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Scriptual Objections Used Against Christians with GID

Scriptural Objections Used Against Christians with Gender Dysphoria

by Jennifer Ann Burnett , MD

Aug. 6, 2007


(Adapted from a letter written to a Christian sister who had questions regarding [supposed] scriptural objections against those with Gender Dysphoria (GD)/Transsexualism, particularly after reading a book by T.D. Jakes, Woman, Thou Art Loosed.)


One of the most common objections Christians raise against those with GD (especially those who “transition” from male to female) is 1Cor 6:9. It says that “the effeminate… will not inherit the kingdom of God”. TD Jakes quotes this verse in his book. However, this verse doesn’t apply to those who suffer from GD, for Jakes does not know enough about this unusual birth defect to even make such a distinction. Please remember that no one is perfect. Just because God has used him to preach an inspirational message to women who have been in bondage due to previous emotional/spiritual trauma, does not mean that EVERYTHING the man says is “inspired by God” or inerrant. Only the Bible can make the claim of infallibility.


In this case, Jakes is just "editorializing" regarding “effeminate men” in today’s society, stating that they all need God’s healing. There are men who know that they are men (i.e. they do not currently, or ever have had Gender Identity Disorder), yet chose to behave in an “unmanly” fashion. Perhaps his comments do rightly apply in that case. But to generalize this to include those Christians who suffer from GD would be extremely wrong. As I have written elsewhere, God made us and knows each of us as we truly are, for “God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart” (1Sam 16:7).


I was created to be God’s daughter, from my mother’s womb (Ps 139: 13). I may have had the outward appearance of a male from birth, but I had the heart and soul, mind and spirit of a woman from the very start. This in itself really renders any scriptural objection against me (or anyone born as a M2F transsexual) for behaving “effeminately” as moot; for why would God condemn one of His daughters for behaving in accord to her true feminine “nature”, just as He created her to be?


To those who say that “cross-dressing” in itself is an abomination (Deu 22:5), I would ask “When was I most abominable to God? Before I transitioned, while I was still living and dressing as a male? I did so then because that’s what society dictated I do in order to “fit in” Or am I abominable now, after being set free from my debilitating mind-body disunity into a new life in which I can love God and daily experience His grace and mercy in ways I never even dreamed of before? Is it abominable that God is glorified in me and has used me in His service to help many others since I transitioned? It certainly by His grace and through His provision that I was able to survive this long and painful process! I have always been God’s daughter, even if I was forced to live most of my life outwardly as a male. But I believe that God’s never regarded me as an “abomination”, neither before and certainly not after my transition.


But to answer your questions and to really try to “rightly divine the word of truth” (2Tim ) I invite you to explore with me some of these issues more fully. Let us start 1Cor 6:9 and the Greek word translated "effeminate". First off, it has absolutely nothing to do with being a transsexual or even exhibiting effeminate behavior. The original Greek has an entirely different meaning than in NKJV, NAS and many of the translations. They are quite amiss in their rendering the word "malakos" (or “malakoi”) as "effeminate".


Malakos is used only 4 times in the N.T, and in the three other places it is translated as "soft",  as referring to soft clothing or soft raiment. It is used twice in Mat 11:8: "But what did you go out to see? A man [this is Jesus talking, referring to John the Baptist] dressed in malakos? Those who wear malakos are in king's palaces." Malakos is used once in Luke 7:25 (which is the parallel verse to Mat 11:8); "But what did you go out to see? A man dressed in malakos garments? Those who are “splendidly” clothed and live in luxury are found in royal palaces!" As you can see from the parallel, in the second place where malakos was used in Matt, Luke used the Greek word “endoxus”, which is translated as “gloriously” or “splendidly”, referring to the type of clothing kings wear.


Certainly, Jesus was not intending to say either that John the Baptist or those in the royal courts were dressed “effeminately” (though Jesus did have many other unflattering words for Herod). And there is little in other Greek literature where the word malakos is found that gives it an “effeminate” connotation. Therefore, I submit that it is a huge and erroneous jump to go from "soft raiment as is seen in kings' palaces” to using malakos to describe a male as being "effeminate”. My guess is that if you walked up to any of the kings of that day and told them they were dressing “effeminately”, you would get your head quickly chopped off while they sat there and watched in their fine, splendidly soft malakos robes (as opposed to the coarse garments that common men wore).


I believe that the usage of malakos in the 1Cor 6:9 passage has an entirely different meaning to it than “dressing/behaving in an effeminate manner”. Such a man being described in 1Cor 6:9 is more like that which was common amongst 17th and 18th century European noblemen. These courtiers were referred to as being "foppish" or “dandies”, which speaks of a man who is overly concerned with appearance, dedicated to the highest fashion and goes to great lengths in using wigs, styling and make-up [all of which were in common use in the royal courts of Europe during that age] to appear “en vogue”. (For those who may remember their English Lit from college, “The Scarlet Pimpernel”, by the British novelist, Baroness Emma Orczy, depicts this mode of dress and behavior in the royal court of England during the time of the French Revolution.)


Though their mannerisms and dress may seem "effeminate" to us today (especially from our macho American point of view), frequently this type of man was highly sexually-active with the ladies, as his “style” was extremely attractive in the royal courts. His activities were all related to satisfying his passions and lusts. In one sense, this man could truly be referred to as morally “soft” and thus his debauched lifestyle should indeed be condemned. Such a man may well be listed amongst “those who will not inherit the kingdom of God .”


Now, while we are on this subject of effeminate behavior and/or dress, let us also discuss the other common objection raised by well-meaning Christian brethren towards us for “wearing clothes of the opposite sex” They site that such behavior as ours is condemned by the Bible as in Deu 22:5. It says that those who “cross-dress” are “an abomination to the Lord your God”.


First, this pronouncement is one on many commandments given by God to the Israelites in order to make a clear separation/distinction between His people and the cultures and practices of the ungodly nations around them. It is nestled amongst various codes like the prohibition against wearing clothing made of two different fibers (v.11) and that every new house must be constructed with a parapet on its roof (v.8). Dare we mention that all the parents of rebellious children who repeatedly ignore reproof are commanded to take these “incorrigibles” to the gateway of their city to be stoned (-21)?


Second, this prohibition against wearing clothes of the opposite sex came about for reasons not even considered likely today- men impersonating women to avoid compulsory service in the Israelite army or women wearing men's clothing in order to gain the status and position of Israelite males. Also, in the heathen religious practices of that time, men who were serving as temple prostitutes for their foreign gods often arraigned themselves in female garments and had sex in this manner. God despised all such practices.


Moreover, those who demand that we cease our “immoral behavior” on the basis of Deu 22:5 should also be willing set us a godly example by accepting and practicing all the other O.T. laws. The Jewish dietary and Sabbath commandments found in Deuteronomy are routinely ignored by nearly every Christian. And rightly so for most of them, for we who are in Christ are no longer bound by the Law- Rom 7:4-6. So why should we who suffer from such a debilitating burden of living with GD be subject to such a fine dissection the O.T law- this one tiny mention of  “cross-dressing” from amongst all the other laws? This is even more absurd when you consider that there is absolutely nothing else in the rest of the Bible condemning a “behavior” that only resembles what actually prompted God’s prohibition in Deu 22:5 in the first place.


Consider that we who have been born with GD, a medical problem- (a congenital anomaly [birth defect] wherein our "gender centers" within our brain were “wired” opposite to our physical and chromosomal sex) are often excoriated by our Christian brethren, maybe even called “demon-possessed” or “satanically-influenced” and are ostracized/kicked out of our churches. Why? Simply because we are following the only effective, medically-indicated treatment for a medical condition. GD appears to be a highly unusual condition and many people may not understand or believe us, but that does not justify their unloving words and (quite often) decidedly un-godly behavior towards us.


Agreed, it may appear that the actions we pursue to bring about the healing of our mind-body disunity resemble something in the Bible that is sinful. But it should also be evident that even though the boy who suffered epileptic seizures in Luke 9:37-43 did have a demon as the cause; all people today who have seizures are NOT possessed by demons! The vast majority of those with epilepsy can be treated very effectively by both medical and/or surgical means and therefore do not require an exorcism.


 Every Christian transsexual I have met had repeatedly, sincerely and with as much faith as is possible prayed for and/or sought that healing by the laying on of hands, etc. If God chooses not to grant us divine healing from our GD, I firmly believe that we can still prayerfully consider that God’s grace allows us to explore reputable medical and surgical means to allow us to live as normal and productive a life as is possible. No godly Christian parents I know would withhold surgery from their son or daughter suffering from a correctable, severely debilitating (and possibly fatal) congenital heart condition or a disfiguring cleft lip/nose deformity just because God did not choose to miraculously heal their child in response to prayer.


The New Testament is full of passages telling us to “love one another” in Christ (e.g. John -35; ; 1John ,23), not to judge or condemn our brethren (e.g. Mat 7:1-2; Luke 6:37; James 4:11; 5:9) and especially to avoid judging others too quickly (“before the time”- 1Cor 4:5)- as there are many things we do not understand from God’s  perspective. His Word says so very much about loving our brothers and sisters who are not quite like us, understanding that there are many “different” people within the Body of Christ (1Cor 12). But v. 23-27 tells us that everyone is necessary and needs to be accepted for who he or she is in order for the Body to function properly Each one is commanded to be cared for, even if they are perhaps socially “undesirable”.


We as Christians have become far too judgmental and confrontational in not only our approach to the world, but especially to each other. Our message of love and acceptance within the Body has been drowned out by our pointless divisiveness and the open animosity frequently expressed by one brother against another. Jesus said that it is by our love for one another that this world will know we are Christ’s disciples (John ). Is it any wonder that people call us “a bunch of hypocrites”? Should we be all that amazed when the world no longer seeks Jesus’ love and comfort within the Christian churches of our nation but rather looks to “Nature” and crystals and other religions?


Sorry for the “soapbox” but that’s what often happens when I sit down and answer questions like this. T.D. Jakes is a wonderful brother in Christ. But even the godliest man has “feet of clay” and can be very wrong in making blanket statements concerning areas in which he has little experience or true knowledge. Besides, there are those who do cross-dress for decidedly immoral reasons and all sexual immorality is condemned by God. However, in the most part, the Christians I know who have GD (both pre- and post-op) are usually far less sexually active than their otherwise “normal” brothers and sisters in Christ and hold themselves to an even higher standard of sexual purity in order to please their Lord and Savior.


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