Pick Your Nose, Not Your Gender


Well, it may finally be time to send for the guys with the white coats to wrap me up and cart me off.

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George Orwell

It used to be, in the old days, that the biggest decision new parents had to make was the name of their baby. The one thing they didn't have to decide was the kid's sex — that decision had been made for them, all they have to do is take a peek. That would be that.

Well, not any more, at least not in New York City.

You see, under a proposed Board of Health rule, "people born in the city would be able to change the documented sex on their birth certificates." They would need only to provide "affidavits from a doctor and a mental health professional laying out why their patients should be considered members of the opposite sex." They would also have to promise that "their proposed change would be permanent."

The proposed rule isn't aimed at people who have had "sex-change surgery." They are already permitted to do this. Instead, it's directed at people who "had lived in their adopted gender for at least two years . . . "

Read those words carefully: adopted and especially gender, instead of sex. It is a big hint that there's some major postmodern mischief at work here. "Sex" is what scientists call "binary": You either have an XX (that is, female) or an XY (that is, male) chromosome.

But if nature can't be twisted and shaped to suit our ideological predilections, words, especially in the hands of postmodern vandals, can be. If the goal is to separate "anatomy from what it means to be a man or a woman," then the use of the word gender is a must.

You see, "transgender" activists can get away with saying that gender is just "socially constructed" and more than "the sum of one's physical parts" because gender is a word that most people don't regularly use.

Substituting an obscure word, in this case, gender, for the more common one, sex, is intended to confuse and obscure. It's the kind of verbal tactic George Orwell, in "Politics and the English Language," compared to a cuttlefish squirting ink to confuse its predators.

These verbal parlor games may wow them in the faculty lounge, but nature is unimpressed.

Of course, what makes this squirting necessary is the denial of the obvious: "Living as a woman," whatever that means, no more makes you a woman than hiding a pot of gold makes you a leprechaun.

These verbal parlor games may wow them in the faculty lounge, but nature is unimpressed. They remind me of the hoax perpetrated by physicist Alan Sokal. He submitted a paper to a leading postmodern journal filled with postmodern gibberish like "physical 'reality' . . . is at bottom a social and linguistic construct."

After the paper was published, he revealed the hoax, that it was all gibberish, adding that those who believe that physics really is a "social construct" should test their beliefs from his twenty-first floor window.

Christians should not be shocked at any of this. Romans 1 tells us that God's truth is made plain in creation, and to deny this truth — in this case, "male and female created He them" — is to exchange the truth for lie, which Paul illustrates by an example of men lying with men, in other words, rejecting their God-given gender, which is a challenge to God's created order. Well, today we have renewed that old lie — that we can create ourselves the way we want, and peeking doesn't make any difference.

For further reading and information:

Damien Cave, “New York Plans to Make Gender Personal Choice,” New York Times, 7 November 2006.

Travis McSherley, “New York, New Yuck,” The Point, 25 October 2006.

BreakPoint Commentary No. 040401, “Checking Boxes: Transgender Chic.”

BreakPoint Commentary No. 040209, “Gender Blender: Adolescent Girls and ‘Heteroflexibility’.”

BreakPoint Commentary No. 050805, “When the Rubber Meets the Road: Stanley Fish and Universal Absolutes.”

George Orwell, “Politics and the English Language,” April 1946.

J. Budziszewski, What We Can’t Not Know (Spence, 2003).


Charles Colson. "Pick Your Nose, Not Your Gender." BreakPoint Commentary November 21, 2006.

From BreakPoint ® (05/11/2005), Copyright 2000, Prison Fellowship Ministries. Reprinted with the permission of Prison Fellowship Ministries, P.O. Box 17500, Washington, D.C. 20041-0500. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or distributed without the express written permission of Prison Fellowship Ministries. "BreakPoint ®" and "Prison Fellowship Ministries ®" are registered trademarks of Prison Fellowship Ministries.


Charles Colson launched Prison Fellowship in 1976, following a seven-month prison sentence for Watergate-related crimes. Since then, Prison Fellowship has flourished into a U.S. ministry of 50,000 volunteers and has spread to more then 50 countries. Beyond his prison ministry, Colson is a Christian author, speaker, and commentator, who regularly confronts contemporary values from a biblically informed perspective. His "BreakPoint" radio commentaries now air daily across the U.S. and he has written 14 books, including Loving God, Answers to Your Kids' Questions, The Line Between Right & Wrong: Developing a Personal Code of Ethics, Against the Night: Living in the New Dark Ages, and How Now Shall We Live: A Study Guide.

Copyright © 2006 Breakpoint

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