There is something about being on a mountain top that fills you with awe and wonder. The sense of having achieved something, reaching a goal,  the wonderful view and vista, a chance to have a different perspective on what is around you. Even Auckland City looks great from Waiatarua. Mind you as I’ve got older that sense of wonder is usually that I’ve made it to the top, and the view for the first ten minutes is my knees and feet as I bend over and try and catch my breath.

We use the metaphor of mountain tops to talk of spiritual experiences, encounters with God and high points in our lives. I recently went out through the Waitakere’s to Karekare with a friend and found myself reminded of hills and high places that had been special to me. The hill top just above the Arataki Information centre, where you can look down at the bush.  I had gone to pray when I had to choose between staying in Auckland and heading down to St John’s in Rotorua and receiving very clear guidance from a bible passage in Marks gospel, “a prophet is without honour in their own town”,  that it was time to move away from Auckland my home that sprawled below me. 

The craggy rock over the river at the north end of  Karekare, where you could climb up to the lifeguards platform. I’d originally had my twenty first out at Karekare and had left the party and found this place to be alone. One night I had sat there for hours, praying and praising God, singing at the top of my voice, knowing I couldn’t be heard by anyone but God over the pounding surf.  Away from the lights of Auckland the stars shone bright and the milky way arched overhead, in the warm late summer evening the waves glowed with fluorescence as they struck the sand. Maybe it would have been easy to think that spiritual experience was just being in such an awesome place at night, but in the middle of that I sensed God’s presence and he spoke to me and asked me to renounce involvement in astrology. I didn’t under stand it at the time, but I did it, and it wasn’t till years later walking and praying in Rotorua that God reminded me of that night and that as a child I had worn an Aquarius medallion round my neck, a bit like a lucky charm. Just something that needed to be worked out spiritually, as involvement in that occult  stuff can be a source of spiritual problems.

In the scripture mountains are see in two ways, firstly there is the link with encounters with God, but they are also used as a metaphor for the challenges and difficulties we face in life. In the passage from Matthew’s Gospel we see it used both ways. Firstly on the mountain the disciples have this amazing encounter where Jesus is transfigured before them, they see him in his glory, along with Moses and Elijah, that represent the law and the prophets, then as they have come down the mountain they find themselves right bang in a messy situation, a demon possessed boy, the disciples can’t seem to help.  Jesus rebukes them about their faith and talks of a mustard seed faith being able to move a mountain.

Its mountain Sunday in the season of creation and what I want to do today is do a quick survey of mountains in the scriptures, that speak of spiritual experiences and encounters with God and what they have to say to us about those experiences and how they relate to the valley floor of everyday life, the inevitability, that is says in Matthew 17:9 and they were coming down the mountain”

In Genesis 22 there is the mountain in the region of Moriah, where Abraham is tested and in obedience with what he hears God say, takes his son Isaac and is about to offer hm as a sacrifice. Then we have the God encounter and God provides a ram for Abraham to sacrifice in Isaacs place. This passage has always been pointed to as showing Abrahams faith, but it is a worrying story, because while Abraham has great faith and is wiling to obey what he hears God say, it also is a test of relationship, how well did Abraham know God, to think that God would want child sacrifice. But on this mountain which some suggest is the same mountain on which Christ was crucified we encounter God’s mercy and love for us, that God provides the sacrifice and of course we look forward from there into the new testament to see the death of Jesus on the cross as a sacrifice for our sins. I think the Abraham story speaks to us that we need to wrestle with our mountain top experiences with God to fully understand them and know what they mean when we go down from the mountain. We should look at them from what we know of God, God is knowable, God has revealed God’s nature through scripture.

At the beginning of Exodus, we have Mt Horeb or Sinai, where in Exodus 3 Moses encounters God in the burning bush. It’s a story of God’s compassion for his people and of calling. God calls Moses to lead his people out of Israel, so they can worship him at this mountain.  That mountain top encounter with God is not always about us and God, but to strengthen and call us to go and serve and care for God’s people. Well see it again and again, genuine encounters with God result in service and the furthering of God mission in the world, and Moses is sustained by this encounter through a very difficult and trying time.

As the people come out of Egypt Moses again encounters God at Horeb, and is given the law, the ten commandments, and meets with God. Only Moses and his aid Joshua go up, the rest of the people remain behind, God is too holy and awesome for them to meet as Moses does. Moses is transformed by his encounter and for forty days after he shines with this glory from meeting with God.  Spiritual encounters and mountain top experiences can leave us basking in their glory, but again the reality of a spiritual encounter is like with Moses at Horeb, that we catch a revelation of what God wants and like with the law was intended it results in a way of life that reflects the God whom we have encountered. At Horeb the people of Israel receive the law, how as this new people of God they are to live that will reflect God’s justice and mercy. Because of that other hill of Calvary we don’t have to hang back at the foot of the mountain but we are all invited to meet with and encounter God, not just at the mountain but in our every day.

Mt Horeb appears again in 1 Kings 19 right after another mountain top experience on Mt Camel, where Elijah has a competition with the prophets of Baal about who is the real God. It’s interesting in this encounter that the prophets of Baal may have outwardly been seen to have a more ecstatic experience, they dance and sing and cut themselves, hoping their God will answer them. But with Elijah it almost seems mundane, he builds an altar pours water over it and at the right time for evening sacrifice prays and God answers. Boom, we can get caught up in the externals and the exciting and different and the ecstatic and think that’s where we encounter God  and not realise that its often in the personal rhythm of worship and devotion and prayer that we meet with God. I’ve found that the more regular and regulated my emotional life the more God seems to speak to me through the scriptures.  At the bible course of Tuesday, we talked about the fact that the prophets of Baal were killed by the people of Israel and it seemed bloodthirsty and violent. As I’ve re red for this sermon, the thing that sticks out is the prophets of Baal and jezebel were systematically seeking out and killing the prophets and people faithful to Israel’s God, so it becomes more of a justice thing, than vengeance or simple brutality, maybe a bit like the Nurnberg trials after the second world war

But back to Horeb, Elijah is afraid because jezebel the queen threatens revenge, she puts out a hit on Elijah, if this was a gangster movie… Elijah demoralised after that flees. His encounter on Horeb when he sees God passing by encourages him, gives him a new perspective on the awesomeness and power of God, but also on God’s love and care. God speaks not in the earthquake or hurricane but in the stillness. The mark of this genuine encounter with God is Elijah comes away encouraged and with a definite plan and a way forward. He is given someone to walk the path with him in Elisha. When we are discouraged and well facing mountains that genuine encounter with God, provides clarity and ways forward, not a way out, but a way through, with Christ’s abiding presence.

Mt Zion, the city of Jerusalem, was where David established his capital and where Solomon built the temple and bought the focus for the worship of God to that specific hill.  In the reading we had from Isaiah chapter 2 we see how the city is to be a place where God’s kingdom is established, people are to be drawn to that place because of God’s mercy and justice. It here of Course that Christ comes and is crucified, it is here when the promise of the Holy Spirit is poured out on all those who believe. At the end of acts 2 we have this wonderful picture of the new people of God, the church, living out that hope of peace and justice, they are a people dedicated to knowing and learning what it means to be God’s people, they devote themselves to prayer and scripture and the teaching of the apostles. They practise hospitality and generosity, and live in harmony so that none of them is said to be in need, and they experience the power and presence of God in miracles and in people coming to know Christ, they enjoy the goodwill of the people: people see how they live and it draws them in. It is a pattern and a hope for us the church, that in us people might glimpse that rule and reign of God, that will make them want to change and put aside war and conflict.

A minister who lead a Christian community in west Auckland once talked about the marks of true revival, he said that you know the geniuses of that encounter with God when it results in a hunger for God’s word and prayer, a desire for Christian unity, hospitality and generosity, a care for the poor, and a heart for seeing people come to know Jesus.  Yes miracles and all that stuff goes along with it, but at its heart is the kingdom of God.

The mount of ascension outside Jerusalem is where the gospels finish and the book of acts kicks off. It is a place where the disciples see Jesus taken up from them into heaven. It would be easy to finish the story with them gazing off into the sky, simply waiting for Jesus to come back to them. To sit and wait for that vision of Isaiah to come to being, but that is not what happens they are told by angels, to go back down and wait in Jerusalem for the power of God and then be Jesus witness to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth.  That is the challenge of the mountain top that we come back down and get on with making what we have encountered of God a reality where we live.

That brings us back to the gospel reading we had today and the mount of transfiguration. The three disciples closest to Jesus have this amazing encounter, their eyes are open and they are able to see the reality of who Jesus is, a real glimpse beyond the veil to the spiritual realm. Jesus is totally human, but there is a glimpse of this glorified body, conversing with Moses and Elijah and the first instinct they have is that they want to stay there and they want to build an altar and shelters a structure to enshrine this experience. Let us build a shelter for each of you… that’s a very human reaction, a very human response to such a spiritual experience. A lot of our church traditions and expressions and denominations even are built to preserve hopefully a new truth about God, but they want to encapsulate a spiritual experience.  But Jesus is not having any of it. He is suddenly just plain ol Jesus and thy go down the mountain, back into the difficulties and metaphor mountains of trouble they have left behind. But they Go back down… but down there Jesu is also with them. The disciples had tried to cast out a demon and they couldn’t do it, but as Jesus is with them and he is able to do it, and teaches them how to do it, how to have faith in facing mountains. It’s not the mountain top experience where we know God and his presence, its where we glimpse the reality of the God who is with us on the valley floor, who we can trust and put our faith in as we face those other mountains.

The mount of transfiguration is book ended by looking forward to another mountain, Golgotha or Calvary as Jesus speaks of his death and resurrection, and it is this mountain that enables us to know God’s presence with us on the mountain high and valley low. It Jesus giving his life for us and being raised to life again, that does not mean we need to go to the physical mountains to see and know him. Rather he is with us. In John4 Jesus has a discussion with a Samaritan women about which mountain is right to worship God on… Jesus response is to tell her that there is a time coming when we will worship God not on the mountain but in Spirit and truth, that is the hope and the reality that we have among our mountains… 

Maungarei, Maungakiekie, Mt Hobson, Hamlin hill,  and beyond… as we face the mountains of aloneness, searching for meaning and purpose, pain, family struggles, caring for friends facing oppressive social mountains or a whole range of personal mounds… Mountain top encounters are great and helpful and draw us on, but we have the assurance that Christ has come down the mountain with us and dwells with us on the valley floor, the up and downward trek, wanting to see his kingdom and justice and love make that Mt Zion vision a reality

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Yesterday, I had a long and enjoyable public discussion with Jason Thibodeau on the topic of The Euthyphro dilemma.

Jason is a writer for the Secular Outpost and teaches philosophy at Cypress college in California. He also is the author of a recent article entitled “God’s Love is Irrelevant to the Euthyphro Problem” published in Sophia  The team at Real Atheology recently interviewed Jason about his paper a couple of weeks prompting  Cameron Bertuzzi from Capturing Christianity to have both of us discuss the matter further on his youtube channel.

Those who follow MandM regularly will know, Jason and I have been engaging in written exchanges on this issue for several years and he has always been a thoughtful and intelligent dialogue partner. Jason has raised some challenging responses to my arguments yesterday’s two-hour discussion/ debate was no different. It was one of the better dialogues I have had on religion and morality in a long time. Hopefully, the dialogue generates more light than heat.

The whole dialogue is available on YouTube here:

 

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Jeremy Corbyn’s Great Contribution

Poll Shows UK Labour Losing Respect

Anti-Semitism Row Destroying Public Standing

Simon Kent
Breitbart London

UK Labour is being defined as the “nasty party” of British politics by voters fed up with its rampant anti-Semitism, according to the latest polling. 

The term harks back to a label once used for the Conservative Party, when Theresa May famously told the Conservative conference 16 years ago the party was deemed “‘nasty” by an increasing section of the electorate.  Now the hard-left Labour Party wears the appellation after a summer of discontent over leader Jeremy Corbyn’s past – and present – relations with the Jewish community.

A ComRes poll conducted for the Jewish News shows Labour today is viewed as “nasty” by 31 percent of Britons compared to 34 percent for the government. 35 percent of the 2,002 adults quizzed “don’t know.”  Other findings will also startle Labour’s leadership. Just on 50 percent of those polled agree that Labour is “not doing enough to tackle anti-Semitism within its ranks” against just 19 percent who believe it is.

Similarly, 45 percent say Mr. Corbyn is “either unwilling or unable to act decisively against anti-Semitism in his party”, compared with 27 percent who say he is “the target of a concerted smear campaign by his political opponents to try to discredit him over anti-Semitism.”

Just as concerning for Labour is the view that it is going backwards in matters of public trust. 
Twice as many respondents – 48 percent – believe Labour was a “more decent party” under Gordon Brown than Mr. Corbyn, with 24 per cent saying the reverse.

Andrew Hawkins, chair of ComRes, told the Jewish News there is widespread acknowledgement that “British politics has turned nastier.”

He believes this poll suggests that the Labour Party may be “slipping into a quagmire of its own making by failing to persuade voters that it is serious about tackling antisemitism and by losing its reputation for decency.  That the Tories were seen as ‘the Nasty Party’ for the best part of 25 years gave Labour something of a monopoly on kindness but that advantage seems to be being squandered,”  he concluded.

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20180924

Psalms 9:1-2 1 I will thank Yahveh with all my heart; I will make known all your amazing creations. 2 I will rejoice and brag about you; I will sing about your name, Most High.

Hiking the trail, one is constantly bombarded with the amazing creations of God. I remember pointing out a beautiful field to another hiker one day. It was a breathtaking display of dazzling green. I told her, “That is what God can do with only one crayon from the box.”

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20180923

Psalms 8:6-9

6 You made him ruler over the creations of your hands; you put everything under his feet: 7 all the sheep and oxen, as well as the animals in the wild, 8 the birds of the sky, and the fish of the sea that pass through the currents of the seas. 9 Yahveh, our Lord, how honorable is your name throughout the land.

The image of God given to our ancestors in Eden primarily has to do with this conferred authority and responsibility to pass on God’s honor by managing his creations. Not only are we our brother’s keepers, we are also keepers of the rest of creation.

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Massey University VC Needs To Be. . . .

Gone By Lunchtime

It’s simple – Massey’s Jan Thomas has got to go

Mike Hosking
NZ Herald

What a scandal eh? And if Massey values it’s reputation, Jan Thomas is gone.

I suspect most of us knew that when it came to the Don Brash fiasco the security excuse was bogus, given it never really got detailed and the police were never called.  But little did we know just how fundamentally dishonest Jan Thomas would appear to be in this matter.

If you haven’t seen the emails obtained through the Official Information Act then they’re worth a read.  And further, it’s a reminder of the value and power of the OIA.  And one wonders whether Thomas – while writing her fears, concerns, and views – ever thought this would end up where it has.

But to the notes. Thomas didn’t want Brash on campus. She didn’t like his views and spent a fair amount of time getting advice, asking questions, and working out how to prevent him from appearing.  It would seem she couldn’t find a good enough reason, so in the end cited security.

Basically, it seems to me, she lied. And the trouble with that? Well, where do you start?

The campus, the university, the home of free speech, the exchange of ideas, the heated debate, the ability to learn through diversity, the welcoming of diversity, the open arms approach to expression. Well, that’s all been made a joke. The university of 2018 is a hijacked enclave of hand wringing and political correctness.

It’s where offence is guarded, if not policed against, where views held must adhere to hierarchies, where there is a gate keeper driven by the Treaty of Waitangi and its politically correct outworking.  It’s where what was once welcomed is now to be closed down at all costs. And, tragically, seemingly done so with dishonesty, subterfuge and underhand tactics.

I’m not sure what’s worse, the overarching agenda that it’s our view or no view, or what seems dishonesty keeping it in place.  Is a politically driven view of the world, a left-leaning one, of more danger to the community? Or the fact that morally these people will seemingly stop at nothing to drive it, and protect it?

There is nothing wrong with holding a view as clearly Thomas does. But to me the protection of that view at the expense of other views, especially on a place like a campus, is a crime, certainly morally. And to go to such extent and effort to have your view, and your view alone, enforced smacks of an extraordinary level of paranoia.

A view well held is a view that can be defended and debated.  But so far this seems a basic abuse of power by dishonesty. I would have thought it is a sackable offence. You’d like to think she’d quit in humiliation. But I hope the university doesn’t give her the chance.

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20180922

Psalms 8:5 You made him little less than a God and crowned him with glory and honor.

That same honor that is manifested in the creation is humanity’s crown. We show that honor when we protect and preserve creation, keeping it from death and decay when we can. God did not give us the planet to exploit but to protect.

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University Vice-Chancellors Given Notice

More Progress On Defence of Free Speech
Bryce Edwards, lecturer in Politics at Victoria University is often arguing at the left end of the spectrum.  One of the encouraging things, however, in the recent public debate about free speech in New Zealand is the way folk right across the political and ideological spectrum have stood up for free speech.  

Many have publicly excoriated Massey University shutting down opinions the entitled hierarchy found objectionable.  Edwards has joined in with the objecting chorus, for which we are thankful. 

His take on where the nation now stands with respect to Massey and its now-shown-to-be duplicitous Vice Chancellor, Jan Thomas is as follows:

The attempt by the head of Massey University to ban Don Brash from speaking on campus last month has entirely backfired. Instead of Brash being undermined by her actions, it now looks like Vice Chancellor Jan Thomas is in danger of losing her position. What’s more, her actions have ended up reinforcing academic freedoms on campus.

Certainly, we now know that Massey University academic staff have been fighting back against their boss, with the view that she has brought their institution into disrepute. Peter Lineham, a professor of history at Massey has been leading the charge, and he put forward a motion to the University’s Academic Council yesterday to censure the Vice Chancellor. He explained why today in an interview with Newstalk ZB’s Mike Hosking, saying “I think it is a big, big blunder… this has put the university in a very bad light” and in terms of the university staff, “I think most people are uneasy about the decision” – see the three-minute interview: ‘It was a big blunder’ – Massey Uni board speak out.

Lineham explained how the Academic Council met yesterday and “grilled” their boss. He gives an idea of how Massey staff feel, saying there was “intense discussion at Academic Board, because she seemed to have started off being very determined to find some way or other to stop Don Brash’s visit, and then retreated from it, and then up came the safety issue, which I think had it been looked at in the cold and hard light of day didn’t really amount to much.”

Perhaps Lineham’s most important point in the interview is about how campus free speech has actually been strengthened as a result of the Brash-ban debacle: “I think we have recovered free speech a bit because this controversy has strongly marked the New Zealand campuses by the fact that vice chancellors – and this is happening throughout the world – cannot play nanny to the students. That’s a ridiculous role. The students can choose who they want to listen to, and can have whatever views they want. And I think this particular incident has made every vice chancellor realise that they need to keep their hands out of deciding what students should listen to.”

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20180921

Psalms 8:3-4

3 When I gaze into your skies, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you set in place, 4 what is a human being that you would think about him, a son of man that you look after him?

God’s other creations are so spectacular and complex that it is humbling to consider that his story focuses on his plan for us and how he is accomplishing that plan through Christ.

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“Experts” Must Be Confronted With a Healthy Scepticism


Why Are Pediatrician Groups Conforming to Transgender Orthodoxy?

By Madeleine Kearns
National Review Online

In the same week that the U.K.’s “equalities minister” launched an inquiry into why there has been a 4,000 percent increase in girls seeking gender reassignment in the past ten years (from 40 in 2009–10 to 1,806 in 2017–18), the American Academy of Pediatrics [AAP] released its official policy statement on how to ensure “comprehensive care and support for transgender and gender diverse children and adolescents.”

All of this relates to a global child-welfare battle that is being fought in schools and surgeries across the English-speaking world. One of the most successful tactics used by the activists is to pathologize the debate; only “transphobes” question ostensibly pro-trans assumptions.

But whichever side of the transgender debate one falls on — from within the medical community — the following questions ought to be raised in relation to the AAP’s recent statement: (1) To what extent did activists and interested third parties influence this policy? (2) To what extent was the AAP able to hear from all stakeholders? (Especially parents who feel unable to speak up publicly due to concern for their relationship with their child, and professionals who fear animosity from an activist trans community.) And, related, (3) Is this official policy likely to be helpful or harmful to children?

One reason these questions matter so much is that the AAP is a trusted group of around 64,000 pediatricians. Their policy statement refers to an “integration of medical, mental health, and social services, including specific resources and supports for parents and families,” which is a commendable approach. However, in this instance there is more than meets the eye.

First, the AAP policy decisively favors affirming any “child’s self-expressed identity.” Putting this policy into practice means that when a child “comes out” as transgender, regardless of underlying conditions and mental-health concerns, parents are officially advised to affirm and facilitate the new identity. Transgender activists have supported this development.

Which figures: The AAP’s policy statement strongly resembles activist talk. It asserts that transgenderism is an intrinsic identity, related to mental health insofar as it is currently stigmatized. Moreover, again without substantiation, the statement dismisses alternative therapies — i.e. those designed to assist realignment with one’s birth sex — as unreliable and unethical. Citing other groups, the AAP calls these tried and tested approaches “reparative” and “conversion” therapies — and states that they are “inappropriate,” and “unfair and deceptive,” as well as “outside the mainstream of traditional medical practice.” But is there really a medical consensus on the gender-affirmative approach?

Despite these bold assertions, the AAP’s claims are fiercely contested by parents and child-welfare experts, many of whom suspect that their policy has been distorted by impassioned and interested third parties. At this juncture, it is crucial that the AAP listens to these voices. For instance, Dr. Susan Bradley, a child psychiatrist with 40 years of clinical experience and research, who founded the Toronto Gender Identity Clinic at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, told National Review:

I’m deeply concerned that AAP’s guidance has gotten so far ahead of the current knowledge base about gender dysphoric children, according to the best research we have that spans decades of clinical practice. We know from multiple studies that around 80 percent of gender dysphoric children will desist from their cross-sex identification in childhood to identify with their natal sex. Most of these will grow up to be gay or lesbian; a substantial minority have also been diagnosed with autism.

Yet the AAP guidance incorrectly dismisses these studies as flawed and outdated. There is no professional consensus on medical treatment of gender-dysphoric children and young adolescents. While some preliminary studies of puberty suppression followed by cross-sex hormones and surgery have shown benefit to gender dysphoric youth, these have had small sample sizes and have only followed patients for a short period of time.

We do not know the long-term effects of medical transition in young people; these effects are mostly irreversible and include sterility and sometimes impaired sexual function. Watchful waiting, which was the treatment of choice for many years, has been dismissed as false and harmful with no evidence for this assertion.

Likewise, therapist Dr. Lisa Marchiano, who is a clinical social worker, a certified Jungian analyst, the author of Outbreak: On Transgender Teens and Psychic Epidemics, and who has been consulting with parents of trans-identifying teens since 2016, told National Review:

We know that part of a teenager’s job is to experiment with identity. Our role as parents and mental-health practitioners ought to be to make such experimentation safe, without permanent negative consequences. I have worked with some parents whose children did indeed desist from their belief that they were trans, even after identifying as transgender for as long as one year.

According to the new AAP policy endorsing “affirmative” intervention, these young people would have qualified for cross-hormone treatment. Would they have been well-served if they had been encouraged to rush into treatment that might leave their bodies altered for life?

While investigating the story, National Review was also contacted by numerous parents and former transgender youth who are deeply upset by the AAP’s latest policy. In the interest of privacy, names have been changed.

One teenager affected by these issues is Caroline. Caroline grew up in a progressive community and first suspected she was transgender after spending time reading about trans issues and celebrities online. Following several “coming out” revelations from friends, she started considering that she, too, might be transgender.

Strikingly, two thirds of the girls in Caroline’s class identified as male. This may appear to be an unusually high number, but some researchers, such as Dr. Lisa Littman of Brown University, have begun to take notice of the “cluster” effect in schools, and consider the possibility of “social contagion” very likely. Clearly, more investigation into this is necessary before a decisive conclusion can be drawn. Again, the AAP would do well to listen to these alternative perspectives.

Nevertheless, Caroline explained that after reading a Tumblr article about the 17-year-old “trans teen” Leelah Alcorn who had committed suicide, “I started getting more into the idea then. We [her friend group] started talking about it more and more.”

There are multiple stages to the process of affirmation. These may include social affirmation, legal affirmation, medical affirmation, and surgical affirmation.

Caroline considered all four but later realized she didn’t want to go through with a medical transition after being introduced to “packers” (stuffed crotches) and “binders” (hidden breasts) at a transgender-youth conference. When Caroline started to share these doubts with her friends, they reacted badly and accused her of “transphobia.” “You know you are a boy because you are a boy,” one told her.

Throughout this time, Caroline and her mother were exploring their options together. In the end her family relocated and they found a therapist with a non-gender-affirming approach, and Caroline now happily identifies as a girl.

Some trans activists have denied “desistance” narratives (i.e. testimonies like Caroline’s) outright. However, their claims are rarely substantiated.

Carrie had a similar experience with her daughter, who had underlying learning difficulties. She told National Review, “In talking with my daughter, I discovered that she had brought the subject [transgenderism] up because of curiosity about other kids at school, and that her therapist had told her that curiosity means you are probably trans.”

“She had been told by the therapist not to tell me yet, because it takes parents a long time to ‘come around.’”  The therapist then denied this. But Carrie found messages on her daughter’s iPhone that confirmed the story. Her trust was shattered, and they took her daughter elsewhere.

“It’s been a year now since the revelation, and my daughter has completely moved on. But I’m terrified to think what fate might have befallen her. We would never in a million years have dreamt such things were going on inside that office while we waited outside.”

Another parent is Katherine. Her daughter first got the idea about transgenderism from a school presentation, at a small school where around 5 percent of the students believed themselves to be transgender. Katherine considered herself to be progressively minded and had chosen a school with such values in the hope that her child (who had some symptoms of autism) might feel included.

“Gender therapists told me not to question my daughter; that to do so was ‘insulting’ and that I must affirm her identity or she would be at high risk of suicide.

“The AAP’s 2016 guidelines under ‘what we know for sure’ state that ‘transgender adolescents and adults rarely regret gender transition, and the process (including social and/or medical changes) substantially improves their well-being.’ I could find nothing that told me of all of the known harms caused by puberty blockers, like Lupron, or the possibility that my daughter’s belief she was a boy was the result of a contagious idea.

“If I had only found one alternative, authoritative source that told me the truth, I would never have taken her to a gender clinic. I would never have supported her social transition. I would have questioned this more. I am angry at myself for trusting groups like the AAP. I am angrier at these doctors for publishing this false and dangerous advice.”

As it is, the AAP’s approach raises serious ethical questions. It is crucial that all voices — especially those that are lost amidst the noisy activists — are heard. The 2016 AAP guidelines that Katherine refers to was lead-authored by a trans activist and recent graduate of gender studies. A biomedical researcher told National Review that responding to activist medical briefings is difficult because of the manipulation of language. Clarifications have been inserted accordingly.

Despite this consensus [what consensus?] some groups — including a minority of healthcare professionals — continue to promote non-affirmative strategies: reparative therapy [the phrase “reparative therapy” is misleading: what is being referred to is assisting a child to feel comfortable with their birth sex] or delayed gender transition [again: misleading. What is being referred to is a “watch and wait” approach to let puberty unfold naturally]. Reparative therapy attempts to “correct” gender-expansive behaviors, while delayed transition prohibits gender transition until a child reaches adolescence or even older, regardless of their gender dysphoria symptoms . . . There is evidence that both reparative therapy and delayed transition can have serious negative consequences for children. [Their emphasis. But why in bold? Could it be to compensate for the fact that this claim is unfounded?]

Moreover when it comes to medical intervention, there are serious negative consequences for the gender-affirmative approach. Dr. Mike Laidlaw, an endocrinologist in Los Angeles, explained to National Review about the dangers of puberty blockers in normal puberty. In some instances this is irreversible and causes infertility.

In light of the evidence, the AAP and other such bodies would do well to carefully review the experiences and research of experts and parents — rather than flippantly disregard them as politically inconvenient. Ultimately, child welfare is a bipartisan issue. Moreover, the AAP would do well to treat the methods and motivations of activists and self-interested gender therapists with the necessary skepticism and due caution. If they fail to do so, parental trust will continue to be shattered and, as always, children will pay the heaviest price.

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