The Joys of Gender

What appears to be a perfectly natural and normal sexual identity has now become nothing more than a social construct, thus enabling people endlessly to experiment with their biological being, juggling one or more genders at a time. 

PUBLISHED ON

May 15, 2023

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Our granddaughter, who is not yet four years of age, knows exactly what she wants to do with her life. “I want to be a carrot,” she announced the other day, “so people can put me in their salad.” “A pink carrot,” she added, “because pink is for girls. And I’m a girl!”

It turns out she also aspires to become a cupcake—the better to be eaten, I suppose—but, again, only if the color is pink.

What’s going on here? I mean, besides clear and endearing evidence of a lively imagination. Should we be concerned? Might there be a need for therapy? Only if the fixation persists long after childhood. If she’s twenty-something and still longs to be eaten, then maybe we should worry. But little girls identifying with carrots and cupcakes seems perfectly normal. Especially when they’re pink.  

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That’s the telling fact, by the way. Indeed, it is the truest and most instructive aspect about the whole business: the fact that she actually knows she’s a girl, having rightly intuited the single irreducible truth of her being, which is that she exists quite irrefutably as a girl. What else can that mean but that she isn’t a boy? She knows the difference, in other words, between the two. And she can be most wonderfully passionate and precise on the subject. Blue, she will repeatedly insist, is for boys, which is why she will refuse to wear anything that looks remotely blue.

How many adults are there who can make that distinction? Many appear these days to be so traumatized by woke ideology that they positively shrink from the distinction. Yes, even a couple of Supreme Court Justices have failed the test. 

Is this an epistemological problem, I wonder? Do people simply not know the differences separating male and female? Did no one ever take them aside to provide basic instruction on how binary people routinely execute that distinction in real life, knowing instinctively where to draw the necessary biological line? That it is, in a word, ineluctable, which is to say, we are fated to be either one or the other?

“Anatomy is destiny,” declared Dr. Freud, who was surely right about something. And knowing it to be so is hardly an exercise in eccentricity on account of a transgender lobby that refuses to be at home in the body God gave them.   

How effective the culture has been in bludgeoning people into submission on this point. So much so that what appears to be a perfectly natural and normal sexual identity has now become nothing more than a social construct, thus enabling people endlessly to experiment with their biological being, juggling one or more genders at a time. 

We really are in an awful fix if the confusion reaches that deep down, if the extent of current social conditioning has become so pervasive that we lack the courage to define anything. All is fluidity and flux, leaving only one fixed and unalterable point, which is that everything must be permitted, including even the chemical castration of children.   We really are in an awful fix if the confusion reaches that deep down, if the extent of current social conditioning has become so pervasive that we lack the courage to define anything.Tweet This

So, is this where we want to be today? Gender dysphoria as the new normal?

Here’s a thought experiment. Try to imagine yourself at the moment of birth, freshly arrived from your mother’s womb, yet in full possession of the consciousness you now have. And there you are watching it all unfold. What would be your reaction, your very first, wholly spontaneous response? Would you not be totally blown away by the fact that you exist—entirely stupefied, in fact, by the sheer blazing is-ness of your being? 

“Statistically,” says Lewis Thomas, a close and gifted observer of the cosmos, “the probability of any one of us being here is so small that you’d think the mere fact of existing would keep us all in a contented dazzlement of surprise.” How else would you describe the experience of seeing yourself at that precise moment? “Life” as the poet Emily Dickinson would say, “is so startling, it leaves but little room for other occupations.” So go right ahead and be startled at the fact that you exist.

Of all “the impossible things that are,” as Chesterton would say, our being alive at all is surely the most amazing. Again, what are the odds of that happening? And there you are, seeing the whole blooming miracle as you emerge unmistakably from the loins of this strange woman—your own mother!—whom you do not yet know. What an absolutely over-the-top moment that must be. More miraculous even than the raising of Lazarus from the dead. 

Or so St. Augustine taught, assuring us that since old Lazarus at least had been before, unlike the child who had never been, the latter’s birth is by far the greater miracle. That to go from sheer nothingness to being, which is what the conception and birth of a child represent, will always be by far the more impressive feat. After all, if you’re God, how hard can it be to bring back to life a body that had only a couple of days earlier expired? But to create life ex nihilo? Now that is impressive.

And to think that you hadn’t played the least part in making it happen! It is instead all happening to you, a spectacle of the most stupendous sort, to which the only adequate answer is gratitude, thanksgiving for a gift you could never yourself give.  

Well, if that is our first discovery on looking back to the beginning—equipped, to be sure, with an adult awareness—are we not also astonished to learn that being human comes in two pre-determined ways, neither of which is negotiable? In other words, one is either male or female, and between the two there is simply no room to maneuver. It is, not to put too fine a point on the matter, a given, a necessary part of the same package, the unwrapping of which invariably brings great joy to all the happy couples that had a hand in making it happen.   

That it brings no joy at all to others—indeed, provoking the most awful self-inflicted violence—is surely a symptom of a much larger problem, which is that of human identity itself, whose source and meaning can only come from God. But, of course, we no longer believe in God. What a fine mess we’ve made of things.

Author

  • Regis Martin

    Regis Martin is Professor of Theology and Faculty Associate with the Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life at the Franciscan University of Steubenville. He earned a licentiate and a doctorate in sacred theology from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome. Martin is the author of a number of books, including Still Point: Loss, Longing, and Our Search for God (2012) and The Beggar’s Banquet (Emmaus Road). His most recent book, published by Scepter, is called Looking for Lazarus: A Preview of the Resurrection.

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