The Bruce Jenner that I grew up knowing about, who was the Olympian’s Olympian back in the day, has transitioned, he says, into a woman, and wishes to be called Caitlyn. Where to begin?

Well let’s begin enumerating what I don’t know about this. I don’t know at all what he’s going through, and I don’t want to pretend that I do. I acknowledge that my comments in this episode will come from a position of ignorance on that point.

I also don’t know for sure, speaking as a Christian, whether or not what he’s done is a sin. I suppose that there could be something that could be found that could be said to speak to this situation, but frankly I don’t think that determination is very helpful at this point in time. It will be something that should be considered (because of all questions this bring up, that is the eternal one), but for now I have no plans to address that here.

In fact, I don’t plan on addressing Bruce Jenner at all in this episode, other than to say that God loves you, and for whatever it’s worth, I love you and respect you, too. What I want to tackle in this episode is society’s reaction to transgenderism in general, using Jenner’s example as a launching point.

Let me define a term first. The term is “body dysmorphia”. Wikipedia calls it, “a disorder that involves belief that one’s own appearance is unusually defective and is worthy of being hidden or fixed.” The Medical Dictionary calls it, “a mental disorder characterized by a perceived defect in one’s physical appearance or in a part of the body.” The typical examples of this are “anorexia”, where people (usually, but not exclusively, women) believe their body is too big, and “muscle dysmorphia”, sometimes referred to as “bigarexia”, where people (typically men) believe that their body is not big and muscular enough. Those are the typical examples, but the definitions point to a more general disorder where your body is not what you think it ought to be.

But let’s start with those examples. Have you known someone with anorexia or “bigarexia”? What was your hope for them; that they would get help? Did you try to do what you could to change their thoughts about their body? I know I did. I knew someone with anorexia back in high school, and my attempt at convincing this person that they were most certainly not overweight was easily parried. I was no professional, but I did see the problem and wanted to help, as feeble as that attempt might be.

Was the problem their physical body, or their thoughts about their body? Which was the lie? Body dysmorphia is a mental disorder, and these days, let alone the late 1970s, there is still some stigma associated with them. Little by little, though, society is dropping that stigma so that those with such disorders can feel free to get the help they need, and be freed from the lie that their mind is telling them about themselves.

So now, society is more willing to call “body dysmorphia” what it is, and do so with less of a stigma, and encourage those who need help to get it. So why is society now, at the same time, celebrating that same disorder?

That brings us to the highly publicized case of Bruce Jenner. Let’s go back and revisit those definitions. “A disorder that involves belief that one’s own appearance is unusually defective and is worthy of being hidden or fixed.” “A mental disorder characterized by a perceived defect in one’s physical appearance or in a part of the body.” A man who thinks he ought to be a woman is a textbook example of this, is it not? He believes his body needs fixing from the “defect” of it being male. Someone said to me that this is a personal identity issue, not a body inadequacy one. I’d say that it’s a body inadequacy issue that has its roots in a personal identity issue. An anorexic or “bigarexic” can make a change with a low-calorie or high-protein diet, but if they get into things like surgery to remove supposed “fat” or start taking steroids, it becomes difficult to try to pretend that the disorder isn’t there. It’s at this point that friends and family may conduct an intervention. The disorder has always been there, but the drastic actions make it clear to outside observers that something is definitely wrong.

Now we have a high-profile man who believes he should be a woman, and is taking drastic actions to make himself so. Plastic surgery, implants, and hormone treatments are being used to make him what he calls, ironically, his “natural” self. And just like seeing fat removal surgery or steroid use, those around him observe and … call for an intervention? No. They, and so much of society at large, are celebrating these drastic measures. It’s the same issue, the same disorder, the same actions, but society, in something of its own multiple personality disorder, discourages one while affirming the other. Society seems to thinks that compassion requires celebration, at least in this one case. But one can be compassionate while still recognizing that someone needs help. Just as someone rescued from anorexia.

On top of that, transgenderism has one big thing going against it; science. To be specific, DNA. A man may feel that he’s a woman, and may make physical changes to look more like a woman, but every single cell in their body is crying out, “Man”. Again, which is the lie; their body, or their thoughts about their body? Are they really too fat, really not muscular enough,really the other gender? The science, in all those cases, says, “No.” It’s amazing to me that generally folks on the Left side of the political spectrum, who accuse the Right of being anti-science, will completely ignore the science of both genetics and psychology in order to celebrate a specific sort of body dysmorphia.

Bruce Jenner would like me to call him Caitlyn. If he legally changes his name, then at that time I can do that. He’d also like me to refer to him as her. For the reasons I’ve stated, I cannot, in good conscience, do that.

Further reading: Bruce Jenner: “Call me Caitlyn” Dear Bruce: “I Can’t”

Filed under: Transgender

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