Petition 81123

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Defining Terms (81123-C2-¶161.G)

   Add new subparagraphs at the end of ¶ 161G:
   The Church, for too long, has been confused and undiscerning about the categories, transvestitism, bisexual, transsexual, and transgender(ed). Changes in meaning for some of these words has increased the confusion and the words have become politically charged, energizing advocates and detractors alike. To speak the truth in love, the Church must understand what these words mean and the people they represent.
    Transvestitism or cross-dressing refers to wearing clothing, make-up, or ornaments typically worn by the opposite sex. For millennia, it has been a mainstay of the theater, particularly comedy. Transvestitism is sometimes accompanied by homosexual yearnings or activity, but not always. Psychiatrists recognize some transvestitism as a compulsive disorder.
    A bisexual is one who has sexual yearnings toward others of both sexes or one who engages in sexual activity with members of both sexes.
    The meaning of transsexualism has changed over the years. Formerly, psychiatrists described it as a condition in which one wishes to deny or change one’s biological sex and become a member of the opposite sex. Transsexuals often describe themselves as “trapped in the wrong body.” Transsexualism may or may not be accompanied by homosexual yearnings or activity. Psychiatrists now refer to this condition as gender identity disorder. Their only recognized “treatment” for this condition is the so-called “sex-reassignment treatment” or “sex change operation,” usually a combination of hormone injections and drastic cosmetic surgery to alter the outward bodily appearance to mimic the appearance of one of the opposite sex. It does not alter the person’s genetic blueprint, so that the change in gender identity is more illusory than real. Psychiatrists report that these operations, even when successful technically, do not always relieve the negative feelings associated with the condition.
    More recently, homosexual advocates have restricted the word transsexual to those who have received “sex-reassignment treatment” or are preparing to do so. Transgender(ed) is an umbrella term including transsexuals, transvestites, and sometimes homosexuals and bisexuals.
    Like suicide (¶ 161N), both the yearning to become a member of the opposite sex and the execution of steps to become one represent a denial of God’s wisdom in creation. They say that God erred in deciding a person’s sex. Moreover, the superficial happiness sometimes proceeding from “sex-reassignment treatment” may subvert and prevent acquiring true happiness found only in Jesus Christ. Similarly, compulsive transvestitism, forbidden in Scripture (Deuteronomy 22:5, a part of the Old Testament moral law which we are committed to obey, according to the Articles of Religion, art. vi), belies the words of Paul, “I will not be dominated by anything” (1 Corinthians 6:12). Sexual activity with more than one partner, including bisexual activity, is incompatible with the Church’s commitment to fidelity in monogamous marriage and celibacy in singleness. Therefore, The United Methodist Church does not condone any of these practices and consider them contrary to Christian teaching. However, God’s grace through the Holy Spirit is more than sufficient to deliver all persons from these and other yearnings and to remake all into godly, faithful, fruitful disciples. Scripture (1 Corinthians 6:9-11) and worldly experience both testify that such deliverance is possible and we have the Holy Spirit’s own promise, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).


Definitions are based on The Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine (3d ed., 2006), the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th ed., 2000), The Gay Almanac (Berkley Books, 1996), and The Lesbian Almanac (Berkley Books, 1996).