Acknowledgment: We acknowledge great debt to Rob and Claire Smith for these blogs. A number of entries in this blog series have been adapted from material written and presented by Rob and Claire Smith, which can be found at the following links: Gender Confusion video, Gender Confusion talk outline and the "The transgender tsunami" article.
The great Christian writer, philosopher and cultural analyst Francis Schaeffer said that we need to “present the truth with compassion but without compromise.” And certainly when it comes to the subject of transgender, we need to remember to do that. This subject not only touches “personal freedoms” but “personal battles of broken and breaking people.”
This is a hot topic and therefore some people get very heated as they defend their position. But it is a subject that must be dealt with, because God has told us many things in the bible (for our good, and for his glory) which have something to say about this. There is important, helpful, life-giving truth to be spoken. So as Ephesians 4.15 puts it, we must be ‘speaking the truth – in love.’
What’s going on?
Bruce Jenner, an American Superstar was the 1975 Olympic Decathlon gold medalist. In April 2015 Jenner came out as a Trans woman. In July he started calling himself Caitlyn.
Jenner’s change was soon hailed as Heroic and Bruce/Caitlyn won a courage award. You can see and hear his acceptance of the award here
In May 2014, a year before Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner became headline news, the cover story of TIME magazine had this cover – “Transgender tipping point.”
A ‘tipping point’ is that moment in time when a minority is able to bring about a significant change in the minds of the majority. A change that challenges long-held beliefs, behaviours and attitudes. It may even begin to reverse them, so that society begins to move in a different direction – like dropping weights onto a set of scales.
So we have now tipped into a new direction of thinking and attitudes and behaviour about ‘gender.’ We used to think in terms of two distinct and different genders – male and female – and we thought that your gender was simply determined by your biological sex – female or male. That’s why we used the same words – male and female – for both sex and gender; they were the same thing. But we don’t think of ‘gender’ as binary anymore, but more like a spectrum, maybe a range of overlapping categories, or something that isn’t fixed, but can change according to how we feel on a particular day.
There has been a separation between ‘sex’ and ‘gender’. Sex is still seen by most people as biologically determined – it’s a measurable, scientific fact – but gender is thought of as a ‘social construct’ and personal choice. It’s not so much about your body or your biology as it is about your sense of who you are, and how you feel, and how you like to express yourself and relate to people.
And that change in thinking means that there no longer has to be any connection between your gender identity and the biological sex you were born with. Gender is now entirely cut free from physical reality, and has become fluid – you can go wherever you feel like going, be whatever you feel like being. You choose whatever path you fancy. Like a river flowing into different streams.
Gender is not a choice of two options, but an almost unlimited array of options. You can think of it as a spectrum with male at one end and female at the other; of course some people prefer to think of it as more complex and varied than that, with more than just one aspect that can be considered. The point is, when it comes to gender, you chose – and you can move wherever you like. You can be one thing today, and another thing tomorrow. There is no right or wrong, no true of false, no real or imagined. There is just you expressing your sense of who you are.
Wikipedia’s definition of transgender is “people who have a gender identity, or gender expression, that differs from their assigned sex.” It just means someone who experiences a difference or clash or lack of harmony/peace between the sex they were born with and the gender they want to identify with. And it goes on to say “transgender people are sometimes called transsexual if they desire medical assistance to transition from one sex to another.”
The question of “Who or what am I?” is seen as outdated and limiting. We now ask, instead, “Who or what do I identify as?” or “Who or what do I want to identify as?” Some people alter their appearance using clothing and make-up to ‘present’ something other than their biological sex, like the Eurovision Song Contest 2014 winner Conchita Wurst. But with modern surgery and hormone treatment you can go much further, and try to change some or all of your bodily and emotional nature to ‘present’ as different to the sex you were born with or even to ‘present’ as no-sex at all. So Bruce Jenner becomes Caitlyn Jenner.
Conchita Wurst talking about the trans movement says, “We are unstoppable.” That may well be true.
Facebook has 70 options for gender.
Brighton and Hove City Council have asked 4 year old children before they attend school, to pick a gender out of 23 categories.
Some want to change the use of He/Him/Her/She and make then genderless.