There aren't many topics right now that are getting a bigger spotlight than the issue of transgenderism in our current society and it seems that not much time passes before a new debate arises over a specific situation; like “what about a person who identifies as a woman, but is biologically male in a women's restroom?” This issue is of a moral nature, and I think that many Christians are confused about it. In “What Jesus really said about Homosexuality” I brought to light a verse that often gets overlooked:
“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:36–40, ESV)Jesus is referencing all the commandments of the law and saying that one cannot love God or their neighbor, unless they uphold all of the principals found in the Moral Law, that is, the non-ceremonial law of the Old Testament. In the Old Testament, we see that God originally made mankind in two distinct sexes: Male and Female. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27, ESV) This same truth is repeated again in the New Testament: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28, ESV) Notice that this verse covers all the differences, in other words, there is no “in between” Jew or Greek, nor “in-between” slave or free person, and neither is there an “in-between” male or female. In Paul’s mind, a person is either a male or female—period. There are no others as far as Jesus is concerned either: “He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female,” (Matthew 19:4, ESV) So, in a Christian worldview, there are only two sexes.
With that established, we can move on to another question... because no person who identifies as a transgender claims they are a different sex, they only claim to be a gender that is not the same as their sex. So the question we need to ask is “Can the mind/soul of a person be a different gender than the sex of the body in which they inhabit?” Can the gender of a person be separated from their sex? Scripture seems to indicate that it is not the soul/mind that determines the “real gender,” but rather - the body:
“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.” (Deuteronomy 22:5, ESV)This is often explained by commentators as being a violation of God’s original intent to have a distinction of the two sexes:
“The adoption of clothing of the opposite sex was forbidden because it obscured the distinction of the sexes and thus violated an essential part of the created order of life (Gen. 1:27). It was also perhaps associated with or promoted homosexuality. The same Hebrew word translated detests (tô‘ēḇâh, lit., “a detestable thing“; kjv, “an abomination“) is used to describe God’s view of homosexuality (Lev. 18:22; 20:13). Also some evidence exists that transvestism may have been connected with the worship of pagan deities. Since this law was related to the divine order of Creation and since God detests anyone who does this, believers today also ought to heed this command.”In the New Testament, Paul assumes an objective view of masculinity which is connected intrinsically to the body in encouraging Apollos and the “brothers”: “Now concerning our brother Apollos, I strongly urged him to visit you with the other brothers, but it was not at all his will to come now. He will come when he has opportunity. Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” (1 Corinthians 16:12–13, ESV) Notice he tells biological men to “act like men.” Paul thinks that males should reflect the gender of their sex. Paul also warns those who would attempt to accommodate the role of a gender that is not conformed to their body: “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals,” (1 Corinthians 6:9, NASB95) Let’s look deeper at this verse and what it has to do with transgenderism. The Greek here in verse 9 is very interesting because there is an interesting phrase: “nor effeminate” or “οὔτε μαλακοὶ” which transliterated is “oute malakoi.” Paul is intentionally including both passive and dominant homosexual practices in this verse. Robert Gagnon, an expert on sexuality and the Bible, explains: “Paul includes “soft men” (malakoi) in the offender list in 1 Cor 6:9-10, which in context designates men who attempt to become women (through dress, mannerisms, makeup, and sometimes castration), often to attract male sex partners. The fact that Paul includes such persons among those who “shall not inherit the kingdom of God” suggests that acting on a desire to become the opposite sex can in fact affect one’s redemption.” So the Bible institutes a view of self in which the gender you are is reflective of the sex you were born with.
Another question may arise in your mind, however, and I think it needs to be addressed here. Maybe you're thinking “I understand what you’re saying, but what if I have a male body, but I feel like I am a woman?” So, another way to put it, which I have heard before is: “I am a woman, trapped inside of a man’s body.” What is a follower of Jesus supposed to think about this? One thing that I must say at the outset, is that there is one thing I truly love about this statement— and that is that this statement must adhere to mind-body dualism. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy defines it this way: “Dualists in the philosophy of mind emphasize the radical difference between mind and matter. They all deny that the mind is the same as the brain, and some deny that the mind is wholly a product of the brain.” That means that any person who utters these words is, at least, tacitly adhering to the philosophy that there is a distinction between an immaterial mind ( or soul) and their body in which they inhabit. Surely one can’t say “I” am a _____ trapped in a _____ body,” unless there is an “I” separate and distinct from the “body.” One can’t “have” something in which they are. If my name is Jeff, I can’t have a Jeff— I AM Jeff! Likewise, when a person claiming to be transgender says that they are a “woman trapped inside of a man’s body,” they are affirming an immaterial self which is distinct from the body in which they inhabit. This is in opposition to a strict materialists view of the self that says you are the same as your physical brain. So five cheers for mind-body dualism! A more Christian way of thinking! But then what about those who genuinely feel as if they are not the identity of that which their bodies portray? I simply cannot think of a reason to think that your heart is correctly determining your gender if your body says otherwise. To use an analogy, if I genuinely felt that I was 7 feet tall, yet, when you saw me, you could tell that I was only 5 feet tall... would you look up to me when you were talking to me? Of course not! You would look in my eyes. You wouldn’t let me ride the big roller coasters at amusement parks either because of safety concerns. But why?! I’m transheight! What if I said that all the expectations and socially constructed requirements regarding height do not apply to me, because I’m transheight… Why in one case does my body determine what is true about me, but in another case my body is trumped by my feelings? There is an objectivity to the height, you say? And this is not the same in the case of gender? Some of you may say: “but gender is different from sex!” but isn’t that what is at question here? If reality in the case of gender can be self-assessed, regardless of physical anatomy, then the same could go for height. Let’s think more about the language used in speaking to people who identify as transgender. When someone says: “I am experiencing life as a woman, even though my sex is male” what are they referring too? Can anyone say: "I experience life as a woman" unless they have an objective sense of what a woman’s experience should feel like? They'd have to get that idea from a real, objective, biological woman.
Something every thinking person should consider who is contemplating about identifying as a transgender person is the staggering statistic of suicide attempts in the transgender community. Just meditate for a moment on the stark difference between suicide attempts of those claiming to be transgender compared to the population as a whole: “The prevalence of suicide attempts among respondents to the National Transgender Discrimination Survey (NTDS), conducted by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and National Center for Transgender Equality, is 41 percent, which vastly exceeds the 4.6 percent of the overall U.S. population who report a lifetime suicide attempt, and is also higher than the 10-20 percent of lesbian, gay and bisexual adults who report ever attempting suicide.” Some may think “this is obviously because of the outside pressure from an intolerant world!” But that would be a mistake, because the percentage of suicide attempts only drops 6% when the person identifying as a transgender feels as if no one ever notices, so we cannot say that societal pressures are the only problem. This data ought to cause every person thinking of self identifying as a gender that does not correspond to your biological sex to pause. If anything, this should alarm one who identifies as a transgender that taking steps to align my body and/or confirming my impulses is a psychologically unhealthy decision. I don’t say this to wound anyone, that is not my intent in this blog, but I do want the truth to be known. I don't want anyone to be deceived about anything concerning God’s Word or what He says about an issue that is clear in Scripture. I only speak these things out of love for my neighbors. I want to plead with you to stop trying to decide your own identity. Your true identity does not lie in your gender or your sexual orientation, but in who God says you are. His opinion simply surpasses any other opinion about who you are, even your own. He decides your worth, and you can trust that His decision is true and good. What is loving about telling someone they are not the gender they identify as? “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:4–7, ESV) Love cannot be separated from truth! Love doesn’t always feel good at first to the one who is hearing it. The reason we advocate that people’s gender identity should reflect the sex they are born with is because we love them. Jesus calls you to a life of fulfillment and completeness in Him. He calls you to a life of authenticity and truth. He calls you to a life of unspeakable joy. Yes, He may call you to a painful life, a life of carrying your cross, but not a miserable one, there is joy in the sacrifice, like a birth into new life. Some might wonder if God had made a “mistake” in their creation because they have “always felt this way.” But let me remind you that just because you may have always had a feeling does not mean that it is morally permissible to act on it, and in this case, it doesn’t mean that it is reflective of the truth about yourself. There are many variables to consider when someone reflects on past feelings regarding truth and morality. There are two distinct genders Biblically, and we should assume the gender in which our physical bodies reflect. If our feelings are not in tune with our bodies, then we should seek Gods face in prayer, and while we wait, honor Him in how we conduct ourselves, relying on His grace when we feel as if we are suffering. There is a sense in which a man, who might feel as if he is a woman on the inside, can glorify his Maker, by being what he was created to be, a man.
Some may be waiting, wondering, “what about hermaphrodites?!” To that, I will simply say that a hermaphrodite is not by definition transgender. A hermaphrodite has both sexual organs— and is not denying their body to identify themselves based upon a feeling. So the question has no bearing on the statements made above. However, to more fully answer the question, I will quote from britannica.com (emphasis mine): “In humans, conditions that involve discrepancies between external genitalia and internal reproductive organs are described by the term intersex. Intersex conditions are sometimes also referred to as disorders of sexual development (DSDs). Such conditions are extremely rare in humans. In true gonadal intersex (or true hermaphroditism), an individual has both ovarian and testicular tissue. The ovarian and testicular tissue may be separate, or the two may be combined in what is called an ovotestis. Affected individuals have sex chromosomes showing male-female mosaicism (where one individual possesses both the male XY and female XX chromosome pairs). Most often, but not always, the chromosome complement is 46,XX, and in every such individual there also exists evidence of Y chromosomal material on one of the autosomes (any of the 22 pairs of chromosomes other than the sex chromosomes). Individuals with a 46,XX chromosome complement usually have ambiguous external genitalia with a sizable phallus and are therefore often reared as males. However, they develop breasts during puberty and menstruate and in only rare cases actually produce sperm. In 46,XX intersex (female pseudohermaphroditism), individuals have male external genitalia but the chromosomal constitution and reproductive organs of a female. In 46,XY (male pseudohermaphroditism), individuals have ambiguous or female external genitalia but the chromosomal constitution and reproductive organs of a male, though the testes may be malformed or absent.Treatment of intersex in humans depends upon the age at which the diagnosis is made. Historically, if diagnosed at birth, the choice of sex was made (typically by parents) based on the condition of the external genitalia (i.e., which sex organs predominate), after which so-called intersex surgery was performed to remove the gonads of the opposite sex. The remaining genitalia were then reconstructed to resemble those of the chosen sex.” We see that hermaphroditism is a disorder, something that is not of the general rule. Yet, we ought not to think that God is not glorified by individuals who are born in this way: “As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.” (John 9:1–3, ESV) And we also see that normally, the gender of a person is, again, chosen by the external body, based upon predominate physical traits (and functionality). This is wholly different from a person engaging in a “sex-change” operation. In the case of the person claiming to be transgender, they are intentionally mutilating their body to function unnaturally, or contrary to which it was originated to function. However, in the case of a hermaphrodite, the body is operated on in an attempt to improve the functionality consistent with the perceived dominant sexual organs.  Walvoord, J. F., & Zuck, R. B., Dallas Theological Seminary. (1985). The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.  http://www.iep.utm.edu/dualism/  http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/AFSP-Williams-Suicide-Report-Final.pdf