The online journal of Luke Dockery

Bruce Jenner and the Multi-Faceted Transgender Discussion

A lot of (digital) ink has been spilled the last few days concerning the story of Bruce Jenner and his decision to undergo treatments and surgeries in an effort to live life as a woman, and a lot of discussion has been generated.

With so many different voices competing for time and space, it can be a chore to sift through it all. It is also worth mentioning that this is a multi-faceted discussion, and what I mean by that is that it spills over into the arenas of politics, culture, medicine, psychiatry, religion, theology, pastoral care, and probably others which I am not thinking about.

Generally speaking, I don’t like to write a lot about topics of which I am relatively ignorant, and so it is not my intention to try and compose a comprehensive thought essay on this topic. What I would like to do is share some articles I have read which I think shed some light on the issue or should cause some pause for reflection.

From a medical and psychiatric perspective, I thought this was a very helpful piece. Written over ten years ago, it is remarkably relevant, and is written by someone whose training and experience makes him far more qualified to weigh in than many people who have rushed to do so.

From a political and cultural perspective, this article’s discussion on the contradictory messages on gender norms from the political/cultural left was, I thought, enlightening. There really is a point of contention here that a lot of people are ignorantly missing or intentionally blurring: either “gender” matters or it doesn’t; you cannot have it both ways.

And from a pastoral perspective, this very personal (anonymous) article was worth reading. There are people in our churches who are struggling with feelings like this, and they need more than immediate condemnation and more than a hearty approval for them to indulge those feelings. From the author:

As someone who has spent his life wrestling with these feelings, what happens when you chase them and they don’t fill the void? What happens when they don’t take the brokenness away? As followers of Jesus we are supposed to know better, that the solution for the brokenness comes from only one place. It doesn’t come from marriage or children or being able to love whomever we want to love or identify in the way that fits you best. The only hope for our brokenness is Jesus Christ.

I am still looking for an article that I think really nails the issue from a theological perspective, but in the meantime, I recently came across a particular church whose motto was very appropriate to this situation (and many others as well):

“Always the truth. Always in love.”

May we doggedly hold to both standards in this, and every, discussion.


  1. Larry Krudwig

    One thing is for sure when dealing with people like Jenner who honestly have a personal struggle in which they have chosen to follow their hidden desire is not hatered, belittling humor and jokes! When preachers think the matter of sexual disfunction is a joke and openly make fun of a persons plight for their own personal amusement then Christianity suffer from a lack of credibility and all possible influence which could be had is lost! Luke, I appreciate your honest attemp to examine an unknown issue that many people including fellow church members struggle with just like other hidden sins. One may disapprove of the choice that Jenner has made and may not understand the struggle of gender disforia ,but never is is ok to publicly or privately make a joke of or ridicule those who Christ died to redeem! I’m adament that the Church can’t be like the word and make light of those who are caught in this personal issue. Hate that is disguised in religious fervor is still hate! The Church must be lead by example of its leadership to treat people with love reguardless of how they want to react to the Jenners of the world and if you wonder what love looks like then re read 1 Cor 13 ,”Love is kind” !

    • Luke

      Larry, as Christians, we certainly have no excuse to ever let our speech ever be anything other than “seasoned with salt.”
      Always the truth. Always in love.

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