Mario Lopez, Transgender Children, and the Future of Gender

I’m not sure if Mario Lopez (Slater from Saved by the Bell) is going to survive this.

The Extra and Access Hollywood host has become a target of media backlash for questioning parents of very young kids who affirm and embrace their children’s gender confusion.

Back in June, Lopez made some comments in a casual conversation on the Candace Owens Show regarding transgender children. His words resurfaced on Twitter a little more than a week ago to great fanfare and controversy. On the show Owens and Lopez were discussing the recent trend of celebrities allowing their children to choose their own gender.

Here’s what he was publicly vilified for saying:

“Look, I’m never one to tell anyone how to parent their kids, obviously, and I think if you come from a place of love, you really can’t go wrong. But at the same time, my God, if you’re 3-years-old and you’re saying you’re feeling a certain way, or you think you’re a boy or a girl or whatever the case may be, I just think it’s dangerous as a parent to make this determination then, well, OK, then you’re going to a boy or a girl, whatever the case may be … It’s sort of alarming and, my gosh, I just think about the repercussions later on.”

I’m all about having open, honest and transparent conversations about sexuality with your kids. A book I wrote is literally called The Talks. So, yes, we need to talk about it. But moving from conversation to affirmation when kids are very young is just nuts.

Still, that didn’t stop the champions of our modern culture from absolutely destroying Lopez for his comments. Here’s just a small example of how Twitter blew up…

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As typically happens, Lopez was quick to offer up an apology for his remarks. The jury is still out on whether or not he will work in Hollywood again.

Kids dealing with gender identity issues should be taken very seriously. They need to be loved, listened to, and guided. Contrary to the headline in the Yahoo Lifestyle article tweeted above, I don’t think Lopez was suggesting that you should not “support transgender kids.” He just thought it was potentially dangerous to give in to the careless whims of children. My daughter wants to be a mermaid. It does her no favors if I affirm that innocent bit of make-believe.

The emperor has no clothes.

This incident was just a small example of the incredible momentum of the transgender movement in our popular culture…and among the young people being raised in our homes. Our teenagers are growing up in a world where the emperor has no clothes. Sexual practices and attitudes that the vast majority of people saw as dysfunctional just 15 years ago are now embraced as absolutely normal. In fact, if you don’t embrace them, you are branded as transphobic…a bigot….a hater.

What will be the legacy of contemporary culture’s endorsement of the transgender movement? How many young people will we bless as they walk down a road that scientists, doctors, religious leaders, and culture at large has agreed for generations is a psychiatric disorder? Why is our enlightened culture celebrating a life choice that promises more pain that relief?

I confess that I am not an expert on these issues. Someone who disagrees with me will likely comment accordingly, reminding me that I’m ignorant of the truth that our world has now embraced. “Get on the right side of history!” I know…I know.

There is something I want to invite you to read.

Jane Robbins is smarter than me. A Harvard Law grad, Robbins has written an unbelievably comprehensive article called “The Cracks in the Edifice of Transgender Totalitarianism.” It was published by Public Discourse, the Journal of the Witherspoon Institute, a conservative think-tank. It is a long read, but it is an important read.

Below, I’m going to pull several excerpts from the article because I know most people won’t read something that will take a good 20 minutes. What I share here is just a small portion of the critically important content she has collected. If you want to be well informed on these issues as you interact with the (many) people who disagree with you, her article is a solid place to start. Words offset in quotes are from Jane Robbins. My comments are included.

On the rapid acceleration of the transgender movement:

Perhaps transgenderism is better described as a form of “social contagion.” This term refers to “the spread of ideas, feelings and, some think, neuroses through a community or group by suggestion, gossip, imitation, etc.” The explosion of cases of gender dysphoria, previously an exceedingly rare condition, over the last few years has coincided with a meteoric increase in sympathetic attention to the topic in regular and social media—thus suggesting social contagion. 

 

The perspective of those at the helm of transgender culture as it relates to those of us who are not as enlightened as they are:

According to Stephen Levine MD, Co-Director of the Gender Identity Clinic, “Anyone who hesitates in supporting transition and [sex-reassignment surgery] is a dinosaur committed to an outgrown, inherently discriminatory understanding of trans persons and needs to be defeated in court or in the public arena.” 

We saw the perfect example of this in what Mario Lopez encountered, but the same kind of public shaming is happening with regularity in the schools, businesses, and even churches around our nation.

Does embracing, affirming, and even surgically re-assigning the gender dysphoric people in our midst truly help them?

In a report given to his peers in 2016, Stephen Levine (see above) reported that Sex Reassignment Surgery “cures” gender dysphoria, and should be offered when appropriate. Sadly, in a later slide, he shared the results of an 11 year follow-up study of these folks in Sweden, comparing them to a control group of people without any signs of gender dysphoria.

The results are troubling, especially since the gender reassignment surgery promised them a “cure.” Could it be that embracing a new gender isn’t the solution? Perhaps a better tack would be to help patients to face their identity crises and begin the process of being whole. Again, the emperor is naked.

Much of transgenderism is rooted in how someone “feels” about their gender.

We have rejected absolute truth and given waaaaay too much power to our feelings. It’s like the tail is wagging the dog (and the stakes are way higher). Ben Shapiro once said that he had a relative with mental problems who felt that his radio was talking to him. We would do this man no favors by affirming his feelings as truth. Instead, we would try to help the man become more grounded in reality. With transgenderism, it’s the same thing. Here’s what Robbins says:

Transgenderism has shaken the foundations of all we know to be true. Scientific knowledge is rejected and medical practice co-opted in service of a new “reality”—that “gender” is independent of sex, that males and females of any age, even young children, are entitled to their own transgender self-identification based only on their feelings, and that literally every individual and every segment of society must bow to their chosen identity at risk of losing reputation, livelihood, and even freedom itself.

 Despite what the new revolutionaries are saying, sex is binary. With the extremely rare exception of congenital disorders, people are either male or female, regardless of how they “feel.”

 What has science historically said about gender?

 According to University of California–Santa Barbara evolutionary biologist Dr. Colin Wright, “The claim that classifying people’s sex upon anatomy and genetics ‘has no basis in science’ has itself no basis in reality, as any method exhibiting a predictive accuracy of over 99.98 percent would place it among the most precise methods in all the life sciences.”

Robbins goes on to give links to studies that affirm that gender is, in fact, binary. Deviations from that are rooted in a person’s feelings as created by the environment and culture they are in:

By contrast, “gender identity” is a psychological phenomenon, not an immutable characteristic, and not found anywhere in the body, brain, or DNA. There is no medical test that can detect it. Because twin studies show the infrequency of both genetically identical twins’ suffering gender dysphoria, the condition clearly is not genetic. Nor is there any evidence to support the common claim that a patient has a “girl’s brain in a boy’s body,” or vice versa, as repeated in media sensations such as I Am Jazz. To the contrary, every cell of a male’s brain has a Y chromosome and every cell of a female’s brain has two X chromosomes, which is true regardless of whether the individual “feels like” the opposite sex. Any “evidence” of an innate gender identity is utterly fictitious; to the contrary, there is much unrefuted evidence that various psychological and environmental factors are determinative.

But aren’t there long-term benefits of gender-affirming treatment for those who “feel” like they are the wrong gender? Isn’t that the solution to their problems?

There is no evidence that so-called gender-affirming treatment (GAT) has any positive effect on the long-term psychological well-being of individuals who suffer gender dysphoria. Such people do, in fact, have high rates of suicide before treatment (with the rate of suicide attempts nine times the rate of the general population). But a study from Sweden, a highly “affirming” country for citizens who consider themselves transgender, shows that undergoing GAT does not reduce the suicide rate for these patients. In fact, their rate of completed suicide was found to be 19 times the rate for the general population.

There are those who would argue that these people continue to suffer because they live in a world that is still close-minded and discriminatory towards trans folk. But I’m going to cling to Occam’s Razor, the philosophical principle that suggests that where there are two possible explanations, the one that requires the least speculation is usually correct. These people continue to suffer not because the world hasn’t accepted them, but because they are living a lie everyday. Emperor = No Clothes.

Are there implications for parents as we raise our kids? 

The article by Robbins (you REALLY should read the whole thing) goes on to examine the history of the transgender movement (even within the scientific community, the shift towards “transgender totalitarianism” (which demands complete endorsement of the trend), and what happens when the fundamental rights of parents to guide and protect their children are undermined.

The Obama administration issued guidance recommending that school officials not notify parents whose child is experiencing gender confusion; and though that guidance is no longer in effect, keeping parents in the dark remains the rule in some states. Parents who do know of the problem but reject the notion that their child is trapped in the wrong body are subjected to emotional blackmail directed by the “experts,” who, of course, profit from this new industry. Warned that without hormones and surgery their child will commit suicide, parents are told bluntly that their choice is between a “live daughter and a dead son,” or vice versa. If they still refuse to consent to what they know will harm their child, the government may strip them of custody. When the medical and governmental establishment excludes the natural protector of a child—the person who knows and loves him more than anyone else on earth—from decisions that can literally ruin the child’s life, civilization itself is undermined.

What is perhaps most disturbing is contemporary culture’s shift to letting young children call the shots on issues they do not yet fully understand. Robbins explores this at length, discussing alarming trends in the medical community to allow younger and younger kids to have access to hormone treatments and even surgery.

As suggested by the Endocrine Society’s guidelines, until recently puberty-blockers were not used before the patient reached age 11, cross-sex hormones before age 16, and surgery before late adolescence or adulthood. But the industry is lowering the ages of administration regardless of what any guidelines recommend. Dr. Johanna Olson-Kennedy, a California pediatrician gaining notoriety for pushing the envelope in this area, altered the protocol for a federal study she is performing to allow administration of cross-sex hormones to children as young as age 8. Double mastectomies are being performed on girls as young as age 13. Stanford University pediatric endocrinologist Dr. Tandy Aye is urging legislative changes to allow adolescent minors to undergo sterilizing surgery, even though the idea that a minor can fully understand the ramifications of sterility is, to say the least, inconsistent with what is known about adolescent brain development. 

Is there any hope that we as a culture will come to our senses on this?

Robbins concludes her report by looking at some “Cracks in the Edifice.” She documents a number of trends that suggest that the transgender movement (particularly among our kids) might be losing some steam.

Some government entities have begun to question the skyrocketing numbers of children denying their natal sex. In Great Britain, the Minister for Women and Equalities recently ordered an investigation into why the number of children requesting gender transition increased 4,000 percent in eight years. Even laypeople—even bureaucrats—understand that such a startling surge in dysphoria cannot be occurring naturally. The willingness to examine the issue is another welcome sign that the mania may in some ways be releasing its grip.

And we have all been troubled by the inequalities in sports when transgender athletes beat their opponents like drums on their way to setting new records.

Feminists are beginning to recognize the threat of transgenderism not only to fair competition in athletics but to women as a whole (see herehere, and here). If a male is allowed to join the female sex simply by declaring he feels like a woman, is there really such a thing as women? 

It may not be a lost cause, after all.

The article documents the recent uptick in support groups and online forums for people who have expressed regret for walking through the sex-change process.

Perhaps the most powerful voice leading to a restoration of sanity will come from “detransitioners” —individuals who underwent medical transition, realized they had made a tragic mistake, and are now speaking out to warn other victims of the gender industry.

One such example is Walt Heyer, who hosts the website, sexchangeregret.com. As someone who lived for eight years as a woman, he pulls no punches in describing the enablers of the transgender mania. Especially with respect to affirming the false beliefs of minors, he says: “This is child abuse. . . . We are manufacturing transgender kids. We are manufacturing their depression, their anxiety, and it’s turned into a huge industry that people are profiting from after kids’ lives are completely torn apart.” He concludes: “There is absolutely nothing good about affirming somebody in a cross-gender identity because it destroys their life. . . . It’s insanity.”

Robbins concludes her article with the following:

The transgender castle that radicals have constructed by sheer force of will is built on shifting sand without supports of any kind. The wave that will sweep it away is gaining strength. May the time come soon when we will all say, with observers of past hysterias, “How could we have believed that?”

I know what I know, but I don’t know what to do.

The purpose of Robbins’ article was information, and there was plenty of it. I hope you find it helpful. (Read it!) But what do we do with what we know? Here are a few suggestions:

1. Lead with love.

We must love and encourage anyone who is struggling with the deeper questions of life, including their sexual identity. Most of my friends who have chosen homosexuality or who are struggling with their gender know where I stand theologically on these issues, so they don’t need a debate. Instead, I must let them know that I care about them deeply. Their brokenness is more like my brokenness than not. We struggle with different things, but we all stand on common ground in our need for rescue. So in that brokenness, there is always shared experience and a desperate need to belong. I don’t have to agree with my friends who have a different view of sexuality than I do, but I do have to love them. And there is joy in that.

2. Do not be discouraged.

If you take the time to read Robbins’ article, you will find encouragement that there truly are some cracks in the edifice of transgender totalitarianism. This may not be a lost cause, after all. Keep believing in the truth of how God made sexuality to be. As the designer of sex, God gets to decide how it works. We must be advocates for His design and stand for truth when we see those in our world missing out on His best.

3. Be courageous.

Finally, we should be courageous. If we have conviction of the truth, we must speak it. This is most effective within the context of a love relationship and least effective when it is a blowhard comment on social media. Don’t be that guy. Build relationship and then lovingly (and boldly) share your convictions. If you don’t take time to do the first part, then the second part doesn’t work.

4. Teach your kids to think differently than the world.

If you don’t talk openly about issues of modern sexuality with your kids, you can expect them to buy everything that the world is selling. Wise parents must talk about sexuality with their kids younger, more often, and more comfortably than everybefore.

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Barrett JohnsonComment