Sex vs Gender?

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German Evangelical magazine idea (Nr. 27.2024, p. 7) quotes from a taz interview with Alexander Korte, a German specialist in child and adolescent psychiatry and psychotherapy, who comments on the statement that gender identity is innate:

“That’s absurd. Neurobiological research definitely owes proof that gender identity could be genetically determined. Even from a developmental psychology perspective, it is absurd to assume that identity is something one is born with. From my point of view, identity is always the result of an individual’s bonding and relationship history – and also physical history.” [1]

Politically speaking, I agree with this statement but consider it irrelevant to most of the controversial gender debate. That debate is not primarily about identity, but about biology. Separate sporting events for women and men are justified by the biological differences between (biological) women and men; the same applies to gender-segregated toilets, showers, changing rooms, etc. All of this has nothing to do with identity.

And frankly: it is also absurd to assume that perceived gender identity should take precedence over biological sex in every respect and in all situations. That is postmodern, post-scientific nonsense, and where, for example, the rights of the small but very vocal number of “trans people” are supposed to trump the rights of the large majority of “cis people,”[2] it is profoundly undemocratic.

Also, for the assessment of this issue in traditional Christian theology[3] this question is not particularly relevant: the theological evaluation of societal phenomena and human behaviors is not based on genetics or whether something is innate, but on what God’s Word, the Bible, says. After all, the Bible clearly states that we all have an innate inclination to sin (Romans 3:10-18: [4], which manifests differently in different people. Nevertheless, sin is never justified.

Whether and to what extent the Bible represents an identity differing from biological sex as a result of fallen and therefore sinful nature can certainly be discussed. It is clear that the Bible does refer to men in women’s clothing (and vice versa) as “an abomination” (Deuteronomy 22:5[5], but spends far more time and has far more condemnation for other behaviors and attitudes, calling them sin, “abomination,” and “wickedness.” And how did Jesus put it? “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone.”

(The cover picture of this post is a screenshot from Merriam-Webster‘s entry for “transgender”.)

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  1. Dr. Korte is indeed critical of gender ideology, as a quick Google search clearly shows.[]
  2. The term trans-(men, women, people) refers to individuals whose perceived gender identity does not align with their biological sex, in contrast to cis-(men, women, people), whose gender identity and biological sex match. Additionally, there are the adjectives transgender and cisgender. All of these are neologisms (late 20th century) based on the Latin words trans (beyond) and cis (on this side of) as well as the originally grammatically term gender.[]
  3. i.e. a theology which starts from the premise that the Bible is God’s revelation of and about Himself, that it doesn’t and shouldn’t be changed, and that it is still the standard for Christian faith and theology today.[]
  4. “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one. Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit. The poison of vipers is on their lips. Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know. There is no fear of God before their eyes.” Paul quotes here various passages from the Hebrew Bible (“Old Testament”) which describe the innate inclination of humans towards sin.[]
  5. “A woman shall not wear a man’s garment, nor shall a man put on a woman’s cloak, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord your God.”[]
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