“Trans Rights Are Human Rights!”
In June 2020 the Pride Flag was displayed at the US embassy in Moscow. When questioned about this, the American ambassador to Russia explained, “LGBTI rights are human rights. And human rights are universal.”
Rewind thirteen years. Early in 2007, a group of LBGT activists from various countries gathered for a conference in an exquisite resort in Indonesia. These self-styled “human rights experts” demanded that human rights principles should be applied in every nation to the concepts of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” (now known as the “Yogyakarta Principles”). Sexual orientation, in their estimation, included any type of sexual preference. They defined “gender identity” as each person’s deeply felt internal and individual experience of “gender,” which may or may not correspond to the sex assigned at birth.
These self-professed experts had no official status, but claimed that people had a human right to change their sexual identity (including birth certificates and other documentation) on the basis of “internal and individual experience.” Various governments began to enshrine into law the idea that LGBT rights are “human rights.”
Christians uphold the dignity of every human being as made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26–28). As I have argued elsewhere, Christians have been at the forefront of defending human dignity and protecting human life throughout history. Every human being, made in the image of God, should be treated with respect (and so be afforded human rights such as the right not to be treated unjustly).
But the statement “trans rights are human rights” assaults truth and reality. It implies that we all have a right to choose our own “gender identity” (on the basis of “deeply felt experience”). A man claiming to be a woman can demand to participate in female sports and to enter women’s spaces such as restrooms. To refuse his claims may be classified as “wrongful discrimination.” He can demand that his wife regard him as a woman, and his children treat him as a mother. If he rapes a woman, he may be sent to a female jail.
To accept “trans rights as human rights” means if a child decides to identify as the opposite sex, his parents risk losing custody if they refuse to support that decision. If a church offers counseling to help a gender-confused person accept their biological sex, they may face legal action. “Mis-gendering” someone is regarded as violence. To say that a woman cannot be a man is viewed as wrongful discrimination. Genesis 1:27 is viewed as hate speech.
In 2018, British judges, dealing with the case of a Christian doctor who’d been dismissed because of his conscientious belief that sex is immutable, ruled that: “belief in Genesis 1:27, lack of belief in transgenderism, and conscientious objection to transgenderism in our judgment are incompatible with human dignity” (Dr. David Mackereth v The Department for Work and Pensions & Advanced Personnel Management Group).
How did we get here? If you control the language, you control the debate. “Gender theory” has gained acceptance by constructing a false vocabulary. The word gender has been hijacked. It’s sometimes used simply to describe the social roles enacted by men and women, but those social roles arise from, and are linked to, the physical reality of being male or female.
The word gender is misused when it implies that someone’s “real identity” can be separated from bodily reality. The idea that we all have a “gender identity” that may be different from our biological sex is not based on science. If someone asks, “What is your gender?” the accurate answer would be to give your biological sex. You are either a man or a woman. To be male or female is not merely about having particular body parts — or even surgically constructed substitutes. It is written into the DNA of every cell of your body.
The false vocabulary of “gender theory” includes “assigned” at birth, transphobia, cisgender, and a wide array of gender-neutral pronouns. These terms echo the lie that there is a divide between our biological sex and our so-called gender identity.
Those who are suffering from real gender confusion should be treated with respect and compassion. All too often Christians stop there, and hesitate to challenge the false teaching that is causing such confusion. “Gender theory” is just a symptom of a virus that’s corrupted our culture.
Around a century ago a small group of intellectuals sought to initiate a revolution. Institutions, values, family, morality, church, law, government — all were viewed as the means by which groups with power and privilege oppressed everyone else. Today, some even regard science as a tool the privileged use to reinforce oppression. The “universe of meaning” could be smashed down by dividing society into competing identity groups, and defining words as “tools of oppression.” If words no longer have universal meaning, we end up in a society where two and two can equal five, if that’s what you believe. Just as a boy can be a girl.
In George Orwell’s chilling dystopian novel 1984, the “heresy of heresies” is common sense. The Party forces people to reject the evidence of their eyes and ears. That is “their final, most essential command.” All have to play along with doublethink, holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them. Awakening to the grotesque tyranny of the Party, the protagonist, Winston, realizes that freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two makes four. If that is granted, all else follows.
But the Party claims power to reprogram “false consciousness.” Winston is not allowed to speak truth, or even believe truth.
Today, freedom must include the freedom to believe, and say, that a man cannot be a woman. A boy cannot be a girl. A “trans woman” (biologically male) is not a woman however he identifies.
The theory that “binary is bad” and that we can construct our own gendered identity is an attack on humanity as made in the image of God, male and female. It represents defiance towards God himself, and an assault on the authority of his word.
After the creation of man and woman, God declared that his creation was very good. Our creation design teaches us that God has made us male and female to reflect his glory. This foundational creation reality is transcultural and atemporal. The dignity of the human body is underlined by the glory of the incarnation. Christ, the eternal Word, became man, born of a woman. Scripture will not allow the false split between sex and so-called gender. To demand a genderless body is to unravel the creation design and go back to chaos. When human beings, endowed with reason by our Creator God, embrace delusion, it is a sign of his wrath (2 Thessalonians 2:11).
We are to be confident in the glory of God’s truth in an age that seeks to deny absolute truth. Many around us have bought into lies. Many lives have been ruined. But Christ came to redeem ruined humanity from all the effects of the fall. We have been placed here for such a time as this: to stand for truth, and to hold out God’s wonderful free offer of grace.