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Why I can’t celebrate Trump’s transgender bathroom policy

Ryan Denison is the Senior Fellow for Theology at Denison Forum, where he contributes writing and research to many of the ministry’s productions.

He is in the final stages of earning his PhD in church history at BH Carroll Theological Institute after having earned his MDiv at Truett Seminary. Ryan has also taught at BH Carroll and Dallas Baptist University.

He and his wife, Candice, live in East Texas and have two children.


On Wednesday, President Trump’s administration overturned the Obama-era guidance that attempted to force public schools to allow students to use the bathrooms and locker rooms associated with their preferred rather than their biological gender identity. Unsurprisingly, the decision was met with scorn and derision from those who initially supported the former president’s directive and praise from many of those who opposed it.

As one who believes that an individual’s gender identity is set by God rather than personal choice—as well as someone who feels like it should have been a state issue in the first place—I support the president’s new policy. I can’t, however, join those celebrating the change, and I don’t think any of us really should.

Tony Perkins, for example, is president of the Family Research Council and recently wrote “The Trump administration’s reversal of this mandate on schools is a victory for parents, children, and privacy.” While there is, perhaps, some truth to that statement, it ignores the fact that there are still hundreds of thousands of students who are likely to see the shift as an attack on their rights and as ammunition for bullies and others who take pleasure in causing them pain. Victory is not the word I would use to describe that situation.

While Trump’s directive ends by stating that the new guidance “does not leave students without protections from discrimination, bullying, or harassment,” those are likely to be empty words for many who encounter such mistreatment on a near daily basis. So while I still think the president’s decision was the correct one, I support it with a heavy heart. It was a necessary change, but not cause for celebration.

I believe our savior would agree. Throughout his ministry, Jesus’ response to the hurting around him was defined by love and grace. He never celebrated that which caused others pain, even if the pain was the result of their own sin or error. Rather, he had compassion towards them and looked for a way to help them overcome those issues that caused their lives to fall short of God’s will.

If cries of victory are Christians’ primary response to the president’s new policy, we will likely lose any chance we might have otherwise had to share God’s love and truth with those who need it now more than ever. Just because Trump’s decision was correct does not make it worthy of celebration. Today, I think Jesus would be looking for the person shedding tears of pain rather than tears of joy. Shouldn’t we do the same?