Paul and Courtney will explore six claims about gender and sex that will hopefully spur you on to explore these topics in greater detail in your own journey and lives. As a disclaimer, in this episode, we’ll sidestep questions about ethics and focus on metaphysics: we’ll look to philosophy, theology, and science to see what we might learn about sex, gender, and the human person
An Apology for Debate: (1) It is important to note that part of what it means to flourish is to be rightly related to reality; and (2) If philosophy, broadly understood, is a kind of pursuit of wisdom and knowledge for the flourishing of all, then it seems right that the topic of gender should be open to philosophical debate.
The Nature of the Debate: Fundamentally, the questions around sex and gender are not first ethical questions, but metaphysical questions. We need to first determine what the reality is about gender and sex as it pertains to human persons and then we can ask questions about morality, gender pronouns, legal protections, and so on.
Six ideas or claims about Sex and Gender to consider:
- Bodily Soul: I am a soul that has a body. (Discussed in S. 7 Ep. 3)
- Soul Grounding: My soul grounds/explains/is metaphysically prior to my body. (Discussed in S. 7 Ep. 3)
- Genderism: My soul is essentially gendered.
- My soul is not male or female (since those are biological terms about our sex), rather my soul is gendered, or has a metaphysical gender that grounds my biological sex.
- The ordering then, on the bodily soul view goes from the soul, the immaterial essence of me, to my body, which will have a sex.
- Binarism: There are only two sexes, male and female.
- Biblical Justification (cf. Gen. 1:27; Matt. 19:4)
- Scientific Justification (see Kathleen Stock’s Material Girls)
- Sex/Gender Distinction: Sex and gender are distinct coextensive concepts that refer to distinct realities.
- The word “sex” refers to a person’s biological features, such as chromosomes, sex organs, and hormones. The words that typically pick out a person’s gender include the words “masculine” and “feminine” as well as “man” and “women.”
- Regarding the relationship between sex and gender, there are two broad views, the traditional coextensive view and the revisionary disjunctive view. On the traditionally coextensive view, a person’s sex is distinct but coextensive with his or her sex. On the revisionary disjunctive view, sex and gender are pulled apart.
- A “transgender” person is one whose gender identity (i.e., inner sense of gender) does not conform to sex assigned to them at birth.
- The Gender/Gender Identity Distinction: Our gender is an objective feature of our soul (metaphysical gender) and body (biological gender); our gender identity is our (subjective) psychological identity as masculine or feminine; our gender and gender identity can be different.
- C. S. Lewis, Perelandra
- Kathleen Stock, Material Girls