Jump to content

The Protestant Community

Christian and Theologically Protestant? Or, sincerely inquiring about the Protestant faith? Welcome to Christforums the Christian Protestant community. You'll first need to register in order to join our community. Create or respond to threads on your favorite topics and subjects. Registration takes less than a minute, it's simple, fast, and free! Enjoy the fellowship! God bless, Christforums' Staff
Register now

Fenced Community

Christforums is a Protestant Christian forum, open to Bible-believing Christians such as Presbyterians, Lutherans, Reformed, Baptists, Church of Christ members, Pentecostals, Anglicans. Methodists, Charismatics, or any other conservative, Nicene- derived Christian Church. We do not solicit cultists of any kind, including Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, Eastern Lightning, Falun Gong, Unification Church, Aum Shinrikyo, Christian Scientists or any other non-Nicene, non-Biblical heresy.
Register now

Christian Fellowship

John Calvin puts forward a very simple reason why love is the greatest gift: “Because faith and hope are our own: love is diffused among others.” In other words, faith and hope benefit the possessor, but love always benefits another. In John 13:34–35 Jesus says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Love always requires an “other” as an object; love cannot remain within itself, and that is part of what makes love the greatest gift.
Sign in to follow this  
News Feeder

What ‘The New York Times’ Gets Wrong on the ‘Transgender Memo’

Recommended Posts


Last week, within the span of a few days, The New York Times published two articles (first, second) pushing back against the Trump administration’s plans to roll back an Obama-era policy concerning gender identity. As I’ve written elsewhere, the administration’s impending memo is hardly controversial, despite what activists say. Despite the impression given by the Times, these articles reflect the viewpoints of LGBT activists rather than impartial science or sound philosophy.

The first article, published a day after the initial story, is by science journalist Denise Grady and titled “Anatomy Does Not Determine Gender, Experts Say.” In the article, Grady quotes from only one source, Dr. Joshua D. Safer, executive director of the Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery at Mount Sinai Health System in New York. Safer is also president of the United States Professional Association of Transgender Health.

Right away in this article, readers are told that defining one’s sex based on biology is “oversimplified and often medically meaningless.” But when asked about what determines gender identity—whether one is male or female—Safer speculates. It’s biological in some capacity, he grants, but he cannot say for sure. All that’s left to define one’s gender is their “identity”—“a person’s powerful, core knowledge of who they are.” It’s worth noting that the ambiguity of Dr. Safer’s argument is only exceeded by the disagreement among transgender voices on whether any biological component is necessary at all.[1]

The second is an opinion article, “Why Sex Is Not Binary,” by Anne Fausto-Sterling, emeritus professor of biology and gender studies at Brown University. Fausto-Sterling, a lesbian and feminist whose career has focused on critiquing traditional understandings of gender, explains the sequencing of how persons develop sexually in-utero and through puberty.

According to Fausto-Sterling, “It has long been known that there is no single biological measure that unassailably places each and every human into one of two categories—male or female.” This is a breathtaking and sweeping claim. If such a statement is accurate, it means that, up until now, all of human history’s attempt to understand the embodied reality of men and women has been in error. It would mean that every human society with norms that reflect the male-female binary has been wrong.

Has Humanity Always Been Wrong?

To bolster her claim, Fausto-Sterling relies on the existence of intersex people to prove that the male-female binary is neither binary, clear, nor stable. In her view, an exact determination of sex is difficult, since sex is the result of embryonic and post-natal “layering” and a “balance of power among gene networks acting together or in a particular sequence.” In layman’s terms, according to Fausto-Sterling, identifying sex is fruitless and indeterminate because no stable norm exists to measure male and female. The male-female binary is a teeter-totter.

But is that accurate? How should we understand the existence of intersex persons? First, it’s a category often distinct from the transgender phenomenon (though a high percentage of intersex persons also report discomfort with their internal sense of gender). Intersex persons have medically diagnosable conditions affecting their chromosomes, genitalia, or both. Yet the vast majority of transgender-identified persons have no chromosomal or bodily impairment. Second, to use intersex conditions as a way to undermine the reality of male-female binary is akin to saying that individuals born without a left arm constitute a new species of one-armed humans. It overlooks the reality of a norm to evaluate what has gone wrong. Moreover, the idea that sex is a balance of power between genes means the primary and secondary sex characteristics that men and women develop do not communicate any real male or female essence. In short, male-female do not exist, but are imagined, fluid, and permeable categories born of genetic conflict.

To use intersex conditions as a way to undermine the reality of male-female binary is akin to saying that individuals born without a left arm constitute a new species of one-armed humans. It overlooks the reality of a norm to evaluate what has gone wrong.

What’s the conclusion the reader draws from these stories? Two of the world’s foremost experts confidently dismiss the timeless truth that sex and gender identity are chromosomal and embodied realities—while admitting no one knows where gender identity originates or, for that matter, what constitutes male or female. This admission means humanity is left with no stable definition of itself. And the lack of stable definition for male and female highlights one of the most problematic implications of the transgender movement—the abolition of humanity.

The consequences for society cannot be overstated. From bathrooms to medical treatments to housing prisoners, how we identify sex matters. Without a stable definition of what a man or woman is, society’s most important constituency—humanity—is left wondering what, in fact, it is.

For determining what constitutes a male or female, we’re left with what UCLA sociologist Rogers Brubaker argues is the “asserted objectivity of subjective identity that makes it possible to defend choice in the name of the unchosen and change in the name of the unchanging.” To be clear, this radical subjectivity is incoherent and allows for absurdities, such as transracialism (e.g., Rachel Dolezal) or transageism.

The New York Times does not give a full, accurate picture of the larger debate. To be fair, Safer and Fausto-Sterling are reputable professionals in their field. But to exclusively feature their viewpoints sends the signal there is no other reputable thought that disagrees with their perspective. This is hardly the case, as a growing body of research, testimony, and dissent shows.

How Christians Can Respond

Scripture speaks of the male-female binary on both special revelation and general revelation grounds simultaneously. What exactly does this mean?

The Bible provides a substantive and coherent account for defining male and female identity, an account that comports with what is true of human nature and human design. This design reflects both what the Bible teaches and also what is true of creation itself. More specifically, Scripture affirms an objective, enduring male-female binary (Gen. 1:26–28), the presence of which is established on creational and teleological grounds. This binary is objective, universal, intelligible, and differentiated (e.g., primary and secondary sex characteristics).

Without a stable definition of what a man or woman is, society’s most important constituency—humanity—is left wondering what, in fact, it is.

Speaking even more specifically, what does it mean, creationally and biblically, to define male and female?

According to natural law scholar Ryan T. Anderson, “Sex, in terms of male or female, is identified by the organization of the organism for sexually reproductive acts. Sex as a status—male or female—is a recognition of the organization of a body that has the ability to engage in sex as an act.” Anderson’s use of “organization” is crucial. According to the natural law tradition, the identity of something is determined by its purpose.

Anderson adduces research from Johns Hopkins psychiatrists Paul McHugh and Lawrence Meyer, who issued an extensive report looking at the field of scholarly research around sexual orientation and gender identity. According to their findings, academic literature that argues gender identity is distinct from biological sex does not provide sufficient evidence to verify the claim. In response, McHugh and Meyer offer important insights into why basing male-female identity on biological and reproductive design provides a “stable” conceptual basis. According to them:

The underlying basis of maleness and femaleness is the distinction between the reproductive roles of the sexes; in mammals such as humans, the female gestates offspring and the male impregnates the female. More universally, the male of the species fertilizes the egg cells provided by the female of the species. This conceptual basis for sex roles is binary and stable, and allows us to distinguish males from females on the grounds of their reproductive systems, even when these individuals exhibit behaviors that are not typical of males or females.

In the above definition, male and female are not culturally constructed; they are God-constructed, through his special design of—and organizational purpose for—male and female bodies.

The above definition is, strictly speaking, biological in nature, in that each refers back to the reproductive organization of the sexes as the primary characteristic for distinguishing sex difference. Mayer and McHugh note these distinctions are “binary and stable,” which implies that any definition of man and woman apart from reproductive organization is on shaky ground.

God’s Design Defines Sex

The above definitions parallel with the creation account of man and woman revealed in Genesis 1:26–28. The creation of man and woman in Genesis is both structural and dynamic. As male and female beings made in God’s image, their design is ordered toward a particular purpose—filling the earth, subduing it, exercising dominion. More specifically, that purpose is accomplished through male and female design. The act of being fruitful and multiplying hinges on—and springs from—their respective sex distinction. In this account, general revelation parallels with special revelation. As each of us knows, sex makes babies, and the sexual act relies on male-female complementarity.

Genesis 1 and 2 explains categorically, thematically, and observationally what biology confirms as reality.

What is happening in the description of male and female offered in Scripture? A biblical view of what defines a man and woman, then, must be defined according to God’s creation design: the biological design of a man and a woman is (a) made for a covenantal marriage union with (b) their sexually opposite counterpart and is (c) oriented to fulfill a creational mandate.

The biblical narrative around Genesis 1 and 2 explains categorically, thematically, and observationally what biology confirms as reality—that maleness and femaleness are biological realities according to their respective reproductive organization.


[1] There are two main camps espousing a basis for gender identity. There are biological theorists who put gender identity within the arena of biology (e.g., “brain-sex theory”) and constructivists who see gender identity as purely a matter of self-description. For an example of the latter, see Sophie Searcy, “Why We Don’t Need Brain Scans to Confirm Trans People Are Trans.” Searcy writes: “Trans brain research and its recent coverage seek to measure trans people according to a cis standard—a standard that is itself a debunked fiction originally created by publication bias. The legitimacy of trans identities does not hinge on whether or not trans brains look like cis brains. We don’t need brain scans that cost thousands of dollars to legitimize or diagnose trans people; if we inform children about trans identities and remove stigmas that keep trans people marginalized, we can already validate the genders of trans kids free of cost simply by asking them who they are.” See also Alex Barasch, “Biology Is Not Destiny: Seeking a Scientific Explanation for Transgender Identity Could Do More Harm than Good,” The Washington Post, June 27, 2018.


View the full article

Share this post

Link to post

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

  • Similar Topics

    • Transgender Dad Is Raising 5-Year-Old Transgender Child

      The transgender father of a 5-year-old boy who wants to be a girl says he did not talk his child into becoming transgender, too. View the full article

      in Christian Current Events

    • The New York Times Omitted Key Details About EPA’s Shutdown Woes

      By Michael Bastasch - The New York Times put out a misleading report on the halt in EPA inspections during the shutdown. The Times neglected to mention that states carry out the vast majority of inspections. “Most U.S. environmental laws work through cooperative federalism.” The New York Times’ claim that furloughed Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials have not been able to complete “hundreds” of inspections during the government shutdown creates a false impression of where the vast majority of U.S. environmental enforcement takes place. The Times’ reported Wednesday the ongoing government shutdown has halted the “most important public health activities, the inspections of chemical factories, power plants, oil refineries, water treatment plants, and thousands of other industrial sites for pollution violations.” While it’s true EPA halted inspections of regulated facilities, The Times’ story left out an extremely important detail that left readers with the impression industry has free reign to pollute the air and water. The Times neglected to mention a key part of environmental compliance and enforcement — state regulators carry out the vast majority of inspections. Also, EPA’s compliance office tends to conduct most inspections in the spring and summer months, not in winter, according EPA officials who spoke to The Daily Caller News Foundation on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the press. In all, states are responsible for carrying out more than 98 percent of federal environmental programs designed to protect air and water quality and insure safe disposal of waste, according to the Environmental Council of the States (ECOS). “Most U.S. environmental laws work through cooperative federalism. That means the federal government sets national environmental standards while states implement those standards within their borders,” reads ECOS’s website. For example, all but three states and the District of Columbia are authorized to implement the Clean Drinking Water Act, according to EPA information. Forty-nine states take the lead on enforcement under the Safe Drinking Water Act and 48 states are authorized to implement the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, which governs solid and hazardous waste disposal. EPA maintains a public database called Enforcement and Compliance History Online (ECHO), which, among other things, tracks on enforcement and inspections carried out by federal and state officials. In almost every regulatory category — ECHO’s data for drinking water facilities doesn’t differentiate between federal and state inspections — state officials carry out the vast majority of inspections and enforcement actions. For example, EPA officials inspected 1,232 facilities to ensure compliance with the Clean Water Act in 2018 while states inspected 30,368 last year, according to ECHO. Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency It’s a similar story for enforcement actions taken against facilities that violated Clean Water Act requirements. EPA took 543 enforcement actions against facilities out of compliance, while states took 15,796 enforcement actions, according to ECHO. EPA still roughly 11,700 inspections every year, according to The Times. Inspections are carried out by the agency’s Office of Compliance and Enforcement (OECA). The Times estimated “hundreds of such inspections may have already been canceled this year, with the potential for hundreds more to not take place should the shutdown continue for days or weeks more.” The Times quoted one furloughed EPA inspector who gave the ominous quote: “Now there’s nobody out there to check if they’re complying.” One EPA official took issue with The Times’ estimate of missed inspections, and noted that OECA conducts most of its inspections during spring and summer months, so right now is not the peak period for inspections. “The speculation they had there, I would characterize it as misleading,” the official told TheDCNF. Most of EPA’s roughly 600 environmental compliance officers are furloughed due to the ongoing government shutdown, which became the longest in history as of Saturday. The now 24-day partial shutdown was precipitated by a fight over funding for a U.S.-Mexico border wall. Democratic lawmakers used The Times’ report to attack President Donald Trump, with Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey saying the ongoing shutdown “means toxic water and air for our communities.” The Trump administration came under fire last year for a drop in environmental enforcement activities, continuing a trend that started under the Obama administration. However, EPA criminal enforcement agents are still on the job and the agency has non-furloughed agents standing by for emergencies or if the agency sees an imminent threat to public health. An EPA official told TheDCNF that The Times’ report gave a “false view of what EPA inspectors do.” EPa inspectors often comb through records compiled by regulated facilities or do walkthroughs. “It’s not like they regularly go out and plug leaks,” the official said. “That rarely happens.” “It takes time for EPA professionals to review this information,” including looking through reams of documentation of facilities’ emissions or discharges to see if they were in compliance, the official said. EPA stayed open during the first week of the ongoing government shutdown, but was forced to close its doors and furlough most of its 15,000-strong workforce when their funding ran out in late December. Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact [email protected] The New York Times Omitted Key Details About EPA’s Shutdown Woes is original content from Conservative Daily News - Where Americans go for news, current events and commentary they can trust - Conservative News Website for U.S. News, Political Cartoons and more. View the original full article

      in Political Conservative News

    • Evangelism Must Explain What’s Wrong with the World

      People around us today often scoff at the notion of sin. Our world has new names for what ails us: poor self-esteem, neurosis, addiction, anxiety, psychological wounding, and so forth. It isn’t that these issues aren’t a reality; it’s that such analysis doesn’t go deep enough to reveal the root cause. Yet for all the protest that sin is an old-fashioned, outdated concept, nearly everyone agrees that something has gone terribly wrong and must be made right. We see the wrong in world wars, racism, genocides, terrorism, human trafficking, exploitation of children—and in our own personal battles evidenced in broken relationships, anger, addictions, and on and on. What happened that caused our planet to go from paradise to our present brokenness? And how can this explanation be good news for our unbelieving neighbors? First Rebellion In Genesis 3, we discover that, though Adam and Eve were created in God’s image, they rejected God’s rule and chose to be self-ruled when they disobeyed God’s command not to eat the fruit of that tree. As a result, sin entered the human race: there’s now no area of human personhood not infected by sin—even though we still reflect, however dimly, the image of God in which each human being is made. But the perfection God had established was broken, and human beings have been in the grip of sin ever since, as Genesis 4–11 so chillingly describes. Sin is such an all-inclusive reality that Paul says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). Like Adam and Eve, all humans have chosen self-rule instead of God-rule. That means that everything we see around us and in us that’s so tragically wrong—natural disasters, famine, genocides, and all forms of personal brokenness—can be traced back to the time when humans first rebelled against God. Into that garden came the evil Serpent, whom Revelation identifies as “that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan” (Rev. 20:2). The Bible reveals the reality of Satan and other supernatural beings who have rebelled against God and who do their best to tempt human beings to sin. Although the Bible reveals various forms of evil—such as corporate, systemic evil or Satan and his demons—the Bible is clear that at the heart of sin is personal rebellion against God. Wages of Sin Over dinner, a skeptic psychiatrist friend described the typical problems that drive people to seek her help. Then she said, “But you’re a Christian, so you think the problem is that we’re all sinners!” I asked what she thought the biblical understanding of sin was, and she answered, “Oh, something along the lines of drugs, sex, and rock ’n roll?” What my friend didn’t grasp is that from the biblical perspective, sin at its core isn’t just misdeeds. The Bible locates sin at the very center of human personality. Sin could be described as having a God-complex: we get ourselves and God mixed up! We live as if we’re in charge. Sin is actually twofold: it’s the deliberate refusal to trust and worship God as God, and it’s the prideful claim to insist on the right to run our lives. Sin is both unbelief and idolatry, as we try to create meaning and identity by depending on things other than God. Biblically speaking, sin is always against God. That’s why we can’t understand sin’s true meaning without understanding that sin, first and foremost, is rebellion against a righteous God. What was the final outcome of human disobedience to God? When Adam and Eve turned away from God in rebellion, God declared to them his righteous judgment, just as he had promised. Suffering and death fell on the human race. The consequence of Adam and Eve’s rebellion was disastrous: the human race became catastrophically separated from the eternal love of God. The perfect trust and warm, intimate friendship they had enjoyed with God and with each other were destroyed; they lived instead under his judgment of death. God’s presence was removed and human beings experienced a spiritual separation from God they had never known. The predicament of fallen humanity is so serious, so grave, and so desperately wrong from within and without, that it’s beyond human ability to fix. Think about it: Can fallen human beings change the intrinsic structure of our sinful nature and remake our natures from the inside? Can we defeat Satan? Do we have the power to conquer death? Clearly we do not! Who then has the power to deliver and rescue us? Who can take what is so terribly wrong and make it right? Obviously, only a power that is stronger than ourselves can help us overcome ourselves. Nothing short of divine intervention can rectify our situation. Hope for the Broken We glimpse this divine intervention even in the garden of Eden. Although God banished Adam and Eve from the garden, he didn’t stop loving them, as we see when he tenderly made them better clothes than what they’d made for themselves, to protect them once they were outside the garden. Most important, in Genesis 3:14–15, God declares war on the serpent (Satan) and says that the offspring of the woman will crush the serpent’s head. The whole rest of the Old Testament points toward the coming of that promised offspring who would finally defeat Satan: Jesus the Savior, born of a woman named Mary. God will not allow the Enemy’s plan to harm his plan. This is the first promise of the gospel. The Bible reveals that before the beginning of time and the human revolt, God had already decided on his plan of how to rescue the planet that had turned from him (Titus 1:2; Eph. 3:11). He would send a Redeemer, Christ Jesus the divine Son of God, who would endure suffering and death in order to bring sinners back to God. Even in human rebellion, we see the promise of God’s grace. The good news of the gospel is that sin and judgment weren’t the end of the story! Though God owed us nothing, in his mercy and grace he sent his divine Son from heaven on a rescue mission to redeem a people for himself and to restore everything under Christ—“to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ” (Eph. 1:10). Jesus now commands all believers to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19). When we see the beauty and glory of the gospel, the victory won by the Son of God on our behalf and in our place, and the cosmic significance of all that Christ has accomplished, how can we possibly remain silent and keep this glorious news to ourselves? View the full article

      in Christian Current Events

    • Can a person struggling with habitual sin repent several times a day and still be forgiven?

      Is it possible for someone who struggles with a habitual sin (such as an addiction) to repent after every time they commit the sin, even if it happens several times a day, and still be forgiven? Or does the fact that they are struggling with the same sin mean that they are not saved? 

      in Christian Advice

    • Women's College in Missouri Redefines Womanhood, Welcomes Transgender Women

      Stephens College in Missouri announced recently that the traditionally all-female school would allow transgenders to enroll starting in the fall of 2019. View the full article

      in Christian Current Events


Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.