Love Thy Body
Why sex changes are wrong, among other things
In a recent podcast with Rod Dreher, Andrew Sullivan says he would really like someone to explain to him what the moral argument against sex-change surgery is, exactly. This might seem like an odd question coming from someone who’s drawn considerable flak for affirming biological essentialism, as well as condemning trans indoctrination for children. Sullivan is on record repeatedly saying it’s a “lie” that men can really become women and vice versa. On Real Time with Bill Maher, he became positively livid as he railed against the adults who are confusing children into making permanent, body-altering decisions. Presumably, he would be similarly angry at any situation where someone vulnerable or lacking information was being pressured into such choices, even a vulnerable adult.
But from Andrew’s perspective, it’s a different situation when that adult is fully aware, fully informed, and walks into sex-change surgery with both eyes open. Nothing should prevent that adult, legally or morally, from doing exactly what he wants to do with his body. Andrew admits this view puts him in an “uncomfortable” position, given his other views. Nevertheless, this is where he lands, and he’s frankly baffled by those who would argue otherwise. He asks if Dreher could explain the Christian argument, not because he anticipates changing his mind, but just because he’s never understood it.
Dreher declines Andrew’s invitation to debate this point, not because Dreher is wobbly on the morality for himself, but simply because he wasn’t prepared for the topic, and he wanted to move on from an already long, unexpected segment of the show where Andrew had insisted they duke it out on all things sexual ethics. He’s certain that Andrew is wrong, but if you asked him to lay out an argument, he hasn’t yet thought it through.
I sympathize with Dreher. Still, I do think Christians should be able to say a few things when put on the spot here. Further, while Dreher has converted to Orthodoxy, which doesn’t engage much with natural law, I think it’s ideal when these sorts of arguments appeal to more than just the one kind of revelation. My own formulation here won’t be as tidy or well-organized as it could be. It might even be downright sloppy. It’s very late, I’m very tired, etc. But maybe this is a beginning, and maybe it’s helpful.
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