A couple of tentative thoughts about gender identity and Christianity

A few people have raised issues of gender dysphoria with me in the last few months on a theoretical level: 'What do you think about it?' 'Will we be someohw less-gendered in heaven?' 'Could you please blog about aliens? Or gender dysphoria?'

I THINK I have only known one person with gender dysphoria. We met outside a cafe one day and proceeded to catch up semi-regularly for a few months.

I am not super well-read in this area, and am keen to learn from others out there on their thoughts and experiences. But here are a couple of things I can think of upon reflection on Scripture and the little I have read/heard.

A couple of Bible thoughts:

  1. Humanity is fundamentally gendered in the Bible. We are men and women. Cross-dressing is condemned in the book of Deuteronomy and 1Corinthians. The normal and good nature of human createdness by God's intention, then, is that there is a fixity in our gender that aligns with our biological sex.
  2. Gender is not the only thing that defines us - our nature as God's image bearers and our oneness in Christ are greater realities.
  3. Gender, marriage and procreation all go together. In a sense even a single person is a potentially-married person. Even an infertile couple is a 'could have otherwise been fertile' couple. The teaching of Christ that there will be no marriage in the new creation, presumably means that gender is relatively less significant to human experience and relationships in the new creation.
  4. The Bible acknowledges the category of eunuch (whether for the kingdom, by birth or by the hands of people) - and so there is a category for a human experience that is less-than-fully-gendered. And so the category of androgyny is easier to find in the Bible than transsexualism/genderism.
  5. There is no evidence I can think of in the Scripture that justifies us as thinking that gender should be primarily defined by how we feel, or the state of our hormones or brain chemistry. Of course that is all very anachronistic for me to say, anyway.

A couple of more practical reflections:

  1. The experience of gender dysphoria, not to mention other conditions of the sex organs, is extremely rare. In that sense this is an intense issue for a few, not a major issue for many.
  2. I want to gently suggest that this experience is, from the point of view of God's creative intent, abnormal. As a result the experience of dissonance, confusion and hurt is a sad reality of people who do experience it. There needs to be love, acceptance, comfort and kindness shown to people living with these experiences.
  3. Not all experiences in this life, whether experiences of gender, sexual orientation or other things entirely, can be or need to be comfortably resolved. We need to also have the categories and imagination and tools to live with dissonance and struggle throughout our lives. Seeking to resolve irresolveable things through acceptance may not actually make things better anyway.
  4. As a matter of courtesy, I would address someone according to their chosen pronoun. I would not necessarily extend to them every other preferred treatment according to their chosen gender - with regard to sleeping or bathroom arrangements... that's trickier!
  5. When it comes to giving counsel to someone wrestling with these experiences, I think a stronger case can be made for someone choosing to think and live as a modern-day equivalent of a eunuch, than to change their lived gender from their biological gender.
  6. I do question the assumption that is often made that the gender a person feels that they are should be the most essential and defining thing about how their gender is contructed. It seems that biological sex is often downplayed in favour or hormones, brain chemistry or personal experience and self-identification. I am not sure why this should be so. Is biological sex a minor thing? What good reason do we have to not make it determinative?

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