“Does a Chicken Cry?”: Responding to Transgenderism

On my sainted parents’ graves, I swear the following conversation actually took place.

Perplexed Man: “Male gametes—that’s what makes me male.”

Transgender Apologist:  “No—your sperm don’t make you male.”

PM: “Then what does?”

TA: “It’s a constellation.”

PM: “In reality, in truth.”

TA: “Whose truth are we talking about?”

PM: “The same truth that says we’re sitting in this room, you and I.”

TA: (With a smile) “No, you’re not listening.”

PM: “If I see a chicken laying eggs, and I say ‘That’s a female chicken laying eggs’, did I assign ‘female’ or am I just observing a physical reality that’s happening in the world?

TA: “Does a chicken have gender identity?  Does a chicken cry?”

PM: Well…

TA: “Does a chicken commit suicide?  Let’s frame it, because you’re talking, you’re trying…”

PM: “A chicken has sex like any biological organism.”

TA: “A chicken has an assigned gender, but a chicken doesn’t have a gender identity.”

PM: “So we assign ‘female’ to chickens when they lay eggs?

TA: “We assume they’re female if they lay eggs.”

This is, I suggest, Rod Serling’s cue to say, “That’s the signpost up ahead.  Your next stop: The Twilight Zone!”

Those wondering how we left Planet Earth and ended up entering The Twilight Zone may be referred to Carl Trueman’s hefty volume The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self, or his rather slimmer volume Strange New World, either of which should be required reading for anyone perplexed by the sight of an apparently sane woman asking rhetorically if chickens cry, asserting that a chicken has an assigned gender, and saying that if we see a chicken laying eggs we can only assume the chicken is female.

The ideological rot goes very deep, given that the transgender movement is comfortable with the concept of different truths on something as basic, observable, and primordial as animal husbandry.  One can legitimately debate many things, but the maleness of those possessing sperm (and X and Y chromosomes) and the femaleness of those producing eggs are not among them.  Ultimately the problem is not even about gender, but about the refusal to assent to the concept of an objective truth.  “My truth” is whatever I want it to be—not just about gender, but about absolutely anything.  The door to moral and social chaos stands wide open.

We may stop here to note in passing a certain double standard and hypocrisy:  if I asserted the Nazi racial theory was garbage and the notion of white or Aryan supremacy was not true, the transgender apologist would not be impressed with the White Supremacist’s reply that that this was my truth, but not his truth, or that there were several equally legitimate truths on the ideological market.  My transgender friend would assert vigorously (and correctly) that “in reality, in truth” White Supremacist theory was not true for anyone, and as far as racial theory went, there was one truth for all concerned.  All biologists declare that the notion of superior and inferior races is nonsense. Science can be a stubborn thing (especially when not coopted by politicians and ideologues).  And Science says both that Nazi racial theory is garbage, and that a chicken that lays eggs is female from birth quite apart from what anyone else says or assigns.  Politically convenient or not, both the White Supremacist and the farmer would have to just cope with it (as would, presumably, the rooster).

So, what is the truth about gender and gender identity?  By “gender identity” I do not mean how gender functions in the political realm of “identity politics” (that noxious disease), but rather how gender functions in the lives of persons who cry, and can commit suicide—i.e. of human beings, those living not in The Twilight Zone but in the real world of roosters, chickens, of babies of all kinds and of families in which human babies are born and raised.

I would like to make several assertions—none of which are confined to those holding the Christian faith, but all of which have been held by people of all faiths (including agnosticism and atheism) from time immemorial.  This is therefore not a case “the Transgender apologist vs. the Church”, but of “the Transgender apologist vs. the rest of humanity throughout human history”.  The transgender movement is not just opposing the Christians (popular pastime though it now is), but opposing the human race throughout the world, and through all its history and even (so far as we can tell) its prehistory.  One would have to be very smart indeed to be smarter than absolutely everyone that ever existed, especially when Science declines to back you up.  And the evidence for such intellectual superiority on the part of the transgender apologists is (may I say) not that obvious.

My first assertion is that human sexuality is a subset of animal sexuality, and that it is this observable, given, biological, un-assigned, and recognized sexual binary that is responsible for maintaining the world.  Bluntly put, if a given sexual binary didn’t exist, the world and its sentient creatures would soon die off.  Fixed sexual identity is basic to this world.

I have written about this elsewhere, and here will only say that we have forgotten this basic truth largely because we have first severed sexuality (i.e. intercourse) from procreation through our culture of contraception.  Note please: I am not here denying the moral legitimacy of contraception, but only noting that in our culture contraception now functions to effectively separate intercourse from procreation in most people’s minds.  Sexual activity outside of marriage is now almost universally presupposed, and it is also assumed that this need not lead to pregnancy.

In our minds, sex is mostly about pleasure:  with whom and how one has intercourse.  The notion of intercourse leading to babies and family in which to raise them has largely vanished.  This understanding serves to further separate human from animal sexuality in people’s minds.  Dogs mate and have puppies; cats mate and have kittens.  Human beings have sex without such results.  Thus human sexuality is not, for us, a subset of animal sexuality, but something altogether different. This is, I suggest, nonsense.  We are more than mere animals, but are still animals in that we share with them certain biological traits.  Digestion is one of them.  Sex is another. Biologically speaking, human beings are animals.

Secondly, as with most of the animal world, procreative sex is binary and biologically given. The human species, along with most animal species apart from sharks and sea stars, reproduces sexually, and is thus divided into the binary male and female.  We are a sexually reproducing mammalian species, with only two sexes—like all other mammalian species in nature.

A dog, for example, is either a male or a female, and these terms describe certain biological facts, such as the presence or absence of a penis or a vagina and a womb.  This is undeniable, and it is why animal husbandry works.  The terms “male and female” in animals such as dogs therefore describe this biological reality. Lassie may have identified as a male dog because she was so heroic, but Rin Tin Tin and the other dogs in the area knew otherwise—as did Lassie’s owners and breeders.  Lassie did not have her gender or sex assigned by her owner or by anyone else; it came as a biological given reality when she was conceived by two other dogs.  Her owners just gave her a quick look at whelping time and decided to name her “Lassie” instead of “Laddie”.  Science and farmers going back about 10,000 years know this is true, however politically incorrect it may now have become.

Human beings, being mammal animals biologically, also partake of this unassigned, biologically-given binary sexual reality.  Human babies are also born with either penises or vaginas, and so are either male or female, based entirely on their biology.  In very rare cases, one finds hermaphroditic features, with the baby born with both male and female genitalia.  One also finds similarly rare inter-sex conditions, where the gender or sex of the newborn is not immediately apparent.

But these abnormalities are still rooted in objective and scientifically observable phenomena.  They do not mean that gender is not recognized but assigned, but only that such conditions make gender harder to initially recognize.  Sex is still rooted in biology, even when the biology is rare and abnormal.

In such cases the person in question should be dealt with compassionately.  When the newborn’s gender is initially mis-recognized and mis-labelled by doctors and parents and therefore later requires correction and a change, the change should take place in an atmosphere of love and support.  But the challenge and tragedy of such cases do not mean that human sexuality is so different from animal sexuality as to be assigned and not biologically-given.  Like the other animals, in all but rare cases of abnormality, our sex and gender are biological and given realities.

Thirdly, human beings are of course more than mere animals, however much biology we may share with them.  Christians will assert as part of their faith that the roles of husband and wife were also given to express and biologically image the transcendent roles of Christ and His Church (see Ephesians 5), but that assertion is unique to Christians.  What everyone grounded in civilization, Christian or not, will assert is that human sexuality is freighted with higher values and possibilities than is most animal sexuality.  Animal sexuality is primarily about mating and procreation.  After mating, Fido doesn’t contact Mitzi to ask how she’s doing.  But human sexuality is about (or at least has the possibility to be about) relationships of love and commitment.  Human sex, if fully freighted with emotion and potential, can never be as casual as most animal sexuality.  Fido, when his best doggie self, will not call up Mitzi afterward.  Harry, when his best human self, will call up Sally to see how she is.

That said, a number of animals do mate for life, and are capable of emotional attachments to their mates.  One thinks of wolves and penguins, for example.  But in general it still holds that human sexuality contains possibilities for transcendence superior to most of the animal kingdom.  That is why promiscuity is often looked down upon among human beings.  To accuse someone of “tom-catting around” is considered an insult among men, but not among tom cats.   No one blames dogs because they do not mate for life as the wolves do.  Dogs cannot be promiscuous; they are just acting like dogs.

Human sexuality engages the total self, and pushes the healthy person in the direction of relationship.  That is why casual sex is often accompanied by such heartbreak, even if unacknowledged by popular media and rom-coms.  For humans, gender brings with it the possibility for sexual activity to serve higher and more transcendent goals, such as love, self-sacrifice, and the creation of stable and nurturing families.

Fourthly, gender brings with it differing roles, but these roles will vary somewhat from culture to culture and from century to century.  For example, female gender brings with it the role of motherhood, but what a mother’s role entails will differ with place and time.  Childbearing, nursing, and nurturing will be constants given biology, but whether or not this role also necessarily involves (for example) doing the dishes after meals will vary with the culture.  Biology is therefore set within a cultural continuum.  Thus “tom boy” girls are still female, and somewhat effeminate men are still male.

Fifthly, we are more than our gender.  Human beings are (to steal a word) a constellation of many things:  as well as being male, a man is also a son, and (say) a plumber, and an American, and a Democrat, and an environmentalist, and a Jew, and a country music fan, and a gourmand, and a science-fiction lover, and a crossword puzzle addict.  That is, we are lots of different things, and all these things contribute to our identity and well-rounded personhood.  Focusing upon “gender identity” privileges one aspect of our complex self to the detriment of all the others.  It is true that one’s gender as male is more important to one’s complete identity than one’s love of crossword puzzles.  But it is also true that focus upon gender (such as occurs in the homosexual and transgender communities) swallows up and trumps everything else in an unhealthy way.

In this constellation of disparate identities, values, and commitments one finds oneself able to cry, to rejoice, to mourn and (in extreme circumstances) to commit suicide.  A person is many things, and capable of many responses.  Gender politics (as expressed by transgender apologists), with its exclusive focus upon gender, does a profound disservice to the complexity of the human person.

Finally, the transgender movement is deeply disrespectful to the realities of childhood.  Children (i.e. human beings clearly pre-pubescent) do not possess the ability to make wise decisions which will affect their long-term development.  Western civilization has long recognized this, and so has outlawed child marriage, and has even withheld from such children the rights to vote, drive, drink, and serve in the armed forces.  This includes the right to be sexually active, so that sexual use of minors constitutes statutory rape.  This insight necessarily should include the prohibition of children to make decisions about their sexual future, such as the right to ingest hormone blockers impeding their sexual development and surgery altering their sexual anatomy.

In our present cultural environment, driven as it is by liberal and leftist ideology (in defiance of science), such prohibitions are being overridden.  Children are now encouraged to imagine that the emotional difficulties always experienced in adolescence are the result of their biological gender, and can therefore be solved with transgender change, entailing surgery and hormonal therapy.  The difficulties and tragedies involved in making wrong decisions about altering one’s gender are not allowed to be discussed in our media and thus find little place in the minds of children pushed into transgender ideology.  It is only afterward, when the results of such decisions are experienced, that the tragedy of transgender ideology becomes apparent to its victims.  But by then it is too late.

Those rooted in the experience of human history, whatever their religion or lack of it, should resist this ideology.  We stand at a crossroads, one that will determine the fate of many of our children for the generations to come.  Protest against transgender ideology comes at a cost.  But the cost to our children and to future generations will be even greater.  We must not be silent and we must not to compliant.  The future cost of such silence and compliance is too great.

 

 

13 comments:

  1. Thank you. Well said once again, Fr. Lawerence. Your six points are all spot on, and are worthy of making mental or physical notes of, as this cultural discussion is not going away. It is a logical argument, that is based in science, time and history, and most world religions. Excellent.

  2. Father, thank you for the courage and the ammunition. I have known in passing two men who thought they were women. The first I knew briefly in Dallas, Tx in 1971. He had begun the surgery and hormones to “become a woman” but ran out of money. He was an absolute wreck. Incredibly sad. The second I met quite recently. I believe he is just “passing” at this point but the deep confusion has left him deeply alone and isolated. Subject to being preyed upon.

    God help us and forgive us.

    Just a grammatical note you “us humans”. The correct grammar is “we humans” Thanks to my 10th grade English teacher, Mr. Schirling, such mistakes grate on me and make silence about them difficult.

  3. Some observations. Sexual reproduction is c.2 billion years old and is seen in plants and animals. The key point about sexual reproduction is that two individuals (sexes i.e. male and female) combine their genetic material to form a new individual. Sex describes reproductive function. Presently it is immutable. Intersex is a developmental condition occurring in the uterus however the intersexed individual is still either male or female. Men and women are terms generally coupled with being respectively male or female i.e. a woman is an adult female human. Gender (masculine or feminine) is primarily a social construct attached to the sexes i.e. how a person of one sex is expected by society to behave. This can vary to some extent between different societies e.g. women in some tribal societies have shaved heads while their men have elaborate hairdos. In previous centuries it was acceptable for wealthy men in Europe to wear make-up, high heels, fancy brocades and lace. It can also be variable in one social grouping e.g. in the Orthodox and Latin Churches having a male-sexed body is essential for a priest, on the other hand, laymen adopt the feminine gender in relation to being a part of the bride of Christ, the Church (funny how this gender fluidity does not operate the other way round…). For decades gender critical feminists have challenged trans ideology seeing it as a way of erasing women as a class – after all, if being a woman includes nothing more than a male “feeling” like a woman or wearing lipstick then how do you then fight for sex-based rights of women including single sexed prisons and sports and against FGM. Feminists have lost their jobs, been physically attacked and abused for challenging what’s essentially a men’s rights group i.e. a trans-identifying male’s feelings trumping a woman’s right to privacy, dignity, and ability to fight for women’s rights in any meaningful way. The political right has cottoned on to this late in the game most notably with Matt Walsh’s film “What is a Woman” where your quotes come from. However, both the politically conservative and liberal overlap on this issue including religious commentators more than each may care to think. Nearly 80 years ago C.S Lewis in Perelandra said “What Ransom saw at that moment was the real meaning of gender… male and female of organic creatures are rather faint and blurred reflections of masculine and feminine. Their reproductive functions, their differences in strength and size, partly exhibit, but partly also confuse and misrepresent, the real polarity.” This is exactly what trans ideology purports today that notions of gender are secondary to the material reality of sex and in going down this particular rabbit hole we are running roughshod over the hard-fought gains won by women. Something that’s doing the rounds currently is the slogan that the left would see trans-identifying rapists in women’s prisons while the right would force the women prisoners to then bear their rapists’ children. Same difference really.

    1. Just a quick reply to a long comment. Lewis would be horrified at the thought that his insight that masculinity/femininity (expressed in several of his writings) transcends the merely biological is being hijacked by transgender ideologists.

      1. I don’t think that Lewis’s work is being deliberately hijacked by anyone simply that a focus on gender (often conflated with sex) is shared by both conservatives and the political left and can lead down the same rabbit hole. One can be a feminine man or a masculine woman – a normal part of human diversity – but those who think in terms of rigid gender stereotypes and roles find this difficult to accept. In the past people who didn’t match gendered expectations would have been castigated now they are being told they’ve been born in the wrong body.

  4. I think Jill makes sense. I think the issue with the trannies is rooted in gender stereotyping. Women’s liberation movements were about expanding women’s roles in church and society and protecting women from the abuse of men in power. Traditional women felt undervalued and fought to keep their roles as wife, mother, homemaker, community volunteer– cherished. Now we have men wanting to get pregnant and men wanting to castrate themselves and take hormones to become females.

  5. I saw the video of the interview that began this thread. The woman making the comments is clearly balmy. Bottom line to me is that we have lost touch with our humanity because we have denied Christ with everyone “going his own way.” Isaiah 53:6
    My experience in life has included friendship and working with many SSA and “trans” people long before such things became so deeply political and ideological.
    Since then there are no actual solutions possible, nor are any actually offered.
    All I am left with is the memory of the deep pain in the souls of the folks I knew even in the thoroughly accepting community of theater. Including a couple of effeminate men who were not gay. Seeing their ontological pain was sobering. It led me, in part, to the beginning of repentance.
    Because it is a deep ontological shame and loneliness, politics and culture (for or against) only embeds the pain. Confession and repentance is the only healing. Unfortunately most avoid that like the plague and there is no vaccine..

    May our Lord Jesus forgive me, a sinner.

    1. Michael, it’s concerning that a feminine male of your acquaintance should have experienced “ontological pain.” This is the result of privileging ideas of gender (masculine/feminine) over the simple material reality of sexed bodies (male/female). A person is male or female, whatever their personality type or interests. The belief that the idea of gender (which normally involves stereotypical assumptions about what it means to be a man or a woman) is in some way more authentic than sex, a sort of gender essence that transcends material reality, is shared by both trans activists and religious conservatives and results in deeply regressive and unhappy situations like the one you describe.

      1. Jill,
        The one I was mostly thinking of was really pissed, years after anything happened–decades after. He was an actor in NY before I knew him. When I knew him he had a beautiful wife and child. I suspect he got hit on more than once in NY. Even years after, he was still angry due to the shame of that. That is why I said he felt ontological pain. That shame is the result of sin. Not his, but others, they tried to impose on him.

        As to the rest of what you say, I would need a “gender translator” to even begin to comprehend what you said. I am fluent in English. I do not do other languages well.

  6. The lack of science education for young people in the adolescent years is at the bottom of this, I think.
    I can recall that we were directed to take either a scientific path after the first national examinations or concentrate on languages and history, in the United Kingdom ,for our higher examinations – called Advanced Level.
    In the 1950s we had much discussion on this. See The Two Cultures by C P Snow Rede Lecture, 1959.
    Many of the proponents of transgenderism have a vague education in which logical thinking has no part. They are unable to appreciate other points of view it seems.
    Also they have a real need to think the way their group thinks in order to stay in employment and in Society. (Group think has been the order of past societies and lack of basic historical knowledge by these proponents is another bugbear.)

    Note the discussion in the 1950s. This is not new. C S Lewis wrote in the 1940s and 50s on these tendencies.

  7. I’ll be honest here; I don’t understand all arguments with the science and societal issues re WHY people are LGBTQ. But because my daughter identifies with this community and she has many friends that are in that population that I know personally, I pray for them every morning asking God to remember them and heal them. That’s just what this mom does.

  8. From Met Jonah’s little booklet on “Forgiveness and Reconciliation”:
    “Sin ruptures our relationship woth God and others, as also offences taken and given among people.”
    If I have offended anyone, I ask your forgiveness.

    Laura, Met. Jonah’s little booklet, available from Ancient Faith Publishing, is short and easy to understand.

    Fundamentally the ideology of homosexual and non-binary sexual “identity” is rooted in our sin.

    I find it impossible to address another persons sin unless, I have addressed my own first. This, I pray the Jesus Prayer and ask for the intercessions of Mary, the Theotokos whenever I perceive the sinfulness of the world for two reasons: the sin is in my own heart and only Jesus can forgive AND show me an appropriate way of action.

    As Met. Jonah also points out, sin depersonalizes both myself and others. Repentance and forgiveness restore and deepen our personhood thus our sense of communion with God and one another.

    Blessed Theotokos, pray for us.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.