One of the hardest things for people on the Autism Spectrum Disorder is coping with the speed at which the world comes at them. Hyper-sensitive to stimuli most of us can ignore, they will try to control the world around them by inventing their own explanations of reality. Our youngest son does this often. Usually he starts off on the right track, but at a certain point he will go off the rails. We might indulge him a little, but once he hits a certain point, we have an expression to help bring him back—“you are now orbiting Mars.” Some may think us cruel for not sharing his delusions, but it is love that refuses to leave him in an alternate reality. By steadily refusing to join him in his delusions he is better able to cope with the world and his Autism.
There is a similar point to be made regarding people who identify themselves as transgender that unfortunately has been lost amidst the long drawn out debate over which bathrooms they should use. The Family Policy Institute of Washington state released a video that quickly went viral. In this video, they interview a number of University of Washington students about their stance on Transgenderism. They then try to make a reductio ad absurdum argument when the 5’9 male interviewer asks them whether they would agree that he is a 6’5 Chinese woman. One gets a sense from the video of the inner struggle of the young men and women because they felt trapped by their own logic to the point that they are willing to agree to the absurd.
Certainly it is entertaining to watch, but what is most disturbing is their reasoning for agreeing with the interviewer—“No, that wouldn’t bother me,” “Um sure, I don’t have a problem with that.” Put more pointedly, “it doesn’t affect me, so why should I care?” Herein lies the underlying problem to the whole debate—mass indifference. If a man wants to say he is a woman, then who am I to judge? When I detect no harm to myself or those I actually do care about, then why should I object?
Miriam Webster defines a delusion as “a persistent false psychotic belief regarding the self or persons or objects outside the self that is maintained despite indisputable evidence to the contrary.” Now read the Human Rights Campaign definition of Transgender: “one whose gender identity and/or expression is different from cultural expectations based on the sex they were assigned at birth.” In every other aspect of life, we would label someone delusional who says that their inner belief as “identifying” themselves as one sex when all of the objective biological evidence suggests otherwise.
When confronted with a person who is delusional, you can do one of two things. You can either shatter the delusion in an effort to bring them back to reality or you can share the delusion with them. As is the case with my son with Autism, it is much easier to share the delusion with the person than to actually step into their mess and help them sort it out, especially when I see their delusion as presenting no harm to me.
But, can we even begin to imagine the inner turmoil of someone who looks like a boy, but feels like a girl? Or is it simply easier to help their gender feelings visible? There is a lot of data (see here and here for two studies) suggesting that something like gender reassignment surgery doesn’t actually make them feel any less conflicted. The American College of Pediatricians has recently said that Gender Ideology does great harm to children. In fact individuals who undergo gender reassignment surgery are 20 times more likely to commit suicide than the general population. When a person realizes that the surgery that everyone said would help doesn’t, they can only conclude one thing—that they are beyond help.
This argument from apathy spreads like wildfire. We can mutually agree to your delusions provided they don’t cost me that much personally—“to each his own.” First it was gay marriage. Now it is transgenders in the bathroom they identify with. What will be next and when will the insanity stop? When people are actually willing to stand up and help others wrestle with their brokenness instead of agreeing to embrace it. When your ideology conflicts with biology, it is your ideology that needs to change. Anyone who tells you differently is really apathetic.
Christians are often met with contempt as “haters” by LGBT supporters. Hate in many ways is better than indifference. In fact, hate is not the opposite of love—indifference is. To love or hate someone means that they matter in some way. Even hate recognizes the other as a person. Apathy says the person does not matter and that they are on the level of a mere thing. We tolerate things only as long as they do not present a real obstacle to my well-being. Certainly we should not hate them, but hate is much easier to convert to love and compassion than apathy is.
Often when I confront my son with reality, it is met with hostility and name-calling. In pointing out an alternate view to his reality, I have become a threat. I know this, and yet I am willing to help him to come to grips with reality as it is. Is this easy? Absolutely not, but it is necessary for his own well-being. Similarly we need to let those people suffering from gender dysphoria know that we oppose these bathroom bills not just because it opens the door for sexual predators and not just because it can create a great deal of personal confusion and angst for our children when they have to use the bathroom or change in front of a stranger of the opposite sex (even if there is no malice on their part). We need to let them know we oppose it because we want to help keep them rooted in reality. The shame they feel in using the bathroom can be good—it can help them recognize their true identity, the one that God gave them and stamped into their very being. On our part we have to be willing to take the hostility and name calling. That is the only real way to fight apathy—through self-giving love, which is what they most desperately need anyway. We are now orbiting Mars, who will bring us back to reality?