The Importance of Biological Intent

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According to the Intersex Society of North America, “‘Intersex’ is a general term used for a variety of conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male.”[1] The U.S. National Library of Medicine divides intersex into four categories:

  • 46, XX intersex—“The person has the chromosomes of a woman, the ovaries of a woman, but external (outside) genitals that appear male. This most often is the result of a female fetus having been exposed to excess male hormones before birth.”[2]
  • 46, XY intersex—“The person has the chromosomes of a man, but the external genitals are incompletely formed, ambiguous, or clearly female. Internally, testes may be normal, malformed, or absent.”[3]
  • True gonadal intersex—“The person must have both ovarian and testicular tissue. This may be in the same gonad (an ovotestis), or the person might have 1 ovary and 1 testis. The person may have XX chromosomes, XY chromosomes, or both. The external genitals may be ambiguous or may appear to be female or male.”[4]
  • Complex or undetermined intersex—“Many chromosome configurations other than simple 46, XX or 46, XY can result in disorders of sex development. These include 45, XO (only one X chromosome), and 47, XXY, 47, XXX – both cases have an extra sex chromosome, either an X or a Y. These disorders do not result in a condition where there is discrepancy between internal and external genitalia. However, there may be problems with sex hormone levels, overall sexual development, and altered numbers of sex chromosomes.”[5]

Despite the transgender community’s dependence upon intersex in their efforts to disprove the gender binary, the Intersex Society of North America readily acknowledges that “many intersex people are perfectly comfortable adopting either a male or female gender identity and are not seeking a genderless society or to label themselves as a member of a third gender class.”[6] Intersex people are still born male or female, even if their anatomy is not considered to be typically male or female.[7] As Darreact notes in an article at Darwinian Reactionary, “Sex is a functional biological norm, and individuals can deviate from this norm in many different ways. … And so, being a male isn’t whether you are XY, it is whether you are supposed to be XY; it is whether this is what would have been the biologically normal result had the process that determines sex worked as designed.”[8]

The presence of the Y chromosome is supposed to trigger a whole series of events that will result in a biologically distinct male. Just because something may interfere with and distort the original design, such that it does not function in the way it was intended, does not negate the fact that it was supposed to have a specific function. This is why we speak of brain damage, heart deformities, sterile sperm, and other such abnormalities by using qualifiers which indicate that something is failing to function according to its biological intent.[9] The heart remains a heart; the sperm remains a sperm, and the brain remains a brain, even if they are not functioning properly. A deformed heart remains a heart, even if it is an exception to the norm. Likewise, a person’s biological sex remains male or female, even if it is an exception to the norm and does not function according to its biological intent.

An analogous example is the story of Jaxon Buell who was born with a rare birth defect that occurs when the beginnings of the nervous system develop incorrectly. This condition prevented most of Jaxon’s brain from forming, leaving half his skull flat.[10] Most likely, he will never be capable of talking and of walking independently.[11] Nevertheless, he remains human. Without most of a brain, he does not fit into the normal classification for humans, but the mere fact that his brain did not develop according to its biological intent does not negate his humanity. In the same way, the mere fact that sex organs may not develop according to their biological intent does not negate a person’s biological gender.

This article comes from Transitioning: A Biblical Understanding of Transgenderism.

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Timothy Zebell

As a former missionary to Asia for twelve years and the author of several books, Timothy is passionate about helping people understand the relevancy of God's Word in today's world. His goals are to help Christians discern truth from error, empower Christians to speak into cultural matters with relevancy, and to help Christians capitalize on the opportunities that these matters provide for sharing the truth about God and His gospel message.
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1. Intersex Society of North America. “What Is Intersex?” n.d. Accessed May 25, 2016.

2. Medline Plus. “Intersex.” n.d. Accessed May 25, 2016.

3. Medline.

4. Medline.

5. Medline.

6. Intersex Society of North America. “Why Doesn’t ISNA Want to Eradicate Gender?” n.d. Accessed May 25, 2016.

7. Intersex Society of North America. “What’s the Difference between Being Transgender or Transsexual and Having an Intersex Condition?” n.d. Accessed May 25, 2016.

8. Darreact. “Sex Is Not a Social Construct.” Darwinian Reaction Blog, October 21, 2015. Accessed May 30, 2016.

9. Darreact.

10. “Presents Pile up for ‘Miracle Baby’ Born Missing Most of His Brain.” News. CBS News, December 25, 2015, 6:08 p.m. Accessed June 22, 2016.

11. Wright, David, Jackie Pou and Lauren Effron. “Florida ‘Miracle Baby’ Born without Most of His Brain Beating the Odds.” Health. ABC News, October 19, 2015, 7:46 p.m. Accessed June 22, 2016.


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.