Katie Leone: The Transsexual and the Cross

What follows is a synopsis of a good book with some adjustments and corrections that I think might be appropriate. Here’s where you can buy it:

Before we begin, we need to define what we mean by a transsexual. Ms. Katie Leone (Katie from now on) defines transsexuals as those who were assigned one sex at birth but who strongly identify with the other sex and may seek to live as a member of this sex, especially by undergoing surgery and hormone therapy to obtain the necessary physical appearance (for example, by changing the appearance of their genitalia so that it conforms to the gender with which they identity). She refers to transsexualism as a condition, not a behavior or a feeling.

Her book is addressed to those who call themselves Christians, especially those who have a strong belief in the authority of the Holy Scriptures and are convinced that we should live our lives according to its teaching and guidance. Since there is a prejudice or bias in the Christian community against transsexualism based on the presumption that the Bible teaches against it, she first attempts to examine the Biblical rational that is often put forward as the justification for this supposition. Hoping that this has removed some of our barriers to learning, she then attempts to dispel our ignorance on the subject and teach us a little bit about the way things actually are. Finally, she offers some encouragement to transsexuals themselves who may have been turned away from seeking Christ by the very Christians whose duty it is to welcome them and to invite them to find salvation in Christ.

As I give a synopsis of her main points, I will leave aside her personal testimony since it stands on its own. I will, however, add comments and insights of my own where I deem it appropriate. I seldom disagree with her, though I might word things differently than she has, but once in a while I will interpret a scripture differently than she has and I will offer this interpretation as a corrective. In my opinion, rather than diminishing the force of her argument I think the insight I offer will reinforce it. The reason I do this is not because my understanding is “correct” (no one knows this; we only each do the best we can until the Day of Judgment) but because I have the benefit of an extensive education and feel that it might be negligent of me not to do as I have done. May God receive the glory in the name of Christ and to the Triune God I commit this work.

Biblical Arguments against Transsexualism

1.      God Created Male and Female

Thesis: God created two and only two genders: male and female. The idea that gender goes along a spectrum or continuum with unlimited genders is unbiblical. Genesis 1:27.

Katie argues that Adam and Eve were created before the Rupture, and we do not know how they were differentiated except for their obvious physical differences. It is a mistake to assume that masculine and feminine are opposites and mutually exclusive. Nor does gender exist on a sliding scale between masculine on one end and feminine on the other. Rather, Katie suggests, masculine and feminine are more like an x and a y-axis. (Julia Serano gives the image of overlapping bell curves.) Katie points out that before the Rupture Adam and Eve might have each had masculine and feminine qualities simultaneously. It may be that gender identity did not come into play until after the Rupture, as we see by the judgment that came on each of them.

Furthermore, we cannot assume that because Adam and Eve were male and female that no other possibilities could have been in God’s design for humanity. What about race? What about hair color? There could have only been two in the beginning, yet the variety that exists now can hardly be considered a sin. My understanding is that initially “the adam” was an androgynous creature that was differentiated into two with the creation of the woman: Adam came into being when Eve was formed. Besides, as Katie points out, most transsexuals do not claim to be a third gender, only one of the two, just not the one that they were assigned at birth.

Katie also argues that certain animals change genders and many are asexual or hermaphroditic. God created these species and therefore does not necessarily disapprove of such possibilities.

Consider also that 0.1% of infants are born with indeterminable gender: they are intersexed. And there are other intersexed conditions, such as Klinefelter’s syndrome. Since this is so prevalent (more than if it were merely a mutation), could this not indicate that God designed gender to be more complicated than a rigid binary system?

In the beginning God created a male and a female, differentiated in this way for the sake of procreation, which was necessary in order for the human race to flourish. This does not mean, however, that God’s design for humanity is limited to only two gender expressions. The prevalence of the intersexed condition shows that there are other, more complex, possibilities. There can be a wide range of gender expressions. Nor must gender strictly be determined by our physical form, that is, by our primary and secondary sexual characteristics; gender is a more complex system of which our physical form is only partly determinative.

2.      You Were Born Exactly the Way God Intended

Thesis: God made you male or female because that is who God intended you to be. For you to say you were meant to be otherwise is an affront to God, an assertion that God is wrong. God does not make mistakes, and therefore a person who claims to be a transsexual is in error. Psalm 139:13-16a.

For example, if God intended a person, who believes they are female but was born appearing to be male, to be female, God would have made that person a female to begin with. If God formed them in a male appearing body—and God can make no mistakes—then that person is supposed to be male and to live that way. Of course, this argument assumes that God wants you to continue life as the same gender you started as. It assumes that gender expression is should be static and unwavering. Gender, it assumes, is absolute and cannot be changed.

A transsexual, however (as Katie points out), is not accusing God of making a mistake. What if God made a person as a transsexual? Are there not other atypical conditions that people are born into that do not necessarily mean that God has made a mistake: say, autism, spina bifida, or being mentally challenged? The only difference between these and transsexualism is that they are easier to diagnose. Some can be determined at birth and some, like transsexualism, cannot. Some can only be discovered during later developmental stages, if at all. The fact that almost all transsexuals were uncomfortable early in life with the gender that they were assigned at birth, sometimes as early as three years old, would seem to suggest that they were transsexual from the womb.

Who are we to say that God is wrong to put a person in a body that does not match their gender identity? Katie points out that God allows us to go through situations—perhaps even transition—to mold us so that we can fit God’s purpose. Why do people have to suffer through any affliction? The fact that they do does not mean God is not behind it and in it with them. God apparently allows transsexuality to exist, and therefore transsexuals are what they are supposed to be.

Is it true that God intended gender to be static and unchanging? Are not other changes natural, such as maturation and development? Are not other changes permissible, such as hairstyle or hair color? What about color contact lenses? What if you were born with poor vision or poor hearing? God intended it apparently. Does that mean you should not use corrective measures? Are eye glasses and hearing aids against God’s will? Then why is it wrong for a transsexual to transition towards the gender with which they identify?

3.      The Bible Is Clear, Homosexuality Is a Sin

Transsexualism is just a way for a homosexual to get around the fact that the Bible says that homosexuality is a sin. Romans 1:26-28.

In other words, if a person was born in a body that appears male, then that person must be a male and no matter what level of transformation they go through, that person will remain a male no matter what. Therefore if such a person has a sexual relationship with a male, they are having a homosexual relationship. This likewise applies to a person born in a body that appears female. This argument takes it for granted that homosexuality is a sin, and it assumes that transsexuality must also be a sin if the transsexual person enters into a sexual relationship with a person who was assigned the same sex at birth as they were.

The problem with this argument has little to do with homosexuality itself, and so the issue of homosexuality can be put to the side. Katie points out a number of problems with this argument.

First of all, gender identity and sexual orientation are not the same thing. Transsexuals understand themselves to be either heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, or something else. Also, not all transsexuals even engage in sexual activity; a transsexual can practice abstinence. It is simply incorrect to insist that transsexuals are homosexual, and to do so is motivated by either ignorance or bigotry.

Second, if a transsexual is living as their true gender, if they enter into a relationship with a person having a gender identity that is different from their own (assuming that one gender is male and one is female), then they are in a heterosexual relationship.

Third, if the argument is that a person remains the gender that they were assigned at birth even after they transition, then a transsexual woman in relationship to a woman who identifies with the gender that she was assigned at birth is in a heterosexual relationship. This happens, for example, when she transitions after entering into a traditional (heterosexual) marriage.

Fourth, when two transsexuals with different gender identities enter into a relationship, that relationship is heterosexual both on the level of the genders that they were assigned at birth and on the level of the genders with which they identify.

Considering this, it would be unwise for the judgmental to be hasty in their judgment.

4.      Cross-dressing Is Clearly Against the Scriptures

Thesis: The Bible clearly states that cross-dressing is an abomination. Deuteronomy 22:5.

The thesis is that transsexualism is a sin because any man who puts on woman’s clothing or any woman who puts on man’s clothing is under God’s condemnation. The assumption is that if a person is going to live as the other gender from the one they were born as, they are also going to be dressing in the garments of the other gender. Therefore transsexuals are living under God’s condemnation.

Katie argues that this verse does not apply to transsexuality in any way, shape or form. First of all, the Halakah (or Law) as given in Deuteronomy applies specifically to the elect nation of Israel, one of the reasons being to set them apart from the other nations. Except for the laws pertaining to God’s covenant with Noah, and to the non-Israelite living in the land of Israel, the Halakah does not apply to Gentile believers. Still, the church does not reject the Old Testament. It is our Scriptures too, though it needs to be interpreted from the perspective of the Gospel; it cannot be simply dismissed.

Secondly, Deuteronomy 22:5 as translated applies more to what transvestites do than to transsexuals. Transvestites cross-dress for a number of reasons. Other people cross-dress in order to deceive. Transsexuals, though, are not wearing the garments of the other sex, nor are their reasons the same as the transvestite, nor are they practicing deceit. Actually, by wearing the clothing of their identified gender they are trying to be honest in front of humanity and put away the deception of their assigned gender. Perhaps, according to this verse, the sin is when a transsexual woman dresses in men’s clothing! From this perspective transsexuals are cross-dressing when they wears the clothes of the gender that they were assign at birth. (Katie does not mean to imply here that, because the transsexual is not the same as the transvestite, being one is superior to being the other.)

Not all transsexuals where the clothing of the gender with which they identify. Some wear gender-neutral or unisex clothing at all times. Some do not even attempt to transition, at least not outwardly.

Third, the translation of Deuteronomy 22:5 needs to be considered. Recall that in Biblical times the garments of men and women were hardly to be distinguished; what then was the fuss about? “A woman must not dress like a man, nor a man like a woman; anyone who does this is detestable to YHWH your God.” The word for man is neither adam (a human being) nor enosh (a male) but geber, which means a strong man or warrior; and the word for woman is ishshah, or wife. “A wife must not dress like a warrior, nor a warrior like a wife.” Suddenly it becomes apparent that the verse is not about cross-dressing at all but about gender roles in civic society. It is not a wife’s role to be a warrior, nor a warrior’s role to play the wife’s role.

More literally, when it says that a wife must not dress like a man, the word for dress (keli) has to do with battle gear and weaponry. She must not take them up or use them. Likewise, when it says that the warrior must not dress like [his] wife, it literally says he must not put on her simlah. The word means her wrapper or mantle. The warrior must not evade his duty by putting on his wife’s shoulder wrap. She must not take on the role of a warrior and the warrior must not take on his wife’s role at home.

This verse, therefore, has nothing to do with modern-day cross-dressing or even transvestitism. In those days a man would hardly look like a woman simply by putting on her clothes. First of all, her clothes were not that different from his; and second, he was forbidden to trim his beard.

The word for what is “detestable” to the Lord, or what is an “abomination” (tow’ebah), has primarily a cultic sense, and links the detestable action with the idolatry of foreign nations.

 Katie Leone suggests this translation of Deuteronomy 22:5—“The wife should not put on that which pertains to the warrior, and the warrior should not put on his wife’s mantle in order to escape his civic duty. Anyone who does so is mimicking the idol-worship of heathen, which the Lord despises.” A wife should not put on the battle gear of a warrior and take up the weapons of war, and the warrior should not attempt to evade battle by putting on his wife’s shawl. The battle is the Lord’s. This cowardly behavior on the part of either of them is the way of idol-worshipers, not of those who worship the living God. The Lord detests it. (By explaining what is the literal meaning of the verse I do not for a moment intend to condone war. The Torah still needs the interpretation of the Prophets, and both require the interpretation of the Gospel and the Apostolate.)

5.      Men Having Long Hair Is Against the Bible

Thesis: If a man is going to live as a woman, he will grow his hair long, and that is against what the Bible teaches. 1 Corinthians 11:14.

The argument assumes that if a person is going to live as a gender that is the different than the one that they were assigned at birth, that they would try to look as much as possible like the gender that they were assuming. Therefore a transsexual who was designated a male at birth would grow his hair long and a transsexual designated a female at birth would cut her hair short. This argument also assumes that all transsexuals transition to the gender with which they identify, which is not the case. It also assumes that all transsexual women grow their hair long and all transsexual men cut their hair short, which is likewise not the case. I would add that it also depends on the assumption that the translation of this verse is correct.

Katie argues that the city of Corinth was known for its temple prostitutes and that the male prostitutes wore their hair long and the female prostitutes wore their hair short. Katie thinks that Paul’s entire concern here is that the Corinthian believers not be associated with pagan worship. This concern would have a different application today.

I would argue that the verse does not even say what the English translations make it out to say. It says that “nature does not teach you’’—after all, consider Homer’s proud long-haired Achaians—“that it is a disgrace even for a man to have long hair.” Much less would it be a disgrace for a woman for whom long hair is her glory. The Greek sentence is in the form of an indicative, not an interrogative.

6.      Effeminate Men Will Not Enter the Kingdom of God

Thesis: Because male to female transsexuals live in defiance of God’s design and live immoral lives, they will not be admitted into heaven because of their sin. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10.

According to the English translation of verse 9, Paul says that effeminate men will not inherit the kingdom of God. Since the letter is written to Christians it must apply to New Testament times. According to this verse, transsexuals cannot be saved because there is no way for them to inherit the kingdom of God.

Katie does what she can with this verse. She thinks that the Greek word malakos is a metaphor for homosexual and refers to behavior that is “so over the top ultra-feminine that most women could not even aspire to it.” She believes Paul adds this not because feminine behavior is looked down upon as such but because of the theatrics associated with it. The flamboyance of it is an act and not a natural state. “It is an outward show that they are willing to participate in homosexual behavior and their lifestyle is wrapped up in that behavior.” Most transsexuals who decide to transition do not put on such a show. They shy away from it because they are trying not to draw attention to themselves but to conform to their true nature with as little fanfare as they can get away with. Transsexuals who decide not to transition, on the other hand, often try to overcompensate for their feelings, if their assigned gender was male, by behaving ultra-masculine. This ultra-masculine behavior would correspond more to Katie’s understanding of this verse than transsexuals who transition to the gender with which they identify because they are the ones who are acting unnatural and putting on an over-the-top façade. The sin is not in the state of being masculine or feminine but in the theatrics that are put on about it.

Katie points out that not every transsexual who transitions is ultra-feminine or ultra-masculine. There is a wide variety of gender expressions among transsexuals. Transsexuals do not fit into any one category. God’s intention, she says, is for us to be true before God and before others. We should not live contrary to the way God made us.

I do not agree with Katie’s understanding of the word. I think malakos has a different meaning. The word means soft, soft to the touch, and gentle or mild or delicate. But it also means, according to Liddell and Scott, feeble, faint-hearted, cowardly, morally weak, lacking in self-control, and giving in from weakness or want of spirit. In other words, it has to do with someone who has no moral backbone; they are spineless. It has nothing to do with effeminacy but everything to do with integrity. Transsexuals who been able to transition have proven, by their tenacity in the face of so much opposition, what backbone they have. The word does not apply to them.

The next word in the verse is arsenokoitēs and is translated “abusers of themselves with mankind” or “homosexuals.” Katie thinks that the word refers to temple prostitutes.

Here again I disagree. The word is unusual. It is a compound of two words: arsenos, which is the genitive of arsēn, which means male; and koitos, bed, from keimai, which means to lie down to rest. Keimai does not seem to have sexual connotations but is used in all kinds of ways of laying something down, being laid down or lying down. Koitos likewise refers impassively to a place to lie down, a bed or a nursery or even a stall. My guess is that the combined word does not refer to men having sex with each other but rather to men falling asleep together, like they would after a night on the town when they would be too drunk to find their way home. It refers to lazy irresponsible men who hang out together partying and do not come home to their wives and children. It has nothing to do with homosexuality, and certainly not with transsexualism.

I have not manipulated the meaning of these two words, malakos and arsenokoitēs. I have taken their definitions straight out of the authoritative Liddell and Scott’s Greek-English Lexicon. The advantage of my interpretation over Katie’s (whose opinion I respect) is that I can insist that the words mean exactly what they say and at the same time are historically relevant (I do not have to suppose that Paul is implying temple prostitution as opposed to pedestrian behavior when he speaks of homosexuality: he is not referring to homosexuality at all).

7.      All Transsexuals Will Go to Hell

Because of their behavior, all transsexuals will burn in hell. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10.

In case the reader is not persuaded by the last argument, Katie takes another approach with respect to the same verses. The argument is that all transsexuals, because they are transsexuals, will be eternally damned. The assumption is that for some sins there can be no redemption and the punishment for unforgiven sins is eternal separation from God. Apparently some who call themselves Christians believe that particular segments of society cannot gain admittance into what is popularly called “heaven.”

Katie argues that are no sins for which forgiveness is denied and for which there is no absolution. Jesus died for all the sins of all and excludes no sins and no one. Some transsexuals will go to hell, she says, but not because they are transsexuals. Romans 10:9 spells out only two requirements for “going to heaven” (as the expression goes): confessing with your mouth [the] Lord Jesus and believing in your heart that God raised him from the dead. A person does not have to change their life before they come to Jesus (“before they come to the cross”). “It is a shame that some of Christ’s [so-called] followers want to stand before the cross with velvet ropes trying to decide who can enter and who cannot.” Indeed.

2 Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord … is being patient with you, wanting nobody to be lost and everybody to be brought to repentance.” Peter says nobody and everybody. No one is excluded. It is, I would say, the height of ingratitude (Katie says it is “hypocritical”) to claim that God would deny the gift of salvation to anyone.

Let me say, no human being can save themselves; there is no change and no effort on their part that can save them: we are too far gone for that. Only God can save us from damnation, from the eternal “fire” of hell, which is actually the holy nature of God, who is eternal. The only “vehicle” of salvation is Jesus Christ by means of his incarnation, death and resurrection. (Though we might be wise to confess ignorance on how this boundary actually looks!) Christians have different theories about the atonement and we are not saved because we understand one theory as opposed to another. Katie has the “Roman Road” printed at the end of her book, which is a concise presentation of one theory (a great deal is added to the words of Paul’s epistle, giving the epistle a particular interpretation). I am grateful that she did, for it is a starting point, but I would not have made the same choice because it gives the impression that we are saved because we believe in the “substitutionary doctrine of atonement.” This is a point with which I disagree because it gives the impression that belief is mental when it is absolutely personal and existential and a work that takes place in and emanates from the human spirit. It is not first of all an act of volition, though it is this. It is before this the work of the Holy Spirit in our spirit.

I would add this: in Acts 2:21 the apostle Peter, quoting Joel, says this to the crowd on the day of Pentecost: “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Paul likewise says in Romans 10:13, “Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Paul identifies those who believe “with all those who call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ in every place” (1 Corinthians 1:2). Ananias in Acts 9:14 likewise equates the believers with “all who call upon your name” and in 22:16 appeals to Saul to “rise up and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.” Salvation has a broad meaning (we are saved now and yet we await the salvation of our soul and the redemption of our body), but when we are referring to our redemption and the forgiveness of (or release from) our sins with respect to our relationship to God, and our now belonging to God, this is available to all who turn to God—this is what repentance means—and simply call on God, which is to cry out to God from our heart. More specifically in the Bible, we see people calling on the “name” of the Lord, and in the New Testament, on the “name” of the Lord Jesus Christ. The word “name” is more than a morpheme. It refers to what the name denotes, its meaning, or the revelation of that One, and thus who it names. “Who do you say that I am?” A mental construct is not enough. “Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you.” We have to grasp who this person is on a deeper level, even if our mind cannot articulate it, even if we do not understand. Somehow, when we take hold of Christ, as a person, we are taking hold of God.

In popular language this gains us an entrance into heaven. This is not the language that the Bible speaks. The Bible does not refer to the afterlife as heaven, nor is heaven the final destination of the “saved.” Heaven is the invisible side of creation that exists alongside the visible. As believers, we exist simultaneously in heaven and on earth. When we die our material substance sleeps, our spirits return to God, and our souls wait in Paradise until the resurrection. About the time when the Lord comes in glory we will be resurrected and—as the Bible graphically represents it—we will meet the Lord in the air only to descend with him to the earth. Then begins the time on earth of the kingdom of God, when God overcomes all God’s enemies and all things are headed up in Christ. When that has been accomplished, the believers, who are described as the New Jerusalem, will come down from heaven to earth. Heaven and earth come together. I imagine that this means that heaven will no longer be invisible but will be manifest. Earth will become transparent to heaven. We know what people mean when they talk about “going to heaven,” but I want to point out that it is an unbiblical way of speaking (and thinking).

A person becomes a believer by God’s grace. Secretly the Holy Spirit is working in their hearts until they call on the Lord. They receive the forgiveness of their sins then and there, which opens their spirit to God. When their spirit awakens to the revelation of Jesus Christ, they receive the gift of eternal life—at that moment (by the Holy Spirit uniting to their spirit: this is the new birth)—which becomes a guarantee of their eventual eternal salvation.

It is also rather sloppy exegesis for these conservative evangelicals Christians, who supposedly take the Bible so seriously (I think they do not; to them the Bible as a symbol of their “tribe” is more important than its contents), to confuse entering the kingdom of God with “going to heaven.” I do not know how these people can confuse the two and not realize the impossible conceptual divide between them. The gift of eternal life is unconditionally given, by grace, to faith, whereas the enjoyment of eternal life is conditional, for it depends on our entrance into the kingdom of God, which is always presented as conditional. Most believers will not, at least when the Lord comes in glory, enter the kingdom of God; they will not be qualified or prepared. The kingdom of God is a reward to those who are faithful. Though Paul knew with certainty that the crown awaited him when he wrote 2 Timothy, when he wrote Philippians he says, “Not that I have already obtained … I do not account of myself to have laid hold” (3:12-13). And in 1 Corinthians 9:27 he worked hard that he might not be disapproved. He was not talking about his redemption—of that he was certain—but of his reward.

Having said that, when Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 that those who do evil will never inherit the kingdom of God, and gives some examples and says that “none of these will inherit the kingdom of God,” he means that such unbelievers, by their evil behavior, are unqualified to enter the kingdom of God when the Lord Jesus comes in glory. Why does he say this? Because only those who are qualified to enter the kingdom of God are in a place to decide questions between believers. “Do you not realize that the holy people of God are to be the judges of the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you not competent for petty cases? Do you not realize that we shall be the judges of angels?—then quite certainly over matters of this life … Can it really be that it is impossible to find in the community one sensible person capable of deciding questions between siblings, and that this is why sibling goes to law against sibling, and that before unbelievers?” (verses 2-6). This is the context.

When Paul says that such evil people will never inherit the kingdom of God, he does not use the word “never” (the Greek only has the negative adverb ou which simply means “not”). He means they shall by no means do so—as such. He does not mean that there is no hope for such evil people: these individuals can never enter the kingdom of God. For he goes on to say in the very next verse (6:11), “Some of you used to be of that kind: but you have been washed clean, you have been sanctified, and you have been justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and through the Spirit of our God.” In other words, you used to be like that—when you first turned to Christ you were like that—but God has washed, sanctified and justified you. You have what it takes to be competent to decide questions between your siblings. You have no excuse. Paul does not mean that the Corinthian believers no longer did anything evil (the same letter shows how, boy! this was not the case); only that they now had what it takes to rise above it: to become qualified or competent to rule. They have the means to enter the kingdom of God. It does not mean that they will; they are still capable of being disqualified, and if they are like the Israelites in the desert, most of them will be (9:27—10:12).

So, even if transsexualism were something evil, the transsexual can still be washed clean, sanctified and justified. No one’s salvation depends on them first overcoming their sin. The overcoming of sinful behavior is a process that begins after a person receives the gift of forgiveness and eternal life. What God wants up front, and gets by the interior working of the Holy Spirit (by grace), is only your heart. When we call on the Lord from our hearts, we are opening the door. God does the rest.

So, what Katie says to the transsexual is this: there is absolutely nothing that separates or can separate you from the love of God. God does not require that you (or anyone else) change your identity or the way you live before you can enter into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. “If the reason that you have not given yourself over to Christ is because a few of his so-called followers told you that you were unacceptable, please disregard them and do not delay.”

Having said all this, however, we still insist that transsexualism is not sinful in the eyes of God.

8.      Transsexuals Have a Demon in Them

Thesis: People believe that they are in the wrong body because they have the demon of transsexuality in them. Unless the demon is cast out, they are doomed to suffer the torment of their condition. Matthew 10:8.

This argument is saying that people who thinks that they are transsexual do not really want to be another gender than the one which they were assigned at birth, or even believe that they are this gender. It is a demon that makes them feel this way. They are simply possessed by a demon or under demonic oppression. All they need is deliverance via an exorcism so that they can experience a spiritual cleansing and be healed.

This assumes that if a person’s behavior cannot be readily explained or is considered adverse by others, then it must come from the devil, because obviously no sane person would succumb to it. These Christians have discerned a demon of alcoholism, a demon of gambling, a demon of overeating, a demon of fear, and so on. If a person would just get rid of the demons in their life, they would be free from the behavior that is caused by the demon. The idea that one is transsexual can simply be exorcised.

Katie asserts that she does believe that there is a demonic presence in the world and that there are demons just as there are angels. (I would agree that demons are real, though I do not believe that they are “supernatural.” I would also disagree that they are the counterparts of angels. The counterparts of angels are the “principalities and powers in heavenly places.” Demons are earthbound powers that afflict individuals.) However, Katie thinks that we give “the dark power” too much credit when we credit demons with our failings. It is important to own our behavior and take responsibility for it. People who blame the devil for their bad behavior, Katie points out, do not similarly credit the angels for their good behavior.

Katie believes that people can be demon-possessed. Our translations use this language but the Bible actually does not speak of demon possession. People have demons and they are demonized and demons can be cast out, but nowhere does it say that demons possess people. They are false spirits that afflict the soul, and afflict the body through the soul. The “space” in which they exist is the “world,” which is a construct of our collective souls, not the creation per se. The world is the collective soul, and as the collective that it is, it is a gestalt: certain powers emerge from the whole that cannot be accounted for by the separate parts alone (these powers are greater than our individual souls). Sometimes these powers are manifest in the psychoses of certain individuals. These are the demons. They are dependent on delusion and what casts them out is the light of reality. This is why they can be cast out by the “name” of Jesus, by the revelation of reality that he is.

Katie goes on to point out that demons are individual manifestations (unlike principalities and powers). They have names, not attributes, and may have designated assignments. But they are not omnipotent (and neither are principalities and powers) and cannot be in all places at all times. They cannot even inhabit multiple people at the same time. (This is another way of looking at the same thing, but I think it is accurate.) Therefore, there is no “demon of transsexuality” just as there is no “demon of overeating.”

I would further point out that even if demons worked in concert (say on an “assignment”), they are still not the cause of transsexuality, nor does transsexuality itself cause a person to be demonized. A demon has a sharp reaction to the revelation of Jesus Christ. It cannot abide it. There is nothing about transsexuality that would indicate that it is anything but a particular form of God’s good creation, just as are the sexualities of those whose gender identity matches the genitalia with which they were born. The dysphoria or dissonance that transsexuals suffer is not the result of a demon but of their natural condition and the way they are treated by others. It is quite cruel to make the assertion that a demon is involved and to confuse the unsuspecting. It is a sin against God’s creation. The megalomania of some of those who exercise these deliverance ministries may well be where we might find some demons (as psychotic manifestations in individuals of the principalities and powers that govern the world).

The Transsexual Minus All the Myths

Having finished refuting these arguments, Katie then makes several points about transsexuals in order to help our ignorance. First of all, most transsexuals are not trying to get attention. The opposite is the case. Rather than wanting the label of transsexual, they want to be able to go through life as the gender with which they identify and draw as little attention to their condition as possible. A transsexual is not a cross-dresser (although they may cross-dress). Drag kings and drag queens are cross-dressers. Transsexuals are “not the same thing by a long shot.” (People use the term cross-dresser differently. Katie is referring to those who dress primarily for performance or sexual gratification; often, though not always, they are gay men.)

Secondly, “transsexuality is a serious condition that weighs heavily on the mind and spirit of those who suffer from the condition. It is an incongruity of body and identity.” “All outward signs seem to point to one identity, but they know, KNOW, that they are not the gender they appear,” until, that is, they transition. Their goal is simply to blend in and be accepted for who they are and not what their genitalia would suggest. If they try to make their body conform to the gender with which they identify, it is not to draw attention to themselves or to practice a kind of theatrics, but so that they can be comfortable in their own skin. Many, though not all, transsexuals realize this incongruity at a very early age. The traits are often visible to those who are closest to them, but most of them have this “inappropriate” behavior trained out of them, sometimes in the most violent of ways or through psychological manipulation, to make them conform to what the world expects of them. Many who suffer from transsexualism feel that they are living their life as a lie and as a result, Katie says, many succumb to suicide.

Transsexuals are not playing a part-time role and do not live as their true selves simply to gain sexual satisfaction. They live their lives at the risk of losing a great deal and do not make the decision to transition lightly. Sometimes the cost is too great and they keep their feelings to themselves. If they “out” themselves (or are “outed” by others), they risk losing family, friends, job, prestige, reputation, and their place in the community. In order to transition many undergo expensive treatments, and many cannot complete their journey because the cost is too prohibitive.

Science is not opposed to religion. Science is simply the method of looking at the evidence, asking questions, and putting hypotheses to the test in order to arrive at theories. Transsexualism has been studied for decades. Scientists have meticulously studied the brain and recognize the differences between the brains of men and women. They have found that the brains of transsexuals (specifically the BSTc region and the putamen, but also other regions to varying degrees) are the same—in some respects—as the brains of the gender with which they identity. In other words, a transsexual woman who was born with male genitalia has the same brain (?) as a non-transsexual woman, one born with female genitalia. Even though Katie has oversimplified the evidence (it is extensive and complicated), it is nevertheless the case that transsexualism is a medical condition that cannot be helped and cannot be corrected psychologically; it is not a sin. Attempts to correct it psychologically and “spiritually” have not worked and have amounted to abuse. Transsexualism is not simply a behavior; it is who a person is; it is at the core of their identity.

But Is Transsexuality God-Ordained?

I think, by this title, that Katie has in mind the issue of whether God approves of transitioning. She has made it clear that an individual is created by God as a transsexual. The question she raises here, and promises to answer in a later work, is what level of transitioning is profitable for a person. It depends on individual factors, she says, and for some it may be best not to transition at all. One size does not fit all.

God in Favor of Transsexualism: New Creation

2 Corinthians 5:17—“So then if anyone is in Christ, [he is] a new creation. The old things have passed away; behold, they have become new.”

This verse applies to the new birth but its application does not have to be exclusively to that as an event in time. Often in the Bible when there is a change in the direction of a person’s life, the Lord changes the person’s name. It happens many times. Their identity changes with their name. God allows a person to change their identity. The change reflects that God has done something and the change is for the good (to God’s glory) in that person’s life. Who is to say that God is not involved in the identity change of the transsexual when their new gender presentation reflects who they really are? Indeed, it makes sense that in a Christian God would be involved.

God in Favor of Transsexualism: Be Ye Transformed

Romans 12:2—“And do not be fashioned according to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of the mind that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and well pleasing and perfect.”

Many transsexuals (Katie says 41% though I have read other figures) attempt suicide. Why? Because, Katie says, they feel that they cannot live up to what the world expects of them based on their outward appearance (the gender that they were assigned at birth). Though it may be God’s will for some transsexuals not to transition, it is clear that it is God’s will for others to do so. Each transsexual needs to try to discern God’s will despite what the world thinks. Whatever God’s will is for them, it cannot be that God would have given them this gift if it were not part of God’s plan. Passing through the fire tempers us for God’s glory.

On the one hand there are so-called Christians who try to keep the transsexual away from God by telling them that they are defiled, unclean, an abomination, and that God does not want them if they do not clean up their act. On the other hand there are nonbelievers who try to keep the transsexual away from God by telling them to abandon God and to squander their life according to the frivolities of the culture. Both are expressions of the world. “Do not be fashioned according to the fashion of this world,” Paul says. The transsexual is not an undesirable who the Lord does not want. No one is. Everyone needs the saving grace of God, which no one can wring from God by their good behavior. Christians find it in the revelation of reality that is in Jesus Christ. “Be transformed by the renewing of the mind” (the mind being the attention). Know “that God created the transsexual as an individual, one whom He knew from the womb, one whom He calls son or daughter without embarrassment.” Every transsexual is an intentional, unique and irreplaceable creation of a loving God, someone whom God has fashioned from the womb to be who they are, to love God and to be loved by God, someone whom God sees God’s own face reflected as it is reflected in the face of the God’s only Begotten and Beloved, in Jesus. You are God’s beloved. Be transformed by this knowledge.

Conclusion

Katie reminds us that many people have distorted God’s Word: “Thus you deprive the word of God of its authority by your tradition which you have handed down,” Jesus says (Mark 7:13). “Blind guides!” he called them, “who strain out the gnat but swallow the camel!” “They bind burdens, heavy and hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but themselves will not move them with a finger.” “Woe to you, hypocrites! For you close off the kingdom of the heavens in the face of men; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to enter” (Matthew 23:24, 4, 13). In the words of James, “Do not harass those from the Gentiles who are turning to God” (Acts 15:19), including the transsexual.

Katie asks transsexuals to judge themselves (and she asks others to judge them) by their fruits and not by the measure of the world. Is your life one of peace, of service, of honoring God by word and deed? Worry more about what is inside the cup than about what is on the outside. If God made the inside female or male, then conform to how God would have you live, not to how religious people would. Commune with God as your authentic self, openly and with all honesty.

In the Book of the Revelation Jesus calls himself “the One who opens and no one will shut, and shuts and no one opens.” May he open our minds!

Finally, Katie invites everyone to consider their lives and their thoughts and their position with respect to Christ. “If you do not know the Lord as your savior, He is waiting with open arms; He does not require you to ‘get yourself right’ in order to come to Him. No matter how clean or how dirty you think the life you are living, He wants a relationship with you.” I would add, that out of love for you, he died for your love. He hungers and thirsts for your love. He is calling you. Come to him. Call on him. He is already here, now. As you would a lover, say, I am yours. He will receive you.

Appreciation

I want to thank Katie Leone for writing this excellent book and for her communication with me by email. She freely invited me, “By all means, please post your summary on your blog. I am often curious as to other people’s take on what I have written.” I hope I have represented what she wrote fairly and accurately. She has in mind to do an updated version, and so please be on the lookout for it. She also recommends this book:

8 comments to Katie Leone: The Transsexual and the Cross

  • Thank you for giving an in depth look at my work. I always enjoy when people take an interest and the thrust behind the work was to get a discourse going about the issue. This was my first attempt at an apologetic and I do have plans for a revised issue well down the road. Normally I stick to fiction where I combine christian and transgender themes together. i do have one work that might be of interest called “Wrestling Against Myself” it is a fictionalized account that pits legalistic Christianity vs. grace Christianity (I don’t want to use the word true because I don’t want to be dismissive). It follows the interactions of a high school wrestler who is a devout Christian and his contact with a girl whose secret has her being set as an outcast.

  • Beverly Taff

    1.
    The first premise, ‘God created Male and female’ is one I have issues with. It presumes or suggests that gender is binary but as an intergendered individual I know inside my head that both genders exist and they come and go in various degrees for varying times.
    2
    The second premise,’ you were born exactly the way God intended.’ In that case I would ask how would your faith reconcile the individual with parts of both genders both physically in the genitalia and mentally in their head? Am I to be persecuted as ‘an abomination’ and denied my rights to happiness for having both parts?
    3
    Homosexuality is a sin. Firstly I have to say I am mainly attracted to people who present as female but don’t necessarily have female genitalia. I am now, in my later years, celibate but I am attracted to these people and therefore I have supposedly sinful thoughts. Yet it seems that provided I don’t have intercourse with ‘these individuals’ your monotheist faiths deem me to be without sin. However I share their beds and receive immense comfort from the embrace but there is no penetration or close intimacy. Where does homosexuality begin and end? Once again it seems that the arbiters of these faiths accord unto themselves and themselves alone the rights to judge based upon their interpretations of their scriptures. No thank you, I’ll not subscribe to that.
    4
    Cross-dressing is a sin.
    Hold on there. I have 36c breasts, fertile male genitalia and sterile, vestigial but socially functional female genitalia. I have to wear a bra if I go out swimming or sunbathing. (I’ve been stopped by police for going topless despite having a clearly defined and fully functional penis!)
    How do I fit in your binary concepts of gender and/or sexuality? How would your scriptures define me.
    5
    Long hair is a sin for men.
    I have long hair, I like long hair. I present as a flamboyant, gregarious, in-your-face transvestite except that I am clinically intergendered.
    second part to follow

    Yours sincerely,
    Beverly Taff.

  • Beverly Taff

    6
    Effeminate men won’t go to heaven. (Enter the kingdom of god)
    Well, well, fancy that. Being as I was (by your religious mores about god being ‘The Creator,) given both sets of genitalia and I am very effeminate there’s no hope for me then. Oh by the way according to your scriptures, only the spirit (soul) enters heaven. Firstly I would ask how can a soul have a gender and what function would it serve in the kingdom of god. Secondly, knowing my own mind/soul/spirit as I do I would have to say that my soul is intergendered just as my mind is, because my mind/brain is clearly the receptacle for my soul (that is if there is such a thing as the soul.)
    Clearly, nothing I can do will get me over this hurdle!

  • Beverly Taff

    7
    All transsexuals will go to hell.
    Here I must ask ‘What about us intergendered folk?’ Am I to be deemed intersexual because technically I could be described as bisexual because when I’m femal in my head I’m attracted to feminine individuals yet when I’m male in my head, I’m still attracted to feminine individuals.
    8
    All transsexuals have a demon in them.
    Well hello there. Does that mean I have two demons. One entering via my vagina and the other entering via my mouth or penis or whatever. Come on, get real. Sure my intergenderism tormented me during my early puberty years but it never demonised me. By the way I never learned about my vestigial vagina until I was eight years old. I’ll not describe how I discovered if but the consequences were distressing to say the least.

  • Beverly Taff

    9
    Transexuals, minus the myths.
    Katie declares that the majority of transsexuals are trying to live ‘stealthily’ in their chosen role to avoid hassle and condemnation and indeed, danger! She is right of course, when I meet with my transgendered friends, there are certainly some who are fearful of and embarrassed by my outgoing, flamboyant, and indeed outrageous lifestyle For these friends, I certainly temper my mores.
    However, these individuals are only forced to ‘Hide their secrets’ because society is riven (Not driven.) by oppressive abrahamic, monotheist censure, (primarily fomented by giving their gods a gender!). Why would a god need a gender if it is the supreme creator???
    Katie is painfully accurate in describing the many torments facing transsexuals but all those torments are sourced in religious scriptures making those teachings the most brutal and oppressive and destructive and ungodly elements ever to afflict our kinds.

  • Beverly Taff

    Of the last comments I have little to add to Katie’s observations. She’s right and probably every transsexual will support her to some considerable degree. It becomes painfully obvious why transsexuals, interssexuals and even assexuals struggle to reconcile faith with their needs. It becomes brutally obvious why faith drives so many transexualls to suicide or attempted suicide. I can’t refute Katie’s figures, indeed I would tend to support them based upon my own experiences and those of my friends; but I have seen so many differing figures it becomes impossible to refute or support any.
    The struggle between religion and my gender situation was one I dismissed very, very early in my life and I have been comfortable and happy with my atheism for over fifty two years of my sixty eight. Atheism keeps me sane and happy. To put it as a Christian might, Paradoxically, atheism keeps my body and soul together.
    Oh by the way, if somebody asked me if I could wave a magic wand and make myself ‘normal’ I would have to say no thank you. My intergenderism has given me a whole extra dimension to my life and once I managed to shed the brutal strictures of religiosity and all the horrendous experiences I endured as a child, I have never looked back.
    Yours sincerely,
    Beverly Taff.

  • Peter

    Thank you Beverly for your lengthy response. I hear your anger and agree. I would also have a problem with religion as you describe it, except (because I’m a scholar) I think the picture is much more complicated than that. Of course if there is an actual “Great Big Good” (what Kate Bornstein calls God), it does not depend on anyone’s religion or opinion.
    You responded to the arguments that Katie also responded to but not to Katie’s, or my own (in some cases), counter-arguments. I’m glad to hear your voice but you keep referring to Christians as if they are a homogenous group. I assure you that we are quite different from each other. There are hardly any generalizations that work across the board. Many Christians are quite generous in their attitudes and interpretations, and I aspire to be one of them. (Please check out http://www.franciscans.com for an excellent example of such Christians.) I have spent many years on a post-graduate level studying the way Christians have interpreted the Bible over two millennia, and I have spent my life interpreting the Bible myself, and I can assure you that the arguments that Katie refutes are by no means the conclusions of all readers of the Bible.
    Thank you for your comment. There is a lot of pain in what you say but also a lot of authenticity which is worth while for me and my readers to hear. I wish you peace and everything good.

  • Beverly Taff.

    Thanks Peter. I’m no great scholar. Believe it or not, at fifteen I was functionally illiterate and innumerate. I never went to school after the age of six and it’s very hard to study anything until you learn to read and write.

    The word’s ‘self taught’ can be a double edged sword for they can bring self esteem to an individual when that individual finally learns to read and write but it means that the individual will often have HUGE chunks missing from their education; gaps that can constantly lead to embarrassment in social situations or more accurately, intellectual situations.
    I thought you’d have recognised my feeling as one of anger more than pain. My story is out on the internet for all to read. It’s not the nicest story. When I’ve time I’ll email you an abridged version.

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