Erica Hall-Matthews // EEW Magazine Faith & Culture
But National Geographic, one of the largest nonprofit scientific and educational institutions, is trying to help the larger public understand and accept the idea that gender identity is not based on sex organs, but rather, internal feelings.
The family of Vanessa and JR Ford, a couple that came out in September 2015 about helping their 4-year-old son become a girl, will be profiled, along with other families, in National Geographic’s upcoming documentary, “Gender Revolution: A Journey With Katie Couric.”
Airing Feb. 6 on the National Geographic channel, viewers will get to know 9-year-old Ellie, who is transitioning socially from a boy to a girl.
According to a New York Times report, the Fords went public in order to “raise awareness about transgender issues and to humanize and normalize gender nonconforming people”—the same mission of the editors at National Geographic.
Ellie’s parents say before age 4, their son showed countless signs that he was unhappy as a boy. His self-portraits were of himself as a stick-figure girl. He pretended to be a female superhero and loved dressing up in princess costumes.
“For Ellie, whenever she put on a dress, she would turn into a different person; she would smile at people and talk to people,” Ms. Ford said. “It was such a profound change, we thought we had a son who would grow up to be a gay man. We were only thinking about sexuality because it didn’t occur to us that gender identity was a part of this.”
But their family’s Frozen-themed birthday party sealed the deal.
Ms. Ford said when she told her child, “You’re my favorite princess boy,” the response was, “Mom, I’m not a boy; I’m a girl in my heart and my brain.”
While many admire the Fords’ unconditional love of their son, the majority of conservative-leaning Christians are not accepting what they view as abnormal and for some, even immoral. This specific group in no way, shape or form believes there is support for the transgender community in the Bible. They will never evolve, conform or embrace the world's standard. No cover story, television special, or "expert opinion" will change that.
The Bible is the higest authority.
National Geographic’s January issue, featuring a transgender girl, Avery Jackson, on the cover, drew mixed responses and sparked heated debate. An editor’s note said, “Tens of thousands of people have weighed in with opinions, from expressions of pride and gratitude to utter fury. More than a few have vowed to cancel their subscriptions.”
Like it or not, co-sign it or not, one thing is true: a cultural shift is happening. Facebook now offers more than 50 gender options. Courts are arguing over the bathroom bill and voices from within the transgender community are growing stronger.
“Families are grappling with these issues, schools are, the courts are, and legislators at all levels of government are — and science is looking more at it too,” said, Susan Goldberg, editorial director of National Geographic Partners and editor in chief.
“The very first question we got about growing up was, ‘Daddy, do I have to have a man voice like you?’” Ms. Ford said in an interview. “We’ve told her that we can help her, and medicine can help her be the girl and the woman she wants to be.”
Dr. Paul R. McHugh, the former psychiatrist-in-chief for Johns Hopkins Hospital and its current Distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry, believes transgender persons have a mental disorder.
“Policy makers and the media are doing no favors either to the public or the transgendered by treating their confusions as a right in need of defending rather than as a mental disorder that deserves understanding, treatment and prevention,” said Dr. McHugh in a 2014 Wallstreet Journal piece.
An estimated 1.4 million adults in the United States currently identify themselves as transgender.