Check One: Male, Female, or Transgendered

We must treat the transgendered with compassion, but also protect the right to say there's treatment for gender confusion

As I helped my high school senior select college housing, three neat boxes that appeared on the form stymied me. They were labeled "male," "female," and "transgendered." The instructions advised, "Check one." I was dumbfounded.

To determine the meaning of transgendered, I leafed to Webster's definition: "exhibiting the appearance or behavioral characteristics of the opposite sex." Modification of gender seemed to be the gist. For more specifics, I asked a university admissions officer, who referred me to the International Bill of Gender Rights, adopted June 17, 1995, by the International Conference on Transgender Law and Employment Policy (ICTLEP).

My mind flashed back to a clerk who went subtly from Ron to Rhonda as s/he scanned my groceries over a period of six years.

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The IBGR stated: "all human beings have the right to define their own gender identity regardless of chromosomal sex, genitalia, assigned birth sex, or initial gender role; and further, no individual shall be denied Human or Civil Rights by virtue of self-defined gender identity which is not in accord with chromosomal sex, genitalia, assigned birth sex, or initial gender role."

Various impressions sped through my gray matter. My mind flashed back to a clerk who went subtly from Ron to Rhonda as s/he scanned my groceries over a period of six years. It returned to my days at seminary when a fellow student confided, "What do the patristic sources say about feeling like a female trapped inside a male body?" It rewound to a scene where a college friend tried on both masculine and feminine looks; her animus and anima, her masculine and feminine aspects, remained starkly separate. All these people swam against the tide of the binary gender system that I espoused. For them, both theologically and ontologically, that gender system had been a restrictive, angst-provoking noose. I realized they were among the transgendered, "trannies," as they are commonly known on our nearby college campus.

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