Caitlyn Jenner has the whole country talking about the issue of sexual identity and specifically transgender. Many are backing Jenner to the hilt, while others continue to poke fun. There is one aspect of the transgender issue I wish someone would clarify.
What exactly do we mean by “transgender”? It has been defined as “the state of one’s gender identity or gender expression not matching one’s assigned sex.” It is not, however, to be confused with hermaphrodite, which is “an organism that has reproductive organs normally associated with both male and female sexes.”
In other words, transgendered is not primarily a biological state of being, it is a perceived psychological state of being. That is a distinction that makes a huge difference.
There were many societal factors that came together to make transgender a “thing,” including the sexual revolution itself. I want to suggest, however, that a contributing factor hardly anyone is discussing led to this moment: it is language or words.
Look at a typical government form from years ago, and it asks for your sex. “Sex: male or female?” Today, it asks for your gender.
If you used the phrase “gender” to people living a hundred years ago, they would have thought you were talking about grammar and parts of speech. They would not have thought you were talking about biology and therein lies a big problem.
Thus, when society started using “sex” to mean the marital act and “gender” to mean our given sex, things got confused, and we waded into subjectivity. Many people still say “gender” because it sounds more polite. But it is time to re-claim objectivity when it comes to sexual identity and sex itself, and that means changing the words we speak.
When a child is born, don’t be afraid to say “the sex of the baby is ‘male’ or ‘female.’” Don’t buy into the term “gender” (unless of course you are talking about grammar).
But we can’t stop there in watching our words. We also need to learn to be more compassionate and gentle when we talk about these sexual identity issues. As Christians, we must be reasonable in conversations when talking about and to the Caitlyn Jenner issue. At the same time, we need to watch our own words and make sure we do not play into a subjective worldview.
One of the most important markers of your identity is whether you’re male or female. At the end of the day, though, the most important identity is whether we are numbered among the redeemed of Jesus Christ. That is the most important identity change of all for Caitlyn Jenner, for you or me.