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GameStop and transgender rights: The privilege and cost of courageous compassion

Dr. Jim Denison is a cultural apologist who helps people respond biblically and redemptively to the vital issues of our day. He is also the co-founder and Chief Vision Officer of the Denison Forum, a Dallas-based nonprofit that comments on current issues through a biblical lens.

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GameStop logo displayed on a phone screen and a illustrative stock chart on the background
GameStop logo displayed on a phone screen and a illustrative stock chart on the background are seen in this illustration photo taken in Poland on January 28, 2021. (Photo illustration by Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via AP)

Occasionally in The Daily Article I address an issue only because everyone else is. The GameStop furor is an example. Without getting into financial explanations about “shorting stocks” that I barely understand, I’ll point to the part of the controversy that is especially captivating interest: “little guy” investors are making huge sums of money while large hedge funds are losing huge sums of money.

You may not have a personal interest in the GameStop story, but this probably feels more relevant: According to CBS News, “US intelligence officials say Chinese government is collecting Americans’ DNA.” A Chinese company called the BGI Group is the largest biotech firm in the world. It has offered to provide COVID testing services in the US. However, they would collect DNA from us as part of the testing protocol. According to one counterintelligence officer, they wish to do so in “a race to control the world’s biodata.” 

From the frightening to the tragic: nursing home deaths from COVID-19 in New York state may have been undercounted by as much as 50 percent, prompting widespread criticism of the state’s handling of the issue. 

Here’s what these stories have in common: they point to our God-given passion and compassion for the individual, especially those who are marginalized and mistreated by those in power. 

The Biden administration and transgender soldiers 

Such compassion forms a backdrop for one of the more controversial decisions by the new Biden administration. 

Ahead of his inauguration, President-elect Biden made sweeping promises to LGBTQ activists, among them

  • Lifting the Trump administration’s ban on military service for transgender people.
  • Barring federal contractors from anti-LGBTQ job discrimination.
  • Creating high-level LGBTQ-rights positions at the State Department, the National Security Council, and other federal agencies.
  • Reinstating Obama administration guidance directing public schools to allow transgender students to access bathrooms, locker rooms, and sports teams according to their gender identity. President Biden has stated that “transgender equality is the civil rights issue of our time.”
  • Supporting legislative efforts to ban so-called conversion therapy for LGBTQ minors.
  • Ensuring that LGBTQ rights are a priority for US foreign policy by using pressure tactics, including sanctions, against foreign governments that violate such rights.
  • Providing health care coverage for “gender confirmation surgery.”

He has begun acting on several of these pledges, among them lifting restrictions on transgender Americans who wish to serve in the US military. He has also nominated Pennsylvania Department of Health Secretary Rachel Levine as assistant health secretary despite criticisms of Pennsylvania’s “failed COVID performance.” Dr. Levine would become the first openly transgender federal official to be confirmed by the US Senate. 

“We think this is an emergency” 

For my book, 7 Critical Issues, I wrote a chapter-length examination of the transgender debate you can read here. For today, let’s focus on one reaction to the Biden administration’s actions. 

Natasha Chart is executive director of the Women’s Liberation Front, which she describes as a “radical feminist organization.” She focuses on the government’s order giving biological males who identify as women a pathway to compete in female sports and enter women’s-only spaces such as bathrooms and showers. 

I encourage you to read her interview in its entirety. She raises concerns about the risk of injuries to females competing with biological males and girls being forced to shower with biological boys, among other issues. Then she warns: “This is an emergency. We know parents are losing custody of their children for failing to affirm a gender identity. We know that minors are being sterilized. We know that girls and young women are losing out on athletic and college scholarship opportunities. 

“We know that women in domestic violence shelters, in homeless shelters, in prisons are being terrorized by men who’ve been allowed to identify as women, and by officials who say, ‘Hey, it’s out of our hands. He says he’s a woman. He has to bunk with you.’ 

“We think this is an emergency, and we would hope that everyone in politics would support women’s side in this.” 

The “great sin” of our day 

I appreciate the American impulse to protect and support the rights of minorities, in this case the transgender population. And I want to state clearly that God loves all people, whatever their sexual orientation or gender identity (John 3:16). We are all broken people (Romans 3:23). We are all loved by the God who is love (1 John 4:8). 

At the same time, transgender Americans constitute only 0.6 percent of our population. How do we also protect the rights of the majority? 

Scripture is clear: God made both men and women in his image (Genesis 1:27; Matthew 19:4). Women and men are equally loved by our Lord (Galatians 3:28). Across Scripture we find women serving as prophets, judges, evangelists, and leaders. (For more, see my paper, “What should be the role of women in church?“) Children are loved and welcomed by God (cf. Psalm 127:3; Matthew 18:10; 19:14). Women and children must be protected from any who would harm them (cf. James 1:27). 

It will take courage to stand for the rights of those at risk from the consequences of transgender legislation. In Rod Dreher’s latest book, Live Not by Lies, he states that in our secularized culture, “The great sin is to stand in the way of the freedom of others to find happiness as they wish.” As a result, we can expect to be labeled intolerant, bigoted, and worse. 

The daily cost of following Jesus 

Will we pay the price to declare biblical truth and to defend those victimized by our secular society? Dreher notes: “Relatively few contemporary Christians are prepared to suffer for the faith, because the therapeutic society that has formed them denies the purpose of suffering in the first place, and the idea of bearing pain for the sake of truth seems ridiculous.” 

By contrast, Jesus was clear: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23, my italics). There is a daily cost to following and serving our Lord. 

For the sake of all who need our biblical witness and courageous compassion, let’s pay that price today.