The gender revolution will not be televised. Why? Because it is taking place in your local public bathroom.
It’s true: gender upheaval, coming soon to a commode near you. In Maine, the state Supreme Judicial Court found in a recent court case that a young woman described as transgender could enter male or female restrooms. In California, the state legislature passed a bill that gives students who self-identify as “transgender” the right “to participate in sex-segregated programs, activities and facilities,” including the use of restrooms of both sexes. As if using public restrooms wasn’t frightful enough!
The effect of these watershed developments in the water closet is hard to miss. Depending on their “gender expression,” boys and girls may now enter restrooms of the opposite sex as they see fit. These bizarre developments sound more like a dreaded group project in Gender Studies 101 than an act of the state. Gender revisionists have made a fuss about the “fluidity” of gender for years now, but their views have largely failed to penetrate mainstream American public life. All this is now changing.
In our enlightened new world, boys can shower with girls. They can enter a locker room of the opposite sex when they wish, and, provided they profess to be transgender, no one can stop them. This is true not only of teenagers, but kindergartners. The sexually curious no longer have a barrier to their exploration. Teachers cannot step in. Administrators cannot intervene. In public schools, per the will of the Maine judiciary and the California legislature, children no longer enjoy the protection our society has assumed as a matter of course.
Gender confusion is real. If you’ve been raised in a sexually compromised home, or if your father has been absent, you may well puzzle over what it means to be a man and a woman. In a country whose culture of marriage is collapsing, an increasing number of boys and girls will lack such basic parental wisdom. They’ll flirt with being transgender and have little compass for moral behavior as a boy or girl. It is tragic that legislators and judges, leaders appointed to protect children, are abetting and encouraging this confusion.
These measures in Maine and California are seemingly laudable. They have been handed down in the name of opposing bullying. Legislatures and courts should oppose bullying. But there is a palpable irony in these acts of the state. They have effectively bullied their citizens into accepting gender revisionism that compromises the privacy of their children and places them in hostile environments. This is as unnecessary as it is alarming. The public officials involved in both decisions seek to oppose injustice, but they are perpetuating it.
The Maine and California leaders do deserve points for creativity, however. Faced with an opportunity to stave off gender revisionists, they have instead created a new right. This is the right of all citizens, no matter how deviant, to enter any restroom, and of all teenage boys, no matter how sexually prurient, to shower with the girls. Behold America in 2014: you have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of “gender expression.”
This is all very silly. Sex differences are not controversial. They are coded into our physiology. According to scientists like Bill and Anne Moir, men have on average 1,000 percent more testosterone than women. Women generally have much higher serotonin levels and speak thousands more words per day than men. Men and women are anatomically different in some obvious yet crucial ways. We cannot produce children without respecting the natural design of our bodies. The gender-fluid society may sound promising, but when applied at the granular level, it shows its obviously impractical nature. Like facts, bodies are stubborn things.
You don’t need to be a snake-handling religious nutjob to see this. Jews and Christians, Republicans and Democrats, wealthy and poor can see that sexual distinctiveness is not a threat, but a basic fact of life. My own tradition, evangelical Christianity, grounds sexual identity in the creative design of God (Genesis 2:14-25). Jesus affirmed this bedrock reality when he said, “He who created them from the beginning made them male and female” (Matthew 19:4). But to affirm gender differences, you don’t need sacred wisdom. You just need two eyes that function and a brain amenable to common sense.
The majority opinion of the Maine decision counseled that its finding was “not to be taken lightly.” You could almost say that this news should be received while sitting down. Whatever your posture, this much is clear: in Maine, California, and possibly other states in coming days, being a boy or girl is now seen by the state as a fluid reality (to quote Will Smith in Hitch). For the health of the next generation, and from a sense of compassion, people of good faith from a wide range of backgrounds should oppose this sexual confusion. Let’s let boys be boys, and girls be girls. Let’s give them the privacy and protection they need. Childhood is confusing enough without a revolution in the restroom.
Owen Strachan is executive director of the Council on Biblical Manhood & Womanhood and assistant professor of Christian Theology and Church History at Boyce College in Louisville, Kentucky. He also teaches for the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is married to Bethany and is the father of two children.