Male and female He made them …
A few days before this article was written (October 2013), Nathan Verhelst, aged 44 years, was legally euthanased (i.e. killed) in Belgium due to “unbearable psychological distress” after a series of sex-change operations, because the outcome failed to meet his expectations. What causes a person to firstly reject the sex (gender) they are born with and then seek surgery to attempt to become the opposite sex?
Genesis 5:2 “Male and female he created them, and he blessed them”
Evolutionists have no explanation for the origin of the sexes or gender in nature. While they acknowledge the advantages of sexual reproduction, they have no valid description for how the sexes came about.1 Creationists believe that sex is the product of an intelligent Creator.2
The male and female sexes are usually easy to tell apart in nature, for example the peacock versus the more modest peahen. Even male and female humans can be distinguished from external characteristics. However, there are some humans who do not identify with the gender that they are accorded by virtue of their external characteristics observed at birth, and who feel closely aligned to and identify as the opposite gender. These are folk who are known as transgender, and they are often misunderstood and, sometimes, mistreated.
In July 2013 Australian Health Minister Tanya Plibersek announced that gender discrimination would be removed from (the national insurance scheme) Medicare, meaning transgender and intersex people would not have to disclose or explain their gender in order to receive medical treatment. The Health Department and the Department of Human Services are also in early discussions about including a third sex on Medicare records.
Gina Wilson, president of Organisation Intersex International Australia, has welcomed moves to remove gender discrimination from Medicare, also stating that she had difficulty getting appropriate medical treatment because her Medicare record said she was female but she had some male features. “‘The doctors that think I’m female tend to treat me like that and ignore my male bits. And doctors that think I’m male tend to treat me like that and ignore my female bits,’’ she said. ‘’What medicine should be treating is the person and the parts of a person. Medicine should not be interested in a person’s sex”.3
The number of people affected by the change to Medicare services is unknown as the number of transgender people in Australia is unknown. A recent study in the US determined that an estimated 3.5% of adults identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual and an estimated 0.3% of adults are transgender.4The Australian Census allows only for collection of data relating to male and female sex. Indeed, a key recommendation of ACON, formerly known as the AIDS Council of NSW, in May 2013, was that the 2016 Census of Population and Housing should collect data on sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status.5 The calculated prevalence of transsexualism in The Netherlands is 1:11,900 males and 1:30,400 females6. The prevalence is similar in Belgium,7 slightly lower in Sweden, but higher in Singapore. The prevalence by self-report in New Zealand is approximately 1:6000.8
What is it like to be transgender? And should we acknowledge a ‘third’ sex? A person is born male or female based on the presence or absence of the Y sex-chromosome. Females inherit an X sex chromosome from their fathers and another one from their mothers, whereas males always inherit a Y sex chromosome from their fathers, indeed, the very same Y sex chromosome passed down to all males from Adam via Noah, as well as an X sex chromosome from their mothers. Therefore, females are XX, with one X being inactivated during early development, whereas males are XY. Anomalies during cell division, during meiosis9 can result in this process ending with problems that affect physical outcomes. For example, getting more than two X sex chromosomes leads to disorders that profoundly affect health.10,11 Similarly, problems during development can result in Y chromosome disorders12. However, each of us has received an X or Y chromosome from Dad and we are each either biologically male or female. There are a number of congenital disorders that result in ambiguous genitals at birth, and this can cause an array of issues for the individual, however, this is another result of the Fall, “For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now (Romans 8:22)”.
Gender reassignment surgery does not change a person’s sex, as sex is determined by X and Y chromosomes contained in every cell in the body. Male to female sex change surgery is a cosmetic change only.
Gender identity is described as the sense of being masculine or feminine. Gender dysphoria or gender identity disorder, GID, is a significant feeling of incongruence with one’s gender, to the point of distress, accompanied by the strong desire to be of the other sex, without there being a concurrent physical intersex condition such as congenital adrenal hyperplasia or a partial androgen insensitivity syndrome, according to the DSM IV13.
This explains what David, a patient of mine, had experienced.
During puberty, David experienced an inexplicable intense desire to be female. There ensued an internal struggle for a number of years, yet so committed was David in this endeavour to be female and so certain was he that life would never be right for him if he remained a male, that he took the ultimate steps in attaining his goal of becoming ‘female’. Around the age of 30 years, after taking female hormones and living as a female for the requisite two years, he underwent a gender reassignment operation.
I first met David, who was Danniielle at that time, late one afternoon at the clinic where I work. He explained that he had been born a healthy male and had been through a ‘sex change’ operation at the age of 30 years, and had been living as a female for several years. This major surgery involved the permanent removal of his male sexual organs and the construction of some female ones. He lived as a female from then on, finding acceptance within the homosexual community, and living as a female in an intimate relationship with another man. He still felt that he had something missing on the inside. This lifestyle continued for years, until Danniielle came into a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. An encounter with God rarely leaves a person unchanged, and Danniielle was no exception. Feeling convicted of his sin, he repented and became sensitive and obedient to God’s will. David says his ‘salvation’ Scripture is:
“Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38).’”
Now, he wanted to return to the gender that he felt God wanted him to be, his birth sex. He wished to resume being a man. He had come to see me in this regard, wanting my assistance in the process to returning to life as a man, as he felt deeply that the Lord’s Spirit was persuading him to do this. Thus, our journey together began, seeking the best way forward to regain his lost manhood. How were we going to achieve this? Naturally, it was going to take a bit of research in order to facilitate the process of reversal of a gender reassignment.
At present, Danniielle, now David, has accepted that which is lost. He sought and has gained his salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ. He leans on the Lord and is willing to serve God as a single man. As this is written, he is undergoing surgery to remove his breast implants, and he will permanently be on a testosterone supplement to ensure he regains and maintains the male characteristics that he had previously worked hard at suppressing for so long. He is a street preacher in Adelaide and a valued member of his church community.14
David’s story is unique but he is not alone in some regards. There are others who have been strongly committed to a transgender status and lifestyle, to the point of putting their money where their mouth is and enduring gender reassignment surgery, but who have changed their minds later on.15,16 Is it possible to feel so convicted by a lifestyle choice that one is willing to experience loss of external genitalia and undergo life transforming surgery after months of counselling and psychiatric evaluation, only to later on decide that one has made the wrong decision?
Walt Heyer was once a married man with two children. He built a successful career, first as a design engineer for the Apollo space mission systems and later as a key member of the team at Honda in the USA. A sex change ended it all. Despite having had the operation, Walt painstakingly restored his life and is now an author and speaker with a mission to inspire and help others. Below is a short version of his story from his book Trading my Sorrows:
“Over 30 years ago, I underwent sex reassignment surgery at the hands of a skilled sex change surgeon, Dr. Stanley Biber.
Ever since I could remember, I felt like I was born into the wrong body. The diagnosis was gender dysphoria, or gender identity disorder. The transgender support community provided an answer—take hormones and get sex reassignment surgery. In other words, change into a woman. But can you really change?
Dr. Biber claimed that he had changed me from a man into a woman. Years later the truth emerged—Dr. Biber’s own words in an affidavit to a California court stated no sex change occurred. I was indeed still a man.
My perfectly good body parts had been amputated. Years of looking like and living as a woman did not bring the promised treatment or relief. I still suffered from psychological issues which needed to be properly diagnosed and treated.
I turned to Jesus Christ, who surrounded me with His loving people. Through their unconditional love, I finally received treatment for dissociative disorder and now I am restored as a father, husband and man.
Now we are celebrating my restored life, and I’m here to share the amazing story with you through my book, Trading My Sorrows17 ————Walt Heyer
A search on the internet reveals numerous stories like Walt’s and David’s.
Hormone and genetic studies have not revealed a cause for gender dysphoria; the authors of a 2013 Italian study state in their conclusion: “This gender disorder does not seem to be associated with any molecular mutations of some of the main genes involved in sexual differentiation”.18 In addition, a small study from Japan in 2009 found that no difference was determined between their controls and their gender dysphoric subjects, with the authors stating “No significant difference in allelic or genotypic distribution of any gene examined was found between MTFs (male-to-female) and control males or between FTMs (female-to-male) and control females. The present findings do not provide any evidence that genetic variants of sex hormone-related genes confer individual susceptibility to MTF or FTM transsexualism”.19
A neuroendocrine cause has recently been reported as a potential associative factor in gender dysphoria. This substance is called brain-derived neurotrophic factor, BDNF, and has been described as being at lower levels in the brains of gender dysphoric males versus normal controls.20 It is believed that traumatic events in the life of the person with gender dysphoria may be a causative factor for this finding.21 BDNF is also found to be at lower levels in people suffering from psychiatric conditions such as bipolar disorder.
In addition to these differences there is a worrying report of an increased death rate in gender reassignment cases when compared to the general population. One study has reported the mortality rates in transsexuals receiving cross-sex hormones in the male-to-female reassignment category is 51% higher than in the general population, mainly from increased mortality rates due to suicide, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), cardiovascular disease, drug abuse, and unknown causes.22 It is also reported that ethinyl estradiol may be causative in a higher risk of cardiovascular deaths. This is a synthetic female hormone needed for feminization in the male-to-female gender reassignment. Despite the high risk of death, it is also reported that at the one year mark, a large percentage of gender reassignment recipients are satisfied with their surgery. In another study the authors state in their conclusion, “Very low quality evidence suggests that sex reassignment that includes hormonal interventions in individuals with GID likely improves gender dysphoria, psychological functioning and co-morbidities, sexual function and overall quality of life.”23 A figure of two percent is reported for dissatisfaction with gender reassignment surgery.24
A shocking account in the Australian Doctor magazine25 reports that a 44-year-old woman, born Nancy, who became Nathan Verhelst, underwent three female-to-male gender reassignment operations between 2009 and 2012. On Monday 30 September 2013 after “unbearable psychological distress” due to being uncomfortable with her post-operation body, Nathan was euthanased. She was said to have died in “all serenity” by the surgeon in Belgium who caused and oversaw her death (see box).26 Overall, gender reassignment is not a panacea for individuals with internal strife related to their gender and does not always lead to relief of this stress. While medical interventions have their place, as with every other physical and emotional issue experienced by humans, it is the Lord that ultimately heals us and provides His comfort.
Jesus said, as recorded in Matthew 11:28–30:
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Jesus came to bring us life to the full. It is in Him alone that we find our peace and comfort.
In 2 Corinthians 5:1–5 we are told:
“For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.
He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.”
YOUR (DEATH) WISH IS GRANTED
Some indication of the level to which much of Western society has sunk is given by this horrific act of killing by a doctor (who previously killed two deaf twins at their request, as they feared they might become blind and be unable to communicate with each other). While much of the church has stood by, the ‘evolutionization’ of society has proceeded apace, providing the ‘scientific rationale’ for rejecting the authority of God’s Word. Genesis makes it plain that life is sacred, because people are made in God’s image. In rejecting the veracity of the Word of God, in the name of ‘science’, the real agenda behind the rampant evolution-fuelled secularism is to elevate humanity above God.
The tragic irony comes when one considers the whole picture of what happened to this person when she expressed distress at being forced to live as her actual gender, a woman. Rather than seek alternative ways to relieve this emotional pain, society was happy to apply extensive and expensive pharmaceutical and surgical procedures to grant her wish to take on the appearance of a man. (In previous times, she would have been told to accept what God had assigned her. And a proper compassionate response would have been to explore other ways to alleviate the distress, to seek the root underlying emotional and spiritual factors.)
However, when the outcome of this state-condoned mutilation “disgusted” her, causing even more distress, once again society responded not with the real compassion of trying to address the root problems. Rather, in mock compassion, it once again acquiesced to her ‘freedom’, this time granting her wish to be put down like an animal beyond help. After all, we are simply evolved animals, not made in His image according to the prevailing secular view.
One could hardly have a starker expression of how humanism, in seeking to glorify man in his rebellion against God, ends up degrading and dehumanizing the individual, who is ultimately expedient to the ‘greater good’ in this worldview.
While gender dysphoria leading to transsexualism may possibly be a biological defect, our loving Heavenly Father has given us rules to live by for our own good. By turning to our Creator, the Lord Jesus Christ, placing our trust in Him, we find our complete and true identity. In Christ we look to the time when every tear will be wiped from our eyes, there will be no more death, or mourning or pain, for the old order of things will have passed away (Revelation 21:4).
Gender identity disorder: Biological or behavioural—or is it both?
Some studies have reported a possible biological basis for transsexualism, where the bed nucleus in the stria terminalis of the brain, an area important for gender identity, of male-to-female transsexuals revealed that the sexual differentiation followed a female pattern.27,28 There are dimorphic, that is retaining the ability to become male or female, nuclei in the brain that differentiate post-natally at the ages of 2–4 years based on androgens being present or absent. Other nuclei differentiate at later times, and for some it is unknown when differentiation occurs.
There is also a report of a possible reduced sensitivity to androgens during the key differentiating period.29 These findings support the concept of transsexualism as a disorder where the sexual differentiation of the brain is not consonant with chromosomal pattern and gonadal sex.
Although this suggestion of one more post-Fall problem highlights the need for compassion, things are rarely as simple as in the popular image of ‘a gene for (whatever the focus of attention is—whether alcoholism, narcissism, or whatever)’.
For instance, it has been suggested that the phenomenon known as ‘false mental image’ might be a factor in GID, just as it is with anorexia. People with anorexia have a false mental image of their body; they think that they are fat when they are actually extremely thin, even near death’s door. The similarity to GID is clear; the person is convinced that they are not what they are and are actually of the other sex. People with anorexia are not given surgical ‘help’ to make their body conform to what they imagine it should be; rather, the emphasis is on helping to correct the false mental image that they have of their body.
Just as there might be predisposing biological factors for anorexia (but it appears to be first and foremost a mental problem), so too with GID. The brain is an immensely complex and poorly understood organ, and early life experiences shape its anatomy and function; also, the consistent behavioural choices we make can influence its development. Even the adult brain is much more ‘plastic’ than hitherto believed (neuroplasticity is a hot research topic at present) and we are able to convince ourselves of all manner of bizarre things if we dwell on them.
With the mass media constantly bombarding people with stories of things that are ‘not lovely’ (all manner of aberrations), people are increasingly feeding their minds on things which can set in train an obsessive belief about a particular issue, and could facilitate the slippery slope into body and gender dysmorphia.30
How much better to heed the sound advice from the Bible to think on the good things:
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8).
Note: Permission was sought and granted by David and Walt to discuss their cases in this article.
References and notes
- refuting-evolution-2-chapter-11-argument-evolution-of-sex. Return to text.
- Thompson, B and Harrub, B, Evolutionary theories on gender and sexual reproduction, J. of Creation, 18(1):97–104, 2004. Return to text.
- www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/gender-discrimination-to-be-removed-from-medicare-20130724-2qi4m.html. Return to text.
- Gates G J. How many people are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender? The Williams Institute, School of Law, UCLA, April 2011. Return to text.
- ACON (formerly known as the AIDS Council of NSW) was formed in 1985 as part of the community response to the impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Australia. Today, ACON is Australia’s largest community-based gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) health and HIV/AIDS organisation. ACON provides information, support and advocacy for the GLBT community and people living with or at risk of acquiring HIV, including sex workers and people who use drugs. ACON submitted, in May 2013, their recommendations to the Australian Bureau of Statistics Census of Population and Housing: Consultation on Content and Procedures, 2016. Return to text.
- Van Kesteren PJ, Gooren LJ, Megens JA, An epidemiological and demographic study of transsexuals in The Netherlands, Arch Sex Behav. 25(6):589–600, 1996. PubMed PMID: 8931882. Return to text.
- De Cuypere G, Van Hemelrijck M, Michel A, Carael B, Heylens G, Rubens R, Hoebeke P, Monstrey S., Prevalence and demography of transsexualism in Belgium, Eur Psychiatry 22(3):137–41, 2007. Epub 26 Dec 2006. PubMed PMID: 17188846. Return to text.
- Veale JF. Prevalence of transsexualism among New Zealand passport holders. Aust N Z J Psychiatry 42(10):887–9, 2008. doi: 10.1080/00048670802345490.PubMed PMID: 18777233. Return to text.
- During the process of meiosis when the sex cell division takes place in adults, in sperm and egg cells, the 46 human chromosomes divide by half into two cells, each with 23 chromosomes. The female cells will divide into two cells, each containing an X sex chromosome. The male cell divides into two cells, each containing either an X or a Y chromosome. A person has 46 chromosomes in total. Twenty three chromosomes come from the mother including an X chromosome, and 23 from the father, including either an X chromosome, resulting in a baby girl, or a Y chromosome, resulting in a baby boy. Therefore, all ova (eggs) from the female are X chromosome carriers. Whereas each sperm cell may have an X chromosome or a Y chromosome, and only one would be successful in fertilising the ovulated egg, thereby determining the sex of the baby. During fertilisation an X sperm cell in combination with a female X cell results in a girl (XX). If a Y sperm cell joins with an ovum, a boy is produced (XY). Therefore, combining 23 chromosomes from each parent gives the child the total number of 46 chromosomes, and whether the sperm contains an X or Y determines the gender. Return to text.
- For an explanation about these X chromosome related issues: ghr.nlm.nih.gov/chromosome/X. Return to text.
- For a list of X chromosome related conditions: ghr.nlm.nih.gov/chromosome/X/show/Conditions. Return to text.
- Please see this site for information about the Y chromosome and conditions related to it: ghr.nlm.nih.gov/chromosome/Y. Return to text.
- DSM is the manual used by clinicians and researchers to diagnose and classify mental disorders. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) will publish DSM-5 in 2013, culminating a 14-year revision process. For more information, www.DSM5.org. Return to text.
- To see David’s testimony in a short film go to: www.isaiah564.com. Return to text.
- www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2007/may/23/healthandwellbeing.health. Return to text.
- www.independent.co.uk/life-style/when-sexchange-is-a-mistake-some-transsexuals-suffer-bitter-regrets-sarah-lonsdale-reports-1512822.html Return to text.
- https://sites.google.com/site/tradingmysorrowsbook/the-book Return to text.
- Lombardo F, Toselli L, Grassetti D, Paoli D, Masciandaro P, Valentini F, Lenzi A, Gandini L. Hormone and genetic study in male to female transsexual patients. J Endocrinol Invest. 14 Jan 2013. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 23324476. Return to text.
- Ujike H, Otani K, Nakatsuka M, Ishii K, Sasaki A, Oishi T, Sato T, Okahisa Y, Matsumoto Y, Namba Y, Kimata Y, Kuroda S. Association study of gender identity disorder and sex hormone-related genes. Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry 33(7):1241–4, 2009. doi: 10.1016/j.pnpbp.2009.07.008. Epub 2009 Jul 13. PubMed PMID: 19604497. Return to text.
- Fontanari AM, Andreazza T, Costa AB, Salvador J, Koff WJ, Aguiar B, Ferrari P,Massuda R, Pedrini M, Silveira E, Belmonte-de-Abreu PS, Gama CS, Kauer-Sant’anna M, Kapczinski F, Lobato MI. Serum concentrations of brain-derived neurotrophic factor in patients with gender identity disorder. J Psychiatr Res. 47(10):1546–8, 2013. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2013.04.012. Epub 2013 May 20.PubMed PMID: 23702250. Return to text.
- waltheyer.typepad.com/blog/. Return to text.
- Asscheman H, Giltay EJ, Megens JA, de Ronde WP, van Trotsenburg MA, Gooren LJ, A long-term follow-up study of mortality in transsexuals receiving treatment with cross-sex hormones, Eur J Endocrinol. 164(4):635–42, 2011. doi: 10.1530/EJE-10-1038. Epub 2011 Jan 25. PubMed PMID: 21266549. Return to text.
- Murad MH, Elamin MB, Garcia MZ, Mullan RJ, Murad A, Erwin PJ, Montori VM., Hormonal therapy and sex reassignment: a systematic review and meta-analysis of quality of life and psychosocial outcomes, Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 72(2):214–31, 2010. doi: 10.1111/j.1365–2265.2009.03625.x. Epub 2009 May 16. Review. PubMed PMID: 19473181. Return to text.
- Lawrence AA. Factors associated with satisfaction or regret following male-to-female sex reassignment surgery, Arch Sex Behav. 32(4):299–315, 2003. PubMed PMID: 12856892. Return to text.
- www.australiandoctor.com.au/news/latest-news/man-euthanased-after-sex-change-stress?utm_source=Cirrus+Media+Newsletters&utm_campaign=95cd01258c-fe913f1856_57489&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_fe913f1856-95cd01258c-58623137. Return to text.
- www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/belgian-man-dies-by-euthanasia-after-failed-sex-change-operation-8851872.html. Return to text.
- Zhou JN, Hofman MA, Gooren LJ, Swaab DF, A sex difference in the human brain and its relation to transsexuality. Nature, 378(6552):68–70, 1993. PubMed PMID: 7477289. Return to text.
- Kruijver FP, Zhou JN, Pool CW, Hofman MA, Gooren LJ, Swaab DF, Male-to-female transsexuals have female neuron numbers in a limbic nucleus, J Clin Endocrinol Metab 85(5):2034–41, 2000. PubMed PMID: 10843193. Return to text.
- Longer androgen receptor gene CAG trinucleotide repeats are associated with reduced sensitivity of the androgen receptor and one study suggests that androgen receptor gene repeat length polymorphism may be associated with male-to-female transsexualism: Hare L, Bernard P, Sánchez FJ, Baird PN, Vilain E, Kennedy T, Harley VR. Androgen receptor repeat length polymorphism associated with male-to-female transsexualism, Biol. Psychiatry 65(1):93–6, 2009. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2008.08.033. Epub 2008 Oct 28. PubMed PMID: 18962445; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3402034. Return to text.
- Anyone who has dealt with anorexic patients can attest to the frustratingly delusional nature of these subjective beliefs in otherwise intelligent people, making it very easy to propose an underlying biological disorder. But the more publicity given to eating disorders, the more they seem to spread, suggesting that behavioural/psychological issues are at least a major contributing factor. Return to text.