Some thoughts about last night’s 60 Minutes segment on Schuyler Bailar, a transgender swimmer at Harvard.
1. The episode contained none of 60 Minutes’ usual pushback. There were no alternate voices. No one wondering whether Schuyler had made a mistake. Instead, the segment praised Schuyler for sacrificing victories with the women’s team for back of the pack finishes with the men’s team, all so Schuyler could be true to oneself. The episode demonstrated that our cultural leaders believe the transgender debate is over. There isn’t a contrary view worth mentioning.
2. Our culture is descending into chaos. Schuyler has female body parts and is open to someday carrying a baby, but Schulyer is now called a man because Schulyer identifies as a man, takes testosterone, and dates women. Who should be using which restrooms is just the beginning of our troubles. We’re going to need scorecards to keep up with the burgeoning number of gender and sexual possibilities. When fathers are carrying babies, what does gender and sex even mean?
3. I doubt there is much difference between a lesbian who plays the man’s role (e.g., Ellen Degeneres with Portia de Rossi) and a transgender man who marries a woman. As far as I can tell, the only difference is that the latter takes testosterone and insists she is a man.
4. Despite the wide variety in gender and sexual labels, all the players in this uniquely modern drama are committed to two beliefs: individual autonomy and Gnosticism. Everyone believes that each person decides for themselves what their gender and sexual preference might be and that their body does not matter. Until ten years ago Schuyler would have fit into the culture as a beautiful tomboy (she was a good looking woman). Now the culture must adapt to Schulyer, and millions more who make their own autonomous decisions. I expect the culture will exhaust itself in trying.
5. Christians need wisdom to know best how to help the Schulyer’s of this world who come to Christ. What does redemption look like for them? Some people will be so damaged by sin, through surgeries, marriage, and adoption, that it will be difficult for them to make it all the way back to wholeness, at least in this life.
6. Churches need to think through their restroom policies. We want to reach Schulyer’s for Jesus, and yet we also want to protect the privacy of people using our restrooms. What will we do when a transgender man or woman visits our church? Are we prepared with a proactive and compassionate policy that will protect the needs of everyone? Is this even possible?
7. It’s interesting how culture sets the parameters of debate. Until a couple of years ago, most every culture in human history assumed gender was binary and marriage was between men and women. Suddenly the ground has shifted, and even Christians believe they may not be able to prove either. Demonstration requires common ground, and as our culture continues to pursue autonomy and Gnosticism, there should be less of it between us and them. Christians will be reduced to a minority dissent. This isn’t all bad. We may not be able to persuade by argument (though we should try), but we can show by our marriages, families, and sexual purity that there is a better way. Our culture is in crisis. What an opportunity for the church!
Photo by Lindsey Price. Via Flickr. Used by permission.