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The dogmas that must be questioned

Carl R. Trueman | The claims of the LGBTQ+ movement don’t hold up under the scrutiny of medical reality


Intersex Progress Pride flags, designed to be all-inclusive of the LGBTQ+ movement, fly outside a pub in London Getty Images/Photo by Mike Kemp

The dogmas that must be questioned

Various LGBTQ+ groups have expressed outrage (is there any other idiom for expressing disagreement today?) over the British Equality and Human Rights Commission’s calls for Scotland to delay its move to “simplify” its criteria for gender recognition (i.e., make it easier for men and women to identify as the opposite sex and to enjoy legal protection thereof) and for England and Wales to slow down legislation outlawing “conversion therapy.”

Stonewall, the U.K.’s most prominent LGBTQ+ outfit could not contain its anger at this “attack on trans equality” and human rights. The LGBT Foundation went further, immediately cutting all ties with the EHRC. That Stonewall did not go quite that far might have something to do with the money that flows into its coffers from the British Conservative Party’s government.

In amidst the usual huffing and puffing about human rights, the LGBT Foundation statement contained the following paragraph:

“EHRC has ignored the experiences of trans and non-binary individuals who have undergone unnecessary trauma. They suggest that LGBTQ+ lives are up for debate and medical scrutiny. They disregard expert opinion and lived experience—a humiliating and dehumanizing action against our community with real-world consequences.”

Now, anyone who has ever reflected on the LGBTQ+ alliance knows that it is at best a case of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” a confected political mirage designed for one thing and one thing only: the displacement of the normative status of traditional sexual mores and notions of human identity. Other than that, the L, the G, and the B have next to nothing in common with the T and the Q (which does not even have a stable definition). The former all assume that biological sex is critical to identity. The latter repudiate that. And as the near-total cultural triumph of the movement approaches, it is not surprising that cracks in the edifice are starting to appear. We now find that even the EHRC is having doubts about the validity of lumping together matters of sexual orientation and gender identity in the campaign against the catch-all category of conversion therapy. Indeed, it should be patently obvious to anyone—gay or straight—that outlawing any attempt to change the mind of someone who thinks they are born in the wrong body is not following the science. Rather it is to force queer and gender theory on the medical profession under penalty of law.

The trans movement does not follow the science so much as promote a pernicious and moralistic rhetoric designed to demonize dissent.

A claim about a disconnection between mind and body on the level of saying that one is really a woman, despite the chromosomal coding of every single cell of one’s body saying otherwise, is precisely the kind of claim that needs to be debated and medically scrutinized, in much the same way that a bulimic’s claim that she is a thin person trapped in an obese body needs to be medically scrutinized. Lived experience is scarcely an accurate guide to medical reality. And just as I am not the best person to interpret that pain in my stomach or head, so it is in the case of body dysmorphia regarding gender.

And that brings us to the real point at issue on the trans matter. The rhetoric of endangered lives is a cheap, lazy, but effective way of closing debate on the trans issue precisely because the radicals cannot allow their claims to be scrutinized by science—or subject to any form of dissent, for that matter. They are trying to present as obvious reality that which is patently false: The biological sex makes no difference. The trans movement does not follow the science so much as promote a pernicious and moralistic rhetoric designed to demonize dissent.

And there is the real tragedy: It is the rhetoric, necessary for the fulfillment of the movement’s political goals, that really jeopardizes lives affected by the trans issue. It prevents those struggling with gender identity from obtaining real help and it forces their families to comply with harmful treatment strategies. These political lobby groups use the language of love and hate, safety and danger, as it suits them. But the irony is that it is they who endanger individual lives in their monomaniacal pursuit of their absurd politics.

There might be an opportunity here for Christians. Nobody, least of all Christians, should want anything less than the well-being, safety, and health of all people, including those claiming to be trans. And that requires that we oppose at every point profiteering political outfits like Stonewall, the LGBT Foundation, and their ilk who have a vested interest in harming trans people by their refusal to allow proper medical scrutiny of their claims. Out of love for human beings made in the image of God, we Christians must oppose the well-funded political lobbyists determined to prevent trans people from having the care and help they need. And we need to take back the rhetoric of love, and in our attitudes and our actions toward those struggling with his pernicious form of politicized body dysmorphia, show that it is we who truly desire their safety and well-being.


Carl R. Trueman

Carl R. Trueman taught on the faculties of the Universities of Nottingham and Aberdeen before moving to the United States in 2001 to teach at Westminster Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania. In 2017-18 he was the William E. Simon Visiting Fellow in Religion and Public Life in the James Madison Program at Princeton University.  Since 2018, he has served as a professor at Grove City College. He is also a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and a contributing editor at First Things. Trueman’s latest book is the bestselling The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self. He is married with two adult children and is ordained in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.

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