Full honest disclosure up front. The best grade in my most recent academic foray into pastoral counselling was C+. My track record though in biblical languages, especially philosophy/critical thinking is quite enviable.
We have been so accustomed to seeing/hearing the term ‘transgender’ that most of us (including me) have failed to give a critical look at the application of gender to persons.
Recently I stumbled upon an article that prompted academic pause in me and I think the heart of the article deserves wider and deep consideration. Andrew Sibley of Creation.com urges the point:
“There are essentially two sexes, male and female (although due to genetic conditions rarely some are born as eunuchs). Gender relates to the grammar of languages, whereby words may be masculine, feminine or neuter. But this grammatical terminology has been imported into the discussion by pressure groups and adds to the confusion. People are now said to have a sex and gender. If one’s sex aligns with gender then a person is said to be cis-gender, if it does not align, then transgender.”( emphasis added)
(“Creation, the image of God, and campaigns to ban ‘conversion therapy’”, creation.com accessed August 12, 2022)
Please reject the temptation to dismiss his point out of hand. Ponder the traditional question, from eager parents in a birthing facility with reference to a newborn. Either ‘What sex [is it]? Or ’boy or girl?’ This is a query about sex not about gender. The answer from an appropriate medical staffer is informed by genitalia – penis evident, a boy, vagina evident, a girl, both present, in older times, hermaphrodite, currently. intersex.
Have you ever seen or heard of any designation called intergender? Nor have I, which is simply an admission of our limited knowledge since, in our mixed-up world this may be known by clinicians who are better informed than we are.
Sibley’s point is on the money. Gender relates to the grammar of languages and language students are quite familiar with parsing nouns/pronouns, adjectives and participles and required to indicate the gender of these aspects of the language being studied.
In all my years of studies in English, Latin, and Spanish in High School, French and German for graduate studies in England and of teaching Hebrew and New Testament Greek, I have never seen a textbook asking about the sex of any word in any language I was studying or teaching.
Might it not be then that the modern world has allowed specialists in the helping professions (Psychologists, Psychiatrists, et al) to foist upon us, indefensibly, a term reserved for grammar as a term when dealing with the sex of humans?
Put differently, without much push back, we have given credibility and priority to an arbitrary and fluid term (gender) over the proper term (sex). Gender is undeniably subjective while sex is undeniably objective, being based on chromosomes, etc.
It should be of concern that gender is largely determined by the client and the clinician simply accepts that as a settled diagnosis!
When a clinician encounters a client who is chromosomally and by genitalia male but who wishes to be female thus matching the individual’s feelings, what then? Simple some would say, help the client to be how he feels.
As I mischievously raised in another piece, what if a client regardless of sex says she or he feels like a dog (and so trans genus in feelings)? What then? Or the client thinks or feels she is a poached egg, what then? Acceptance or treat a client with a species of psychosis?Perhaps grammarians and psycho-clinicians need an overdue professional dialogue on gender.