Yeah, an elevator pitch. In what world, you might ask, does a hot topic like transgenderism spontaneously erupt on an elevator? OK, most people just stare at the numbered lights above the door. However, the following might work just in case . . .
As you probably know, I’m a United Methodist pastor. We Methodists are an odd sort. For example, my church is in a conference comprised of about 650 churches in the western third of Pennsylvania. Each year we have a meeting of pastors and laity called Annual Conference. In addition to wonderful worship and interesting preaching, we pass legislation. It’s the legislation that makes us a bit odd. More on that in a bit.
Annual Conference is not my favorite event. For an introvert like me, it’s a gauntlet—every ten steps seeing a face you’ve not seen in years and trying to remember the name. Forever repeating your answers to frequent questions like, “How’s it going down there in, uh, what church are you serving now?”
And there is always conflict. (Yes, I’m conflict avoidant too!) Progressives have an agenda to move us further to the left. Conservatives want to, of course, conserve present stances, and sometimes to drive us to the right.
This year the contentious debates included two pieces of legislation regarding gender: whether or not we should include “nonbinary” as a category when counting our flocks, and sending a message to the PA legislature that we want to prohibit biological boys from competing with girls.
(Here’s what’s odd. That legislation passed by only 56% of those present. But Harrisburg will be told that all 650 churches of western PA believe this law should be put in place—even though 44% absolutely oppose it. It’s the kind of thing that makes the average pew sitter’s skin crawl.)
So both pieces of legislation were debated in front of about 750 voting delegates. On the sports issue, I entered the fray, standing up to the mic to share some facts. You only get three minutes! So it was kind of like an elevator speech.
Here are the main points.
Gender dysphoria is real. Very real. There are those who feel as though their gender doesn’t match their biological sex. They describe it as an “inner chafing,” like going through the day while hearing fingernails on chalkboards. They deserve the Church’s compassion and understanding. No question.
Gender dysphoria is rare. Before 2012, it occurred in only .01% of kids. That rate has skyrocketed in ten years.[i]
Gender dysphoria often disappears. Traditional treatment by the world’s recognized leaders of just a decade ago was characterized by watchful waiting. Therapy was certainly provided to help the child or teen deal with the dysphoria, but no physical changes were recommended until their early or mid-twenties. In 70% of the cases, children outgrew the dysphoria.[ii]
Gender dysphoria has nearly always been found in little boys. Not girls. And until 2012, the onset of dysphoria rarely, if ever, hit kids in their teens. Often, it would begin to subside after puberty.
So what changed in 2012? That’s when teens began to glue iPhones to their palms. Since that time, the rates of teen suicide, cutting, drug use, bullying, and identifying as trans have all skyrocketed.
It’s not hard to figure out. If young girls are obsessively checking their Facebook page to see how many people liked the pic they posted, self-esteem is likely to take a big hit. Of course, they are going to check out how many “likes” Susie so-and-so received, and slide further south. Add to it the kind of snarky comments junior high kids make, and BOOM! Maybe I’m just not feminine enough. Maybe I was meant to be a boy. Maybe I’m trans! Maybe I’d better look to see what Google says.
The internet has an abundance of propaganda. There they will find trans gurus on YouTube—biological females excitedly relating the buzz from getting their first “T-shot”, showing off their patchy facial hair, and exulting in the freedom they felt when they had “top surgery”.
Tragically, the education system is increasingly an enabler. They provide cover for the confused kids from their “transphobic” parents, who would supposedly harm them. They conceal identities and instruct teachers to use preferred pronouns and new names. Those who come out of the closet are more than welcomed—they are cheered as heroes. Suddenly, there’s a boost to their self-esteem, they are welcomed into a peer group, and it just feels right. They feel happy.[iii]
During a lunch break at this conference, traditional evangelicals were treated to an address by Bob Kaylor, a leading thinker among traditional Methodists. He offered a tremendous thumbnail sketch of how our culture has evolved to this point. Referring to the works of Carl R. Trueman, he described how the Millennials and younger generations have bought into a Moral Therapeutic Deism. In brief: God exists but is distant. Our aim in life is to be happy. And as long as there’s consent and no one gets hurt, then what’s the harm?
The goal in life is to be happy. Not just to have the right to pursue happiness, but an entitlement to it.[iv]
Before my three minutes at the mic ended, I gave the example of Lia Thomas. Just a few days earlier, she had been interviewed on Good Morning America. Colin Wright, an evolutionary biologist and whiskey aficionado whose blog I subscribe to, had content, context and commentary on his site.[v] Here’s the snippet I read at the mic:
INTERVIEWER: There are some who look at the data and suggest that you’re enjoying a competitive advantage. What do you say to that?
THOMAS: There’s a lot of factors that go into a race and how well you do, and the biggest change for me is that I’m happy, and sophomore year, where I had my best times competing with the men, I was miserable. And so having that be lifted is incredibly relieving and allows me to put my all into training, into racing. Trans people don’t transition for athletics. We transition to be happy and authentic and our true selves. Transitioning to get an advantage is not something that ever factors into our decisions.
INTERVIEWER: You didn’t transition to win more medals?
And right now you are thinking, “But what about the happiness of the girls who were trounced?” Exactly!
I stole my final line from Wright, who rightly quips: “But female sports do not exist to serve as group therapy for miserable males.” That comment alone could have been a mic dropper. But conflict-avoidant introverts like me just don’t do that kind of thing!
[i] Abigail Shrier. Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters, Loc. 143.
[ii] Abigail Shrier. Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters, Loc. 2694.
[iii] Much of this info can be found in Abigail Shrier’s Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters. No, she’s not a conservative Christian on a crusade. Far from it. She’s an independent journalist who holds an A.B. from Columbia College; a B.Phil. from the University of Oxford; and a J.D. from Yale Law School. She’s written for the New York Post, The Wall Street Journal, and Newsweek.
[iv] Carl Trueman’s not the first or only one to conclude this. MTD has been a discussion among many. My first glimpse was Rod Dreher’s The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation.
[v] Mom, if you are reading this, I don’t drink whiskey. Honest!
Great pitch. Can I share this on Facebook?
The problem with an elevator pitch is that it's condensed so much that it has to ignore the complexities. I think many transgender people don't have any goal beyond having people accept them for who they are. I do agree, though, that waiting is usually best because they could find things shifting somewhat during puberty.