Some Religious Arguments Against Gender Surgery Addressed

Recently I commented on an article about Trans Medical Treatment and Faith at Transadvocate. The article began with what one Christian transwoman said about her condition.

“I am trans but also religious. Although I live as a woman, I was born with boy parts. In my opinion, to have surgery would imply that God made a mistake. I do not believe that God is capable of making a mistake, which means that I have the body I was meant to have. I believe that God gave me a challenge and that I am playing the hand that I was dealt. I am trans and proud, but I will not second guess the Almighty. I hope there is room for that, and I love and respect those who believe differently. We are all in this together.”

First, there is always room among us for one to live as they wish and if this woman does not wish gender confirmation surgery (GCS), then she should not seek it. But she should not avoid GCS for incorrect religious reasons. Her argument has several problems and I will dissect those here.

The first problem with this argument is it ignores that babies are born with medical issues every day. From cleft palates to club feet to intersex children to defective hearts to all sorts of other medical issues, the argument that “God doesn’t make mistakes” rings totally hollow. As a pastor I knew once said, this is a fallen world so all sorts of fallen things can occur, even in the womb.

But beyond that are actual Biblical passages that support people being born with problems, not even because of sin, but because that condition can eventually glorify God in some manner, and that Jesus himself accepted those who had voluntarily been castrated (feminized) which is a direct contradiction of the law in Deuteronomy that bans the castrated and their descendants from the temple of the Lord for ten generations.

Here was my comment to the article:

“John 9:1-11 and Matthew 19:11-12. Your Christian friend ought to read both those passages very carefully because they utterly destroy the basis of his argument and both of those passages are from Jesus Christ himself, assuming you accept the New Testament Gospels as accurate, which that person should.”

You need to read those passages to get the full impact but John 9:1-11 is about a man born blind from birth, and Christ reassuring that no one had sinned to cause him to be born blind but that he had been born that way for a purpose of God. Matthew 19:11-12 are about Jesus himself accepting the castrated (feminized) into the kingdom of heaven. So the argument that you shouldn’t do that to your body rings rather hollow when Christ himself accepted people who had surgically altered their genitals.

But beyond that was a wonderful comment from another poster that elaborated even further on this:

“Matthew 19:12 is a reference to Isaiah 56:5, which is clearly a refute of the very early single sentence prohibition in Deut 23:1 against damaging one’s testicles (important for all those Abraham-begets). But then the message in Isaiah and Matthew is again repeatedly referenced and played out very clearly in Acts 26-40. All three time periods, cross referenced. To a Biblical scholar, those three passages stand out as a clear instruction to specifically accept by name, people with intersex conditions, transsexuals and male eunuchs. To a historian, it’s interesting to note that the Church was accepting of eunuchs for much of its early history, even after they were replaced with virtual eunuchs (ie , the vow of chastity) perhaps a thousand years later. Castration’s feminizing effects had been known since the technique was first used on livestock possibly thousands of years prior; it clearly would have been the best available hormone therapy and surgery of the time. Almost as important, though, is that documented ‘eunuchs’ in Rome and elsewhere were recorded as living with the other women, as women. I’m fairly certain they used the (translated) word ‘eunuch’ differently than we do in our post-Freud world.

I’ve met several women who transitioned in the 70’s and 80’s who had their names successfully changed in their local parish Registry. However, that was before the late 1990’s / 2000 when anti-trans Paul McHugh was brought in as the Vatican’s “sex and science adviser”. And clearly before the Pope’s 2007 or 8 Xmas breakfast speech to the Curia regarding “protecting the human ecology”. Accordingly, the bishops have weighed in on issues such as CA’s AB1266 but followed the prior Pope’s position, not Canon, and we don’t know the new Pope’s views.

Perhaps, though, the pendulum is swinging back again:
Transgender Talks Hosted By Two Syracuse Catholic Churches
Parents of Transgender People Share Stories at All Saints Parish

What the careful reader can learn and see very quickly is that the fundamentalist obsession with genitals was not an obsession of the early church or of Christ himself and that surgical alteration of one’s genitals was an accepted thing.

Christians who struggle with this question should, in my opinion, realize that Christ does not care if you have gender surgery or not. It’s not a Biblical issue to torment yourself over. Thus it comes down to one thing and one thing only – do you personally need to do this to be at peace with yourself. If you do, seek the surgery. If you do not, then skip the surgery.

But there is no Christian argument that I can see about gender confirmation surgery (GCS, sometimes referred to as SRS) that should give any trans person pause from aligning their body with their spirit and mind to achieve wholeness.

Whichever choice you make, make it based upon your medical needs, not upon someone else’s interpretation of religious doctrine. You are free to make the choice that you need, whatever choice that is.

Peace be with you, each and every one of you.


3 thoughts on “Some Religious Arguments Against Gender Surgery Addressed

    • Even if you do take it literally, you still have to take it in context. Even in the literal sense, Scripture doesn’t always mean what people think it means, especially if you see it within the context that it was written. Too many people use the Bible to bolster their opinions by picking and choosing verses that suit their particular situation, and paste them together to prove their “point,” not realizing that when taken in context (i.e., whenever you see a “therefore in the Bible, back up a few verses to see what it’s ” there for.”), the very verse they use as a peg on which to hang their hat may mean something totally different, and may not have anything to do with their opinion at all, and could actually be contrary to their stance, if read with the rest of the passage.

  1. A wonderful man who I’ve gotten to know who is an Ecumenical Catholic Bishop wrote the following when addressing the fundamentalist literalists who try to argue that the entire Bible ought to be taken literally. I knew the thought of which he spoke but I never had a word for it before – bibliolatry. It’s a perfect word to describe those who, as you note Deanna, try to take literally a book of metaphors about a man who spoke in metaphor, allegory, and story. Rev. Rob Hall said:

    “When dealing with matters of biblical interpretation one always needs to keep in mind the role of the authority of the Bible in matters of faith and practice. While the Bible is an important witness to the relationship between God and humanity, it is NOT the ultimate revelation of God—Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, is. We must guard against what some scholars have called bibliolatry—making an idol out of scripture.

    One way to guard against bibliolatry is to realize that while the Bible may be at the center of matters of faith, it must also be in ‘conversation’ with tradition, experience and reason. These four sources of faith have become known as the Wesleyan quadrilateral, so named after their originator John Wesley, founder of the Methodist heritage.

    We MUST read and interpret scripture with the aid of the history and tradition of the Christian church. We must also bring reason—philosophical and rational thought–to bear on applications of scripture to real life situations. And last and most importantly, scripture must be weighed alongside human experience—especially the experience of God’s grace.

    It is time we stopped making an idol out of the Bible. It is time we bring philosophical and rational thought—especially what the sciences have told us about sexual orientation and identity development—into conversation with the Bible. It is time we listen to the experiences of God’s gay and lesbian children who know with all their hearts that God has created them just as they are.”


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s