“Where exactly are you headed?”: Of gender and destinations

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Imagine this scenario for a moment: someone approaches you in the town where you live asking for directions.  You agree and ask, “Where exactly are you headed?” to which they reply “I’m not really sure actually, but I know I need to get there. It’s where I’m supposed to be.  Can you help me?”

Anyone in this situation would very likely ask how this person intends to get to their desired destination when they don’t even know where it is they need to get to.  Knowing your destination seems like necessary information to have if you “need” to get somewhere; if it’s where you’re “supposed” to be.

  Enter every discussion, article read, and information found regarding gender dysphoria.

In a genuine desire to understand, I’ve asked the question yet again in the comment section of recent articles in the Huffington Post and the Vancouver Sun, each time finding sadly inadequate responses (or no response at all) to:

“What does it mean to be a girl and not a boy?”

Now perhaps that sounds, at the outset, like an overly philosophical, navel-gazing-esque, type of question.  But really the question it quite basic.  I’m simply asking the parents of the toddler-aged trans child, as well as the child themselves, to define this destination to which they say they “need” to get to; that they are “supposed” to be at.

I tried to focus the question even further and ask,

“Ok, putting aside for the moment even, the differences in ‘plumbing’ and the stereotypes often attached to gender in C21, what does it really mean for a boy to say he wants to be/is a girl?”

… Crickets.

I even had two women recently tell me that the question itself was irrelevant to the discussion!  Really?!  Being able to actually define the destination you are certain you must get to is irrelevant?

Maureen Mullarkey in a recent article in First Things entitled Androgyny, rightly states that gender is “a linguistic signifier, not a biological one.”  And yet, haven’t you seen how often the two (linguistics and biology) are confused and treated as synonymous when convenient to the transgender discussion?

And most nod and smile and say, “Yes, yes. Were not talking about biological sex but gender.”  But it must be conceded that the 4 year old boy is not saying that his “linguistic modifier” is wrong but that his sex is wrong.  The very use of the term “gender”, then, allows one to skip, indiscriminately and invisibly, between linguistics and biology.

And so I asked my 7 and 8 year old daughters just the other day, “What does it mean to say that you are a girl and not a boy” and I framed the question with the same modifiers (‘plumbing’ and stereotypes excluded in age appropriate ways) but also under the heading of Gen. 1:27

“So God made man in His own image, in the image of God He created him, male and female He created them” (ESV)

I asked, “If God made both boys and girls in His image, what is it that is different about the two?”

And then they talked about it for a while.  But it was my 8 year-old in the end who said,

“Well, God made girls to have eggs inside them and to be able to hold babies, and that’s different from boys.  And he made boys to have sperm that fertilize those eggs, and also strong to be able to protect their families – that’s different from girls.”

And so I asked,

“Would you say then that one way girls show the image of God is by creating and caring for children like God does?  And that being strong and seeking to protect their kids is one different way that boys show the image of God in them?”

“Oh yeah!” they both said.

Now, that’s not everything of course.  But we have to say that – even from an 8 year-old child’s understanding – the definition of the desired “destination” then (if that is even the desired destination), is one that is biologically, hormonally, physiologically, as well as according to divine design, impossible to reach.  And yet, what we are also really saying today is that simply “believing really strongly” that something is true, trumps all those other things; that it makes both the definition of, as well as the reality of, that destination unarguably legitimate.

Welcome to the 21st Century.  Insert your GPS firmly within the glove compartment – it will be of no use to you here.


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