Transgenderism Is a Dangerous Illusion
There are deep reasons why sex change is impossible.
In 2016, Vanessa Tai of Her World titled an article, “I’m a woman trapped in a married man’s body.” Being “trapped” in the opposite gender is now cliché and ever more insidious as transgenderism is celebrated as normal and positive. However, the historical background and scientific facts of sex change prove that reassignment of gender is physically impossible and biologically and psychologically harmful.
In ancient times, transgenderism was tolerated but never celebrated. In the fourth century B.C., for example, the Greek playwright Aristophanes poked fun at the character Agathon, whom he called an androgyne (man-woman):
What contradictions his life shows! A lyre and a hairnet! A wrestling-school oil flask and a girdle! What could be more contradictory?
In the first and second centuries A.D., authors such as Philo of Alexandria, Juvenal and Epictetus gave colorful and critical descriptions of vain effeminate men. Clement of Alexandria, a Father of the Church, lamented transgenderism in the second century A.D. He criticized narcissistic men who, “inclining to voluptuousness … become effeminate, cutting their hair in an ungentlemanlike and meretricious way, clothed in fine and transparent garments, chewing mastich, smelling of perfume.”
Destructive Ideology of Kinsey, Benjamin and Money
In our own age, transgenderism has become normalized as a medical treatment. In the late 1940s Alfred Kinsey, an influential professor of zoology, taught that all sexual acts, from prostitution to pedophilia, are equally legitimate. He promoted the idea that children of any age should be encouraged to have sex. Kinsey and endocrinologist Harry Benjamin collaborated in the first known female hormone therapy, which was administered to a transvestite who wanted to become a woman.
In 1967 a Canadian couple, Ron and Janet Reimer, approached psychologist John Money, Kinsey’s disciple and Benjamin’s colleague. The Reimers needed help to fix the failed circumcision of 2-year-old David, their son, who also had a twin brother Brian. Money, who had long argued that gender identity was nothing but a malleable social construct, counseled the parents to have David’s genitals surgically modified to female. David became “Brenda,” Money became famous and the floodgates of sex-reassignment surgery were opened.
Money and other sex-change advocates have denied the fact that gender is who we are. It is not just something we happen to have. Human beings are body and soul united as one. A person doesn’t merely have a body — a person is a body-soul unit. There is no distinction between “personal” life and “biological” life, as if the only life worth living were the life of consciousness, thinking and communication. Such a duality is incompatible with authentic human nature, in which the body and soul form a single and unified entity. Therefore, a person doesn’t have gender; a person is either male or female, as an integral and inseparable aspect of his or her personhood. As Bishop Michael Burbidge of Arlington teaches:
In keeping with the authoritative witness of Scripture (cf. Genesis 1:27), the human person is created male or female. The human soul is created to animate and be embodied by one particular, specifically male or female, body. A person's sex is an immutable biological reality, determined at conception. The sexed body reveals God's design not only for each individual person, but also for all human beings, by ‘establishing us in a relationship with other living beings.’
Following the Science
There is also a deep biological reason why sex change is impossible. A person’s sex is determined by X and Y chromosomes that reside in every somatic cell. Every single cell of a woman is female, and every single cell of a man is male. The National Academy of Sciences affirms that “there are multiple, ubiquitous differences in the basic cellular biochemistry of males and females.” A person’s sex can’t be changed by the injection of hormones or the modification of genitals. The only way to change a person’s sex completely is to genetically modify every somatic cell, which no surgery or drug can achieve.
Between 1973 and 2003, a study in Sweden analyzed the long-term effects of sex reassignment in 324 transgender individuals, and found “the overall mortality for sex-reassigned persons was higher during follow-up than for controls of the same birth sex, particularly death from suicide. Sex-reassigned persons also had an increased risk for suicide attempts and psychiatric inpatient care.”
In Brazil, a similar study was conducted on 47 male-to-female transgender patients. The researchers evaluated them using the World Health Organization Quality of Life Assessment, before and after sex-reassignment surgery, in four areas: physical health, psychological health, social relationships and level of independence. The results were telling: participants showed “significant improvement” following sex-reassignment surgery in psychological well-being and social relationships, but this was short-lived as those who underwent additional surgery suffered a decline in these areas. Also, physical health and level of independence significantly worsened after SRS.
In Denmark, 104 sex reassignment surgery patients were studied. Besides a higher incidence of cardiovascular disease among these patients, as well as a low average life expectancy (53.5 years), there was a surprising increase in suicide rate reported. The national suicide rate in Denmark is 0.01%, but the rate among the 104 Danish transgender subjects was 1.9%.
In the Canadian Medical Association Journal’s (CMAJ) 2019 article, “Management of Gender Dysphoria in Adolescents in Primary Care,” many reckless recommendations are made without any significant evidence. Commenting on these, feminist Dr. Alicia Hendley, who used to support the transgender movement but is now resolutely opposed to it, said:
It’s no surprise that most 16-year-olds who are commencing cross-sex hormones (not to mention 13-year-olds) do not care about whether or not they will be fertile at 30. Given that the prefrontal cortex (a section of the brain that weighs outcomes, forms judgments, and controls impulses and emotions) of teenagers is not developed enough to truly anticipate long-term consequences, why would any health professional allow teens to make such a life-changing decision? How does this kind of advice not constitute malpractice?
Hendley is quite honest about her own transition from pro- to anti-transgender. She admits that she stubbornly held onto her views, even when challenged by other feminists, simply because they were the “right way to think.” She would state that gender is about “feeling like a woman” or “feeling like a man,” but was never able to cite any statistics or provide any real arguments. She confesses:
If all else failed, I’d mention my PhD. Then, I would end the conversation, as I did not believe I needed to reflect upon this further. After all, I had federal law backing me. Clearly I was on the right side of history. And so, instead of listening, I kept climbing my personal peak, feeling more righteous the higher I went.
As Hendley’s personal journey shows, it is entirely possible for intelligent, highly educated people to be brainwashed into accepting false ideas.
Tragic End of the Experiment
Let’s go back to the tragic story of the Reimer twins. After David Reimer became “Brenda,” his adaptation to his new sex was fraught with intense pain. By the age of 12 he was deeply depressed. Soon his parents felt compelled to tell him the truth about the surgery he had undergone as a toddler, and at the age of 14, “Brenda” chose to become David again by undergoing a sex-change reversal.
In the year 2000, the 35-year-old David and his twin brother Brian publicly revealed their sexual abuse at the hands of David’s surgeon. “The boys told how Dr. Money took naked photos of them when they were just seven years old. But pictures were not enough for Money. The pedophilic doctor also forced the boys to engage in incestuous sexual activities with each other.”
In 2003, Brian died of a drug overdose, and David committed suicide. Although Dr. Money had now been thoroughly discredited, the damage to society had already been inflicted. Sex-reassignment surgery became common and accepted.
As a society, are we now trapped in the false ideology of gender change? As faithful Catholics, are we afraid to disagree with our friends and relatives who affirm or tolerate it? It’s time to stand up for the truth of human nature, the truth of our permanent God-given sex: “God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27).
Joseph Freymann teaches Apologetics, Physics, Computer Science and Robotics at St. Monica Academy in Montrose, California. He has a B.S. in Computer Science and a Master's in Philosophy, and is currently finishing a Master's in Theology at Holy Apostles College. Joseph lives with his wife and five kids in the Los Angeles area.