This past December Pope Benedict XVI warned about the dangers of Gender Theory. Many people may be unaware of the various theories of gender and how each of them is in its own way an attack on reality. Part of the problem is that the theories are not logically consistent, and contradict one another. While the theories claim to be based on science, the studies they reference have been shown to either be invalid or to not support the claims made.
Before the 1950’s the word ‘sex’ referred to the reality of being male or female. Gender was a grammatical term. Some words have gender – masculine, feminine or neuter. In the 1950’s a new definition was given to Gender. Today there are several different and contradictory definitions.
1) Gender as a synonym for sex.
Many people assume that gender is a polite synonym for sex, preferable since sex is a shortened form of sexual intercourse.
2) Gender Perspective
According to the Gender Perspective, gender is different than sex. Sex refers only to the biological reality of male or female, gender refers to socially constructed roles which can change. While in principle there is nothing wrong with distinguishing between the biological reality and the cultural or personal expression of masculinity and femininity, those promoting mainstreaming the Gender Perspective hold that all social difference between men and women are the result of oppressive stereotypes and should be eliminated so that men and women participate in every activity of society in statistically equal numbers. While it is true that stereotypes have in the past prevented some from achieving their full potential, it is also true that there are real differences between men and women, particularly as regards motherhood and fatherhood. These differences affect the free choices of women and men and even when stereotypes and sex-based restrictions are eliminated, women and men can not be expected to achieve statistical equality.
3) Gender Identity and Gender Expression
There is a movement to add ‘gender identity and gender expression’ to anti-discrimination laws. Those promoting this argue that while sex is ‘assigned’ to a baby on the basis of observation of its genitals, some people do not accept this designation. Sex may be what you are biologically, but gender is what you think you are. For example, a biological male may argue that, while he has a man’s body, he believes he has a woman’s brain. He may want his body surgically altered to resemble that of a woman or simply to dress as a woman. He may claim to have changed sex and demand that his birth certificate and other documents be altered and that he be allowed to marry a man. However, some of the men who have been surgically altered to resemble women are still sexually attracted to women and claim to be lesbians. Some of the ‘transgendered’ may want to be accepted as the other sex even without surgical alterations
In the past persons who wanted to be or thought they actually were the other sex or who rejected clothing and interests of their own sex and adopted that of the other sex were considered to be suffering from Gender Identity Disorder (GID). Recently, this designation has been dropped in favor of Gender Dysphoria, reflecting the idea that there is nothing wrong with wanting to be the other sex so long as it doesn’t make you unhappy and that if society’s refusal to pretend you are the other sex makes you unhappy then society has to change. Including gender identity and expression in anti-discrimination laws would essentially prohibit people from refusing to pretend that people have changed their sex.
Some of those who go through so-called sex changes try to wipe out their pasts and pretend they have always been the sex they want to be. However, some find this continual deception difficult to sustain. While the transgendered may hope to find a sexual partner who accepts them as the sex they want to be, often they find this difficult and end up in a relationship with another transgendered person.
While those promoting the Gender Perspective want to eliminate masculine and feminine stereotypes, the transgendered adopt clothing and behavior which reflects narrow, stereotypical concepts, almost caricatures, of what it means to be a man or a woman.
Rejection of the reality of one’s sexual identity and the pursuit of mutilating surgery suggests a severe psychological disorder. It is neither charitable nor required for others to go along with the pretence of sex change.
Gender theory is constantly evolving and many of those who adopt some form of gender theory frequently change their self-identification. This has given rise to the ideology of GenderQueer, which is a rebellion against all restrictions on identity, behavior, and sexual activity. The GenderQueer claim a right to present themselves as male, female, or neither and to change their identity at any time and to have sex with persons of either sex. According to Riki Wilchins, writing in GenderQueer: Voices from beyond the sexual binary, “Gender is the new frontier: the place to rebel, to create new individuality and uniqueness, to defy old, tired, outdated social norms, and, yes, to occasionally drive their parents and sundry other authority figures crazy.” Society is under no obligation to encourage such rebellion.
While those pushing Gender theory insist that Sexual Orientation and gender are two separate categories, they are linked. Sexual Orientation distinguishes between persons based on to whom they are sexually attracted – their own sex (same sex attraction SSA), the other sex (other sex attraction OSA), both (bisexual). Many, but not every person with SSA, experienced GID as children and many continue to imitate the other sex in clothing or behavior. Many of those pushing Gender theory are or have been involved in same-sex sexual relationships.
In 1995 I warned the pro-family movement that using the word gender when we meant sex would have negative consequences. I reiterate my warning and strongly recommend that we refuse to say gender when we mean sex.