Transgender Teen Named Homecoming Queen

It’s amazing that stories like the one above are becoming more and more commonplace. The report is about a young man in California who was recently chosen by his classmates to be the homecoming queen. The boy identifies as transgender—which means that he is biologically male but wishes to identify as a female.

The administration and his classmates have embraced his transition so enthusiastically that they have assigned him this most feminine of honors. Even the reporter refers to him consistently as “she” and “her”—as if the matter were cut and dry, settled beyond any reasonable doubt. And that is what makes this story so remarkable—that so many want to make it unremarkable.

One of the great worldview clashes that we face as Christians is the notion that gender is merely a social construct with no normative connection to biological sex. In this way of thinking, a person is whatever they think themselves to be. If a girl perceives herself to be a boy, then she is one even if her biology says otherwise. If a boy perceives himself to be a girl, then he is one even if his biology says otherwise. Gender is self-determined, not determined by the biological realities that the Creator has embedded into every cell in our bodies.

So one of the great challenges that we must overcome is the notion that thinking makes it so. When it comes to who we are as male and female, the matter is determined entirely by God quite apart from how we feel. At the end of the day, it’s an issue of revelation and authority, and the spirit of the age is casting off both.

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[An earlier report gives a closer look at this child’s story. Notice how the report frames the story to normalize the transgender experience.]

13 Responses to Transgender Teen Named Homecoming Queen

  1. James Bradshaw September 23, 2013 at 10:54 pm #

    Even as a gay man, I struggle to understand what life is like for the transgendered. I’m honestly quite happy as a male and don’t quite get what it is like to be in conflict with one’s own physicality.

    At the same time, we must realize that there are true biological anomalies. People are sometimes born “intersexed” (having indeterminate sex organs or sometimes both). What are we to make of these individuals, and how should they be raised? Find the dominant gender (if possible) and, if it’s male, give them a football and a hunting rifle and, if female, an apron and curling iron?

    Many conservatives often say that men are men and women are women not just because of biology but because of other traits. So what are those traits? What if someone born with male sex organs has those traits of the opposite gender in regards to psychology and personality? What are they to do? Pretend they don’t exist?

    I understand the discomfort over this … I really do. Yet, I’m reluctant to label these people as “wicked” merely because of the hand they were dealt. Gender is not just a matter of the body. It’s also a matter of the mind. In that regard, I agree with conservatives. For some reason, they just don’t seem to want to make that statement when it comes to the transgendered.

    • Denny Burk September 23, 2013 at 11:46 pm #

      James,

      Intersex is a catch-all term for a variety of conditions known as Disorders of Sex Development (DSD). The conditions are not monolithic but have a variety manifestations. The common element that most people point to is the presence of ambiguous genitalia or other indeterminate secondary sex characteristics. At the chromosomal level, however, I would argue that the situation is not indeterminate. Many recent treatment protocols recognize that the presence of a Y chromosome indicates male sex and the absence of a Y chromosome seems to indicate female–despite ambiguities in secondary sex characteristics and whether the child has procreative ability.

      Having said that, transgender and intersex conditions are apples and oranges. There is nothing ambiguous in the sexual biology of a transgender person. And the fundamental biological distinction is the key point in understanding manhood and womanhood biblically defined.

      Thanks,
      Denny

      • Paul Reed September 25, 2013 at 8:38 am #

        But is the presence of a Y chromosome is really the absolute determinant between male and female. Or is this just one arbitrary way we’ve chosen, and in no way a standard. It’s certainly not a Biblical standard.

  2. Adam Omelianchuk (@AdamOmelianchuk) September 24, 2013 at 9:57 am #

    Denny,

    As a philosopher, I am curious about what you mean by a “normative connection to biological sex.” Suppose that substance dualism is true (and we have reason to believe it is true via biblical texts), and the soul is a necessary constituent for biological development. Suppose too that souls are gendered, that is, there are male and female souls. Given that we live in a fallen world where there are birth defects, could it be possible that a female soul develops in a male body by virtue of some birth defect? If so, this might explain why some biologically distinct men “feel like women.” But if what you are saying is correct about a normative connection to biological sex, this ought not be the case. Perhaps you think it is impossible for the sort of birth defect to happen, or if you do, it is just too bad–one ought to allow biology to determine one’s destiny as a gendered being. But why favor the body over the soul in this case? Either way, I’d love to hear what you have to say.

  3. buddyglass September 24, 2013 at 10:03 am #

    Is it just a little ironic that homosexuality is attributed almost entirely to environment and/or conscious choice whereas gender is viewed as deriving almost entirely from biology?

    I suspect one of the reasons transgender folks feel the emotional / psychological need to identify as a member of the opposite sex may be that they are sufficiently atypical of their native group that they’re made to feel as if they don’t belong. Feeling a (normal) need to belong somewhere they choose to identify with the opposite sex. To the extent the message is communicated, “To be a {man|woman} you have act like X, Y and Z, and you have to like A, B and C,” we may push folks who don’t match the stereotype into questioning their identity as a {man|woman}.

    To some extent homosexuality may wok the same way. Gay men and women don’t stop viewing themselves as men and women, but identifying as “gay” is to choose to belong to a different community: one that may be more accepting of sex-atypical characteristics.

  4. Don Johnson September 24, 2013 at 10:13 am #

    I disagree with Denny’s simplistic conclusions above.

    There are people that have a Y chromosome but have androgen insensitivity syndrome. In other words, the so-called male hormone has no effect on their bodies at all and externally they appear female, in fact, many appear hyperfeminine like a supermodel. My take is that all Intersex people need our compassion and to try to tell them anything that they should be doing or not doing in this area based on what someone else thinks should be their reality is not compassionate, since we have no idea what is it is like to be them.

    • Denny Burk September 24, 2013 at 12:04 pm #

      Don,

      With AIS, there is an XY chromosomal make-up and the internal organs are still male. It is the external reproductive features that are malformed. This is a tragic, difficult condition, and those who experience it are in need of our compassion, love, and understanding. But that doesn’t preclude us from helping them to see that they are essentially male in spite of ambiguities in external features.

      Denny

      • Don Johnson September 24, 2013 at 1:20 pm #

        If you think that, then you need to read more articles about this situation, they are available on the Internet. You propose a kind of chromosome essentialism to gender (if a Y chromosome is there, then this person is male) but things are more complex than that. I agree that in AIS there is an undeveloped male sex organ, but NO ONE looking at such people would think they are anything but female and since the so-called male hormone does not work on them but the so-called female hormones do, they see themselves as female. If this makes for messiness in one’s theology of biology, then sobeit. I would never try to tell such a person anything about what they are supposed to be gender-wise. In other words, we may want to live in a world where everyone has well-defined genders, but such is not the world we live in and wishing to make it so can be anything but helpful.

        • Alistair Robertson September 24, 2013 at 3:57 pm #

          Don, you bring up an interesting point about the outward physical characteristics. If my understanding is correct, then it has not been until recently that we have been able to determine whether a person had a y chromosome. Christians in the NT, then, would not have access to that information and so would consider the outward physicality to determine a person’s gender, and would consider it wrong for anyone to determine that a person who looks like a female is actually a male, whether they had a y chromosome or not.

          Now, for evangelical Christians that ought to be an important point. While New Testament Christians were far from perfect, it is difficult to imagine the Apostles ministering to a person who looked female and telling them they ought to pursue masculinity, and yet if Denny’s definition is correct, that’s exactly what they should have done.

          So, I invite clarification. I may be drawing conclusions without enough information, but at this stage I agree Denny’s use of the y chromosome to determine gender is weak.

  5. Jordan McMailer September 24, 2013 at 4:07 pm #

    If person no longer “identifies” as human, will he/she be given the rights of animals (or whatever else we “identify” as? If biology is not the definition of male/female, what is the definition of human?

    • James Bradshaw September 24, 2013 at 10:32 pm #

      Jordan, are there differences between men and women besides reproductive anatomy?

      Those who favor rigid gender roles would say absolutely yes. Women are more “nurturing”. Men are more “aggressive” by nature. Women provide a certain kind of parenting that men cannot provide by virtue of their being women.

      The transgendered (ironically) seem to agree with all of this. It’s a matter of “soul”, not merely anatomy.

  6. Nathan Cesal September 25, 2013 at 11:00 am #

    Social constructs have been built around biological norms, but those norms aren’t a biological necessity. Some people (a small percentage) find themselves caught between their atypical biological makeup and the beliefs of society, community, family, and maybe even their own belief. Denny seems to have some empathy for those whose differences can’t be thought of as chosen, like the genital appearance at birth, but he can’t fathom that transgenderism and atypical sexual orientation could have similar biological causes.

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