In my first post in this series, I mentioned several concepts, including “biological sex.” This is what I’d like to talk about today. At first glance, this may seem obvious, without need of explanation. However, in the GSD community, it deserves some attention.
When a baby is born, the doctor or midwife looks at the pertinent body parts and announces, “It’s a girl!” or “It’s a boy!” Until recently, this announcement was expected, just part of the birthing experience and set the stage for how that baby would be raised and treated. Trans people have introduced us to a new way to look at it.
When trans people (people who were born as one biological sex, but identify as a gender that does not coincide with that sex) talk about their birth, or their growing up, they often use the phrase “assigned male (or female) at birth.” If you have seen the acronym AMAB or AFAB, that’s what they are describing: Assigned Male At Birth and Assigned Female At Birth. It is a way of saying that from the outside parts people expected them to be one thing, but as they have grown, they do not fit that package. In my own head, I think of it as “Assumed Male (or Female) At Birth” because that’s what we do: assume. We assume that that baby with male bits will grow up to be a boy and then a man, and that baby with girl bits will grow up to be a girl and then a woman. Sometimes we get it wrong.
For most of us, we are comfortable with the biological bits and what they signal and signify about us. For some, that biological packaging causes distress because it doesn’t reflect who they really are. Psalm 139 says that God knits each baby together in the womb, making them wonderfully complex. I used to think this meant only physically/biologically. Then I began to realize that it includes personality. Now I think the complexity is beyond that, even. For some reason, some babies with female parts have the brains and inclinations of boys and vice versa. I believe that these people, like all people who are initially feared and shunned, have something new to teach the rest of us about God. The myriad of permutations of people is mind-boggling! It is awe-inspiring!
There is so much more to people than their physical being, but it is the first, the literal skin we walk around and interact in. It is an absolutely integral part of who we are. For those of us whose inside gender identification matches our outside skin, what extraordinary insights can our fellow humans with a different experience teach us? What can we learn about the magnificence, creativity, and love of God by listening to them?