What does the Bible say about the various forms of gender dysphoria?
Question: "What does the Bible say about transsexualism / transgenderism? Is gender identity disorder / gender dysphoria the result of sin?"
Answer: Transsexualism, also known as transgenderism, Gender Identity Disorder (GID), or gender dysphoria, is a feeling that your biological/genetic/physiological gender does not match the gender you identify with and/or perceive yourself to be. Transsexuals/transgenders often describe themselves as feeling “trapped” in a body that does not match their true gender. They often practice transvestism/transvestitism and may also seek hormone therapy and/or gender reassignment surgery to bring their bodies into conformity with their perceived gender.
The Bible nowhere explicitly mentions transgenderism or describes anyone as having transgender feelings. However, the Bible has plenty to say about human sexuality. Most basic to our understanding of gender is that God created two (and only two) genders: “male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27). All the modern-day speculation about numerous genders or gender fluidity—or even a gender “continuum” with unlimited genders—is foreign to the Bible.
The closest the Bible comes to mentioning transgenderism is in its condemnations of homosexuality (Romans 1:18–32; 1 Corinthians 6:9–10) and transvestitism (Deuteronomy 22:5). The Greek word often translated “homosexual offenders” or “male prostitutes” in 1 Corinthians 6:9 literally means “effeminate men.” So, while the Bible does not directly mention transgenderism, when it mentions other instances of gender “confusion,” it clearly and explicitly identifies them as sin.
What about the possibility that those suffering with transgenderism have a brain that functions as one gender while the rest of the body is biologically the other gender? The Bible does not even hint at such a possibility. However, neither does the Bible mention hermaphroditism (a condition in which a person has both male and female sexual organs), which undeniably occurs (although extremely rarely). Further, people can be born with or develop all kinds of different brain defects or malfunctions. How can it be said that it is impossible for a female brain to be in a male body (or vice versa)?
With hermaphroditism as evidence, it cannot be said that if the Bible does not mention something it does not occur. So, it might be possible for a person to be born with a brain wired in such a way that it contributes to gender dysphoria. This could also be an explanation for some instances of homosexuality. However, just because something might have a biological cause does not mean embracing the effects is the right thing to do. Some people are wired with a sexuality on hyper-drive. That does not make it right for them to engage in sexual immorality. It is scientifically proven than some psychopaths/sociopaths have brains with severely weakened impulse-control mechanisms. That does not make it right for them to engage in every deviant behavior that crosses their minds.
No matter if the gender distortion has a genetic, hormonal, physiological, psychological, or spiritual cause, it can be overcome and healed through faith in Christ and continued reliance on the power of the Holy Spirit. Healing can be received, sin can be overcome, and lives can be changed through the salvation that Jesus provides, even if there are biological/physiological factors. The Corinthian believers are an example of such a change: “And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11). There is hope for everyone, transsexuals, transgenders, those with gender identity disorder, and transvestites included, because of God’s forgiveness available in Jesus Christ.
Recommended Resource: Understanding Gender Dysphoria: Navigating Transgender Issues in a Changing Culture by Mark Yarhouse
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Questions about Sin
What does the Bible say about transsexualism / transgenderism? Is gender identity disorder / gender dysphoria the result of sin?