In today’s culture, transgenderism is an ever growing social issue. It’s the “T” in LGBTQ. The bathroom bill is being pushed in various states, which accommodates to the feelings of transgender people. Increasingly, it is becoming accepted as normal. With that being the case, it’s especially important for Christians, (if we are to be a light), to both know and be able to address the issue of transgenderism.
So to begin, we must answer: what is transgenderism? Transgenderism is a term referring to people who consider themselves ‘transgender’. These people:
“do not identify with the gender that they are accorded by virtue of their external characteristics observed at birth, and… feel closely aligned to and identify as the opposite gender.” 1
So to explain, a man who is “transgender” doesn’t view himself as male (as the sex he was born into), rather, he identifies as the opposite sex – a woman. For transgender women, it would be the same.
Those identifying as transgender accommodate to their self-identification by wearing clothing socially accepted as pertaining to the opposite sex (like dresses, skirts, things men wear, etc.) and if they can afford it, a treatment called “gender reassignment surgery”. The purpose of this surgery is to change the appearance of the person into the sex they identify with. There are more ways people try to ‘make’ themselves the opposite sex, such as “adopting a new name, changing sex designation on identity documents (if possible), using hormone therapy treatment…”2 etc.
These individuals sincerely believe they are the opposite sex, but the question is, are they? What does the Bible have to say? The Christian approaching the controversy of transgenderism should have every motivation to glorify God; basing his views not on what the culture says, but on what the Word of God says. Therefore, it’s important that we approach this issue with a biblical worldview.
What is the biblical view on the subject of transgenderism? Well, there are many different facets of the debate I could bring up, but one that I think is most important, is our response to the commonly heard claim: “I was born in the wrong body.”
Transgender people don’t claim to identify as the sex they were born, rather, they feel as if they are the opposite sex. I would say pretty much all would agree with this statement. They really do believe they were born in the wrong body. Now, why should a Christian take issue with this? Why don’t we agree, they certainly are sincere about this, aren’t they? Maybe they were born in the wrong body? Well, let’s hear what Scripture has to say about this.
In Genesis chapter 1, God created the human race. He created two distinct genders.
So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Genesis 1:27
In this passage, God ordained the established order – that the sexes are both male and female. Shortly afterwards the creation of these genders is described. Adam was formed out of the ground, and Eve out of a rib from Adam. Both are identified as clear, distinct beings.
Now I have heard an argument that says that Genesis 1 only says “male and female”, and not “male or female”, and so, this verse isn’t necessarily conclusive proof that men and women are born, well, men and women; since it only describes the established order, and not the creation of certain individuals. The logic here is to accommodate to the idea that a person could be born the wrong sex. So the question is: was the creation of the two distinct genders in Genesis 1 actually objective, meaning, when Adam and Eve were created, were they created objectively male and objectively female? If they were objectively created a distinct sex, how could they be a different gender? They after all, were created that way.
Consider what King David said in Psalm 139:
For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them. -Psalm 139:13-16
“You formed my inward parts” “you knitted me together in my mother’s womb” “My frame…[was] intricately woven in the depths of the earth.” Now, does this not sound like God creating human beings? It does. God created David this way, and we certainly have no reason to believe God doesn’t create us that way, do we? It would be futile to say that God only formed David and not everyone else. If we take that logic to its fullest extent, wouldn’t we have to take all the Psalms as only having relevance to the writers, and none to us? No, what God sovereignly worked in them He also works in us. God doesn’t just leave the creation of man to the doings of nature, so that by chance one just happens to be born in the wrong body. No! We all are formed by God so that there is no being “born in the wrong body” because God doesn’t make mistakes! So contrary to the claim of those struggling with transgender feelings, they were born in the right body. Adam and Eve were. They are. It’s just that they don’t see it.
This brings up another relevant question: can a person change their sex by merely having surgery? Science says not,
“Gender reassignment surgery does not change a person’s sex, as sex is determined by X and Y chromosomes contained in every cell in the body. Male to female sex change surgery is a cosmetic change only.” 2
A person is male or female. This is biologically determined. A person cannot choose their sex anymore then they can choose the parents that birthed them. Gender reassignment surgery merely changes how that person looks in order for them to conform to what is socially seen as “men and women”. But I could do the same thing if I identified, say, as a duck. I could mutilate my body so my arms become wings and I have a giant beak as a face, but it still doesn’t change the fact that I am a human! So whether a person identifies as a man or a woman is irrelevant! Identifying as a duck doesn’t mean I am a duck any more than identifying as the President means I’m the President. I am who I am, regardless of my inclinations or feelings otherwise. The same goes for transgender people. They are the sex they were born into, regardless of how they feel. When transgender people have a sex change, they aren’t the opposite sex any more than before the operation. Their biological make-up proves this. The very fact that such procedures have to mutilate perfectly healthy body parts proves this. It’s simply unnatural and not based in reality.
Now if this is true, that transgenderism isn’t based in reality, then why do these people identify as the opposite sex? They for one, know that they were born a certain way, but deny it was supposed to be. They don’t believe they were born in the right body, yet, know they were born in a body; whether that body be male or female. So why is it that they deny the ever so clear biological reality? Why don’t they identify in congruence with their sex?
The reasons people have these identity issues can often be very complex. I’ve heard a story where a man resorted to transgenderism as a result of his brokenness, and other stories where children have felt they were “born in the wrong body” – at very early ages. There definitely isn’t an all fits all diagnosis.
I don’t claim to be an expert in this field. I don’t have perfect knowledge on the reasons why transgender persons feel the way they do. However, what I do know is that the reason these people feel this way, is not because they are the opposite sex – rather, the reason must be psychological. It’s a problem with how they perceive themselves to be, and not a problem regarding who they are.
In conclusion, transgenderism is not based in reality and is not scriptural – it’s against God’s purpose in creating. He didn’t create us to be anything other than ourselves. When He created man, He meant for them to be men! When He created women, he meant for them to be women! Is it not a comfort that we are not designed by the workings of nature but by the hand of God? Is it not a comfort to know we can be sure of who we are and not rely on the culture, and our ever changing emotions for that matter? I think so.
When it comes down to it, the people living a transgender lifestyle, however complex it may be, are confused. They are confused about their gender identity, who they are, and how to deal with it. As Christians, we need to preach the truth in love, counsel and tell them who God made them to be, and ultimately, share the Gospel, because at the root of it, that’s what they need. They need Christ.
Christians, we must stand, defend, and live for the truth. Christ is that truth, and His word is our guide. Are we going to sit around, letting the world around us die, or are we going to stand for what’s right and turn to Him for all things? Even the issue of transgenderism?
Decide, there is no time for compromise.
- If you are interested, I wrote a more extensive treatment of this issue here: A Biblical Perspective on Transgenderism