Media Bias on Transgenders Raising Concerns

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By Lillian Kwon, Christian Post Reporter
May 23, 2007|11:49 am

Growing media coverage and portrayals of the transgendered life have led some Christians to raise the red flag on a movement beginning to go more public much like the homosexual one already has.

The popular and Golden Globe-winning television show Ugly Betty recently added a "revolutionary character" to its cast - Alex "Alexis" Meade, who is a transwoman.

"I've never seen anything like it on prime-time network television," said Rebecca Romijn, who plays Alexis, on ABC News. "It's a whole ... group of people that's trying to make it into mainstream consciousness and I feel like with our show, in this light comedic format, it helps people understand this community of people that still has yet to find a voice really."

Transgenders have recently begun to find a voice in the American public with major media outlets like ABC's 20/20 and Newsweek magazine – which recently published a cover story on "Rethinking Gender" – telling the stories of kids and adults who are either struggling with Gender Identity Disorder or have already made a transition to the opposite sex.

"They're (media) trying to normalize transgender existence. There's no question about that," said Dr. Robert Gagnon, associate professor of New Testament at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.

Not only are some Christians concerned about the normalizing of the transgendered life, but one pro-family activist noted mainstream media bias on the controversial issue.

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Pete LaBarbera, executive director of Americans for Truth, told One News Now that the American media is justifying its biased reporting on the transgender movement in the name of compassion.

Echoing LaBarbera's concerns, Gagnon said the media is "trying to present a case where they are able to demonstrate that these persons cannot help themselves, [that] this is not something they asked for. [And] if you don't allow them to become transgender, they'll probably kill themselves."

While media may be drawing more sympathetic hearts toward the transgender community, it's still hard to say when or whether transgenders will be fully accepted in American society, says Debra Rosenberg, assistant managing editor at Newsweek who wrote "Rethinking Gender."

"With more anti-discrimination laws being passed, though, it does seem like things are moving in that direction," she adds.

Federal legislation on expanding hate crimes to include violent attacks against individuals on the basis of "gender, sexual orientation and gender identity" is currently being reviewed by the Senate. Christians have strongly voiced opposition to the expansion, arguing that the bill could silence believers who view homosexuality as sinful. That also applies to the transgender.

Alluding to Scripture (1 Corinthians 6:9-10), Gagnon quoted Apostle Paul listing persons who will "not inherit the kingdom of God." The list includes the "effeminate" or "soft men," which is essentially the closest thing to transgenderism, Gagnon pointed out.

But, as Gagnon mentioned, many argue that this is not something transgenders have asked for. Studies have shown that a transwoman (male-to-female) tends to have a female-sized BSTc (central subdivision of the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis) in the brain.

"The argument basically is that that particular portion of the brain that has to do with sexual identity is more female-like in males who become transgendered and more male-like in females who go from a female to male," said Gagnon, who has debated on the transgender issue. "In a sense, you're saying because of one minute portion of the brain, but not the total brain, [that] will be the decisive factor in overriding one's sex. And that's the problem.

"What I'm arguing is that being male is more than just that portion of the brain," he added. "The change of this part of the brain is neither a necessary nor sufficient element for transgenderism. It may create a risk factor but it's not a deterministic model."

Moreover, Gagnon explained the "whole package" that goes into being a male or a female. "It involves anatomy, physiology and personal psychology," he noted.

"We're talking about only one small portion of their maleness (in the case of a transwoman) being problematized by a female quality. The whole rest of them remains male."

"Alexis" Meade revealed her transgender identity in the fourteenth episode, titled "I'm Coming Out," of ABC's Ugly Betty, which aired Feb. 1. She revealed she had gender-reassignment surgery and is now a woman.

 

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