Home » Blogs »

September 26, 2011 Print

Sex: M, F, or X?

by Jeff Johnston

Australian passports will allow for a “third gender option.” The BBC reports, “Transgender people and those of ambiguous sex will be able to list their gender as indeterminate, which will be shown on passports as an X.” New Zealand has allowed passport applicants to ask for an “X” since 1995, and the United Kingdom is also currently considering allowing this option.

Countries that lump together transgender people with those born with ambiguous sex are buying into a radical transgender ideology that says there are not two, but a multitude of sexes.

When an infant is born with ambiguous or mixed sexual organs, the condition is commonly known as “intersexuality.” The medical community also calls these rare physiological anomalies “Disorders of Sex Development” or “Congenital Anomalies of the Reproductive Tract.” Not a common medical condition; one doctor estimates that about 56,000 individuals in the US are intersex, about 0.018 percent of the population.[1]

But Transgender activists use the anomalies of intersexual people to further their own agenda. Those with Disorders of Sex Development may display a combination of the two sexes, but they are not a distinct, third sex. They do not demonstrate that there are an infinite number of genders.

Congenital medical conditions are a sad result of The Fall, when sin entered the world. Intersex individuals are deserving of our love, respect and compassion. Typically their parents raise them as male or female, and most intersex individuals remain identified with the sex they were raised.

Transgenderism, or Gender Identity Disorder, on the other hand, is not usually caused by a physical problem, but is a spiritual, psychological and emotional problem.

Transgender individuals, too, deserve our respect and love, and their disorder should be treated with pastoral and psychological care. Transgender ideology is a distortion of reality, and should be treated as such, not catered to or promoted through government policies.

[1] Dr. Leonard Sax, Journal of Sex Research, “How common is intersex? A response to Anne Fausto-Sterling,” August 2002 <http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2372/is_3_39/ai_94130313/> (accessed 27 September 2011).



  • September 27, 2011 at 9:53 am, Bryce K. said:

    Shouldn’t those 56,000 individuals be allowed to designate “X” as their gender, then?

    • September 27, 2011 at 2:42 pm, Jeff Johnston said:

      Hi Bryce,

      My understanding is that most people with an intersexual condition are raised to identify as male or female, and as adults, most continue to identify with the sex they were raised. A small percentage switch to the opposite sex. So no, I think they should continue to identify as male or female.

      My main point, however, is that the so-called “transgender” movement along with others, such as “gender theorists” or “gueer theorists,” have taken the issue of intersexuality and use it to try and show that there are more than two sexes. Intersexuality occurs when something goes wrong in the process of sexual differentiation; it is not a third sex.

  • October 08, 2011 at 1:58 am, Zoe Brain said:

    Maybe this will help you understand the biology:

    Sexual Hormones and the Brain: An Essential Alliance for Sexual Identity and Sexual Orientation Garcia-Falgueras A, Swaab DF Endocr Dev. 2010;17:22-35

    The fetal brain develops during the intrauterine period in the male direction through a direct action of testosterone on the developing nerve cells, or in the female direction through the absence of this hormone surge. In this way, our gender identity (the conviction of belonging to the male or female gender) and sexual orientation are programmed or organized into our brain structures when we are still in the womb. However, since sexual differentiation of the genitals takes place in the first two months of pregnancy and sexual differentiation of the brain starts in the second half of pregnancy, these two processes can be influenced independently, which may result in extreme cases in trans-sexuality. This also means that in the event of ambiguous sex at birth, the degree of masculinization of the genitals may not reflect the degree of masculinization of the brain. There is no indication that social environment after birth has an effect on gender identity or sexual orientation.

    Most Intersex people identify as either male or female. But some don’t, and have the anatomy to back that up. Worse, some Intersex people were surgically altered to look like the opposite sex shortly after birth. The surgeons guessed wrong.

    And just to make things more complicated, some Intersex conditions such as 5ARD or 17BHDD can cause a natural sex change, looking like one sex at birth, the other after puberty.

    Sax’s figures are accurate only if you take a very narrow definition of “Intersex”. Most people would consider a woman with the XY chromosomes normally only found in men, Intersex. Sax does not, neither does he include XXY men or women, one of the most common Intersex conditions (1 in 450 men are XXY). His definition is not accepted in either the medical or scientific community, but reasonable people can differ on such arbitrary definitions.

    A more practical, useful definition is Fausto-Stirling’s, which results in a figure of 1.7%.

    • October 18, 2011 at 3:48 pm, Jeff Johnston said:

      Dear Dee, Tammy and Zoe,

      Thank you for your responses to this post. Transgenderism, gender dysphoria, chromosomal anomalies and intersexual conditions are very complicated. There is much which we still have to learn about these issues, including the interaction of genetic, hormonal, developmental, personality, cultural and spiritual influences on gender identity.

      I really appreciate the tone of your letters, which were not in agreement with our position on these issues, but were respectful and cordial. I trust you find our public communications on these issues thoughtful and respectful as well.

      I’m afraid, though, that we will have to agree to disagree in our conclusions, even as we all keep seeking truth.

      Thank you,

      Jeff Johnston

  • October 08, 2011 at 6:58 pm, Tammy Rainey said:

    As a believing Christian, I understand the theological position that all the bad things in the world are derived from “the fall” – not that sin itself causes disease, but that we now live in a corrupted creation which does not reflect God’s perfect model.

    I do not take issue with the concept, then, that things like birth defects occur not because “God wills it” but because creation is corrupted. I think if one believes in the god of Grace it’s pretty much the only reasonable conclusion.

    That said: I’m mystified that you can (reluctantly it sounds) acknowledge that intersex conditions are birth defects which are just as much a part of the natural order as, say, being born blind, and yet continue to obstinately deny that transsexualism is very much the exact same birth defect, except that it affects a different region of the body.

    Consider this and tell me which of these facts are not scientifically demonstrated –
    1. birth defects occur
    2. birth defects which affect the sexual organs occur
    3. birth defects which affect the brain (i.e. autism) occur
    4. the brain is THE organ which determines gender identity (and, by the way, sexual orientation) – not the construction of the physical organs.

    All these we can agree on, yes? Then here’s the question: based on what logic can one reasonably deny that it is possible to have a birth defect (1) affecting the brain (3) which causes a malformation of the “normal” gendering of the brain?

    You will argue, I’m sure, that no such defect as been identified – I believe this to be untrue, but even if I allow that position for the sake of argument – how could it POSSIBLY be a reasonable position that such a birth defect is flatly impossible? it is nothing more than willful blindness to scientific reality.

    I congratulate you on being wise enough to not blind yourself to intersex conditions – it’s a wonderful first step. but I’m disappointed that you do not see the logical implications.

    As a Christian who spent over 35 years of my life desperately struggling against my transsexual condition because my faith community insisted it was perverted and sinful (never mind how a 7 year old child becomes perverted anyway absent abuse) and 20 of that in the Christian ministry, repenting daily in bitter tears and claiming in faith God’s promise (so I’d been told) of deliverance from that curse, i once believed exactly as you do. no one wanted to be this way less than me, ever.

    But I was wrong. God forgive me that I repeated that lie and perpetuated the pain caused in untold lives because the church insists on reading a cultural prejudice into the Scripture. Now I know, and am at peace because I realize, that I was born with a simple birth defect, and God does not judge me for that any more than he judges an autistic child for their birth.

    My heart grieves that the church, which I love, so desperately clings to false teaching which destroys lives and alienates seeking souls from God’s love.

    PLEASE, reconsider. I do not ask for my own sake, I’m at peace with God. Rather i ask for the sake of that teenage boy or girl who, even now, here’s all those who love him/her tell them (unwittingly) what a desperate pervert they are and how God will judge them for something they can’t possibly stop being. Do not do that to another innocent child.

  • October 08, 2011 at 7:19 pm, Tammy Rainey said:

    I do want to address one broader point which is not directly related to the article but since it was referenced in a reply, it needs attention.

    You might be unaware that there is a bit of a civil war among trans people going on. For a long time people born transsexual have been uncomfortable with being joined at the hip to the homosexual activist movement. not that we have anything against equality for homosexuals, but our condition is not a matter of orientation but of identity – our concerns are not their concerns, nor vice versa (as is often apparent given the priorities displayed by many activists)

    One of the out-workings of that is the “LGBT” umbrella is purposely as broad as possible. ANY sort of non-conformist sexual behavior is covered, and likewise ANY sort of gender non-conformity comes under the heading of “rights” they claim to fight for.

    This includes that which is admittedly an optional recreational activity, such as cross-dressing or drag(that is, cross-dressing as a performance), but also things such as those people who simply wish to defy cultural norms regarding gender behavior as a philosophical statement.

    For many, likely most, of us who were in fact born with a condition (as opposed to making a choice to non-conform) we intensely dislike being connected in the public perception with those issues.

    When i go about my life as a female, I do so every hour of every day and i do so because to not do so is physiologically devastating to me. I’d rather be homeless and under a bridge, than to present a male appearance in order to have a job (for instance). I do not simply dress up on occasion to “feel pretty” and take a bunch of photographs to put on facebook.

    without disparaging the cross-dresser, what he is is NOT what i am – and most transsexuals i know feel the same way. so to clarify, a couple of definitions:

    A Transsexual person is one born with a birth defect of the brain – in essence a brain of the opposite gender from their genital construct – and the need to correct that is often so strong that death is preferable to not addressing it. we do not do so to “be pretty”, we do not do so to “have gay sex” (most all of us would happily give up sex altogether in order to be made whole if that were the price required), we do not do it for attention (we’d much prefer you never knew about our ugly past) – we do it to stay sane. I’d rather be an ugly and unpopular woman that Brad Pitt.

    A cross-dresser does what he does for fun. he does not wish to be female and would be horrified at the idea of modifying his genitals to match a normal female appearance. He has chosen to participate in an activity which he enjoys, no more or less important than being a golfer or a fisherman.

    A gender non-conformist (commonly using the term genderqueer) is simply making a philosophical statement. (it’s the direct equivalent of being “goth”) about their objection to the societal customs regarding gender behavior.

    In each of the latter two cases, the only “right” that is in play is the right to be respected and not harassed for their choices. I would oppose any claim a cross-dresser might make to come to work in drag, for instance – it’s no more a right than one has a right to wear their bathing suit to work. I’d object if he lost his job or his home because of what he did on his private time, but i would also object to his desire to use the ladies locker room (for instance).

    On the other hand, when i ask for respect and equality for transsexuals, I do so based on the reality that we have a medical condition not of our own choosing (in fact, most of us spend decades desperately fighting against it) and all we want to do is live in peace, not make statements. let us have jobs, let us get treatment, let us go to the toilet, let us marry if anyone wants us – let us live normal lives.

    I think that it is important for the Church to know that what you see on the Jerry Springer show may be transgender, but it is NOT representative of transsexuals – we are very much two different things. You CAN give me acceptance without approving of every gender-bending whim that someone comes along with.

    • October 28, 2011 at 12:38 pm, Jeff Johnston said:

      Hi Tammy,

      Thank you for writing again. I’m aware of the disagreements and dialogue in the transgender community between the different groups, but thanks for your letter, because I doubt many of our readers are aware of this. Thanks, too, for expressing the depths of the pain that many transsexual individuals feel. Many transgender, cross-dressing, and gender non-conformist individuals also experience great deep inner turmoil.

      While we disagree about how these issues are best handled, I’m grateful for the respectful and civil way in which you’ve communicated with us. May God bless you with His infinite wisdom and grace.

      Jeff Johnston

  • October 08, 2011 at 7:48 pm, Dee Omally said:

    “Transgenderism, or Gender Identity Disorder, on the other hand, is not usually caused by a physical problem, but is a spiritual, psychological and emotional problem.”

    Hi Jeff! As a Christian, I agree that when sin entered God’s perfect creation, the two (and only) perfect humans God ever created became imperfect—thus the myriad of birth imperfections. As a transgender female however, I identify as female and therefore am not qualified to comment on behalf of those who identify beyond M or F. I must state that your viewpoint of the transgender condition is quite commonly held based on the inclusion of mind/body incongruence (Gender Identity) as a “mental disorder”.

    Therein lies the problem. What is called a “mental disorder” is very correctable—by a medical doctor, not a psychiatrist. A “mental disorder” that is not treated by a psychiatrist? Yes indeed! Why? Because in fact even though it is categorized as a “mental disorder” it isn’t treated/corrected with psych medication. Bona fide mental disorders are treated by psychiatrists. The first step of a gender transition is to see a psychiatrist—to RULE OUT the presence of mental disorders. Such visits can go on for months. My visit? Well it consisted of just ONE visit—yes only ONE. My next visit was with a medical doctor—an endocrinologist

    Spiritually, as the hormones physically effected change, my faith only increased. With a long history in law enforcement/security, psychological testing has revealed no flaws. Emotionally, I only get calmer with stress. My training and experience has proven to me that superb control of emotions fits well in my resume.

    I welcome you to my website above. I extend an invitation to read my 10K word essay entitled “The State of the Transgender Union” to further your education. As a Christian, I NEVER go on the personal attack. I NEVER seek to sway through emotion—-but through intellect. Every group of persons includes within its census those that are truly disordered. No one yet truly knows why we are transgender. What is known is that physical remedy (hormones/surgery) will make the “disorder” go away for most. Gender is assigned in the womb–physically through hormones from the mother…they impact mind & body. Nature, from the “fall” is cruel—and does as it wishes…including assigning the mind one gender…and assigning the body a different sex. Thank you for allowing my participation.

  • October 09, 2011 at 6:57 am, HenryHall said:

    Pastoral and psychological care would be great – if they worked.
    But unfortunately experience has shown the failure rate to be just about 100%

    • October 18, 2011 at 3:47 pm, Jeff Johnston said:

      Hi Henry,

      I disagree. I know a number of people who have come out of transgenderism, through God’s grace, power and truth. It’s not easy, but it does happen.


    NOTE: Referral to websites not produced by CitizenLink is for informational purposes only and does not necessarily constitute an endorsement of the sites' content.