Objection: True Masculinity/Femininity

Among Christians opposing transgenderism and homosexuality is a repeated theme, that we don't have a proper sense of what it truly means to be truly masculine or feminine. Actually, femininity rarely comes up because the Church still suffers from its sexist legacy and is much more concerned that masculinity be protected and most writers and speakers are men anyway. Ever since first-wave feminism they have felt threatened by changing ideas about gender, and especially since the second-wave. The beautiful irony is that they almost never mention what true femininity or masculinity are. This is another example an accusation that is made on assumptions which are never articulated; the primary audience for all this is those who also support the general discrimination against trans people and so already have the same assumption so they need no explanation. So what is this "true gender?" When it does come up, it seems (and I say seems because it's either brief or not directly connected with transgenderism) to be one of the following.


Feminists sometimes call themselves egalitarians because conservatives are very good at taking a name like "Feminism" and demonizing it. But that's another article. Feminism simply means to treat everyone fair and equal and we do that by treating each other as individuals rather than stereotyping them into our genders. It is not, as opponents claim, making men and women identical; it is refusing to let our sex determine our destiny. It has great overlap with transgenderism. In this view, what is masculine or feminine may influence our language, politics, or introspection, what it cannot be used as a moral guide. I, along with the trans community, vastly favor feminism over anything else.

In college I helped found an feminist group on campus, a chapter of Christians for Biblical Equality. There was an egalitarian prof who came to our meetings and even asked me to lecture his class on the topic. When I came out to him, he was very concerned that I was "giving up" on feminism and settling for sexism, thinking that I was interpreting that my feminine traits had to make me female.

Complimentarianism / Implicit Sexism

Referred to as Complimentarian by those who believe it because men and women are equal, but men are more equal than women. Essentially, women do some roles and men do other roles, but neither is superior to the other. Yet when only one group, men, get all the powerful, spiritual, and enjoyable roles and, oh yes, the people who make all these decisions are also men, can you believe for a moment this is equality? It's no coincidence either that "superior" means both "better than" and "authority over," and complimentarians clearly give men authority over women. But I digress.

This group will support that there are particular gender roles and personality traits assigned to each sex. The assignments come because they believe the people with ovaries truly are better at raising children and people with penises have a natural talent for hunting animals.  They tend to stop short of hyper-masculinity. So while the husband may be the breadwinner, he may still need to cooperate on cleaning dishes. But that's a grey line.

One form of transgenderism is hopelessly opposed to this idea. Transexualism, however, is quite compatible with it, depending on the transexual. If you're a FtM who naturally has many of the characteristics, it is possible for a complimentarian to think you actually are a man. After all, if only men are masculine and you are genuinely masculine, there's only one logical outcome. However, that grey line I mentioned is skilled at moving in just the right way to always include genetic males and exempt everyone else. If you're hyper-masculine, you might be accused of faking it. That's why I think it's better to abandon complimentarian altogether in favor of feminism.

Explicit Sexism

I suspect there is far more of this than Christians let on. I differentiate this from being implicitly sexist because these people actually realize they believe males are superior. However, because it's not politically correct, they rarely say it out loud. While this is the least convincing to anyone who doesn't believe it already, it's notoriously the hardest one to argue. Maybe the person is older, maybe they're secluded by too many people who reinforce their ideas, or maybe they're just stubborn. Maybe they actually have good reasons but I've never had a conversation with someone sexist.

Symbolic Sexism

Not too many people use symbols for a reason for anything, so you probably won't run into this kind of thinking unless you're reading something pretty old. Or C. S. Lewis. That might be a shame because it is far better than complimentarianism which seems to be symbolism's daughter. Symbolism, applied to gender, gives the idea that being

Gender Defender Ideology

The gender defenders rarely give a clue of what they believe. Taking any position will alienate some potential recruits, so they stick to "being male is being a man" which everyone can agree on. Once in a while, their thoughts leak out.  In a personal email, Jerry Leach says,

If they want to be women so badly, they should have to take it ALL... menstruation, pms, pregnancy, 3am feedings, menopause, headaches, poopy diapers, vomit down your left leg at 4am, daily house-cleaning, laundry each & every day, (not just when you feel like doing it!); doing the grocery shopping with a tired three year old; and having the meal ready by the time your spouse gets home. You know, ... the WHOLE package. That would eliminate the demand for SRS once and for all! (Ongoing Correspondence)

It is down-right pathetic to believe a vagina is God's way of telling us who's supposed to cook, clean, and take care of the kids. This is complimentarianism. It is an archaic version, but it is complimentarianism nonetheless.  Glenn Stanton, on the other hand, embraces housework. True masculinity is not described even this well, though the cowboy symbol and book Wild at Heart are brought up repeatedly.  One problem with complementarianism is the line is always changing. At one point, the line meant women couldn't vote, own property, or say refuse sex to their husbands. Later, it meant barefoot and pregnant. Later, it meant you could be the president of the United States, so long as you didn't do any preaching in churches while you campaigned. A hundred years from now, complementarians will be defending yet another line, just as arbitrary as every other.