Politics & Policy

Transgenderism and the Abolition of Man

Mack Beggs at a girls’ wrestling competition in Cypress, Tx., February 24, 2017. (Photo: Eric Schell/Handout/via Reuters)
Try as they might, progressives cannot remake human nature.

Over the weekend, headlines out of Texas told of a transgender boy, Mack Beggs, who won a high-school state championship in the girls’ wrestling division.

To clarify the opening sentence, let me rewrite it: A biological female taking testosterone injections to “transition” from female to male overpowered competitors to rack up a 56–0 season record and then went on to win a state championship against other girls who were not taking strength-enhancing hormones.

Texas law — rightfully — requires individuals to compete in divisions based on the gender indicated on their birth certificate. In normal times, such a regulation would be uncontroversial. But we are not living in normal times. We are living in an era when political correctness demands that society accept, wholesale, the patent falsehood that men or boys who declare themselves to be women or girls (and vice versa) can actually be members of the opposite sex, simply based on how they interpret their own gender.

Several aspects of this story raise questions. What would happen, for instance, were Beggs to face off against biological males? In that scenario, Beggs would be fighting opponents who, based on biology alone, were likely to be stronger than virtually any girl, and Beggs would surely lose. Facing biological females, Beggs had the obvious advantage of taking hormones that provide strength most females do not possess, and Beggs would surely win.

The news out of Texas reveals the deep cultural confusion that follows from teaching that gender is fluid and not connected to one’s biological sex — an idea based on progressive ideology and not on empirically verifiable data.

As I write in my forthcoming book, God and the Transgender Debate, efforts to sever gender identity from biological sex will stir up many contradictions and much turmoil. Paradoxically, the push to accept transgenderism also undermines the very thing it seeks to affirm: manhood and womanhood.

The idea that women are one-half of the human species — and that “female” at its core is an objective and unalterable category — runs afoul of today’s zeitgeist. It also undermines the ability to value womanhood as something distinct and beautiful on its own terms. If anyone can become a woman, womanhood does not exist. And the same is true in the reverse circumstances involving men. In a transgender world, the blurring of the male and the female results in the abolition of authentic manhood and womanhood.

As C. S. Lewis wrote in The Abolition of Man: “When all that says ‘it is good’ has been debunked, what says ‘I want’ remains.” Lewis’s quip, written decades ago, was prescient, and his concern rings true today. Lewis is urging us to reckon with the nature we have, not the one we think we can manufacture. We can gladly accept this nature, with its limits, or we can attempt to throw it off in a power play that seeks to undermine the very concept of a natural order.

Mack Beggs, the student wrestler in the news, is not the problem in this story. No person made in the image of God, and therefore endowed with immeasurable worth and dignity, is ever a problem. From a Christian point of view, Mack Beggs is a biological female who has gender-identity issues that ought to be treated with psychological counseling and support. But Beggs will not receive such help, because Mack Beggs is actually a victim — a victim in a society peddling deception and confusion under the guise of tolerance and social justice. Society does not aid Beggs and thousands of other gender-confused persons by enabling falsehood.

Society does not aid Beggs and thousands of other gender-confused persons by enabling falsehood.

Ultimately, the path our culture is going down is not sustainable. Contradictions and deceptions do not come without tradeoffs. How long until colleges can begin recruiting transgender students of one biological sex to compete in a college sport of a different biological sex? This is not fear-mongering or empty conjecturing. It will happen. If a competitive edge can be found, someone will find it and exploit it so that in the future a biological male who identifies as female will have the opportunity to play on a women’s basketball team if criteria — established by a panel of “experts” — are met. This is just one example of the tragic consequences we invite when we cede the definition of human nature to progressives.

Man is not a machine that can be remade in his own image according to his own will. That’s what this debate is ultimately about — whether man is a creature or a creator, a being with a fixed nature, or an Übermensch who makes Faustian bargains in a limitless quest for personal power at the expense of true human identity.

Andrew T. Walker is an Associate Professor of Christian Ethics at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Executive Director of the Carl F. H. Henry Institute for Evangelical Engagement.


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