace of him, we must remove 'male and female' altogether. Not just from individuals but from all aspects of life.

We cannot expect gender ideology to remain a private matter. It is a universal acid. It affects everything it touches.


Related Links:
Christian family fear 'gender-confused' daughter will be taken away 
cmf file 59 (2016) - gender dysphoria (Christian Medical Fellowship)  
Transgender Kids: Who Knows Best? (BBC iPlayer)  
The New Atlantis Report: Sexuality & Gender