Written by Samuel D. Ferguson |
Monday, October 23, 2023
People have long recognized their need for inner healing and change. Humans suffer from bad thinking, broken hearts, and any number of internal psychological disorders. But the transgender revolution’s path toward healing and wholeness assumes that the deep change a person with gender dysphoria needs must happen mainly on the outside. Those who suffer are told they need to change their external appearance, not their perspective. Increasingly, gender dysphoria is treated not through counseling but through transitioning, a process that involves puberty blockers, hormone treatments, and surgeries.
A Sweeping Revolution
The transgender revolution is sweeping. Deeper understanding of it requires us to consider three core beliefs that underly it and make it possible. Though often unarticulated, these beliefs are like the framing of a house, giving the transgender movement its present shape and stability.
Belief 1: My Identity Is Self-Determined
We can’t understand the transgender movement if we don’t grasp how it relates to our culture’s obsession over the question Who am I? Traditionally, our identity was something we received, and it was therefore relatively stable. Who we are was understood as determined by family of origin, nationality, biological sex, religion, and perhaps occupation. These matters were largely “givens,” arising not from feelings or decisions but from realities outside a person’s control. Things have changed. Today, identity is a do-it-yourself project based on self-discovery and self-expression.1 This gives personal feelings and decisions pride of place, and it resists external constraint. “[Here is] a view of personhood,” Carl Truman explains, “that has almost completely dispensed with the idea of any authority beyond that of personal, psychological conviction, an oddly Cartesian notion: I think I’m a woman, therefore I am a woman.”2
Belief 2: My Feelings, Not My Body, Determine My Gender
When I was in graduate school, a classmate named Taylor shared with me about his experience of gender dysphoria. Taylor was a biological male but, since early childhood, felt like a girl. Taylor was on a hormone treatment, experimenting with cross-dressing, and hoped to undergo transition surgery. One day Taylor asked me, “Do you feel like a man?” I answered, “Yes.” Taylor fired back: “What does that mean? And don’t tell me it means you like girls and sports. What does it mean to feel like a man?”
For years, that exchange troubled me. How do you describe the feeling of being a man—or a woman—and do so without reaching for cultural stereotypes about gender? In a culture obsessed with gender identity, I was shocked at how hard it was simply to describe what being a man feels like.
Finally, it dawned on me. Taylor’s question contained a significant assumption. Taylor didn’t ask me if I was a man. He asked me if I felt like a man. Subtle but seismic, this shift in verbiage reflects a core belief of the transgender movement: your feelings, not your biology, determine your identity. It’s a mind-over-matter view of people, and we may be tempted to think there’s nothing wrong with this way of thinking. But try applying this logic to age or race. What if a sixteen-year-old trying to buy a six-pack of beer blurts out to the vigilant clerk, “But I feel twentyone”? What if a fifty-year-old man pursuing a sixteenyear-old girl says to her father, “But I feel sixteen”? What if a White male applying for a scholarship designated for African Americans responds to the university examiner, “But I feel Black”?
Our society agrees—at least for now—that age and ethnic identity are determined by cold, hard facts, not feelings. You may have feelings about your age or ethnicity, but those feelings don’t determine your age or ethnic background. Why the difference in the case of gender?