What Is ‘Gender Identity’?

Christians know God created humanity in His image and likeness ― male and female. Science likewise confirms that humans are “sexually dimorphic,” meaning people come in two forms, male and femaleOf course we are aware of genetic and hormonal anomalies that lead to a small percentage of people with “intersex” conditions. But these anomalies do not create a “third sex” or different “gender.” For more on this, see: “What About Intersexuality?”. Men and women are similar, but different. They complement each other, and both are valuable, good and necessary.

Many cultures have recognized that some men struggle or fail to embrace their masculinity and may act more effeminate. Likewise, some women seem to act more masculine or even take on a male persona.

But the contemporary “transgender” movement originated in the 1950s when Dr. John Money coined the term “gender identity.” He used the term to differentiate between sex (being male or female, a biological reality) and gender (a psychological or spiritual condition, including a person’s thoughts, beliefs and feelings about being male or female.)

Money borrowed the term “gender” from linguistics, where it described masculine, neuter or feminine parts of speech. He believed “gender” was socially determined and learned by people. He thought children were blank slates and could be brought up to be either gender—regardless of bodily sex. The term “gender” also came to describe the roles men and women take and the ways they express their gender through language, dress and behavior.

Some ideas developed by Money include:

  • “Gender” is different from biological “sex”;
  • Six (or more) variables define a person’s “gender;” including: Chromosomes, internal reproductive organs, a person’s “assigned” sex, and more; 
  • Gender is learned; it is a social construct; and, therefore, it can be assigned and taught;
  • “Gender Identity” is what people think, believe and feel about themselves; and
  • “Gender Roles” are those prescribed by society.

Money effectively separated biological reality ― the human body as male or female ― from a person’s thoughts, decisions, feelings and beliefs, what Christians would call the human soul. This is a form of the ancient gnostic heresies, which taught that the soul was good and the body was bad, that the body does not matter, and that you could do what you wished with your body and the soul was not affected.

This is the opposite of Judeo-Christian teaching, which is that we are embodied-souls ― body, soul and spirit are connected. The incarnation of Jesus Christ in human form affirms the value of our human bodies.   

The Idea of 'Gender Identity' Grows and Spreads

The social turmoil of the 1960s and 1970s helped spread Money’s false ideas and beliefs. In addition, those decades brought the rise of other social and ideological movements, including radical feminism, the sexual revolution and the gay activist movement. Radical feminists, in particular, latched onto the idea that “gender is a social construct.” Their belief includes the idea that there are no real differences between men and women (except, perhaps for a few reproductive hormones and organs).

Confusing, inconsistent and often contradictory ideas about “gender” are widespread in academiaSee, for example: “College Kids Say the Darndest Things: On Gender”, the media, pop culture and some political groups. They may say things, such as:

  • “Men and women are not different.”
  • “A man can be trapped in a woman’s body.”
  • “A person can be both male and female.”
  • “There are five sexes.”
  • “Some people are neither male nor female.”
  • “There are an infinite number of ‘genders’ or ‘gender identities.’“
  • “You may have an infinite number of genders inside you.”
  • “People may choose their own gender.”
  • “Gender is fluid.”
  • “Gender is purely a social construct.”

Many of today’s high school or college students and been taught to believe these ideas, without really thinking them through. They struggle with saying men and women are different, explaining how they might be different, or telling others why those differences matter. 

Sadly, even Christians are buying into this gender ideology ― in opposition to Scripture and physical reality.