Here’s something I’ve learned along the way: Good people are too busy with their lives and the pandemic and watching the war in Ukraine to get involved in the plight of transgender children and their families under attack right now.
Maybe you’re one of those good Christian people who justifies your negligence by saying this isn’t your cause or by hoping surely this isn’t as dire as it might seem.
Let me awaken you from your slumber. This week in Texas, acting on the unconstitutional and cruel executive order of Gov. Greg Abbott, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services began investigating one of their own employees because the employee has a 16-year-old transgender child.
For anyone who thinks the tug-of-war between Greg Abbott of Texas and Ron DeSantis of Florida to see who can be the most cruel on the way to a presidential nomination doesn’t have real-world consequences, let this sink in.
Based on a crackpot legal opinion offered by the indicted Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, Abbott issued an executive order — which does not have legal standing — directing the Department of Family and Protective Services to “conduct a prompt and thorough investigation of any reported instances” of children receiving “abusive gender-transitioning procedures.”
So DFPS officials under Abbott’s thumb started in their own office. By reporting one of their own employees.
The Dallas Morning News reports: “Lambda Legal and the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas went to court in Travis County to try to halt an inquiry into a DFPS employee who has a 16-year-old transgender child. The unnamed employee was put on administrative leave last week, according to the lawsuit. DFPS, which sent an investigator to visit the employee on Friday, is reportedly seeking medical records for the child, referred to as Mary Doe in the court filings.”
Families are scared to death
Have I mentioned how cruel all this is?
In America today, transgender children and their families are scared to death. And they need us to stand up as allies more than ever. The so-called “bathroom bills” of a few years ago were nothing compared to the current attack. It was cruel enough to deny schoolchildren access to restroom facilities, but that didn’t threaten the very stability of their loving families. That didn’t threaten parents with removing their children from the home as though they were beating them or neglecting them.
What at first appeared to be political theater in an election year now has urgently real consequences. Even though district attorneys in Texas’ major cities have said they will not prosecute such cases against parents of transgender children, the state agency charged with protecting children still has the power to make life miserable and scary for transgender children, as we’re seeing in the first reported case of accusations.
“Transgender children don’t just pop up in the homes of liberals and Democrats. They are just as likely to live in the homes of conservatives and Republicans, in the homes of evangelical Christians and pastors.”
And yet, our own reporting on these dire threats gets paltry readership these days. When I first started writing about transgender issues in 2016, people were paying attention. My first column generated a million pageviews on our site and remains our most-read piece of all time. Yet more recent updates on real-life threats barely get noticed.
While we are distracted, a minority population among a minority population is being attacked, and we must come to their defense.
There’s another reason many Christians are silent: They believe offering affirmative care for a transgender child is, in fact, child abuse.
After we published a lovely pastoral prayer for transgender children last week written by Ashley Robinson, one Southern Baptist pastor retweeted the article with his one-word condemnation: “Demonic.”
To this pastor — and to many others of his ilk — offering affirming care to transgender children is not just child abuse, it is the very work of Satan. They have so demonized people they do not understand that they want to punish them.
Here’s an inconvenient truth: Transgender children don’t just pop up in the homes of liberals and Democrats. They are just as likely to live in the homes of conservatives and Republicans, in the homes of evangelical Christians and pastors. Being transgender is not a partisan issue. And as I have previously written, it also is not a theological issue because being transgender is not a sin.
This seems like a good time to point out that the suicide rate for transgender youth is exceptionally high. From Forbes: “The numbers are stark, worrisome and should set off alarm bells: 52% of all transgender and nonbinary young people in the U.S. seriously contemplated killing themselves in 2020. More than half thought it would be better to be dead, rather than trying to live with rejection, isolation, loneliness, bullying and being targeted by politicians and activists pushing anti-trans legislation.”
Why should you care?
Why should you care about transgender children and their families? Because doing so is a truly pro-life position. Because doing so is a truly Christian position. Because having a transgender child, grandchild, nephew or niece is just as likely to happen in your family as in anyone else’s.
“Why should you care about transgender children and their families? Because doing so is a truly pro-life position.”
What can you do?
First, educate yourself. Here’s a starting place with my first article on understanding transgender identity and my TEDx Talk titled “The Baptist Pastor and His Transgender Friends.” There are many more resources available online at places such as The Trevor Project. I also recommend my friend Laurie Scott’s book, God Doesn’t Make Mistakes: Confessions of a Transgender Christian. Laurie is a conservative evangelical Christian and political conservative who has the ability to speak to people who will not listen to people like me.
Second, help educate others. Ignorance abounds on this issue. As you learn more, share what you’re learning with those in your circles of influence. A good start would be to share this very article. Be willing to engage others in conversation and especially be willing to offer a counterweight to those who talk cruelly about things they don’t understand.
Third, stand up and speak up. Elected officials nationwide are attacking transgender children and families because they think they can get away with it, that they can score political points with their base while not offending anyone else. We’ve got to let them know that’s not true. Call, write, visit your elected officials and appeal them as a person of faith. Educate them, pray for them, then vote against them if you have to.
I know this all seems quite abstract to most people whose lives seemingly do not intersect transgender persons. Here is where one of the greatest Christian virtues must come into play: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
“Imagine government officials coming after your children, your family, because your child has red hair or is shorter than average or is left-handed or has some physical difference.”
Imagine government officials coming after your children, your family, because your child has red hair or is shorter than average or is left-handed or has some physical difference. As with transgender identity, these are things your child did not choose and you did not choose for your child. They are just the realities of your beautiful child’s life.
And most of all, remember that God has created all our children and declared them good.
Mark Wingfield serves as executive director and publisher of Baptist News Global. He is the author of Why Churches Need to Talk About Sexuality.
Why being transgender is not a sin | Opinion by Mark Wingfield
A pastoral letter to transgender children | Opinion by Ashley Robinson
Seven things I’m learning about transgender persons | Opinion by Mark Wingfield