Consider those whom you might consider a political or a social ally. In theological discourse, a Calvinist might consider an Arminian an ally if they are debating a unitarian or a Pelagian. The great nation of Israel often thinks of conservative Christians as allies. In political and social issues, though, firm Christians often do not have many allies. They are painted as wacky zealots, on the fringe, causing the downfall of all things. However, amongst liberals, one might expect to find that feminists and transgender advocates are allies. They are generally opposed to conservatism and align themselves with so-called progressive values. The same person who advocates for transgenderism will probably also advocate for abortion, because they are both bearing the mark of the sexual revolution, interlocking hands as they ascend to the heights of sexual freedom. However, in this article I will explain how modern feminism conflicts with transgenderism.
The reason that I think that this is worth pointing out is that people typically see feminism and LGBT advocates as allies, militarizing with against common enemies with the same goal in mind. They are patriotically and valiantly battling against those who would oppress them based on minor differences. There are many people in the world who cannot tolerate somebody who is a little different, and so the narrative goes, these two groups are standing back-to-back, fighting a common enemy. While they may think that is the case, there are undergirding philosophical conflicts that cannot be ignored. These conflicts will and have manifested themselves in legitimate and practical ways. If you are looking for the bottom line, it is this: one cannot consistently advocate for both transgenderism and feminism.
Before we begin, we should briefly explore the question of what transgenderism is. Throughout history, people have recognized that there are two sexes: male and female. Men have certain anatomical characteristics while women have other anatomical characteristics. But the differences between men and women exceed anatomy. They extend to personality traits, strengths, weaknesses, and much more. Transgenderism calls the entire narrative into question. Gender is not based on one’s anatomy, but on an inner sense of awareness. We may think that one identifies their gender in the same way that they identify their dominant hand or their race, but transgenderism suggests that gender is something that is decided internally. It is largely a cultural construction. One can be a female even if they have male components. It is beyond the scope of this article to evaluate transgenderism (the Lord Jesus did it for us in Mark 10:6). Instead, I am exploring whether transgenderism comports with feminist values.
Can Women’s Rights Exist Without The Female Identity?
Gender discrimination is typically thought to occur when a male asserts dominance over a female in some facet of life. One might think of the alleged wage gap, wherein men are thought to make 25% more money just because of their gender. One might think of the marriage, in which traditionally women will submit to their husband, to allow him to reign over them and make the bulk of the familial decisions. Gender discrimination will occur when a man is asserting intellectual, physical, or psychological dominance over a woman. This could occur in the workplace, in the home, or even in public when relating with strangers. Many men will think of women as being inferior to themselves. Sexism is very much similar to racism. Feminism is the doctrine that all people are created equal, men and women alike. They are intrinsically just as valuable.
But the question that the issue of transgenderism raises is this. What does it mean to discriminate against a woman if we cannot even identify a man or a woman? If man/woman are social constructions that need to be stripped away so that we can see the inner person, then what sense does it make to say that there is a wage gap? A wage gap between whom? A gap between one arbitrarily labeled group of people and another. Have women been silenced by men throughout the generations? Have they been oppressed? It is undoubtedly the case that the history books are primarily composed of the works of men. How can we say that women have been kept from greatness by their male captor? How can we say that women deserve better? If gender is merely a social construction that does not denote anything significant, then the issue of sexism fades instantly into irrelevancy. Feminism is swallowed whole by the underpinnings of transgenderism.
Do Men Who Become Women Have The Same Struggles As Anatomical Women?
The reason that women unite together against sexism and bigotry is that they recognize that they can relate to one another. A man does not have the same struggles as a woman. While they may be able to sympathize, they cannot truly understand because they are not women (again, this concept is engulfed in flames by transgenderism). They do not know what it is like to be treated as nothing more than a sexual object. Every time a woman goes on in public, they might be greeting with leering strangers, staring them down, fantasizing about them, as if they owned them. Lewd comments rush into the airway, and women have to train themselves to ignore them. Women truly have a lot of struggles that the male does not. But the question is, can men who become women, who identify as women, truly relate with the struggles of the woman? They may have struggles of their own (bullying, for example) but they will not be able to sympathize with the feminist cause like an anatomical woman will.
Perhaps there is another way for us to think of this issue. For centuries, the chauvinistic, misogynistic men have labored mightily to keep women down, to ensure that they serve no more function in society than to bear the seeds of men. In western culture, the doctrine that we are all made in the image of God has emerged and women are recognized by society as equals, with the right to vote in elections, protected by the same constitutional rights that men have. But now, that same chauvinistic male is infiltrating the very core of the feminist movement – the identity of the woman. A woman is no longer something significant. Even a man can be recognized as a woman and be deemed a hero by the culture. The female identity is under assault – it is being robbed – by that same chauvinistic male who has kept them in their clutches for centuries.
Title IX – Privacy or Discrimination?
In Dr. Albert Mohler’s excellent analysis of this issue, he pointed out a conflict almost as deadly as the one that undermines the female identity. In the Title IX statute, it is stated that no person can be lawfully discriminated against as the result of their gender. They must receive the same benefits and entitlements (again, this has no meaning if gender is merely a social construction). Dr. Mohler pointed out that one clause of Title IX is the issue of privacy. When using public bathrooms or locker rooms in state-funded schools, students have the right to privacy. Females cannot be forced to de-robe in the presence of males (again, using the language of gender and the classical assumption of the difference between a male and a female).
But by executive action, President Obama declared that transgender students should be allowed to use the bathroom that they prefer. It is not difficult to identify the inherent legal contradiction within Title IX, and Dr. Mohler is not the only one to notice it. He cited Judith Shulevitz’s article published by the New York Times, which recognizes that there have been lawsuits about both privacy and discrimination. Shulevitz poses the very tangible thought experiment: imagine an anatomical female is in the locker room with a transgender. Which is more significant: privacy or discrimination? This issue should not ring hollow for any feminists. Do women not have the right to privacy? Do they truly have to de-robe in the presence of a transgendered individual? At the same time, the transgendered individual may argue that they are indeed a female and they have every right to use the locker room. Who is right? The answer seems to be (and this may please our relativistic friends) that under Title IX, both are right. Yet this is not just a poorly written law that needs to be reworked. It is a fundamental clash of values between feminism and transgenderism. One will need to be sacrificed.
How Modern Feminism Conflicts With Transgenderism
I would like to emphasize again that in this article, I am not mounting a full critique of transgenderism. I am pointing out that there are irreconcilable differences between transgenderism and feminism. A politician may be able to stand behind a podium and preach powerfully about how she stands behind both movements, but they are fundamentally at odds with one another. This is akin to how abortion is at odds with women’s rights. People may be able to sit them next to one another, but when you stare unflinchingly in the face at what they are, you are led inescapably to the conclusion that they one cannot be rationally sustained with the other. Abortion engulfs women’s rights by undermining the very foundation upon which women’s rights is built. Transgenderism undermines feminism by swallowing the female identity whole.
Why is it that all of these secular philosophies are so radically inconsistent with one another? Why can somebody preach about women’s rights extending to abortion, about how feminism and transgenderism are two sects of the same movement, only to find that they defeat one another? These internal inconsistencies can be traced to the reality that they depart from the truth revealed in Scripture. Feminism only makes sense when it is in alliance with the doctrine that God created mankind in his image (Genesis 1:26-27) and has decreed that we shall not commit murder. A worldview is only as plausible as its’ consistency. These popular values are radically inconsistent with one another. If you want consistency, look to Scripture. Look to the cross, where God sacrificed the Lord Jesus for the sake of his people.
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