The Dangers Of Radical Gender Ideology And The Transgender Movement

May 14th, 2022 | By | Category: Culture & Wordview, Featured Issues

The mission of Issues in Perspective is to provide thoughtful, historical and biblically-centered perspectives on current ethical and cultural issues.

“What are your pronouns?”  Such a seemingly innocuous question actually manifests the fanatical nature of radical gender ideology.  As evolutionary biologist Colin Wright demonstrates, “pronouns are now frequently displayed prominently in social-media bios, email signatures and conference name tags . . . there are singular ‘they/them’ pronouns used by ‘nonbinary’ people who identify as neither male nor female, as well as a growing list of bespoke ‘neopronouns’ such as ‘ze/zir’ or ‘fae/faer’ and the even stranger ‘nounself’ neoprouns like ‘bun/bunself’ which, according to the New York Times, are identities that can encompass animals and fantasy characters.”  Wright goes on to argue that “Proponents of gender ideology have completely decoupled the terms ‘man,’ ‘woman,’ ‘boy,’ and ‘girl’ from biological sex.  Gender ideology teaches that terms ‘man/boy’ and ‘woman/girl’—and their corresponding ‘he/his’ and ‘she/her’ pronouns—refer to a person’s identity, while ‘male’ and ‘female’ refer to biological sex.  While you may define a woman as a female human adult, gender ideology contends that a ‘woman’ is an adult of either sex who simply ‘identifies’ as a man or a woman.  But what does it mean to ‘identify’ as a man or woman?”

Wright persuasively concludes that “We simply can’t ignore fundamental realties of our biology and expect positive outcomes for society.  Pronoun rituals are extremely effective at normalizing and institutionalizing the abolition of biological sex in favor of gender identity.  These rituals take advantage of people’s confusion and compassion to achieve compliance.  But the time for politeness has long passed.   The only proper response to the question ‘What are your pronouns?’ is to reject the premise and refuse to answer.”  Because our culture is beginning to force reference to someone else as “ze,” “sie,” “hir,” “co,” “eve,” “xe,” “thon,” or “they,” Abigail Shrier correctly observes that “When the state [or any cultural authority] employs coercive power to compel an utterance, what might otherwise be a courtesy quickly becomes a plank walk.”  She continues, “Ideas are merely the concatenations of words; if you can compel the use of certain words, you control thought and force those who differ into silence.  Often, that seems to be the actual goal of gender-identity enthusiasts.”

A second issue focuses on the matter of transgender women in sports and athletic competition.  A classic example of the confusion and complexity of a transgender individual in sports is Lia Thomas (formerly Will Thomas) from the University of Pennsylvania.  Ms. Thomas has broken various swimming records:  In December she won a 1,650-yard freestyle race by 38 seconds; there are many others.  As The Economist argues, “Her success is based on three things.  One is natural talent.  Another is relentless training.  And the third is biology.”  The controversy is that Thomas identifies herself as a woman, but biologically she is a male.  Cheryl Cooky of Purdue University, who teaches “American studies and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies,” declared that Thomas must be “embraced in the history of progress that sports represent and recognized as the trailblazer that she is.”  But, Lia Thomas, as a trans woman, competing in women’s swimming begs these questions:  Should a transgender woman be allowed to compete in a historically women’s sport such as women’s swimming?  Does a transgender woman such as Lia Thomas have an unfair advantage over other competitors in swimming meets?  In February a letter of 16 of Thomas’s team-mates was supportive of her new identity, but said that “biologically Lia holds an unfair advantage . . . in the women’s category.” Citing fears about future employment, no one was willing to sign their name.  As The Economist reports, “a broader letter involving over 5,000 people—including many Olympic athletes—took a similar view.”  The controversy of transgender athletes in competition has become politicized.  On 3 March, Iowa became the 11th state to pass a law forbidding trans women from competing in women’s sports.  Understandably, this controversy in the American political culture shows no signs of diminishing.

The primary issue of trans women in athletics is testosterone, the main male sex hormone, which is a potent anabolic steroid.  Levels surge during puberty, which is the main reason why adult males outperform females in almost every sport.  As The Economist illustrates, “The hope was that suppressing testosterone levels would reduce those advantages, letting female athletes compete with trans women on a reasonably level playing field.  The science suggests that the compromise does not work.  A pair of review studies, published in 2020 and 2021, concluded that testosterone suppression does not go far in removing the advantage bestowed by male puberty.”  “The advantages bestowed by male puberty are so big that no amount of training or talent can enable female athletes to overcome them.”  Sports and all forms of athletic competition must therefore choose between inclusion and fair play.

What does Scripture say about these two contentious issues?  Quoting the Creation Ordinance of Genesis 1-2, Jesus declared, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female. . .” (Matthew 19:4).  Jesus made this declaration to a culture with no gender identity or gender difference issues.  Instead, He was affirming a basic proposition concerning the human race:  God made the human race in two grand streams—male and female—and they are totally different.  No matter what humans try to do, they can never erase this fundamental attribute of the human race.

What then should we do?  At bottom, we must acknowledge what God declared from the beginning—men and women are different.  In much of the federal government and certainly in much of public education, it is nearly impossible to discuss the topic of gender differences. Christina Hoff Sommers writes “Many gender scholars insist that the sexes are cognitively interchangeable and argue that any talk of difference only encourages sexism and stereotyping.  In the current environment, to speak of difference invites opprobrium, and to advocate for male-specific interventions invites passionate and organized opposition.  Meanwhile, one gender difference refuses to go away:  Boys are languishing academically, while girls are soaring.”  More than ever I am convinced of these bedrock propositions:  God has revealed quite clearly His actions as the Creator, His values and morals as a holy, righteous God, and His ethical standards by which we are to live.  As humans, we have the freedom to ignore or even flaunt those propositions, but then we must accept the consequences.  God created the human race male and female; and men and women are completely different—physically, emotionally, and psychologically.  That is why imaginative play among little boys and girls is so radically different.  That is why boys enjoy rough sports and girls do not.  That is why women excel in some fields and men in others.  But American culture is now driven by an ideology that seemingly ignores, indeed even mocks, gender differences.  The result today is that boys and men are suffering the consequences of this ideology.

Theologian Albert Mohler concludes that “the Bible reveals that any attempt to subvert creation ends in disaster, not in human liberation . . . Christian concern requires that we see the swimmer identified as Lia Thomas as a human being made in God’s image, deserving of our concern. But that concern cannot justify a blatant attempt to undermine the very order of creation . . . Our society stands on the brink of that disaster. The great question remaining is whether there is enough sanity and courage left in our society to avoid the total abdication of truth. It is now plain to see that we face a demand to jump into the deep end of a pool of mass delusion. Whatever it takes, summon the courage to resist that dive.”

 

See Colin Wright in the Wall Street Journal (5-6 February 2022); Abigail Shrier in the Wall Street Journal (30 August 2018); Christina Hoff Sommers:  “How to Make School Better for Boys” in www.theatlantic.com  (16 September 2013) and “School Has Become Too Hostile to Boys” in www.time.com (20 August 2013); R. Albert Mohler Jr.  “The transgender revolution and the death of truth” in World (23 March 2022); The Economist, pp. 12, 23 (19 March 2022).

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