Friday, April 11, 2008

Gender, sex, and the soul

A little while ago, I registered with "Yahoo! Answers," which allows individuals to post questions about a variety of subjects and see other people's answers (or vice versa). Since anyone can join, there's a very real element of caveat lector. I spend most of my time in the Religion and Spirituality section, trying to cut throught the venom, rhetoric, and misinformation that so many people seem to have about these topics.

Here is a post I recently made in response to someone who asked about the appropriateness of sex reassignment surgery.

As a Christian, I have problems with the idea that undergoing sex reassignment somehow thwarts God's will. Presumably, if one is a Christian, one believes that the body is not the be-all and end-all of our existence? Of course, problems arise, historically, when we undervalue the body. But there's more to us than that: we have souls. And it doesn't seem at all implausible to me that a person might be born in a body that doesn't match his or her soul. After all, many children are born with all sorts of congenital problems that we have no qualms about correcting - we don't, for instance, see operating on a cleft lip as frustrating God's purpose for that individual.

Sex and gender are related concepts, but don't necessarily correspond exactly to one another. Ultimately, I trust an individual's intuition about who they are better than the judgment of a third party. And I think it's just patronizing when people say things like: "You can have all the surgery you want, but you'll just be a mutilated man/woman." Since when do Christians put such stock in biological determinism? Why are we bound to say that a person is condemned to "be" whatever gender normally corresponds to their chromosomal sex? Why is it so incredible that someone's soul or psyche might not line up with his or her body? I simply cannot fathom the arrogance required to tell another person what gender they are.

3 comments:

Dave said...

I am much relieved you made some changes to your profile.

Rosie said...

Why's that?

dave said...

Common sense - the previous profile sounded a bit off the wall.