The modern invention of transgenderism reframes sinful deeds and desires of the flesh in worldly or therapeutic terms. This betrays the power of God’s election, Christ’s redemption, and the Spirit’s comfort. It rewrites the gospel, entangles the church in foolish debates, and confuses our young people. This is the situation in which we find the evangelical church today.
Transgenderism is such a new concept that the 1973 Oxford English Dictionary that sits open on my desk has no entry. According to etymonline.com, the word came into existence in 1974 as an adjective referring to “persons whose sense of personal identity does not correspond with their anatomical sex.” This word combines two older words. The first is “trans,” which is derived from part of a Latin verb that means to bring across or over, to transfer, to cause to cross, to extend across, or to convert. The second is “gender,” which derives from the French word for genre and the Latin word for genus, meaning kind, sort, or class. “Transgendered” became “transgender” after 2015 to indicate the new idea: that transgenderism is ontological, or something that is true of a person’s very essence. Today, the psychological condition where a person feels like their personal identity does not match their anatomical sex is called gender dysphoria. And there is a strong push in our culture to agree with the transgendered movement that when one’s gender, defined as their feelings of being male or female, conflicts with the biological markers of maleness or femaleness, the feelings are determinative.
Throughout most of human history, however, gender meant being male or female. There was no distinction made between one’s biological sex and one’s gender. It wasn’t until 1963 that gender began to refer to social attributes that differed from biological sex. This new definition was used by Second Wave Feminists, such as Kate Millet and Simone de Beauvoir, to miscategorize gender as the cultural manifestation of biology. Second-wave feminists argued that patriarchal society contrived gender roles merely to degrade women, thereby rejecting the biblical understanding that God created man and woman from a godly pattern for a creational purpose. Transgenderism emerged from this feminist political rejection of the creation ordinance that says God made human beings male and female, so their biological sex and not their internal feelings determines their maleness or femaleness. Transgenderism, instead, argues that our internal sense of self is what makes us men or women.
Ultimately, that feeling of disconnect between one’s body and one’s sense of gender are a consequence of the fall and its effect on our hearts, minds, and bodies. In some cases, the feeling is driven chiefly by a biological problem related to genetics or hormones. From a biblical perspective, someone with a severe hormonal imbalance or chromosomal abnormality has a physical health problem, not an identity problem. Godly help for the gender dysphoric person includes biblical counseling and potentially medical treatments that restore normative hormonal balance. Godly support for the gender dysphoric individual understands medical problems as part of the fall of man. Such trials can be serious, difficult, and lifelong.