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Come Reason's Apologetics Notes blog will highlight various news stories or current events and seek to explore them from a thoughtful Christian perspective. Less formal and shorter than the Web site articles, we hope to give readers points to reflect on concerning topics of the day.

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Monday, May 16, 2016

Bloodletting and the Modern Trans Movement

As I engage with atheists and skeptics, I hear so many of them state that religious beliefs are nothing more than outdated beliefs of a bygone era. They claim that as people of science in the 21st century we are so much more enlightened and rational than those of other eras. Level-headed people of the modern world who place their trust in science are not nearly as gullible as people in the past, they claim. Then they turn around and argue that gender has nothing to do with biology and a person's perceived identity is all that's required to change a male into a female.

I think this reminds me a lot of a sketch I saw in the early days of Saturday Night Live entitled "Theodoric of York; Medieval Barber." Host Steve Martin takes on the role of Theodoric and makes great fun of the idea that certain illnesses were treated by bloodletting. Part of the humor stems from Theodoric's modern-day rhetoric, whereby he ascribes knowledge and insight into his treatment:
You know, medicine is not an exact science but we're learning all the time. Why, just fifty years ago, we would've thought your daughter's illness was brought on by demonic possession or witchcraft. But nowadays we know that Isabel is suffering from an imbalance of bodily humors perhaps caused by a toad or small dwarf living in her stomach.1
Certainly, Martin is using great exaggeration to make a joke. Yet it is true that bloodletting was practiced widely for many centuries, ever since prominent Roman physician Galen of Pergamum described the theory that there were four primary liquids or "humours " affecting the body: phlegm, blood, black bile, and yellow bile.2 Galen had through both observation and inference come to the conclusion that when a person is sick, their humours are "out of balance" as Michael Boylan explains:
When imbalance occurred, then the physician might intervene by making a correction to bring the body back into balance. For example, if the individual were too full of phlegm (making her phlegmatic or lethargic), then the phlegm must be countered. Citrus fruit was thought to be a counter-acting agent. Thus, if one feels lethargic, increasing one's citrus intake will re-create balance. The treatment is, in fact, generally effective.3

Biased Assertions Lead to Bad Diagnoses

Of course today we see such an inference as silly and worthy of ridicule in an SNL sketch. Galen had an incorrect assumption of what blood was and how the body used it.4 It was his errant assumptions that are at the root of those crazy treatment methods. To be certain, bloodletting sometimes worked, but they probably caused far more harm than good overall.

Today's rush by the left–including the intelligentsia—to validate anyone who even hints at gender dysphoria should be disconcerting to any rational populous. I've pointed out before how we have fifty years of data under our collective medical belts on gender reassignment surgery and we know that the suicide rate for those suffering from gender dysphoria is as high after sexual reassignment surgery (SRS) as it is prior to transitioning. Dr. Paul McHugh, who helped pioneer the procedure at Johns Hopkins University has written extensively on the failure of SRS as an effective treatment and explained that Johns Hopkins stopped doing the procedure as a result.5

Now, the powerful agencies like the Obama Administration have gone even farther off the deep end and demanded that anyone who simply claims to be a different gender should be allowed to use the restrooms and locker rooms of their stated sex. The demand comes with no accountability and no requirement of proof that the claimant actually does wish to consistently live and be seen as whatever their stated gender preference is.6

Fluid Gendered Identity is the Bloodletting of Today

Just claiming it makes it so? Surely, this cannot be! Certainly, we are in a more rational time than that of the medieval barber. Certainly we don't approach a treatment based only on whatever our initial biases are, do we? It seems we do.

The biases that those who are pushing these laws in direct disregard for the safety and wellbeing of millions of women and young girls in our nation are sheer willed to have their version of life playout, regardless of the facts. We are not any more rational than people of other eras. Every culture can fall victim to what we want to be true and ignore those inconvenient facts when they get in the way of those desires.

I wonder if in a century or two we will look back on the insanity of the gender identity movement today and shake our heads with the same incredulousness that we do concerning the practice of bloodletting. If not, there will be untold thousands who are seriously harmed by such medical quackery guised as treatment.


1. Martin, Steve. "Theodoric of York: Medieval Barber." Saturday Night Live. Prod. Loren Michaels. NBC. New Yrok, NY, 22 Apr. 1978. NBC. Web. 16 May 2016.
2. Boylan, Michael. "Galen (130—200 C.E.)." Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, n.d. Web. 16 May 2016.
3. Boylan, Michael. "Hippocrates (c. 450—c. 380 B.C.E.)." Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, n.d. Web. 16 May 2016.
4. "Galen." Medical Discoveries. Advameg, Inc., n.d. Web. 16 May 2016.
5. McHugh, Paul. "Transgender Surgery Isn't the Solution." Wall Street Journal. Dow Jones & Company, Inc., 12 June 2014. Web. 02 June 2015.
6. Davis, Julie Hirschfield, and Matt Apuzzo. "U.S. Directs Public Schools to Allow Transgender Access to Restrooms." The New York Times. The New York Times, 12 May 2016. Web. 16 May 2016.


  1. So, has it ever occurred to you that ther are trans men as well as trans women? You seem overly concerned about someone like Caitlyn Jenner sharing a bathroom with other girls, but you don't seem to realize that these bathroom bills will require trans men (biologically female who appear and act just like men) to use the women's restroom. Do you really want people who look and act like men in the same bathroom with your young daughter? I just don't think you people have thought this through!

  2. Actually, yes I have. However, the male to female trans patients outnumber the female to male patients by 3 to 1. The biggest issue still stands - the one I raised on the 5-20-16 post.

  3. Why do the numbers matter? You're still in favor of forcing people who look and act like men into the same bathroom my daughter and I use. I'm not OK with that. Trans women look and act like women, I have no problem sharing a bathroom with them.

    1. What they look like in terms of dress, make-up, and hair style is of secondary importance to me. Bathrooms are separated by sex because the different sexes have different genitalia. There's a respect for the privacy that comes with the vulnerability of exposing oneself in a semi-public location like these. That respect should be maintained.

      Secondly, it isn't true that people must look outwardly like the opposite sex for these bathroom policies to take effect. All one needs to do is to claim that at this particular point in time one identifies as a woman to gain access to a woman's restroom or locker room--even if the person is 6'2" with a full beard. Self-identity is the sole criteria. That's hugely problematic from a legal standpoint as well as a security enforcement standpoint.

    2. Most important, though, is the simple fact that human bodies are designed to be either XY or XX, which we give the names of male and female. Changing one's outward appearance no more makes one a different sex than Rachel Dolezal's tan and perm makes her African American.

  4. This is what confuses me, you don't want a big man with a beard to claim he's female and waltz into the lady's room with your daughter, but if that big man with a beard has XX chromosomes, you're OK with it?

    And it leads to another question, how do you intend to check someone's genetic make up as they enter a restroom?

    That's what I meant when I said I don't think you've thought this through, I understand your convictions and your desire to see gender as black and white, but I don't think you've consider the practical consequences of sorting people strictly on genetics.

    You probably don't want to get me started on the Rachel Dolezal case. I made some enemies on another blog for suggesting that she should be judged by the content of her character rather than the color of her skin. Yes, she was being dishonest by passing herself off as black, but if she was doing her job well, why should her race matter?


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