Many people are confused today about sex and gender. If you are in a conversation about these very tough topics, what would you say? Before we can have a constructive conversation about the brave new world of sex and gender, it’s important to understand the current thinking about sex and gender. Hopefully this will give you a head start. Many gender theorists have created separate categories for sex, gender identity, and gender expression. Sex, some say, is “assigned at birth” by the doctor. Though our sex is connected to our bodily anatomy, they claim that disorders of sexual development are actually different sexes. Claiming sex is “assigned” rather than acknowledged at birth, allows for the possibility that sex can be reassigned later. Whether sex needed to be reassigned depends on gender identity, the second category.
Gender identity, we are told, is our internal sense of who we are. Do I feel like I am a man, a woman, neither, or both? Gender is a state of mind, and on a spectrum. In other words, gender is not a binary choice between male or female. Someone may, for example, feel 70% female and 30% male. The final category to understand is gender expression. This is the way someone chooses to express their sense of gender identity. Clothes, haircut, and mannerisms can all be part of gender expression. Are you assertive and tough, or passive and emotional? Do you like sports, knitting, or painting your nails? All of these, they would say, are forms of gender expression. Of these three categories, gender identity is most important. This means, the way you feel about who you are is more important than your biology. Because feelings change, they say, gender is fluid, not fixed. From their perspective, it would be completely appropriate for the same person to feel male, then female, then neither, then both all in span of a few years, weeks, or even days. While this framework sounds strange to so many of us, there is a point you must understand. Gender theorists assure people that they are not obligated to behave in one specific way because of their anatomy. With this, we can find some agreement. God makes each one of us uniquely, and social norms for being male or female are not always helpful or healthy. But transgender theory goes beyond the idea that we are all unique and says “someone with a penis can be a girl and someone with a vagina may be a boy.” This is both unnecessary and illogical. It’s unnecessary because it’s perfectly reasonable to believe that male and female are fixed, biological categories and ALSO reject that all men and all women are required to act in one specific way. Transgender theory is illogical because once you remove a clear definition of male and female, how can you possibly know what it means to be transgender? I can’t know on the inside I’m a man if there is no definition of what a man is. Think of it this way.
If your compass can’t tell you which direction is north, it won’t be able to tell you which direction is east, west, or south. In the same way, if male and female are undefined categories, saying ‘I was born a man but I know I am a woman” is illogical. It’s like saying, “I don’t know which direction is north, but I know I’m going south”. In both cases, the best response to someone struggling with who they are is to help the person get oriented. Let’s review. Instead of simply seeing sex as male and female defined by our anatomy, transgender theorists have identified three categories. Sex, gender identity, and gender expression. Gender identity matters most and is determined exclusively by an individual’s internal sense of themselves. Our job is to be kind, and to ask good questions. “If there is no definition of woman, how can someone know they are one?” While great questions asked graciously may not bring clarity to a person who is currently confused, it can help stop the confusion from spreading.