Remarks on the nature of biological sex
In her critique of Dr. Richards’ lecture on “Gender Ideology and the Threat to Religious Liberty,” published in the Feb. 22 issue of The Cor Chronicle, Danielle Renfro argues that Dr. Jay Richards’ article was based on “half-truths.” To the contrary, she distorts Richard’s points and fails to acknowledge the shaky factual ground of her own arguments.
According to the author, Richards described the US founding as reflecting “Christian morals and ideals” that “were held, to some degree, by everyone.” That statement is true. Renfro, however, misses the point: The medical transitioning of children through so-called “gender-affirming care,” is not wrong because the practice transgresses “Christian behaviors” — although it does — it is wrong because this practice contradicts objective moral truth.
Analogously, Christian beliefs tell us that murder is a sin; however, society does not outlaw murder because, in the author’s words, it’s a practice “we deem offensive on religious grounds.” Instead, society outlaws murder because it is objectively wrong to murder a human being. Therefore, the mutilation of one’s body under the guise of “gender-affirming care” is wrong not on account of its transgression of Christian teaching, but rather because it objectively contradicts moral truth.
When considering the Florida Parental Rights in Education Act — which is erroneously labeled “Don’t Say Gay bill” — Renfro suggests that the degree of protection afforded to parental rights by the bill is inconsistent with Florida’s restrictions on medical transitioning of minors.
I have found the opposite to be true, and Renfro confuses the state’s role in education and medicine. Florida’s bill states that its purpose is to “reinforce the fundamental right of parents to make decisions regarding the upbringing and control of their children,” by prohibiting state employees, namely teachers, from instructing children on “gender identity” or “sexual orientation” in the classroom.
Parents’ rights to address sensitive topics with their children on their own timetable are protected by the 1stAmendment, which is applied to the states under the 14thAmendment. The existence of parental rights have been well-established in American jurisprudence since the early 20th century. Florida’s restrictions on the provision of “gender-affirming care” come into play under the state’s authority to regulate the safety of medical procedures.
The Florida Board of Medicine weighed the evidence and decided that there is insufficient evidence of benefit to those procedures, compared to the risk of irreversible harm. Parents have no right to demand that the state authorize or facilitate every desired medical procedure — especially when the state has deemed it unsafe.
Just as the state wouldn’t allow parents to authorize a medical procedure that amputates a child’s fully functioning limb, the state refuses to authorize procedures that would mutilate their child’s reproductive organs. Therefore, Florida does not play favorites, but rather protects the right of all parents to remain in control of their children’s education while protecting children from unsafe medical procedures.
Renfro attempted to refute Richards’ claim that Planned Parenthood provides hormones on a patient’s first visit, arguing that “only…adults that are able to provide records verifying completion of multi-year, multi-disciplinary medical assessments supporting treatment.” A quick look at the Planned Parenthood website demonstrates that Richards’ point is accurate. On a Planned Parenthood page titled, “What to Expect on Your First Visit and Beyond,” the website states, “In most cases your clinician will be able to prescribe hormones the same day as your first visit. No letter from a mental health provider is required.”
Moreover, the Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas website states that its organization “follows an informed consent treatment model, which means our patients will not be required to provide an approval letter from a therapist to begin hormone therapy.” Therefore, Richards’ claim is in fact an accurate one.
Finally, the author is right to say that Christians are called to love everyone, and that God creates every person in his image and likeness, with inherent dignity and value. However, she suggests that people who express a transgender identity are “formed exactly as they are [transgender] by the hand of God.” This misstates Christian teaching. God creates each person either male or female, and no one can change sex. This is the truth, even if the person believes otherwise.
For example, Nobel Prize winner Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard calls it “unscientific” to believe that there are more than two sexes, or that sex can change. “It’s wishful thinking,” she says, “There are people who want to change their gender, but they can’t do it. You remain XY or XX.”
Similarly, evolutionary biologist Colin Wright, an atheist, writes that the transgender movement amounts to “a dangerous denial of sex.” The Catechism of the Catholic Church (2333) states that each person must “accept” his or her God-given “sexual identity” as male or female. Individuals who experience distress about their sexual identity deserve love, compassion, support and the truth.
The God of love is also the God Who is truth. People experiencing identity confusion deserve love and the truth. In practice, loving these individuals means compassionately and supportively guiding them towards truth, not leading away from it for the sake of affirming their personal beliefs. The correct way of supporting a person who is struggling with their body is not to affirm their misconceptions. For example, one would not affirm an individual’s beliefs about their body if that person struggled with anorexia, but instead to lovingly guide them towards the truth; they are created exactly in the image that God willed them to be.
As students of the University of Dallas, we maintain that truth is absolute, rather than relative. To depart from that position, however controversial the topic at hand may be, would be to undermine the foundation on which our entire education stands.