It is possible to find people who argue that science gives us reasons to be cautious about transgender ideology’s claims. Scientists like the gay atheist James Cantor will even tell you (as he did on my podcast) that medical science ought not support gender-transition treatments and surgeries, because of the harm they cause gender-dysphoric people. But science has its limits. Even if the entire scientific community agreed about the problems with transgender ideology, they could never arrive at a moral imperative for human sexuality based on science. This is because the claims of the transgender movement are not truly scientific, medical, or even psychological claims. They are claims about metaphysics.
You see, even if a study were to emerge demonstrating that little boys who transitioned to girls (or vice versa) were happier and had better mental health, we would be no closer to knowing whether it is, in fact, possible to change a person’s sex, much less whether doing this to a child is right. Scientific studies can offer answers on outcomes and physiology. But they cannot tell us what it means to be male, female, or even human.
From Science to Metaphysics
The dictionary defines “metaphysics” as “the branch of philosophy that deals with the first principles of things, including abstract concepts such as being, knowing, substance, cause, identity, time, and space.” The metaphysical pretensions of the transgender movement are obvious in the painstaking efforts to redefine “man” and “woman.” Consider an answer San Francisco–based medical website Healthline offered to the question “Can Men Get Pregnant?”:
Yes. It’s possible for men to become pregnant and give birth to children of their own. In fact, it’s probably a lot more common than you might think. In order to explain, we’ll need to break down some common misconceptions about how we understand the term “man.”
Healthline proceeds to divorce the definition of “man” from biology, making it a matter of purely subjective identification such that even a person with a uterus and ovaries—who can get pregnant—could qualify as a man.
Notice what has happened. The transgender movement has taken the primary question of this cultural debate completely out of the realm of science. By every identifiable physical trait, a person may be a member of one sex. But if, despite all of this, he identifies as the opposite sex, that is what he really is, according to the transgender movement.
We don’t normally do things this way. I’m not the first to point out that in all other cases in which a patient’s body objectively contradicts his psychology, we treat him as mentally ill and compassionately care for him accordingly. When an anorexic patient enters the hospital severely malnourished but convinced that her body is morbidly obese, we do not indulge this dangerous fantasy by putting her on a diet.
Scientific studies can offer answers on outcomes and physiology. But they cannot tell us what it means to be male, female, or even human.
Yet if the very same patient walks into many medical establishments today and says that she identifies as a man, she can begin the steps of having her healthy breasts removed. This is true even if the patient is a child. As WORLD reported earlier this year, this scenario is unfolding in California, where girls as young as 13 have been given double mastectomies.
If we seek to alleviate all other forms of body dysphoria by treating the mind, why do we respond to gender dysphoria by “treating” the body? The simple answer is that we no longer have a shared, metaphysical definition of “male,” “female,” or even “human being.”
Is there such a thing as human nature? Is sex more than just a matter of malleable plumbing? Are we male and female at our deepest level, and do these categories tell us anything about our purpose in the universe?
Christianity’s answer—and the answer of virtually all philosophers until the last decade—was a resounding “yes.” Yet, today, an ideology that says otherwise is rapidly seizing control of the sciences, the academy, media industries, and the medical establishment. This coup is based not on empirical evidence, but on the willpower of an unprovable metaphysical assertion. And these revolutionaries demand—often on pain of firing and professional censure—that scientists and doctors shut up and go along with it.
We no longer have a shared, metaphysical definition of ‘male,’ ‘female,’ or even ‘human being.’
Yet this ideology contains the seeds of its own undoing. Aside from the fact that experimenting on the bodies of children is revolting, the transgender movement lacks a real answer to why we have a moral duty to support its claims or meet its demands. After all, if there is no such thing as objective human nature, or male and female, then it makes little sense to speak of an obligation to help people “align” their bodies with their feelings. Is it part of the human purpose to feel “natural” in our bodies, and to help others do so? What is happiness, and why is it important? Says who?
Answer Assertions with Questions
In a time when the most fundamental facts about ourselves are up for grabs, such questions have to be asked. In fact, if you have friends, family members, or professors who are repeating transgender claims, why not use questions to expose the metaphysical assumptions behind them?
For example, if someone says that gender-dysphoric children will attempt suicide if their parents and doctors don’t “affirm” them, ask whether we treat other self-harming patients this way. If an anorexic teenage girl were starving herself because she thought she was obese, would we “affirm” her in this false and dangerous belief?
Or let’s say someone repeats the popular slogans “trans women are women” and “trans men are men.” Ask that person to define “man” and “woman.” If these words aren’t descriptions of who we are in each cell and organ of our bodies (and even in our souls), then what do they mean? Inevitably, that person will have to reply that whoever feels like a man is a man, and whoever feels like a woman is a woman. But this, as I pointed out, is a metaphysical rather than scientific claim.
It is vital to hear the voices of gutsy critics like Cantor who rightly condemn gender transition, especially in minors, as junk science lacking supportive evidence. But in the final analysis, we must realize that what’s really driving the transgender craze isn’t bad science, or any kind of science at all.
It’s bad philosophy—a set of metaphysical claims defining human beings out of existence. And if we hope to restore sanity to our institutions and save young patients from psychological and physical abuse, we must confront these claims head-on, above all seeking to understand how we were created before allowing anyone to recreate us.