Androgyny is the quality of being neither feminine nor masculine. An androgynous, or unisex, style blurs the lines of gender identity or in some way combines masculine and feminine elements or features. For an individual, a lifestyle, or an article of clothing to be considered androgynous, it must have no discernable gender identity. A truly androgynous person is not readily recognizable as either a boy or a girl—and the confusion is intended.
While many things are neither male nor female (education, employment, automobiles, etc.), personal androgyny is rarely accidental. Many people choose the androgynous look to make a political or moral statement. Females who buzz their hair, bind their breasts, and wear baggy, male clothing are attempting to mask their femininity. Likewise, males who style their hair in traditionally feminine ways, wear frilly, feminine clothing, or apply makeup are attempting to challenge the stereotypical masculine appearance. A great number of people who choose to appear androgynous also struggle with gender identity issues, transsexualism, or homosexuality. But, if a person’s outward appearance is a matter of personal choice, are there moral and spiritual factors to consider? Does the Bible say anything about being androgynous?
God specifically created two distinct genders to serve two distinct roles in His creation (Genesis 1:27). God made Adam in a special act of creation (Genesis 2:7). Then He created a woman, Eve, from Adam’s rib to be a helper for him (Genesis 2:20–22). Adam and Eve had distinctly different physical attributes. They were clearly different because God designed them to be different, and He liked them that way (Genesis 1:31). The man and woman were designed to reproduce so that the earth would be filled with beings who bore the image of God (Genesis 1:28). Only a male and a female coming together can create a new human being, and it takes those physical gender differences to make that happen.
When God gave the Law to Israel, He put prohibitions against the blurring of gender. Deuteronomy 22:5 says, “A woman must not wear men’s clothing, nor a man wear women’s clothing, for the LORD your God detests anyone who does this.” This does not refer to a woman slipping into a pair of work pants to muck the stalls or a man putting on an apron to grill steaks. This verse is referencing a trend on the increase today: the intentional masking of male or female characteristics in an attempt to defy one’s God-given gender.
God’s laws always focus on the heart. He is far more concerned with our motivations and heart attitudes than the result of our actions. People who intentionally reject the gender He gave them are rejecting Him and His design. In essence, a woman who dresses to appear androgynous is saying to God, “You made a mistake.” A man who cross-dresses or wears ambiguous clothing is saying to God, “You can’t meet my needs. You don’t know what you’re doing.” Both are ways of defying God’s right to be Lord over our lives. To reject one’s own gender or to hide it is one of the most blasphemous ways we can reject God’s right to rule over us. If He can’t even get our gender right, then how can He get anything else right?
Some may argue that by appearing androgynous they are not rejecting their gender, only the social stereotypes associated with that gender. However, that argument is too weak to stand, since there are dozens of alternate ways to debunk stereotypes while still celebrating the characteristics that make males and females unique. Women need not conform to frilly-silly, sexy, or revealing styles simply because culture has portrayed femininity that way. And men are right to resist the macho, emotionless mold forced upon them by peers. But masculinity and femininity are embedded far more deeply into our souls than what is reflected externally. Gender is at the root of who we are as individuals.
A woman can be a fighter pilot, construction foreman, or truck driver while still celebrating her femininity in the way she looks. A man can be a stay-at-home dad, a nurse, or secretary without sacrificing his masculinity. Androgyny only confuses the issue. It is impossible to truly know and be known when the most basic part of a person, his or her gender, is kept hidden. People who choose the androgynous look may not realize the mixed message they are sending. They may believe they are downplaying gender in an attempt to focus on who they truly believe themselves to be. In reality, they are calling undue attention to gender by provoking the question in the mind of every passer-by: “What is it?”
Pop culture is going gender-insane, throwing common sense and reality out the window in its attempt to be “edgy” and “progressive.” Androgyny is now celebrated, and gender-reality is looked upon with disdain, but celebrating something doesn’t make it right, and despising something doesn’t make it wrong. Slavery was once celebrated; that didn’t make it right. Child labor is acceptable in many parts of the world; that doesn’t make it right. Prostitution and child trafficking are rampant in many countries; that doesn’t make them right. And, even though gender-confusion, transgenderism, and androgyny are riding a wave of popularity today, that doesn’t make them right.