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The Transgender Wedge

"Public schools, tear down those walls." (photo story / Shutterstock.com)

The overwhelming rejection last night of an LGBT non-discrimination ordinance by Houston voters suggests that the “transgender bathroom” phenomenon could be a powerful wedge issue in the 2016 presidential race.

As Rice University political scientist Mark Jones told the Atlantic‘s Russell Berman, opponents of the defeated HERO ordinance have said that they would accept a non-discrimination ordinance that exempted bathrooms and locker rooms. I believe that is possible. Most people in this country are a lot more accepting of lesbians and gays than they are of transgenders — and even then, I believe Americans would tolerate transgenders, but absolutely do not believe trans people have a civil right to use bathrooms and locker rooms belonging to the other biological sex.

This offends LGBT activists, of course, but it is by no means an unreasonable stance. The “transgender” part of the LGBT coalition represents a radical departure, even from same-sex attraction. After all, however disordered orthodox Christians may believe same-sex attraction to be, at least they affirm the reality of gender. Transgender denies even that.

I am reminded of a conversation I had earlier this year with a Catholic priest friend about the challenge he faces in campus ministry dealing with refugees from the Sexual Revolution. From the blog I posted back in May about it:

What Rieff is saying here, sometimes amid thick jargon, is that what was distinctive about Christianity from the beginning is a spirit of asceticism, especially sexual asceticism. As Rieff makes clear, Christianity did not prescribe “crude” sexual renunciation (i.e., total denial of the sexual instinct), but rather controlling it, reining it in to make it serve higher spiritual purposes. If you can master your sex drive, the theory went, then you can master any other passions that, unreined, will destroy you and the possibility of community.

Rieff’s prophetic point is that Western culture has renounced renunciation, has cast off the ascetic spirit, and therefore has deconverted from Christianity whether it knows it or not. In bringing this up with my priest friend, I asked him why he thought sex was at the center of the Christian symbolic that has not held.

“It goes back to Genesis 1,” he said. “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Then he told them to ‘be fruitful and multiply.’ We see right there in the beginning the revelation that male and female, that complementarity, symbolizes the Holy Trinity, and in their fertility they carry out the life of the Trinity.”

In other words, from the perspective of the Hebrew Bible, gender complementarity and fertility are built into the nature of ultimate reality, which is God. Our role as human beings is to strive to harmonize our own lives with that reality, because in so doing we dwell in harmony with God.

“Do you know what the word ‘symbol’ means in the original Greek?” he asked. I said I did not.

“It means ‘to bring together,’” he said.

“To integrate,” I replied.

“Yes. Now, do you know what the antonym for symbol is?”


“It is diabolos, which means to tear apart, to separate, to throw something through another thing.”

“So when something is diabolic, it means it is a disintegrating force?”

“You could say that, yes,” he said. “All the time I’m dealing with the fallout from divorce and families breaking up. Kids who don’t know their fathers. You should hear these confessions. It’s a huge deal. You can see the loss of the sense of what family is for, and why it’s important.”

He said that the students he works with are so confused, needy, and broken. Many of them have never seen what a functional, healthy family looks like, and have grown up in a culture that devalues the fundamental moral, metaphysical, and spiritual principles that make stable and healthy family formation possible — especially the belief that the generative powers of sex, within male-female complementarity, is intimately related to the divine nature, and the ongoing life of the Trinity. Nobody has ever explained it to them, he says. If they’ve heard anything from the Church, it’s something like, “Don’t do this because the Bible says not to” — which is not enough in this time and place. And many of them have never, or have rarely, seen it modeled for them by the adults in their lives.

To many, the idea that people would be unnerved by transgenders using opposite-sex bathrooms and locker rooms seems like ignorance and prejudice. To many others, though, it amounts to a basic recognition of the reality and meaning of gender difference. To accept homosexuality and transgender is diabolical in the sense that the priest means above: dis-integrating the bonds of society. Transgender is much more significant in this respect than homosexuality, because it denies the most basic biological reality of all.

The Obama administration and the Democratic Party, at least at the national level, has gone all-in for the LGBT agenda. This week, the Education Department announced its intention to file civil rights lawsuits against public schools that do not allow transgender students to use locker rooms and bathrooms for their preferred gender. No compromise is possible, says Team Obama, rejecting an Illinois school district’s proposal to create a separate changing area in the girls’ locker room for a transgender student.

This is what it means for sexual radicals to have control of the US government. They tell your local public school that if it doesn’t allow teenagers with penises to use the girls’ locker room and bathroom, or teenagers with vaginas to use the boys’ locker room and bathroom, the United States will come down full force on them in court. This is how revolutionary the Democrats are — and Hillary Clinton is its Madame DeFarge.

Of course the gutless Republicans will not talk about the federal government bullying public schools to open their locker rooms and bathrooms to transgenders, because they’re terrified of being called bigots, and upsetting their big business patrons. Nevertheless, we know that if Hillary Clinton becomes president, she will continue to wage war on reality, and on the sensibilities of localities, in the name of the Revolution. However weak and vacillating a Republican president would likely be on these issues, he would be better than the Democrat.

The “transgender bathroom” issue symbolizes something far more profound than the ickiness of a penis-haver in the girls’ room. It represents the degree to which the US government is willing to go to enforce a radical view of reality itself on an unwilling population. It’s a big deal.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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