The Transgender Moment
Barber points out that the American Psychiatric Association, which declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder in 1973, still classifies the condition of transgender as a disorder. Barber says the political left wing is facilitating more gender confusion by counseling the afflicted to feel good about themselves rather than find a treatment for this disorder. "You are what you aremale or female," Barber says.
Peter Sprigg, Family Research Council (FRC) vice president for policy in Washington, D.C., says, "The pressure for acceptance is ultimately a challenge to the authority of Scripture and a violation of natural law. In the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender movement there is a tendency to continually push the envelope in trying to demand the acceptance of what most people perceive to be unusual behavior."
The everyday lives of transgendered people are often an agonizing interplay of nature and nurture. The experience of Ann Gordon/ Drew Phoenix has become a public example of this interplay in a faith-based environment.
As a child, Ann Gordon's parents allowed her to dress and act like a boy. Because of Ann's tomboyish appearance and conduct, her parents even publicly referred to her as their son in a small town north of Dayton, Ohio. But when puberty hit, Ann's parents expected her to start wearing dresses and look like a lady. She didn't know how to conform to parental wishes and societal expectations.
Eighteen years ago, Ann became an ordained United Methodist minister. In 2002, Ann began serving St. John's of Baltimore United Methodist Church. But the lifelong feelings of gender confusion were strong and persistent.
"I experienced a disconnect between my external physical self and my internal spiritual self," the minister says.
In 2006, Ann Gordon legally became Drew Phoenix, culminating in a sex-change operation. After the surgery, the bishop of the Baltimore-Washington conference reappointed Phoenix to the church. Some 20 of the 40 active St. John's members view themselves as part of the GLBT movement, according to Phoenix.
"I have no qualms about the transition," says Phoenix, 48. "It was the right thing to do. I feel happy, peaceful, and whole. I felt guided by the Spirit to do this."
In October, the nine-member UMC Judicial Council met to determine if Phoenix had broken any church law. Nothing in the denomination's Book of Discipline addresses the topic. The council upheld the bishop's decision that Phoenix could remain as a pastor in good standing. This summer, the UMC General Conference, which meets every four years, will likely discuss banning transgendered ministers.
Phoenix sets aside the biological fact that her body was originally female. "I believe I was born male," Phoenix says. "My body didn't match what I am. That's how God made me. God created me male."
Alan Chambers, president of Exodus International in Orlando, Florida, understands the ordeal that Phoenix is facing. "As a prepubescent boy I could have been diagnosed as transgender," Chambers says. "I dressed like a girl. I acted like a girl. I wanted to be a girl." Chambers is convinced that many of the children labeled as transgendered have been misdiagnosed.
Chambers, 35, says his parents didn't encourage him to try to be a female. He says his parents knew God didn't make mistakes and cited Genesis 1:27, in which God creates male and female. Preschoolers are incapable of knowing whether they would feel better as the other gender, Chambers says. His desire to be a girl subsided when he hit puberty.