I’ve been reading a lot about gender lately, and more often than not, I find arguments supporting the person’s choice to identify as the “gender” they personally feel they are. I think we need to be careful about what we are saying when it comes to “gender” today. We walk a very fine line when we say that by allowing a person to be whatever “gender” they identify with we rid ourselves of gender stereotyping.
I beg to differ.
Does this not simply encourage more gender stereotyping? When we say that our personal experience indicates to us that we are a man or woman, what are we basing that upon? A person cannot truly understand what it means to be a woman if they don’t experience the specific things that make me a woman, which are the very things that make me different from a man: my anatomy, physiology, and even psychology. So when a person identifies as another gender, is it just that we are more attracted to the things that men or women typically are associated with in our society? And in saying we identify with those things, are we not encouraging the unfair stereotypes we so long to be rid of? Do we not see how backwards this is?
Absolutely love the things you love: pink, blue, cooking, trucks, etc. Those are things you like! They are good! But your preferences are not your identity. Your preferences do not determine your gender, because society doesn’t make us male or female—nature and biology do. We cannot choose which “gender” we are because of the things we are more attracted to. My love for pink and online shopping doesn’t determine that I am a woman: my anatomical make up demonstrates to me that I am one. Biology isn’t subjective.
By rejecting the way in which we were created—male and female—and celebrating that rejection, we as a society are not celebrating our differences, but rather we celebrate a rejection of the human person and who we were made to be. We actually do the opposite of encouraging one another to love ourselves. We tell people that it’s ok to not love the way they were made. We tell them it’s ok to reject who your body wants to express that it is. We separate the body from the soul, and when we do that, we actually become the very definition of death, and bring that to the world, rather than love, which brings life.
The complementarity of the masculine and the feminine brings life to the world. The objective truth and reality that those two things exist, and embracing that diversity, brings new life to this planet. Love and life cannot be separated. To reduce our bodies to something that we can manipulate and mutilate in order to match what our thoughts and feelings are is a dangerous line to walk. We make ourselves into objects to be used, rather than people to be loved. Altering the way we were made actually divides us from our very selves. We no longer know who we are.
Gender theories do not seek to unite and diversify human beings. Gender theories seek to break down the human person into a pile of parts that can be used and manipulated to please our every desire. It pits our bodies against our souls. Acceptance and love are its mantra, but in fact it does the complete opposite: encouraging us to reject our own selves.
We are destroying ourselves and our unique and particular dignity as men and women. We are crumbling the very foundation on which we are built.
I have no doubt that those who struggle to accept their identity as male or female experience very real pain. My heart breaks out of love, not pity, for them. We each are a beautiful and complex creation, and understanding ourselves is a great mystery that we will spend our entire lifetime trying to discover. It’s ok to ask someone for help with this. This is what we are supposed to do for one another: help one another discover truth so as to flourish and become the persons we were made to be. We need to be there for one another when times are hard and we are suffering. This is what authentic love is all about. Not rejection of another, but embracing them in all of their messiness, and helping one another to live a life of freedom from chaos and confusion.
It is truth that frees us and brings us authentic peace of mind and heart, because it is only in knowing and accepting truth that we are able to see things clearly. Truth helps us to understand what we were made for, and in understanding that, we can become who we were made to be.
“When the freedom to be creative becomes the freedom to create oneself, then necessarily the Maker himself is denied and ultimately man too is stripped of his dignity as a creature of God, as the image of God at the core of his being.” – Benedict XVI
Ashley Ackerman is first and foremost a daughter of God, and after that she works for His glory as a high school religion teacher, campus minster, speaker, and blogger. She is a graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville, where she earned her master’s degree in Theology. You can read more of Ashley’s blog posts by visiting her personal blog, “A Heart Made for Grace” where she shares her musings on all things Catholic.