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Words of Defiance

Words of Defiance

Gender Neutral Restroom sign is seen placed outside a restroom for the 15th annual Philadelphia Trans-Health Conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S., June 9, 2016. | (Photo: Reuters/Shannon Stapleton/File Photo)

On September 27th, The New York Times published an article, entitled "Male, Female or 'X': The Push for a Third Choice on Official Forms." The subject of the article is that the new sexual revolution has prompted some governmental entities to add a third option, 'X,' to the standard options of male and female on some documents, but that many other entities and documents still operate under the old binary system, and this inconsistency creates difficulties for people who identify as transgender.

The author, Andy Newman, labors valiantly to describe the situation of Charlie Arrowood, bandying about the cumbersome third-person plural as if it were a neuter singular, and referring to "Mx. Arrowood." Charlie, we are told, transitioned from a female—but transitioned to what? Not a male, apparently. An 'X.' Now 'they' are going to capitalize on forthcoming legislative changes to get 'their' birth certificate changed by the Empire State. But 'their' driver's license will not (yet) see a commensurate change.

This inconsistency of policies and forms is, indeed, bound to create confusion. But it marks something much deeper than bureaucratic inefficiency. It exists because the revolution has not, in fact, yet won the day. It marks the fact that efforts to root human identity in the subjectivity of feelings, rather than the objectivity of biology, have not yet triumphed. The way many cultural elites talk may give the impression that the transgender revolt against God, humanity, biology, and reason, has conquered; but, as the great 20th century philosopher Yogi Berra reminded us, "It ain't over 'til it's over."

The concern of the individuals described in the article should remind all of us that this sort of thing does matter. It matters a great deal. Language is the tool we use to understand, and communicate our understanding of, our world. Language makes truth-claims with a subconscious facility. "What's in a name?" Juliet asked. Sometimes a lot. What's in a prefix or a pronoun? Quite possibly the sanity of a whole culture.

Charlie Arrowood hints at the truth. 'They' says, "You can't keep accurate records if you don't have an accurate representation of someone." Indeed, an inaccurate representation of someone may even result in worse problems than confused records. Another individual cited in the article, "Mx. Furuya," comes even closer to putting 'their' finger on the problem: having gotten a birth certificate change but not a driver's license change, 'they' asked the DMV "Is this going to implicate me for lying to the government?" and received an uncertain reply.

The root problem is that people who change the gender on their birth certificate, whether to the opposite gender, to an undefined 'X,' or with any other options that may come along, are lying to government. They do this with the government's complicity, but it is lying nonetheless. The heart of transgenderism is embracing a lie about yourself. All of the cosmetic manifestations of this—changing names, pronouns, and prefixes, changing government documents and relationships, changing physical appearance, even to the extent of hormonal and surgical procedures—all of these cosmetic manifestations of the inward lie are the outward expression of that lie, the act of persistently lying to others.

You cannot change your sex/gender. There is no such thing as a transgender person. Feelings, changed titles, government documents, and medical procedures, cannot change your gender. It is biologically, genetically, determined for you. To claim to have changed it is rebellion against reason; to engage in cosmetic procedures to appear to have changed it is rebellion against biology; to defy the male-female binary and identify as an 'X' is rebellion against your own humanity; to attempt to change your gender is rebellion against God.

Gender is biologically determined; that is to say, it is given to you by God. That underlines the colossal tragedy of this whole cultural movement. Gender is good, it is an essential aspect of the glory of humanity, a defining feature of the creatures created in the imago Dei. In Genesis 1, at the climax of the creation account, it says, "So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them" (Gen. 1:27, NIV). The pairing of human gender differentiation with human creation in the imago Dei is surely not incidental; the gender distinctions of none of the other creatures are described so. Gender is a gift from God. It is good to be male and female; it is glorious to be man and woman; it is profoundly and fundamentally human.

There is an imperative, then, to defy the eradication of gender that transgenderism ultimately represents. Commonplace language may be the arena for courage in our time—though, for most of us, it requires little enough courage, as yet. Without lionizing ourselves, we should at least show the backbone to not lie about others. Ms. Arrowood is a woman, whatever the state of New York may permit her to put on her legal documents. How strange that such a banal and obvious statement may just be the sort of words of defiance our cultural moment requires.

Joshua Steely is Senior Pastor of Pontoon Baptist Church. He lives with his wife and children in the greater St. Louis area, and blogs at