The Colson Centre has produced a series of short, apologetic videos, “What Would You Say?”, to help Christians address issues of social and moral concern. (View at https://whatwouldyousay.org/.) The following are transcripts of nine of these videos, all dealing with transgenderism.
Is sex assigned at birth?
So you’re having a conversation with someone and they tell you that sex is not a fixed part of a person’s identity, but something that is merely assigned at birth. They go on to say that since sex is assigned at birth, it can be reassigned later if the person discovers that a mistake was made.
What would you say?
First, a person’s sex is acknowledged, not assigned. There are many things doctors learn about a baby when it is born, like height, weight, and blood type. Those things aren’t assigned, they are acknowledged. Other things are assigned at birth, like a name. Babies are assigned names exclusively on the preferences of the parents. Changing a name before, during, or after birth has no real impact on the person because it is not a biological part of their identity.
So if we know that some things are acknowledged and some things are assigned, what category does a baby’s sex fall into? Is it more like getting a name from your parents or more like learning your blood type from the doctor? I think the answer to that is pretty clear. Which leads to the second point.
Second, sex is determined by our reproductive system. In most cases, humans are born with two chromosomes, either XX or XY. Those chromosomes lead to the creation of reproductive organs, which create sex hormones, which in turn create genitalia and secondary sex characteristics, like body hair, bone structure, or an Adam’s apple. Within our species, there are only two reproductive systems, male and female. While they clearly matter for reproduction, that’s not the only reason they matter. Men and women differ in how their brains operate, how they solve problems, what diseases they are susceptible to, and so much more.
“But some people are intersex!” you say. This is all true. Which leads to the third point.
Third, disorders of sexual development don’t create new categories of sex. Not every person’s reproductive system develops neatly along a male or female path, but that does not mean they are not male or female. Some people are born without limbs, others are born blind. Disorders of sexual development are not evidence of a new sex category any more than disorders of the cardiac or respiratory systems are evidence of new kinds of hearts or lungs. A baby born with ambiguous genitalia is not evidence of a new sex within the human species. How do we know this? Because the disorders of sexual development do not create a new chromosome, a new sex hormone, or a new type of genitalia. They have not replaced the need for male or female nor have they found a new way to reproduce. They are simply evidence that sometimes our bodies don’t develop or function as designed. But let’s be honest, we’re all evidence of that in our own way aren’t we?
The truth is, neither science, nor logic support the idea that sex is assigned at birth. So next time someone tells you it is, here are the three things to remember: 1. A person’s sex is acknowledged, not assigned. It’s much more like blood type than a name. 2. Sex is determined by our reproductive system, not our feelings. 3. Disorders of sexual development don’t prove that there are many different sexes. They just prove that we’re imperfect, which we all kind of knew anyway.
Gender versus sexuality
Many people are confused today about sex and gender. If you are in a conversation about these very tough topics …
What would you say?
Before we can have a constructive conversation about the brave new world of sex and gender, it’s important to understand the current thinking about sex and gender. Hopefully this will give you a head start.
Many gender theorists have created separate categories for sex, gender identity, and gender expression.
Sex, some say, is “assigned at birth” by the doctor. Though our sex is connected to our bodily anatomy, they claim that disorders of sexual development are actually different sexes. Claiming sex is “assigned” rather than acknowledged at birth, allows for the possibility that sex can be reassigned later. Whether sex needed to be reassigned depends on gender identity, the second category.
Gender identity, we are told, is our internal sense of who we are. Do I feel like I am a man, a woman, neither, or both? Gender is a state of mind, and on a spectrum. In other words, gender is not a binary choice between male or female. Someone may, for example, feel 70% female and 30% male.
The final category to understand is gender expression. This is the way someone chooses to express their sense of gender identity. Clothes, haircut, and mannerisms can all be part of gender expression. Are you assertive and tough, or passive and emotional? Do you like sports, knitting, or painting your nails? All of these, they would say, are forms of gender expression.
Of these three categories, gender identity is most important. This means, the way you feel about who you are is more important than your biology. Because feelings change, they say, gender is fluid, not fixed. From their perspective, it would be completely appropriate for the same person to feel male, then female, then neither, then both, all in a span of a few years, weeks, or even days.
While this framework sounds strange to so many of us, there is a point you must understand. Gender theorists assure people that they are not obligated to behave in one specific way because of their anatomy. With this, we can find some agreement. God makes each one of us uniquely, and social norms for being male or female are not always helpful or healthy.
But transgender theory goes beyond the idea that we are all unique and says “someone with a penis can be a girl and someone with a vagina can be a boy.” This is both unnecessary and illogical.
It’s unnecessary because it’s perfectly reasonable to believe that male and female are fixed, biological categories and also reject that all men and all women are required to act in one specific way.
Transgender theory is illogical because once you remove a clear definition of male and female, how can you possibly know what it means to be transgender? I can’t know on the inside I’m a man if there is no definition of what a man is. Think of it this way. If your compass can’t tell you which direction is north, it won’t be able to tell you which direction is east, west, or south. In the same way, if male and female are undefined categories, saying “I was born a man but I know I am a woman” is illogical. It’s like saying, “I don’t know which direction is north, but I know I’m going south”.
In both cases, the best response to someone struggling with who they are is to help the person get oriented.
Let’s review. Instead of simply seeing sex as male and female defined by our anatomy, transgender theorists have identified three categories. Sex, gender identity, and gender expression. Gender identity matters most and is determined exclusively by an individual’s internal sense of themselves. Our job is to be kind, and to ask good questions. “If there is no definition of woman, how can someone know they are one?” While great questions asked graciously may not bring clarity to a person who is currently confused, it can help stop the confusion from spreading.
Intersex people prove there are more than 2 genders
You’re in a conversation and someone says, “Some people are born not male or female, but are intersex. This proves there are more than two genders.”
What would you say?
Some people are born with a reproductive system that does not match what is typically considered male or female. Does that mean they represent a sex or gender other than male and female? No. And here are two reasons why.
First, the intersex condition is a disorder of sexual development, not a new gender. It’s true that some reproductive systems don’t develop neatly along male or female lines, but this only demonstrates that our bodies are imperfect. Some people are born without limbs, others are born blind. Some are born with extra chromosomes while others are born with missing chromosomes. Disorders of sexual development are not evidence of a new sex category any more than disorders of the cardiac or respiratory systems are evidence of new kinds of hearts or lungs. A baby born with ambiguous genitalia is not evidence of a new sex within the human species.
This brings us to the second point. The intersex condition does not change anything about who we are as a species. Disorders of sexual development do not create a new chromosome, a new sex hormone, or a new type of genitalia. These disorders do not replace the need for male or female nor do they offer a different way to reproduce. They are simply evidence that sometimes our bodies don’t develop or function as designed.
The intersex condition is real, and like every physical challenge or variation from the ideal, those who face this condition are worthy of all dignity and respect as human beings. But the existence of intersex people should not lead us to conclusions that are not supported by the facts.
So next time someone tells you that because some people are intersex this prove there are more than 2 genders, remember these two things. The intersex condition is a disorder of sexual development, not a new gender. Every part of our body risks developing imperfectly, including our reproductive systems. The intersex condition does not change anything about who we are as a species. It doesn’t create new chromosomes, sex hormones, or genitalia. Genetic variations do not create new genders, just unique people.
Is transgenderism logical?
You’re in a conversation and someone says “our personal sense of our own gender is what determines what our gender is. The only way to know someone’s gender is to ask.”
What would you say?
Today, some people distinguish between biological sex and gender identity. We’re told they are unrelated, meaning your body has nothing to do with your gender. Further, we’re told that some people are born into the “wrong” body.
While gender dysphoria is a real and challenging, the logic used to justify gender identity as the basis of reality is just as challenging, but in a different way and here are three reasons why.
First, feelings, even strong ones, can’t determine reality.
Second, if gender theory is true, it’s impossible to be born in the “wrong” body. If there is no such thing as a male or female body, it’s not possible to be born into the “wrong” one.
Third, if gender theory is true, it’s impossible to feel like a man or a woman. If childbirth isn’t uniquely female, how can a feeling be?
Transgenderism depends on stereotypes
Is transgenderism evidence we’ve evolved beyond harmful sex stereotypes? You’re in a conversation about sex and someone says that accepting transgender theory is necessary for our society to tear down harmful stereotypes about men and women?
What would you say?
Far from destroying sex stereotypes, transgender theory depends on rigid stereotypes about what it means to be a man or a woman. Parents are told that stereotypes like clothing preferences, hair styles, preferred toys and games are signs their children are transgender.
Take this mom who described in an article in Parents magazine how she learned her daughter was actually a boy: “The signs could be seen in all the phases and interests that came and went—Spider-Man, Power Rangers, Mario, zombies, Beyblades, Minecraft, WWE, Pokémon … In isolation, each sign was minuscule and meaningless, easily explained away as normal, as no big deal. As a collection, however, they added up to an unwavering truth: He was not growing out of being a boy. He was growing into it. This mother came to [think] that her daughter is actually a boy, at least in part, because she consistently enjoyed “boy stuff”.
So we have this strange situation where, if we tell a girl that liking dresses makes her a girl, it’s sexist. But if we tell a boy that liking dresses makes him a girl, it’s affirming.
That’s not all. When someone transitions from one gender to the other, they typically do so by expressing sex-stereotypes. For example, when Bruce Jenner decided to become Caitlyn, he showed up on the cover of Vanity Fair with long hair, lots of makeup, and even a little bit of cleavage. All to show how female he is.
We should all agree that certain gender stereotypes are arbitrary and even harmful. But transgender theory doesn’t eliminate these stereotypes. It isn’t helping us evolve past them as a society. Transgender theory depends on these stereotypes, and doubles down on them.
Does sex reassignment make people happy?
You’re in a conversation and someone says “if you deny people sex reassignment surgery, they’re going to kill themselves. Is that what you want?”
What would you say?
First, it’s important to recognize what they’re trying to say. They care about people. They want them to be happy. That’s something we have in common. But the question to be asked is, “Does sex-reassignment surgery make people happy?” Here’s three things to remember.
First, the evidence suggests sex reassignment surgery doesn’t make people happy. There is no long-term study indicating that sex reassignment surgery provides long-term improvements to quality of life. Some studies say people are happy with the surgery in the short-term, and like the way they look, but it doesn’t improve their lives overall. A Swedish study of 324 transsexuals concluded that after sex-reassignment surgery, patients had considerably higher risks for mortality, suicidal behaviour, and psychiatric problems than the general population. Another study found that those who have sex reassignment surgery are 19 times more likely than the general public to commit suicide. This is tragic.
Second, gender dysphoria is real, but it may be a symptom and not a cause. It’s impossible to identify a single reason why gender dysphoria exists and how to help people who struggle with it. However, in light of the significant evidence that sex-reassignment does not resolve long-term mental distress, we need to be willing to consider that the real problem lies elsewhere. If so, these experimental surgeries only treat symptoms, and not the actual cause of the pain.
Third, 80% of children with gender dysphoria will outgrow it. Research on both sides of this issue support this finding. It may be that the rush of testosterone or estrogen during puberty makes gender dysphoria go away.
But consider this. If gender dysphoria is temporary, and people who undergo sex reassignment are 19 times more likely to commit suicide than the general population, why would we encourage children to join a category that puts them at a much higher risk of self-harm? We shouldn’t. Let’s review. We should want people to be happy with who they are. But the science indicates that sex reassignment doesn’t accomplish that. Sex-reassignment treats symptoms, and not the real source of pain. And we should never push children into a higher risk of self-harm.
Is it fair for boys to play girl’s sports if they say they’re girls?
You’re in a conversation and someone says, “Transgender athletes should be able to participate on whatever sports teams they choose. Girls’ sports should be open to anyone who says they are female.”
What Would You Say?
Some people think that gender is determined by how you feel and identify, not by your biology. So, if someone feels and identifies as female, then they are female and should be allowed the same opportunities as every other female, including the right to compete on female sports teams. Next time you hear this argument, here are three things to remember.
First, allowing biological males to compete with girls ignores real physical differences. There’s a reason men and women’s athletic competitions have long been separate. Men have, on average, 36% more muscle mass than women. Men tend to be taller, and their bones are thicker and denser. Conversely, women have lower lung volume and lower airflow capacity because they have smaller lungs and airway diameter. This is just part of the reason that Eric Villian, professor of human genetics at UCLA and a consultant to the International Olympic Committee concludes that “[t]here is a 10 to 12% difference between male and female athletic performance.” The fastest men are faster than the fastest women. Likewise, the strongest men are stronger than the strongest women, even if they are in the same weight class. These biological realities are the reason men’s and women’s sports have long been separated.
Which leads us to the second point. Allowing boys to compete with girls denies girls the chance to compete on a level playing field. Once athletic competitions are separated by feelings alone, girls lose the ability to compete against those who are physically similar. This is happening already with significant impact on women and girls at every level. In just the last two years, two biological males have won 15 girls’ track and field championships in Connecticut. These same two male athletes have participated in 40 qualifying events, filling slots that otherwise would have been filled by girls who are biologically female. Over the two remaining years of their high school career, they are likely to erase many more females from the high school record books as well. This is happening in college as well. A student at Franklin Pierce University in New Hampshire previously competed on the men’s track & field team, but now competes as a female. In 2018, as a man, he placed 8th in a field of 9 in the 400 meter hurdles during a regular season meet. The following year, competing as a woman, he won the national championship in the 400 meter hurdles by 1.5 seconds. It is happening in weightlifting competitions as well. Mary Gregory, a biological male, set new world records in each of the 9 events he participated in during an event in April 2019. Those records have since been revoked by the competition who said they were unaware he was biologically male when he registered as a woman. In 2018, an athlete born male competed in a women’s mixed martial arts competition. His opponent, Tamika Brent’s was knocked out, with a concussion and a broken skull. Afterwards, Ms. Brent’s said, “I’ve fought a lot of women and have never felt the strength that I felt in a fight as I did that night. I can’t answer whether it’s because she was born a man or not because I’m not a doctor. I can only say, I’ve never felt so overpowered in my life and I’m an abnormally strong female in my own right.” In most situations, if a man breaks the skull of a woman with his fist, it would be a crime. We all want to be understanding, but in this case, being understanding also requires us to understand what it means for women and girls who are forced to compete against biological males for political reasons.
Which leads to the third point. Allowing boys to participate in girls’ sports threatens the existence of women’s sports. In the United States, sports used to be almost exclusively for boys. A federal law called Title IX was created in 1972 to make sure athletic opportunities existed for women in the same way they existed for men. In 1972, less than 4% of girls competed in any organized sports. Today, 40% of girls do. In 1972, 295,000 girls in America competed in high school sports, compared to 3.67 million boys. As of 2011, 3.2 million girls played high school sports along with 4.5 million boys. This has also created athletic scholarship opportunities. 45 years ago, almost no female athletic scholarships existed. As of 2012, almost 200,000 women played college athletics, many on scholarship. All of these opportunities for women and girls were created because we recognized that the physical difference between men and women shouldn’t prevent women from having the opportunity to compete. Today, we are being asked to pretend that the only difference between men and women is the way we feel. If women’s sports teams must allow male born athletes to compete on girl’s teams, all women’s leagues will become co-ed the moment a male athlete says he feels like a woman. In the past, it was considered misogyny when men took opportunities from women. Today, it’s called equality.
So next time someone tells you that female sports should be open to anyone who says they are female, remember these three things: 1. Allowing boys to compete with girls ignores physical differences. 2. Allowing boys to compete with girls denies girls the chance to compete on a level playing field. 3. Allowing boys to participate in girls’ sports threatens the existence of women’s sports.
You can’t be gay if gender is invisible
The “LGBTQ” [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer] acronym is everywhere. This movement that has its own flag, is called a “community,” and claims to be united on important core beliefs. But is that true?
What would you say?
Though we’ve been conditioned to think of “LGBTQ” as a singular movement, the deepest beliefs of those in the transgender community directly conflict with the deepest beliefs of those in the lesbian, gay, and bisexual community. Here’s how…
For decades, members of the “L”, G” and “B” communities have promoted the idea that sexual orientation is a defining and permanent part of a person’s identity. In other words, according to lesbian, gay, and bisexual people, our identities are rooted in our sexual attractions. Do I like men? Do I like women? Do I like both?
But transgender theory says that our core identity is not rooted in who we are attracted to, but in how we feel about ourselves. I am a man. I am a woman. Significantly, members of the “T” community insist that being male or female has nothing to do with our bodies, but only how we feel.
If it’s true that being male or female is a state of mind and not a biological reality, then our gender is invisible. There would be no way to know whether someone is male or female by looking at them. A woman might have a beard. A man might have curves. But if that’s true, sexual orientation doesn’t make sense. After all, how can you be attracted only to women or only to men, if there’s no way to tell the difference between men and women by looking at them?
The claims of the “L”, “G” and “B” community are in conflict with the claims of the “T” community. They can’t both be right. But they can both be wrong. Our fundamental identity is not found in our sexual attractions or in our feelings about how masculine or feminine we are. And before any of us embrace the claims of the LGBTQ comm-unity, we should take the time to consider exactly what we are agreeing with.
If conversion therapy is bad, why is sex reassignment good?
One trick of LGBT activists is changing the meaning of words. We see this in the way LGBT activists celebrate sex reassignment as gender affirmation but condemn conversion therapy as sex reassignment.
Let’s imagine there is a 6 year-old boy named Johnny and Johnny experiences gender dysphoria. He says he wants to be a girl. The science shows that in at least 80% of the cases, gender dysphoria eventually goes away on its own. So if Johnny and his parents do nothing, the odds are that by the time Johnny goes through puberty, his gender dysphoria will go away.
However, if a therapist or doctor were to help Johnny get over his gender dysphoria and counsel him in a way that helped him identify as a boy this would be described as “conversion therapy”. In several states, it’s illegal. In those states, the only thing a therapist is allowed to do with a child who experiences gender dysphoria is help them embrace their identity as the opposite sex. If they don’t, they would be professionally punished or even lose their license.
However, if a therapist assures Johnny that he is really a girl, gives him puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and then helps him get surgery that removes healthy body parts and permanently sterilizes him, this is referred to as “gender affirmation”. That is legal in all 50 states. But isn’t it interesting the words they use to describe these situations? Helping a child identify with the body they were born with is called “conversion therapy.” Giving a child artificial hormones and plastic surgery is called “gender affirmation.” If that seems backwards to you, that’s because it is.