As we usher in 2019, millions of people throughout the nation are crafting new year resolutions. In New York City, some of these resolutions include changing the gender on their birth certificates to “X.” A “New York City law allows nonbinary and gender-nonconforming people to change their birth certificates from the M or F designated at birth to X with a personal affidavit. No document from a doctor is required.”
Signed into law on September 12, 2018, this change took effect on January 1, 2019, making New York City the fifth place to permit this change. Like California, Oregon, Washington, and New Jersey, New York City has embraced the belief that gender/sex is a state of mind, and it is possible for some people to be born into a body that does not match their brain. However, both science and the Bible teach us that we are far more than our identity, and it is impossible to be born into the wrong body.
When reality is divorced from objective truth, anything becomes possible. In seeking to answer the question, “Is it possible to be born in the wrong body?” Transgender Trend writes:
The idea that the brain and body are split, and that it is possible to have the brain of one sex and the body of the opposite, is a very recent idea which is unsupported by any credible scientific evidence.
Body and brain are interconnected; there is no separate innate “gender” area of the brain which is fixed at birth. Children’s brains are very plastic; they develop through interaction with people and the environment and they are constantly absorbing information and influences which shape them.
Research in neuroscience consistently confirms that there is no “male” or “female” brain and that all children are born with the potential to develop their own unique characteristics of behaviour, interests, talents and personality, regardless of their biological sex.
Our experiences and habits restructure our brains, thereby establishing and influencing our personality, mannerisms, preferences, and ways of thinking. The brain and the body work in tandem, each influencing the other. The idea that the true essence of our selves can be reduced to neural synapsis firing in our brains, unaffected by and distinct from the remainder of our physical bodies, harkens back to the ancient teaching of Gnosticism—a false teaching frequently refuted by the New Testament writers. Theologian R.C. Sproul writes, “The Greeks viewed man as a creature locked in a conflict between two opposing and irreconcilable substances, the body and the soul. To the Greek the soul is eternal and good, the body is temporal and intrinsically imperfect. For Plato the nonmaterial ideal realm is the realm of the good. The physical is at best an imperfect receptacle or copy of the ideal. Hence the view emerged in Greek philosophy that the body is the prison house of the soul. Redemption means the release of the soul from the body.”
Put another way, Jesse Johnson writes, “Gnostics were a first-century cult that taught that matter didn’t matter. More precisely, they held that our physical bodies were vulgar and thus lacked value, while our inner spiritual state represented true reality.” Recognizing the parallels between Gnosticism and transgenderism, Russell Moore warns against falling prey to this cultural narrative of transgenderism, “This narrative is rooted in the ancient heresy of Gnosticism, with the idea that the “real” self is separate from who one is as an embodied, material being. Body parts and chromosomal patterns are dispensable since the self is radically disconnected from the body, the psychic from the material. The old Gnostic heresy is joined with contemporary expressive individualism—the idea that I must be true to whomever I perceive my ‘real me’ to be on the inside in order to be ‘authentic.’”
In reality, our true selves are not merely a neural network of electrical impulses firing inside our brains. In fact, the near-death experience of Pam Reynolds indicates that human consciousness may be housed somewhere outside the brain. In his book The Supernatural Worldview, Christian apologist Chris Putnam recounts, “Reynolds endured an exotic surgical procedure called “Operation Standstill” to remove a life-threatening aneurysm on her brain stem. The procedure entails stopping the heart, and the blood is drained from the brain to allow the aneurysm to be removed. Even more, the body temperature is lowered to 60 degrees while fully anesthetized with sound-emitting earplugs to verify flat brainwave activity on an EEG.” Despite the fact that Reynold’s heart was stopped, her brain was drained of blood, and her brainwave activity was flat-lined, Reynolds was later able to describe conversations that the doctors had during her operation and the surgical tools they used which hadn’t been revealed before her operation. Chris Putnam writes, “Neuroscientist Mario Beauregard argues that her case suggests that ‘mind, consciousness and self can continue when the brain is no longer functional and the clinical criteria of death have been reached.’ In other words, this seriously challenges the materialist paradigm, which entails that the mind is simply a product of electrochemical brain processes.”
We are more than the product of our brains. The Bible teaches in 1 Thessalonians 5:23 that we are a combination of body, soul, and spirit, “Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Where each of these begins and ends may be beyond our ability to discern. Hebrews 4:12 teaches, “[T]he word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Regardless, we know that we are more than a physical body, and likewise, we are more than a spiritual being. According to the Bible, we are the combination of that which is spiritual, and that which is physical. As R.C. Sproul writes, “The Christian doctrine of substantial dichotomy is not dualistic. Man is not a dualism but a duality. That is, we have a real body (material substance) and a real soul (immaterial substance).” This is why we as Christians anticipate the resurrection of the dead. We know that although our spirit can exist apart from the body, we are not complete apart from our bodies. R.C. Sproul writes, “For the Christian, redemption is of the body, not from the body.”
When God created mankind, He first formed a body from the dust of the Earth. However, it was not until He breathed the breath of life into that body that the man became a living creature. Genesis 2:7 says, “[T]hen the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.” Our spirits are not pre-existing entities in search of physical bodies. Rather, God creates both our spirit and our body. As such, they are not misaligned. We cannot accidentally find ourselves in the wrong body.
Realizing this, personal feelings cannot determine our biological sex. The presence of a Y chromosome establishes an individual as male, and the absence of a Y chromosome establishes an individual as female. This is a biological certainty regardless of chromosome mutations and sex organ anomalies. Biology expert Regina Bailey explains:
In sex chromosomes, nondisjunction results in a number of abnormalities. Klinefelter syndrome is a disorder in which males have an extra X chromosome. The genotype for males with this disorder is XXY. People with Klinefelter syndrome may also have more than one extra chromosome resulting in genotypes which include XXYY, XXXY, and XXXXY. Other mutations result in males that have an extra Y chromosome and a genotype of XYY. … Tuner syndrome is a condition that affects females. Individuals with this syndrome, also called monosomy X, have a genotype of only one X chromosome (XO). Trisomy X females have an additional X chromosome and are also referred to as metafemales (XXX). (emphasis added)
There is no third gender. As Jesus says in Mark 10:6, “[F]rom the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’” Being in perfect agreement with one another, an individual’s sex is established by the objective standards of both biology and the Bible.
To be nonbinary or gender-nonconforming is to refuse to conform to the standards of science as established by God. It is a form of rebellion, and when we as a nation cater to it, we become culpable in God’s eyes. At some point, God’s patience will wear thin, and judgment will come upon those who share in this rebellion. Is this truly a wise way to begin the new year? Perhaps we as a citizenry should resolve to resist such rebellion in 2019 before this trend spreads to other states.
Related Paper: “Is Gender Identity Sufficient to Determine One’s Sex?“
This article is largely excerpted from the book Transitioning: A Biblical Understanding of Transgenderism.
1. Trotta, Daniel. “New York City Creates Gender-Neutral ‘X’ Option for Birth Certificates.” Reuters, October 9, 2018. Accessed January 2, 2019. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-lgbt-new-york/new-york-city-creates-gender-neutral-x-option-for-birth-certificates-idUSKCN1MJ2OP.
2. Carr, Grace. “New York Rings in New Year by Offering Gender Neutral Birth Certificates.” Daily Caller, January 2, 2019. Accessed January 2, 2019. https://dailycaller.com/2019/01/02/ny-gender-neutral-birth-certificates/.
3. Trotta, Daniel. “New York City Creates Gender-Neutral ‘X’ Option for Birth Certificates.”
4. “Born In the Wrong Body?” Transgender Trend. Accessed June 6, 2016. http://www.transgendertrend.com/born-in-the-wrong-body/.
5. Sproul, R.C. “The Origin of the Soul.” Tabletalk magazine, June 1, 1992. Accessed June 6, 2016. http://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/the-origin-of-the-soul/.
6. Johnson, Jesse. “Transgendered Gnosticism.” The Cripplegate blog, June 4, 2015. Accessed June 6, 2016. http://thecripplegate.com/transgendered-gnosticism/.
7. Moore, Russell. “What Should the Church Say to Bruce Jenner?” Russell Moore blog, April 24, 2015. Accessed June 6, 2016. http://www.russellmoore.com/2015/04/24/what-should-the-church-say-to-bruce-jenner/.
8. Putnam, Chris. The Supernatural Worldview, 158. Crane: Defender Publishing, 2014.
9. Ibid, 159.
10. Sproul, R.C. “The Origin of the Soul.”
12. Bailey, Regina. “Sex Chromosome Abnormalities.” About.com: Education, Last Updated May 26, 2016. Accessed June 6, 2016. http://biology.about.com/od/basicgenetics/a/aa110504a.htm.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.