When describing the distinction between sex and gender, I use an example of a species of fish from the Great Barrier Reef. This species of fish is born capable of producing both sperm and ova - that is, capable of expressing the characteristics of either sex.
The characteristic expressed by each individual fish depends on the social environment in which it lives. Only one male exists in the social structure at a time, to be replaced at death by a female who changes the gamete she produces from ova to sperm - literally changing sex spontaneously.
These species of fish exemplify how biologists generalize definitions for sex and gender across all species in Nature. Sex is a species-level, abstract label of the potential to contribute gametes in acts of reproduction. Gender is the individual-level, concrete expression of sex characteristics in context of the social environment, with the possible occurrence of an act of reproduction.
Responses to my article from Christians naysayers rebel against the idea humans also could be governed by this generalization from biology. One such response was "I am not a fish."
Now don't misunderstand me: I applaud any level of self-awareness, even if only to acknowledge one's (presumed) lack of gills. But this rebellion divorces humanity from the remainder of Nature, which leads directly to the current anti-LGBTQ rhetoric, used to justify discriminatory legislation being considered - or passed - daily in state governments across the United States.
Burning with inspiration
The influence of elevating humans above the rest of Nature has permeated Western science and philosophy since the Middle Ages, where it made at least a modicum of sense. To contradict the Catholic Church was to risk being burned at the stake for heresy.
But there are obvious patterns we miss - such as a clean method of distinguishing sex from gender - when we indulge in elevating humanity above the rest of Nature. In the face of Christian thought, what is simple to observe in fish is difficult to apply to humanity.
The origin of this belief can be traced to the Judeo-Christian myth of creation, in which their god formed the first human "of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life." In fact, a deeper meaning of the word "inspiration" is "to gain the understanding of the gods."
The word "inspiration" is also cognate with the word "spirit." The Judeo-Christian god literally breathes a spirit - a soul - into the dust of the Earth. This act changes the dust irrevocably into the Judeo-Christian god’s most bodacious creation - a human being. It is precisely this inspiration that is to separate humans from the rest of creation in the eyes of Christians.
Some say prayers; I say mine
In a later Judeo-Christian myth, humanity is booted from Paradise for the sin of acquiring knowledge of good and evil - that is, for exercising the gift of inspiration breathed into the dust of the Earth. Before the fall, however, humanity was created with the intent to "have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth."
Humans are special; animals are mundane. Humans are beloved by the Judeo-Christian god; animals are an afterthought. Humans exert dominion; animals are to be dominated.
As a side note, the original Hebrew text translates better as "stewardship to" the Earth as opposed to "dominion over" the Earth, but later translations - in a surprising act of honesty - certainly serve modern Christian sects far better.
This narrative reinforces the idea that the Earth and her inhabitants are merely playthings for humans (Christian humans, anyway). If we happen to mess the Earth up, no big deal. Sooner or later, Jesus is coming, and he isn’t likely to be pissed at you throwing your Big Mac wrapper out your truck window when the Earth was only ever intended to be a cheap loaner place to live.
Why am I going on about this point? Have I not proved humans are not fish? That humans are distinct from creation, having received the gift of inspiration that animals have not? Does this not explain precisely why we should divorce humanity from the rest of Nature when considering behavior and social environment?
Was Eve framed?
The inconsistency that stands out in contrast to humanity’s vaunted position is the current anti-LGBTQ rhetoric. The rhetoric is not a formal part of Christianity’s scripture, although it has acted as a flag around which many Christians have rallied.
Anti-LGBTQ rhetoric hypothesizes humans are born with clear genetics, which lead infallibly to predictable physical structures, which dictate both gender and sexuality clearly. I have written extensively about the fallacy of this argument and will not explain it in great detail again here.
The argument demands that each of us default our deepest level of identity instinctively - dare I say animalistically? - to messy genetics and fallibly created physical structure. We are to coerce our understanding of who we are and with whom we want to have sex into a rigid box, and this regardless of any god’s inspiration resident inside us.
But we cannot have our philosophy both ways. If the Judeo-Christian god's inspiration provides humans immediately with volition (although not ethics - knowing the difference between good and evil), how do we justify ignoring that very aspect of humanity when considering our deepest-seated desires and motivations: our identity as expressed in gender and sexuality?
If we cannot be trusted to understand our own identity, why provide humanity with inspiration - and its attendant free will - in the first place?
Humanity is caught in a Christian Catch-22. We are to consider ourselves greater than the rest of Nature by virtue of being granted the faculty of reason. But to exercise our faculty of reason is to contradict the plan the Judeo-Christian god has for us, which is to act only in accordance with our origin as dust of the Earth, with no true choice ahead of us.
And isn't that what got Eve in trouble in the first place?
Before the fall
The answer, of course, is the anti-LGBTQ rhetoric is inconsistent with the portrayal of humanity being created in the image of the Judeo-Christian god. The rhetoric is presented as the alleged word of this god - one who thinks so highly of his creation, he wants each of us to choose to accept his word into our hearts, with the reward everlasting life with him.
To choose. To choose and to be rewarded for making the best choice.
Am I qualified to make this choice? Is free will - the gift of this god's inspiration - a blessing only when I use it to "choose" to follow a dogma that destroys every human’s will? That is no gift, and bestowing it does not elevate humanity when we cannot exercise it.
The anti-LGBTQ rhetoric was never about what the Judeo-Christian god wants. It has always been about what the leaders of the sects who claim to worship that god want - which is to say, to rule each of us, consistency be damned! To be blunt, Christian sects have struggled to present a coherent intellectual front since they lost the authority to conduct Inquisitions and achieve consensus by torture.
Their god's inspiration is wonderful when the result of exercising it is cochlear implants or erectile dysfunction drugs. But their god's inspiration is terrible when the result of exercising it is gender-affirming surgical procedures.
The moratorium of using the gift of inspiration doesn't apply to congenital deafness or nutritional can't-get-it-up-ness. Only I am a problem for using the brilliant gift of inspiration in the Judeo-Christian myth to discover the person I know I am and to embrace her as beautiful.
For Christians, apparently, use of their god's gift is sanctioned when oppressing my community. If only they would use their god’s gift to clean up their glaring inconsistency and fallacy rather than slavishly parroting ridiculous dogmas like...well, like a mindless animal.