Here is what I want to say to Christians for whom the fact that “transgender people are clearly happier and healthier and more fully alive when they are allowed to be transgender” is not a good enough reason to accept transgender people into their homes, workplaces, schools, and bathrooms:

Since Jesus had no human biological father, and since God, his heavenly Father, lacks a body, then Jesus was a man who likely had no Y chromosome. Would this not make Jesus more like a transgender person than a cis-gender one?  We could grant Jesus a Y chromosome, but then we would have to assign his virgin mother Mary one as well.  Either way, the miracle of sex-less conception suggests that Jesus can qualify as a “real man” only if Mary qualifies as something less than a “real woman.”  (And I hope you can tell I that I am using quotation marks in order to signal extreme sarcasm).

The Christian case against transgender people typically trumpets the single line from Genesis in which God presumably created human beings “male and female” as evidence that God intends for each individual to be either male or female.  In doing so, these Christians display more than just a disregard for both semantics and logic.  They twist the word of God in the shape of their own preconceptions.  They do not think to ask, “how do we know what makes a male a male and a female a female?”  They instead assume that God defines masculinity and femininity in the same way they do.

Christians who malign transgender persons also frequently deify the bodies (or perhaps I should say society’s interpretation of the bodies) we receive at birth. According to this view, if one was born a boy, then one has to die a man.  Besides turning natural law into a cliche (so babies with cleft palettes or heart defects ought not undergo corrective surgery?), this theory ends up unwittingly celebrating the very queerness it seeks to contain.  If we take this view seriously, then we would have to also say that God naturally creates many human beings (about 1 in 2000) whose bodies do not fulfill our socially constructed definitions of man and woman.

Christians who oppose transgender equality also sell God short.  They seem to assume that God’s imagination and creativity is no bigger than their own.  In so doing, they miss the best part of the Divine story.  God is one who makes virgins conceive, declares the meek the inheritors of the land, and, most importantly, brings dry bones back to life. Defying human expectations is sort of God’s thing.

To those who believe that God loves transgender people by asking them to go away, I ask a final question: what in your life has lead you to believe that love, which God epitomizes perfectly, means wanting anything but happiness, in every sense of the word, for other people?



58 thoughts

      1. You define what small minded people who use the bible and God to justify their own prejudices and own biases. When you think about it true Christians reflect by their lives the image of Christ- love. If it is absent from their lives than those who interact with them can make their own conclusions. The questions you ask at the end of your post are brilliant.

      2. You are very welcome. i think that you would be a wonderful friend. Anyone who is able to consider you a friend is lucky indeed.

  1. Good post! As surprising as this may sound, there are many people who are not aware that people are born intersex. When people are made aware that intersex individuals exist then gender theory makes sense.

  2. I would never pretend to know God’s design for transgender people, and I do believe that my job is only to extend God’s love to others on this earth — all others! So first let me say that I do not argue at all against your case for fully loving people who were born transgender (and I love one personally)

    What bothers me here, is your last statement. Is it God’s desire for us to be “happy”? I thought His desire was for us to glorify him? He has allowed me to go through some miserable stuff for the purpose of refinement so that I may draw near to Him and glorify Him with my life. God IS Love, but He is also Truth and Justice. Let’s honor Him for all He is!

      1. If happy means blissful and and free of suffering, I do not wish “happy” for those I love. (Romans 5:3-5). I do absolutely wish refinement, fulfillment, and purpose, for them. Walking with Christ through trials and being shepherded through suffering is how I’ve discovered deep joy and an intimate understanding of God’s character. I’ll take that over happy any day!

        Am I just getting hung up on semantics? On “happy”? 🙂

      2. I feel that I’ve pulled you into a conversation that you’re not interested in having. I’m sorry if this has been a nuisance– I won’t drag it out longer. Best wishes!

      3. God’s purpose for our lives and our goal for our lives should not be to be happy. It should be to glorify God and to be more like Christ. Scripture is pretty clear that we become more refined when we go through the fire. And we should count it all joy when we face trials and suffering. Any theology that teaches happiness as the goal of a Christ centered life is far from scripture.

      4. I’m sorry, but I don’t take any joy when children get cancer, or suffer malnutrition, or when people are victims of violence.

        That is suffering.

        The fact that some people can turn tragedy into triumph and learn lessons from hardship should not be taken as evidence that suffering is good.

        If you take joy in other people’s suffering, there is something wrong with you.

        I don’t think God is a sadist. You may be, but please don’t project that on to God.

      5. Katie, We should count it joy when WE face trials. James 1:2. It is in scripture. We should find joy in our own suffering and trials, not the suffering of others. Why should we count it joy? verses 3-4: because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
        Joy and happiness are not the same thing. God calls us to have joy. And being happy is good. But the goal of a Christian life is not to be happy.

  3. A dissenting view: The problem with the ideology of unlimited sexual autonomy is its nihilism. Nihilism, in the words of the great prophet of nihilism, Nietzsche, “there is no truth.” (Or to quote the Beatles: “Nothing is real / And nothing to get hung about / Strawberry Fields forever.”)

    If you deny that one’s sex is a reality which we are given, not concept which we construct, then sure — let people define themselves. Bob is a boy, Greta’s a girl, Tomi’s transgender, and Marsha’s a Martian. But if in order to be happy with the happiness provided by God’s love requires accepting reality and truth as it is — not as I wish it to be — then the only way to love someone is to help them come to grips with truth.

    No one (Christian or non-Christian) disagrees that everyone should be happy, and everyone should be who they are. What you are so awfully mistaken about is the faith that whatever one believes is real for them. If I believe I am a woman or a Martian or a cat then you cannot disagree? You cannot dispute it? Metaphysical nihilism usually combines with such logic-free constructivism. In a tragic twisting of the phrase, you seem to believe that it will be done to each of us according to our faith.

    You assert without argument that “transgender people are clearly happier and healthier and more fully alive when they are allowed to be transgender”. I deny the assumption that people who believe they are transgender are actually transgender. I deny your Nietzschean, Beatles-esque nihilism.
    I appreciate that you attribute the psychological disorder known as gender dysphoria to the creative act of God. I attribute it to a much more mundane source: original sin.

    There are men and women, and there are many physical and psychological disorders that corrupt our original design. As evidence of my claim, I do not cite Genesis: I appeal to the mammalian kingdom, modern biology and anthropology, and the universal cross-cultural human tradition of masculinity and feminity (See Carl Stern, the Flight from Woman). There certainly exist people who believe they are transgender. There are people like Stefonknee Wolscht who believes he is a 6 year old girl. There are people like Nano who believes she is a cat. We do them no favors by cooperating in their delusion.

    Thanks for your post!

    1. Hi Keith,
      I am also against “unlimited sexual autonomy,” but I have no clue how supporting a transgender person’s right to be transgender is any more “sexually autonomous” than supporting a cisgender person’s right to be cisgender. I don’t know you personally and yet I’m sure that, every day, both consciously and unconsciously, you “choose” a certain gender presentation. Your choice may be more or less in line with what society expects of you but it is no less a “choice” that is, a certain expression of autonomy, than the choices made by transgender people.

      And if we want to talk anthropology, there are all sorts of cultures that accept exceptions to the male-female binary so you aren’t really helping your case there. Even non-human animals show that “male-female” is not the way to go. (Also, in some species, the female eats the male after having sex with him so if we want to use the animal queendom as precedent, let’s go all the way.)

  4. I can’t help but think that this post might have been inspired by our Twitter exchange a few weeks back? If so, I certainly do not wish to be counted among the “Christians who malign transgender persons,” especially those who do so using biblical/theological arguments. (Truly my thinking behind the Jenner/Dolezal tweet was more a contemplation on the mainstream impermissibility of that comparison rather than any statement on transgenderism itself–I did not assume a wrong/right for either woman). In any case, I wholeheartedly agree that the safety, happiness and wellbeing of all persons, however they want to express themselves, is God’s desire, and should be the desire of every Christian also. I might argue that merely being a part of the Creation (let alone being cisgender or even human) is qualification enough to be treated with dignity and respect. Maybe this is too idealistic.

    1. Alexandria, I am so sorry it took me so long to see this! No, this post was not at all inspired by our twitter exchange. And my hope is that one day what you say will not be too idealistic, although I fear it might be today.

  5. The birth was miraculous. Really odd to suggest that Mary ought to have Y-chromosome also. I am not sure if you are aware, but virgin birth does not happen naturally on humans.

    1. My non-sarcastic answer to your sarcastic comment: yes, Jesus did not have a biological father and his virginal conception was miraculous, but Jesus did have a “regular” human body. So while we cannot know for sure what Jesus’ DNA looked like, we know that Jesus had DNA. So yes, we could say that God miraculous implanted a Y chromosome into Jesus’ body, but it seems as least as reasonable that the fact that Jesus’ only human parent was a woman means that his “anatomical” gender might defy certain expectations of what a real man looks like. Either way, we don’t tend to think that a man can get his body from a woman, so the fact that Jesus did makes him “queer.”

  6. This is what happens when you go down the wide road of relativism. Mental disorders are now called not disorders.
    It is stupid and factually untrue to suggest that there is such a thing as trans-gender anything. Therefore to encourage a disordered obsession is both cruel and cowardly.

    1. Disagree with me all you want, but the post you responded to is anything but a display of moral relativism. It’s whole point is to say that certain things are wrong and certain things are right.

      And fortunately, like the existence of God, the existence of transgender people does not depend on your belief in them.

  7. Katie – What about Deuteronomy 22:5. A woman must not wear men’s clothing, nor a man wear women’s clothing, for the Lord your God detests anyone who does this.

    1. I am a Catholic so my tradition does not really do proof texting.

      But even if we thought that the proof texting were the best path to truth, this passage does not apply to transgender people. First, a trans man would not say that he is a “woman wearing man’s clothes,” but that he has been a man all along or at least is a man now. So a transman wearing “man’s” clothes is not violating this.

      Second, when does something become “man’s” clothing? Some for example think that women should not wear pants because they are “man’s” clothing. Not too long ago, most people in our society would have agreed with this. Are you saying that women who wore pants, say, in the 1940s or 50s, were detested by God?

      What about suspenders? Are those “men’s” clothes? Are women who wear suspenders detested by God?

      What about high heels? They were after all first worn by a male King (one of the French ones). So are women who wear high heels detested by God?

      What about army fatigues? Are women who serve in the military detested by God?

      If you want to take this as true, then you would have to say that almost every woman in our society is detested by God.

      Third, if we want to proof text and interpret literally like this, then we would also have to adopt the author of Deueteronomy’s definition of “male” and “female” clothing, which I am 100% sure are different from the ones anyone in our society uses today.

      So even if you COULD prove that this applied to transgender people (which you can’t), then you could use it to condemn them only if you yourself were willing to wear only the clothes that men wore in the culture described in Deuteronomy.

      1. Agreed.
        And a whole lot other fashion things women now take for granted were originally Male. Including Hosiery and the color pink. Including hairstyles. Men also used to wear ribbons in their hair. And wigs and makeup around the Geogian Period as an example. Now if a male wore them openly now well you know what usually happens!

        The Big question re DEU 22:5 is what about those other clothes edicts? Deu 22:11 & 12? Most people who identify as Christian don’t seem to follow them or a number of those other DEU edicts. Including those food laws and those stoning edicts, etc!!

  8. “Since Jesus had no human biological father, and since God, his heavenly Father, lacks a body, then Jesus was a man who likely had no Y chromosome. Would this not make Jesus more like a transgender person than a cis-gender one? We could grant Jesus a Y chromosome, but then we would have to assign his virgin mother Mary one as well. ”

    That seems like a very strange, unorthodox view of the incarnation and the power of God.

  9. “Since Jesus had no human biological father, and since God, his heavenly Father, lacks a body, then Jesus was a man who likely had no Y chromosome”

    That strikes me as a very unorthodox view of the incarnation and the power of God.

    1. If you’re going to be sexist, at least try to be original. (Also, in English, sentences typically end with periods, not commas. But then again, I learned that rule from a female teacher so maybe it’s not to be trusted.)

  10. Thanks for your thoughtful and theologically challenging reflection, Katie. Let me propose a scenario and ask for your ethical reflection: in psychology there’s a real thing called “extended adolesence,” We also talk about age being a “state of mind” and youth or old age being social constructs. Let’s say somebody who’s 50 decides that they’re really 16, and wants to be treated like somebody that age and enter into relationships with others that age. How would you litigate a sexual transaction between somebody who is sixteen and somebody who feels sixteen. In most states, there’s a distinction between being a minor and being at the age of consent.

    I ask this question because I’m hesitant about your position on transgenderism. I use the age example because it also gets at the tension between autonomy, subjective feelings, and what some consider an insurmountable biological reality. It also blurs the lines by suggesting a scenario in which autonomy doesn’t apply (pre-adults). I’m particularly concerned about the transgender question because there was a New Yorker article a few years ago that stressed how transitions were best performed pre-puberty.

    Thanks in advance to you and the rest of the blogger team for your hospitality.

    1. Hi Grant, I’m sorry but I don’t really think the two situations are in any way analogous. We have consent laws because we have judged, inductively, that they are harmful to both individuals and society.

      But we actually do have people who, for various reasons, have a developmental age that is lesser than their chronological or physical age. My sense is that we would do recognize that questions of consent should be judged somewhat differently in cases like this.

      Now, if there emerges in history a group of people who believe themselves “young” in the way you are talking about, we would have to look at the situation and consider its effects before making a judgment about it. The reason why your analogy works (to you) is because you already believe that “being transgender” is farcical and fallacious in the way that a 26 year old claiming to be a 16 year old so he could have sex with a 16 year old would be. But being transgender is not a farce. And again, if such a class of people emerged in history, I would say that we would have to inductively consider the reality of their existence before we start making moral judgments about what they can and cannot do.

      But transgender people do exist. The reality of their lives tell us that they should be supported and affirmed and granted equal rights.

  11. I just came across this post and had to read it unfortunately I don’t have time right now to find everything I would like to point out just to cut through the twisted take on god and Christians point of view on the transgender subject.

  12. While it is true that Jesus did not have a biological/human father, and God the Father did not, at the time of the conception of Jesus, take human form, it is not true that Jesus would, therefore, not have a Y chromosome. Being omnipotent, God the Father does not need human form to create human with X and Y chromosomes. God created Adam, and Adam possessed both chromosomes.

      1. Thank you for the correction. However, your conclusion that it is “likely” still ignores the fact that God create Jesus to be entirely human. To be entirely human, and an entirely human male, therefore, God would have given Jesus both chromosomes.

  13. I made no assertions about humans with Kleinfelter or Down Syndromes. Male humans with Kleinfeter do, in fact have both X and Y chromosomes as do males with Down Syndrome. You’re being intellectually dishonest inferring I implied they are not fully human.

    You asserted that the fact that Jesus had no human, biological father impacted the probability (likely or certain) of Him having something other than XY chromosome. That is an invalid logical structure because both of your premises are true, but the conclusion may not be. To be a valid logical argument, the conclusion must be true if the premises are true.

    1. The statement does not preclude the multi-chromosome examples you stated. If I had written, “God would have give Jesus ONLY those 2 chromosomes,” you would be correct in your critique. Besides, even if I my statement were inaccurate, that fact does not improve the validity of your argument:

      “Since Jesus had no human biological father, and since God, his heavenly Father, lacks a body, then Jesus was a man who likely had no Y chromosome. Would this not make Jesus more like a transgender person than a cis-gender one? We could grant Jesus a Y chromosome, but then we would have to assign his virgin mother Mary one as well. Either way, the miracle of sex-less conception suggests that Jesus can qualify as a “real man” only if Mary qualifies as something less than a “real woman.” (And I hope you can tell I that I am using quotation marks in order to signal extreme sarcasm).”

      The miracle does not “suggest,” and it is entirely invalid to conclude that we would have to assign a Y chromosome to Mary if Jesus had the same or conclude he was unlikely to have one at all if we didn’t. I appreciate the purpose of your article, but it’s imperative that we all aspire to reason to our conclusions instead indulging in cleaver rhetoric.

    2. I did not write that “God would have given Jesus ONLY those 2 chromosomes.” Again, human males with Down or Kleinfeter Syndromes have both of those chromosomes. It is a fact that to be a male human, you must have (at least) one X and one Y chromosome. If you have proof to the contrary, please provide.

      Dr. Grime, I appreciate this interaction. You have an impressive academic pedigree. However, your nitpicking and hairsplitting of what I wrote do not correct the logical flaws of you initial argument.

  14. I did not say, “God would have given him ONLY those 2 chromosomes.” He, in fact, gives all male humans X and Y chromosomes. There are cases where male humans have more than those 2, but they always have those 2, correct? If not, please provide evidence of a male human who did not have at least 1 X and 1 Y chromosome.

    Dr. Grimes, I appreciate this interaction. Your academic pedigree is impressive, but your argument is not. Nitpicking and splitting hairs about what I wrote does not make your argument anymore valid.

    1. Not sure why it took over 22 hours to post my previous comments. Apologies for the redundancy (and the misspelling). Note to self: Patience is a virtue.

  15. In your second paragraph you incur the same reproach you hand out in your fifth paragraph: you “seem to assume that God’s imagination and creativity is no bigger than [you]r own.” The God “who makes virgins conceive” could easily assemble free nucleotides within Mary’s egg into a Y chromosome, just to name one possible mechanism. In any case, “likely” is not a word that belongs in discussing the Incarnation, which had zero likelihood without a miracle. As evidence that our Lord was born with the physical equipment conventionally associated with the concept of “male,” I offer Luke 2:21.

    1. that’s my exact point: Jesus had “male” genitalia but no human father. So where did he get his Y chromosome from. Your pointing out the Luke passage is very much appreciated, but it doesn’t upend the logic of my speculative exercise.

      1. You logic is upended by a lack of consistency and the fallacy of division. You proffer that Jesus was conceived by God (i.e., without a human/biological father) then argue that God (omnipotent) is somehow constrained by the human biology.

      2. No, that is not my argument. My claim was that this scenario is possible, not that it was was definitely or necessarily what happened. Although we do know that God chose to be restrained by human biology in at least one way: he conceived Jesus inside of a woman’s body. Your statement implies that God could have made a man pregnant with Jesus. So just from the fact that God made a woman pregnant with Jesus (even though as you point out God didn’t have to) we have good reason to suspect that God followed other rules of human biology…for example, I don’t think it’s controversial to say that Jesus had 46 chromosomes or that he inherited DNA from Mary. The very point of the incarnation after all is that Jesus was fully human in all things but sin…what is not assumed is not redeemed as the church fathers would say. So yes, becoming fully human by definition requires following some if not most of the rules of human biology. Jesus had a fully human brain for example. So speculating about how God created a human male using only a human female is theologically sound but it is definitely speculation! The “how” of the miracle cannot be known with certainty.

    2. and to clarify: yes, your explanation of the “how” of the incarnation is perfectly reasonable. The purpose of my post was to point out that, precisely because the incarnation was a miraculous event, we can’t know the “how” with any certainty (since by definition, the laws of nature are being violated) so I was pointing out another possibility of the “how.”

  16. It is certainly true that God can do anything, but to my knowledge, and, I suspect, to yours, he has never created a human male without at least one X and one Y chromosome. We know Jesus was a human male.

    You need to provide some plausible reason why God would give him two Y chromosomes. For what purpose and to what end would he modify human biology? God is not capricious.

    Without some additional evidence to support the “possibility” that God wanted Jesus to have two Y chromosomes, your argument is no more sound and valid than one that states, because God can do anything, it’s possible he gave that tree in your front yard an X and Y chromosome. While possible, it is not likely.

    Thank you for continuing this conversation. I like the challenge, and appreciate your civility and responsiveness.

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