Remember Rachel Dolezal? She is the Caucasian from Montana who, identifying as a black woman, was a leader in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and a professor of Africana Studies at Eastern Washington University before her parents revealed her true identity and she lost both positions.
You might also be familiar with Jewel Shuping. She is a North Carolinian woman who identified as a blind woman and thus, convinced a psychologist to sprinkle drops of drain cleaner into Shuping’s eyes so she would go blind. When interviewed after going blind, Shuping said she believes she “should have been blind from birth.” The world of psychology calls this body integrity identity disorder.
Most folks look at Rachel Dolezal and Jewel Shupping and are, understandably, deeply troubled by their decisions. In fact, many believe it is wrong for a person to portray himself as someone or something he is not, and it is wrong for a person to harm himself. Most folks would recommend psychological counseling for Dolezal and Shupping, in hopes that they cope with issues pushing them to refuse to accept their biological make-up.
Why, then, does the world applaud Bruce Jenner for identifying as a woman?
Bruce Jenner is just as confused as Rachel Dolezal, the color of one’s skin and the sex of an individual both being immutable characteristics. However, Dolezal and Jenner have been treated differently. While the world has rejected Dolezal and her claims, it has embraced Bruce Jenner. And, though Shupping’s identity disorder is different from that of Jenner, both are mutilating and manipulating their bodies in pursuit of how they identify and view themselves; but, this self-view is obviously not objective.
That said, skin color and sex are objectively determinable attributes, even before birth.
Walter Heyer is a spokesperson regarding transgender regret. He is a male who transitioned to a female and then stopped hormone treatments attempting to revert to his original gender. He now chronicles his story and the stories of those like him who have undergone surgeries and other medical interventions for gender identity dysphoria, only to realize that the reasons they struggle with their gender are not superficial—they are not healed by dealing only with the body. People with gender identity dysphoria need counseling, not surgical mutilation.
Mr. Heyer has also chronicled some of the things he learned along his journey, including the lack of ability to completely physiologically change a person’s sex and the increased risk of suicide in those who attempt gender change. Thus, it is important for parents, schools, and government leaders to endeavor to help individuals work through the reasons for their gender identity dysphoria, and to move toward acceptance of their God-given, natural sex.
Last week, one government leader, Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), spoke out about her acceptance of her daughter, who is attempting to become a male. While Ros-Lehtinen is certainly correct in that it is “a tragedy that a great proportion of young people who pass through this transition are rejected by their families,” there should be a distinction made between acceptance and affirmation. Families must learn to accept the individual struggling with his or her identity, without affirming his or her decision to base their identity on subjective views of self, for example, by identifying as a different race, blinding themselves in pursuit of a disability, or undergoing gender transition efforts.
People, especially young people, need support from those who are willing to speak truth into their lives, which includes truth about their natural, biological identities.