“Our Cheap Bodies.” Transgenderism and Reassignment Surgery
Updated: Jul 5, 2022
Does the Body Matter? Transgenderism Says “No.”
An incredible article ran today in the New York Times entitled, “How Ben got His Penis.” This is one of the most [negatively] incredible articles I’ve read in some time. The article opens stating,
“Nothing about Benjamin Simpson’s transition was inevitable, certainly not his penis. Though he did, in the end, grow up to be a man, he freely admits that in another place or time he might have grown into an unhappy woman, or the local eccentric, or a person who died too young from suicide.”
Pay attention to the language of that paragraph. It is not only a betrayal of the English language, but of language and reality itself. Up is down, down is sideways, and round is square.
The subject of the article, a trans-man named Benjamin Simpson, is actually a female. She was born a female, grew up a female, and the article is highlighting that she has undergone a surgical procedure called, “phalloplasty.” This is the cosmetic procedure “to make a penis.” But did you catch the subtle shift of language? The article does not use the word “transitioned” to refer to what happened to this young lady. That has been the preferred verb— “transitioned” — up to this point. No, the article simply says, “Though he did, in the end, grow up to be a man…”
The article presents the process as simply the natural result of the human biological process. To “grow up” means to follow the natural course of maturation that all humans undergo. Little boys “grow up” to be men. Little girls “grow up” to be women. The reality is that little girls do not “grow up” to be men; and vice versa.
The Transgender revolution is not only changing human language and sexual norms, it is trying to change the very way we understand the world around us. 5 years ago, we all would have understood the talk of “transitioning.” We may not agree with or affirm it, but we would have understood what was meant by the term. But now, the revolution has marched on to the point where they just refer to “transitioning” as “growing up.”
“This is absolutely normal and natural. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.”
What is the Body?
Are humans the sum of their bodily parts? That seems to be the argument of the Transgender Revolution. If one identifies as Transgender, the argument is, “My body does not match my gender.” “My body is wrong.”
The answer then becomes learning to live at peace with a body that’s defective and incorrect, or correcting the wrong body through surgery.
When someone submits themselves to surgical procedures such as phalloplasty, scrotoplasty, vaginoplasty, or vaginectomy, they are saying, “My body is out of line; my body is wrong. I have say so over my body; I am correcting my body.” And when a medical professional agrees to perform such a procedure, they are giving affirmation that the body can, in fact, be wrong. They are saying, with medicine and surgery, the body is simply the sum of its parts. “If the body lacks a penis while the mind feels that it has one, then all that is needed is to add one.” So goes the narrative…
But, is this right? Is this the true meaning of the body?
The Transgender revolution would have us believe as much. In fact, medicine itself is falling right in line with the thinking and demands of the gender revolution. Dr. Rachel Bluebond-Langer, founder and lead surgeon of the NYU Gender Surgery clinic, is quoted in the article saying, “...most of us [physicians] are not blind to the fact that our bodies make good business in a for-profit system.”
So, doctors and clinics are falling right inline with the demands of the Transgender revolution and its bodily requirements. These surgical gender clinics are becoming more numerous across the country and they are functioning like a car-parts store. “Choose your add-on or customization.” Bluebond-Langer is again quoted saying, “You can do glansplasty, no glansplasty. Scrotoplasty, no scrotoplasty. You can really do a whole mix-and-match thing to meet your goals.”
How incredible is that? The worth of the body has been reduced to personal goals. You can walk into Bluebond-Langer’s clinic, figure out which body parts you do or do not want, and they can make it happen.
According to the article, and without getting too graphic, Dr. Bluebond-Langer says that transgender people seeking this type of surgery can choose to have their genitalia removed, added to, or have some combination therein.
Nowhere, does it seem, is anyone stopping to ask,
“What is the human body?”
“Is there a limit to what should, and should not be done?”
“Should we be doing these irreparable procedures to the body?”
“Can we really change the essential humanity of the body?”
The Optional Body...
Those questions are really important, because the transgender revolution has attempted to drive a wedge between a person’s sense of self and their physical body.
Personhood refers to that which makes you who you are. Your sense of self; your identity.
Personhood is what is most valued within transgenderism.
The body, then, can either be in alignment with your sense of self, or out of alignment.
Transgenderism makes the body secondary to the sense of self; it cheapens the body, subjecting it to the mind and the emotions.
If you’re into philosophy, this is Decartes’, “I think, therefore I am.”
Case in point: Benjamin Simpson (the subject of the article; her actual name is not given), recounts how she wrestled her gender identity in her early years as a teenager.
The article describes how “he” wore baggy clothes during her school years (never once does the article refer to her in feminine pronouns). She knew she was attracted to girls, but attempted “dressing girlier and tried having sex with boys a few times.” These were all efforts to find some satisfactory agreement between her inner sense of self and her physical body.
In college, she took on the identifying term “gender queer” in hopes of finding inner peace, but this, too, let her down.
Finally, she notes, she had a breakthrough. I’ll quote the article at length here,
“In the spring of 2015, Ben got happy hour drinks with two friends at a Midtown barbecue spot. The setup was the usual — sitting at the bar, dissecting sex and gender, putting the pieces together again. They had done this many times before, but this time something clicked, and suddenly Ben understood he was a man. He stood up from the bar and told his friends: “[Expletive]! I’m trans! I gotta go!” Out in the street, he took off his heels and ran five sobbing blocks to the train. That night, he began the bureaucratic work of transition: texting his mother, posting a Facebook status, scheduling a doctor’s appointment to start testosterone.”
How incredible is that paragraph? In the midst of a conversation around sex and gender, under the influence of alcohol, this young woman has “a moment of clarity” where she “realises” she is transgender. Rather than taking time to sober up and consider the objective reality before her, the article reports that “that night” she began her work of transition.
In the course of one night, in one conversation, her body became wrong. Her body was now optional. That night, the article states, she scheduled an appointment to begin correcting her body.
Why had she been miserable all these years? Because her body had betrayed her. Her body was wrong.
The article goes on to say, shortly thereafter, she dropped out of college and “began [her] life as a man.”
Since that time, this young woman has had “top surgery” (breast removal) and “bottom surgery” (phalloplasty).
Before these men and women can be approved for surgery, among other things, they have to rank their desired outcomes and goals for having the surgery. The “post-op priorities provided are (1) standing urination, (2) aesthetics, (3)erectile function, or (4) pleasure.”
“Ben’s primary goal,” as stated in the article, “was standing urination.”
This young woman recounts a time when she was attending a club and presenting as a man. She entered the [only] bathroom where there was a single urinal and a toilet, and no divider in between (not super uncommon, speaking as a man). A man was using the urinal, and having not had phalloplasty, she had to sit on the toilet to urinate.
The article reports that the bathroom encounter settled the surgery issue in Ben’s mind. That was all it took to make the decision. Without the surgery, “taking a leak would mean managing a risk” for the rest of her life. “Having a penis would help him feel safe.”
And, in what might be one of the saddest things I’ve ever read, Ben is quoted as saying, “I felt that any complication that would arise [from the procedures], including dying, was better than the alternative.”
The article reports that these types of surgical procedures come with a 70%+ complication rate, and they take anywhere from 2-6 different procedures, often over several years. For Ben, it took her four years.
It took one conversation with friends to determine she was transgender, and one embarrassing bathroom encounter to decide to forever change her body.
Transgenderism is clear: The body is cheap. The body is optional. Make the body what you want it to be.
What does the Body Mean?
For Christians, thinking through this issue, while odd and stunning to many, is the pressing task of our day. It is also becoming the dominant issue for generations to come.
If things continue as they may, it may soon be visually difficult to tell the difference between men and women.
But, as we think about this from a Christian worldview, the Bible tells us a very different story than does Transgenderism.
In Genesis 1 and 2, the Bible tells us that God made man in His Own image.
It tells us that God made mankind (as a race) male and female (two genders).
We see this reflected in the Bible’s language that God created everything “according to its kind” (Genesis 1).
Furthermore, we note from Genesis 1 and 2 that God created Adam and Eve as embodied creatures. Humans have a soul and a body. The soul and the body are both essential to our humanity.
Just note Adam’s poetic expression upon his first sight of Eve, “This at last is bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” (Genesis 2:23)
His descriptions of his wife are given in bodily terms. Eve can be identified because of her body. Adam understands that Eve's personhood, and her physical body, are one and the same. The body is determinative of the identity, and vice-versa. They are equally part of who she is. One does not dominate the other. Eve's identity as a female is found in both her body and her soul. They are not in competition with one another. God created humanity in such a special and majestic way that the inner testimony of the body is corroborated in the physical makeup of the body.
That is not to say that people do not honestly struggle with same-sex attraction and gender-dysphoria, but such struggles are marks of sin (in a post Genesis 3 world) and we are never permitted to entertain them as permissible. But nowhere does the Bible allow for us to say transgenderism is actually plausible. The Bible nowhere objectifies the idea of transgenderism. Men and women are not born in the wrong bodies.
All life is from God. He has created the male and female bodies to join together in reproduction. And in that process, in the joining of a sperm and an egg, a new life is formed and determined.
There are only two options: Male or female. Nowhere does the gender get crossed in that process.
We also see this truth reflected in the distinctions communicated in the language of creation. The very language used to describe our first parents, Adam and Eve, is language of physical and sexual distinction.
God made mankind, “male and female.” This language not only highlights a difference, but it is a difference of nature and physicality; specifically, the difference of sexual distinctiveness. This distinction becomes clear in v. 28 when God instructs the two to “be fruitful and multiply.” They are to utilize their sexual distinction, realized in their physical bodies and gender roles, to have babies.
When it comes to our humanity, our physical body is an essential part of who we are. It plays a distinct and defining role in our personhood, our identity, and our understanding of ourselves. When a child is born male, that term is comprehensive. The physical body of a male child means that said child is a male through and through. A male physically; a male intellectually; a male emotionally. That is God’s created design, and that is how God works.
Transgenderism is an attempt to dethrone God and seat human emotion in His place. We see that reflected in Dr. Bluebond-Langer’s quote, “You can really do a whole mix-and-match thing to meet your goals.”
God’s Word and creative designs are no longer respected as authoritative. It is “your goals” that now determine reality, set the agenda, and make the rules.
From the Christian worldview, the body is a gift from God to be stewarded according to His Word and His purposes. Biblically, it is God Who joins our soul to our bodies at conception. He grants us life, and that life is either male or female. To be at odds with our bodies is to be at odds with God Himself.
Such a feeling, without question, is a mark of sin. To validate such feelings by undertaking a surgical procedure—such as phalloplasty—is a profound dethroning of God in the heart. It is what Psalm 14:1 speaks of saying, “The fool says in his heart ‘there is no God.”
Transgenderism, and its devaluing of the human body is a profoundly dark way of stating, “there is no God.”
In 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, the Apostle Paul tells us, “You are not your own for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”
Our bodies are gifts from God. Our maleness and femaleness is a part of His good and creative designs. Our bodies belong to God. They are not ours to change or to disagree with.
So, What’s the Point of the Article?
The point of that NYT article is pretty clear. It is one more attempt to normalize this whole process. The point of the article is to say….
This is all very normal, so get with the program.
It is very normal for transgender men and women to pursue these kinds of severe actions.
It is all very good and normal for medical professionals to serve trans people in these ways.
It is all very good and normal for us to talk openly about changing and altering the body.
It's all good and normal.
The article concludes by detailing the surgical process Ben underwent and “his” overwhelming satisfaction in gaining his penis.
It is meant to make us feel, “This is right. And if you don’t agree, change the way you feel.”
Christians, the world around us is changing. It is changing one newspaper article at a time. We must stand firm upon the Word of God; we must have our minds shaped and held captive by the Word of God; and we must not fear speaking the truth and speaking it boldly.
For more reading on this topic, I highly recommend Carl Trueman's new book, Strange New World.