Recently, retired basketball star Dwyane Wade came forward to share that his child, who is physically a boy, identifies a female. I can only imagine the emotions that go along with such a revelation. Above all you love your child. Just as any good parent does, you support your child. You also fear for them. People with sexual dysphoria are very conflicted internally and often suicidal. You also worry about how they will be treated by others.
As we grow up our sense of identity is a very fragile thing. We develop a sense of who we are, whether we are loved, whether we are good and what we will be. Sometimes a child can develop a sense that they are the opposite sex of what their body is. Sex is biologically determined. It is a part of our sexual organs, hormonal system and the DNA of every cell in our body. Being a certain sex does not preclude of having some characteristics associated with the opposite sex. For instance, a boy can have a slight build that seems more feminine. Or he can enjoy activities that usually are associated with girls. This is all perfectly normal.
In some less functional situations, a boy can think that women are treated better and desire to be one. The opposite can also be true. When children develop a sexual identity that is in conflict with their physical reality, it can be emotionally distressing for all. The good news is that 85% will realign with the physical sex without doing anything. Puberty is the thing that often helps a boy to identify as a boy and a girl identify as a girl. For those who continue to struggle, caring counseling can help them understand the source of their confusion.
Unfortunately, a false ideology has grown up around this problem. This ideology insists that our true sexual identity is what we think about ourselves or a part of our spirit. On the one hand, those who promote this insist that this identity is endemic. Quite hypocritically they also say it is fluid, which is a contradiction.
This ideology has been pushed on society with the same game plan as the normalization of homosexuality. While sexual dysphoria has nothing to do with homosexuality, the lack of understanding and acceptance in society for both and the fact that it involves sexuality have made them kindred causes.
The ideology that gender is fluid and the our sexuality is rooted in our thoughts is dangerous, however. It advances that idea that the kind thing to do is to agree with our children and subject them to puberty blocking hormones and eventually sexual reassignment. It is believed that this will cause internal harmony, but it doesn’t. It creates a sterilized and mutilated individual who is still conflicted, but now has no way back.
I don’t know the Wade family, but it is pretty easy to imagine how this could happen. A pre-pubescent boy could see his very manly and adored father and internally believe that he could never be that. He may identify instead with his mother and desire to be a female. I would hate to see that someday he would find himself to be, despite the treatment, a 6’4″ muscular, sterilized, pseudo-female.
Sexual dysphoria is a psychological problem; and should be dealt with lovingly, but psychologically. We have allowed psychological problems to be so stigmatized in our society that we would rather fix something else–something that isn’t broken in this case.
What we think about ourselves is not necessarily our reality. It can be our delusion. I have a relative who is a paranoid schizophrenic. What she thinks is real is definitely not real. People who have body dysmorphia believe they are fat. The reality is they are on the edge of starvation. We would not give an anorexia a stomach bypass, would we? Still, parents will allow a child to opt for radical, irreversible, unscientific, not medically necessary surgery.
God has made us to be both a body and a soul. While in this fallen world, things are definitely wrong with us. We need to beware of false ideologies that explain our flaws in deceptive ways. We need to know that God loves us and will work with us as we navigate the results of sin and the curse. In this case, to exalt our thoughts over the realities of our bodies is a mistake.