A San Diego ‘transgenderism’ conferenceLatest Issue, Trans Progressive Thursday, August 31st, 2017
Commentary: Trans Progressive
Aug. 19 I went to a Rock Church, Point Loma conference entitled Transgenderism: A Faith Based Perspective. Denise Shick of Help 4 Families, whose father was both transgender and a child abuser, gave the presentation on how she believes fundamentalist Christian churches should respond to transgender people.
As the name of Shick’s small organization implies, her conservative Christian ministry is geared toward family members of transgender people, although she does have a page on her ministry’s Web site with about two dozen ex-transgender (think “similar to ex-gay”) stories.
I honestly was expecting the presentation to begin with a Biblical case for why “transgenderism” is sinful, but there wasn’t one. The principal assumption was that the transgender experience was a sinful experience, and no scriptural case needed to be made for that. I wasn’t expecting that.
Shick moved to scientific arguments fairly quickly. Like most anti-transgender activists on the socially conservative right, she based much of her arguments on the opinions of Paul McHugh, Ph.D., and the American College of Pediatricians (ACPeds). As a note, ACPeds is a small politically motivated medical organization of 500 or less members, and is not to be confused with the 64,000 member, transgender affirming American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
Shick cited McHugh, who argues that treating transgender people is cooperating with delusion.
McHugh is probably most succinctly described by Brynn Tannehill in an August, 2014 article for the Huffington Post. Tannehill wrote “[McHugh] has misrepresented data, rigged studies, left out significant details in his research, and is nothing more than a poorly regarded fringe element in his own field … No secular medical or mental-health organization agrees with him. Even his own (former) department denounced his stance in testimony before the Maryland Senate. Court cases looking at transgender medical issues have found his work unpersuasive.”
Shick then moved on to quoting Michelle Cretella, Ph.D., president of ACPeds:
“When children are placed on blockers at age 11 and then transitioned to cross-sex hormones you’ve never allowed their bodies to produce mature eggs if they’re biological girls or mature sperm if they’re biological boys. At the American College of Pediatricians we’ve drawn our line in the sand. Chemical castration, sterilization and surgical mutilation are child abuse.”
Using John 10:10’s text of “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy” and Cretella to make what she considered an important point, Shick emphasized that one of the things the thief of transgenderism destroyed was future life due to sterility.
What Shick put out in her presentation, but is clearer on her Web site, is what she and her organization consider the cure for transgender people. When a mother in the audience asked about her teenager who was identifying himself as transgender, you could hear Shick straining in her response to not say the words “conversion therapy,” as California bars that kind of therapy by licensed therapists here.
But the kind of therapy Shick is for is found in a paper on the Help 4 Families Web site benignly entitled Medical Research. In a nutshell, its Christian based conversion therapy, with all the trappings of ex-gay therapy. The paper’s author Ken McGuire explains why many transgender people won’t accept it:
“The greatest barrier to treatment lies with the patients themselves who refuse to accept any responsibility for their gender dysphoria and are unwilling to question the origin of their condition or explore its causes or development or entertain any attempts to change it.” McGuire added, “Ultimately, transsexuals suffer from the same problem that we all face – we live in a fallen world. None of us are as God intended … It is our response that matters. We can attempt to justify our wrong feelings, desires and actions or we can turn to God through his Son Jesus Christ and allow him to transform us into the person God created us to be, including, in the case of transsexuals, bringing them back to sexual wholeness.”
“Neuroplasticity,” Shick said at the conference, is what allows transgender people to change from being transgender. As a closeted transgender youth that was raised in a Pentecostal home – and had conversion therapy at 19 – I understand how that is a harmful mindset for parents of transgender youth.
It’s unnerving to realize this conference was held quietly right here in San Diego.
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