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Religious Tolerance logo

2017: Why are some people transgender?

Comparing Conservative & Liberal beliefs.
How many genders are there?

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Part 2 of nine parts. (Part 1 is in the previous essay.)

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Transgender woman 1

An unidentified transgender woman.

Conservatives' view of transgender identity --its legitimacy, nature, cause, and treatment:

Many conservatives believe that the Bible is God's inerrant word; it is devoid of error. The initial chapters in the book of Genesis explain that God created two individuals with a heterosexual orientation in the Garden of Eden, circa 4004 to 8000 BCE: They were Eve, a female, and Adam, a male. Genesis describes them as the original parents of the entire human species and the distant ancestors of every living human. God instructed them to be fruitful and multiply. Passages in Genesis, the rest of the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament), the Christian Scriptures (a.k.a. New Testament), and two millennia of Christian theology have assigned specific roles in the family, society, and religion to males and females. For example:

  • In biblical times:
    • Non-virgin brides were stoned to death. No similar punishment was rendered to non-virgin men.

    • If a husband suspected that his wife was having an affair, she could be given a test in the temple that would cause her insides to rot, and kill her, if she was guilty. No similar test was available for men.

    • When a father sold his daughter into slavery, she became a slave forever. When a father sold his son, he remained a slave for only seven years.

    • Women were not allowed to become priests.

  • The Roman Catholic Church currently allows only men to be ordained as priests or deacons, although the church did ordain female deacons during its early years and may again in the future.

  • Many evangelical denominations allow only males to be ordained as pastors.

  • In the U.S., to our knowledge, only the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) has a majority of female clergy.

Persons who transition from male to female, or vice-versa are often perceived by conservatives as potentially causing a major disruption to church rules and the social order.

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Most conservatives regard gender as fixed. An embryo's gender can often be determined during pregnancy by an ultrasound test as early as 10 weeks into gestation. It is later confirmed by a newborn's external genital structures. It could also be confirmed by studying the sex chromosomes in their DNA, although this measurement is not commonly done in newborns. It is recorded on their birth certificate. Conservatives believe that gender remains fixed throughout a person's entire life with no possibility of actual change.

Conservatives often use personal pronouns associated with a transgender person's birth-identified gender. They also identify transgender persons by their assigned name at birth. An individual identified as a boy at birth, who has transitioned to girl, is considered to still be male and is referred to using personal pronouns he, and his. A girl who has transitioned to a boy is considered to be still female and is referred to using personal pronouns she, and her.

Most conservatives regard transgender individuals as suffering from a form of mental illness that generates gender confusion in their mind. A transgender person may have picked up the idea of being a different gender from their parents, from a sex-education class at school, from TV programs, or from some unknown source. They are viewed as being in need support of a psychiatrist or other mental health therapist to end their confusion and help them face the reality of their actual gender.

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Liberals' view of transgender identity --its legitimacy, nature, cause, and treatment:

Children start to identify as having a gender identity about the age of three. About six in every thousand children at that age will grow up to be transgender adults and will identify as having a gender different from their birth-identified gender. This has led many liberals to assume that gender identity is determined before birth, perhaps due to some kind of interaction between genetic factors at conception and hormone levels later in utero. Many transgender children and youths suffer from gender dysphoria -- severe emotional conflicts over their birth-identified sex and their current gender identity. They experience symptoms including anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, or attempted suicide. These are mental health problems that are caused by their transgender identity. However, being transgender is not viewed as a mental disorder in itself. Changing how a transgender person feels their gender to be is not an option. The success rate of therapy has been zero or essentially zero. However, therapy directed at alleviating the dysphoria is often helpful.

Gender identity beliefs in young children is often not permanent. Most transition back and become cisgender: their birth-identified gender and their gender identity match. However, if they have been solidly transgender continuously through their childhood and are approaching puberty, there is a good chance that they will be transgender for their entire life. Some therapists suggest that puberty blocking medication be considered in order to give the child more time to make up their mind whether they should undergo gender confirming surgery (a.k.a. sexual reassignment surgery, genital reconstruction surgery, sex realignment surgery, or, simply, a sex change) in order to make their bodies more closely resemble their gender identity. Also the treatment with sex hormones is a commonly used option.

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Exactly how many genders are there?

This is one area where people who are cisgender, transgender, religious/social conservatives, and religious/social liberals agree: in reality, there are only two genders: a small majority of humans are female, slightly less than 50% are male.

The understanding that this author has about gender and gender identity is that there are only two genders: male and female. However there are more than two ways by which transgender individuals may express one's gender, namely:

  1. female
  2. male
  3. both male and female
  4. neither male nor female.

On 2017-JAN-27, Brandon Morse, writing for The Blaze wrote an article titled: "California Democrats seeking to add another gender to drivers licenses and birth certificates. 5 A reader of the article, who uses the pseudonym "ALL4FREEDOM," had posted a comment:

"There are only two sex chromosomes, X and Y. There are only two genders, male and female."

The author of this essay on posted a response to ALL$FREEDOM. My reply listed the above 4 methods of expressing one's gender, and then continued:

"Almost all transgender adults define their gender as opposite to their birth-identified gender. Similarly, cisgender people, like myself, define their gender as congruent to their birth-identified gender. But some transgender individuals define themselves as 3 above: having both male and female aspects to their gender. Others also define themselves as 3 above, but switch between male and female from time to time. Finally, others are 4: they find the whole concept of gender meaningless and don’t identify themselves as either male or female.

But just about everyone — cisgender or transgender — recognize only two genders."5

Unfortunately, there is a concept expressed by many conservative media sources that transgender individuals and the whole LGBT communities are trying to create new genders.

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Note: A discussion of CAIS: "Complete Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome" was once located here. It has been moved to the next essay

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This topic is continued in the next essay

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. A photograph of a transgender woman. Photo credit: ¡Carlitos Float de Hibrido via photopin (license)
  2. The Asexual Visibility & Education Network (AVEN)," at:
  3. P.G. Slijper, et al., "Androgen insensitivity syndrome (AIS): emotional reactions of parents and adult patients to the clinical diagnosis of AIS and its confirmation by androgen receptor gene mutation analysis," U.S. National Library of Medicine, at:
  4. , "Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome," U.S. National Library of Medicine, at:
  5. Brandon Morse, "California Democrats seeking to add another gender to drivers licenses and birth certificates," The Blaze. 2017-JAN-27, at:

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Copyright © 2017 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally posted on: 2017-JAN-18
Latest update: 2017-JAN-30
B.A. Robinson
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