Gender, Abortion, and Transphobia
While the end of Roe v. Wade is and will remain a source of rejoicing, the Biden administration is doing all it can to prevent states from exercising their constitutional authority over abortion policy. In a number of states, judges have impeded implementation of pro-life legislation already on the books.
For example, earlier this week, a county district judge in Minnesota “struck down several of the state’s longstanding abortion restrictions as unconstitutional, including a 24-hour waiting period and a requirement that doctors administer all abortions.
The efforts to sustain abortion on demand will not quickly abate, and for years to come, we can anticipate relentless legislative and judicial efforts by abortion advocates at the state level. Yet even as the battle for life continues in the states, it extends far beyond our own borders. Throughout the world, abortion has become commonplace. According to the World Health Organization, roughly “73 million induced abortions take place worldwide each year. Six out of 10 (61%) of all unintended pregnancies, and three out of 10 (29%) of all pregnancies, end in induced abortion.”
Tragic in itself, the evil and widespread practice of killing unborn persons in the womb is compounded by another reality: Many abortions are motivated by a desire for male, rather than female, children. The United Nations Population Fund reports that “around 140 million women are believed to be ‘missing’ around the world — the result of son preference, including gender-biased sex selection, a form of discrimination. Since the 1990s, some areas have seen up to 25% more male births than female births.”
One reason is cultural: In some societies, a man is stigmatized if he does not have a son. Sons keep the family name alive and are perceived as better workers than women. They are also, in many cases, seen simply as more valuable than women.
The idea that value is based on gender is debunked in the first chapter of the Bible, Genesis 1: “In the image of God He created them, male and female He created them.” As bearers of God’s image, both genders have equal merit in God’s sight.
This is where a great irony comes into play. In America today, elites in government, education, and the media continually tell us that gender is fluid. According to Dr. Sabra L. Katz-Wise of Harvard Medical School, “Gender fluidity refers to change over time in a person’s gender expression or gender identity, or both. That change might be in expression, but not identity, or in identity, but not expression. Or both expression and identity might change together.” Or consider this gem from America’s own National Public Radio: “Gender identity is one’s own internal sense of self and their gender, whether that is man, woman, neither or both. Unlike gender expression, gender identity is not outwardly visible to others.”
By implication, these statements mean you have the right to insist that you are something you are not and that others must affirm you in this distressing self-deception.
So, if gender is fluid, there really is no such thing as “gender-biased” abortion. The very term smacks of hateful and rigid categorization that denies each person the right to define himself/herself/themself (themselves?) as they wish.
And, for that matter, what does it mean to be a woman trapped in a man’s body? To be a biological man or woman and identify as the opposite gender implies that there are characteristics of maleness and femaleness that are universal and objective. This assertion flies in the face of the idea that stereotyping either gender is seen as a concurrent evil with gender fluidity. In other words, how can you feel like the opposite gender since to define gender as possessing certain non-biological characteristics is inherently sexist? Are “real men” gruff, decisive, and protective of women? Are “real women” demure, do they wear dresses and makeup, and like to have doors opened for them? Exactly what are we talking about?
When, earlier this week, Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) asked Khiara M. Bridges, a law professor from the University of California-Berkeley, if only women can get pregnant, she responded, “There are also trans men who are capable of pregnancy, as well as nonbinary people who are capable of pregnancy.” Or, as Atlantic writer Connor Friedersdorf helpfully explains, the professor is referring to “people born with female reproductive organs” — conventionally called women — “who now identify as men, but who retain the ovaries and uterus that permit them to become pregnant.” In other words, they are still women but just don’t want to be thought of as women, and those of us who refuse to bend to this affront to reality are hateful.
Persisting in his dialogue with Bridges, Hawley was told that his “line of questioning is transphobic and it opens up trans people to violence by not recognizing them.”
Persons with gender dysphoria need compassion. They need to be “recognized” as persons made and loved by a personal God. But how does agreeing they are something they are not help them? Lies do not have good outcomes for anyone.
Which brings us back to abortion. If gender is merely a social construct, sex-selection abortion seems wholly acceptable. Unless you’re against abortion, which means you want to see women die. Oh wait — there I go talking in two-gender categories again. Silly me.
Rob Schwarzwalder is Senior Lecturer in Regent University's Honors College.