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Audio Transcript

This week we are talking about transgender, a topic of frequent inquiry from our listeners, and to help us, we welcome to the podcast Rob Smith, a pastor and theologian who lectures in systematic theology and ethics at Sydney Missionary and Bible College in Australia.

We close the week out today talking about “transgenderism” which is a misleading term. Biologically, for a transition of male-to-female or of a female-to-male, Rob, what cannot happen physically? What will not happen to the body? I’m thinking a male-to-female transition, which would not bring with it monthly cycles, or a womb, or a biological clock. So what biological functions are simply not transferable between the sexes?

You are stretching my knowledge of current medical possibilities and even what is being attempted as we speak. Obviously, one of the key words in what you just said is the word natural. It is certainly not possible to create a natural biological clock in a man or if a womb naturally developed.

However, I believe there are attempts going on to work out how to transplant wombs. In fact, I think even this year it happened in the case of a woman who couldn’t conceive. I won’t go into the details, but basically her mother’s womb, her uterus, was transplanted into the daughter so the daughter could carry the child. So, there are those who are trying to work out the question, How can we transplant a womb into a man? And it is easy for us to think, How ridiculous. That is impossible. But, there are, of course, all sorts of things happening now that ten years, a hundred years ago we would have thought were ridiculous, impossible.

So, it is hard to know where this will or might stop. But, as you say, there are all kinds of things that just cannot be true of someone who transitions. And at the base level, the level of their chromosomes, you can’t . . . and I don’t know if you will be able to change a person’s chromosomes. So, what we are really doing is simply creating an illusion. And it is one of the ways in which people in the transgender community talk. The word they use is pass, that is, to convincingly pass off as the other, which sadly reveals the fact that they know they are not actually the other. But it is a deception that is an illusion. They are trying to look on the outside in such a way that they can convince others that they are what they seem.

“Until we find our rest in Christ, we will be trying to invent ourselves in ways that will only end in tears.”

And, look, there are some convincing transitions in that way. I read a tragic story recently about a man who was married to a trans-woman and didn’t know it until he wanted to conceive a child. And when that wasn’t happening, he suggested medical exploration at that point. The wife then revealed that she was a trans-woman, not an actual woman — and destroyed the marriage. He was obviously fooled for however many years. So, it is remarkable what can seem to be done but, as you say, there are all kinds of pieces that are not possible. And even if they are made possible, it will be highly questionable as to whether they are remotely responsible.

I am really speculating as anyone would be at this point, but I suppose it is one other thing to add here is this why feminist Germaine Greer got into trouble in the UK when she challenged that a trans-woman was not a real woman and got held down from a particular university where she was meant to be speaking. But she was right in that a trans-woman hasn’t gone through all the experiences of a natural woman and since, therefore, she can’t speak to those and can’t really say: I have had a properly female experience of life.

A man wanting to “pass” as a woman, but getting offended at not being affirmed as an ontological woman — that seems like terribly unresolvable tension.

That is right. There are tensions running all through these transgender ideologies — they are full of conflicts and contradictions. We just revealed this massive tension between feminist ideology and transgender ideology. One, at the heart of at least some ways of feminism is the idea that only bodies are male or female. There is no such thing as a male brain or a female brain and, therefore, it is part of the push for woman to be able to do anything a man can do in that sense. Whereas, in the transgender scene, you have people saying: No, no. I have got a male brain in a female body. And well, is that really the case? And so on.

So yes, there are conflicts and contradictions and tensions and complexities running through all of this. And it fascinates me that the whole LGBTIQA umbrella of genders is not as unified as you might think. When you put the microscope on them, you have all of these clashes and ideological tensions there.

“The LGBTIQA umbrella is not as unified as you might think.”

The one thing I think is worth adding on top of all of the things we have discussed is that any and every human being, whatever our particular set of life struggles — and we all have some particular set of life struggles — we have been made by Jesus Christ for Jesus Christ and will only truly know ourselves and be ourselves in Christ. And so, finding our identity in him is really the only place for any of us to begin.

This, of course, may be highlighted in a special way for those who are battling unwanted same-sex attraction as it is for those who are battling unwanted gender dysphoria. But it is actually true of all of us. Until we find our rest in Christ, we will be trying to invent ourselves in some way or another, in a way that will only end in tears.

Amen — true of us all. We are all in this boat, needy of Christ. None of us are freaks, all of us are broken sinners. Thank you Rob.


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is a theologian who lectures in systematic theology and ethics at Sydney Missionary and Bible College in Australia, and serves as an honorary assistant minister at St. Andrew’s Anglican Cathedral in Sydney. Rob is married to Claire, and they have an adult son, Nathanael.