“In Reason We Trust” March 2017
The president is rewarding evangelical supporters, and ignoring facts. This article received 54 comments that can be read online.
Trump’s removal of protections for transgender children is not driven by any valid medical, biological, developmental, legal, or mental health perspective, or from objections from mainstream religions. It is simply a political move that serves the interests of some of his major Religious Right financial supporters such as Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council. They are evangelical Christian organizations whose purpose is to create a “Christian Nation” by passing laws that support their fundamentalist interpretation of the Bible, which claims being gay or transgender is an abomination.
The Religious Right has major active networks opposing not only transgender rights but LGBT and abortion rights as well in over 75 percent of the states. The main tool they use to deny these constitutional rights is advocating for Religious Freedom Restoration Acts.
The more liberal religions interpret the Bible’s main message as acceptance of one another, the inherent worth and dignity of every person, and justice, equality and compassion in human relations. According to these religions, being gay or transgender is as natural as being straight or gender conforming.
Some conservative religions agree. The Crux, a magazine that “Takes the Catholic Pulse,” reports that after same-sex marriage was legalized, Catholics who supported gay marriage asked: “How can we who support gay rights remain in a Church that appears so bigoted, backward, (and) blind?” Younger Catholics were hit the hardest and wondered how church leaders could hold such hate for gay and transgender people yet profess that they teach the acceptance, compassion and empathy of God’s love.
The American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics have all taken similar positions that support the equal rights of all gay and transgender individuals. These organizations have also made opposing LGBT discrimination and abuse a major part of the work they do.
Physicians understand that human biology is very complex. Dr. William Reiner, a child psychiatrist and pediatric urologist at the University of Oklahoma who specializes in conditions that affect male reproductive organs, states, “You cannot necessarily tell by looking at the genitals whether you’re going to have a child who has a male or a female gender (identity).”
Dr. Reiner also noted that a newborn girl’s genitals may appear male if that girl received too much testosterone in the womb and a boy’s genitals could fail to fully develop with too little testosterone. The level of testosterone also affects the development of certain regions in the brain that typically differ between males and females resulting in some of these children being transgender.
James Esseks, director of the ACLU’s LGBT Project, says that “even with (Trump) revoking the guidance, it doesn’t undo legal protections for trans students” and, “trans students are clearly protected by the Constitution, and there’s a line of case law showing that Title IX protects trans students.”
The Obama administration determined that Title IX allows transgender students to use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity. Trump disagrees, and he is supported by, no surprise, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a fundamentalist, evangelical Christian who refuses to recognize LGBT rights.
One claim is that allowing transgender women into a woman’s bathroom will put women in danger of sexual assault. Yet these attacks have simply not happened. According to The Advocate, “There has never been a verifiable, reported instance of a trans person harassing a cisgender (gender-conforming) person, nor have there been any confirmed reports of male predators ‘pretending’ to be transgender to gain access to women’s spaces and commit crimes against them.”
On the contrary, many victims of hate crimes are transgender women. In 2015, 23 transgender women were murdered in this country alone, and anti-transgender violence in the U.S. is on the rise. In 2016 there were at least 44 anti-transgender bills introduced that would take away LGBT protections and lead to even greater violence against LGBT individuals.
The Trump administration and the Religious Right are clearly attacking transgender children with no medical, biological, developmental, legal, mental health or mainstream religious support. They are promoting policies that will increase violence on a vulnerable community under the ruse of protecting women from a non-existent threat.
The sole reason to expose transgender students to the very real and likely threat of physical harm is to reward organizations that hold one religious view, fundamentalist evangelical Christianity, for their past and future financial support.