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Topics: Cultural Engagement, Current Events, Marriage

Can a Man Give Birth? Biological Gender v. Gender Identity

April 30, 2013

By Evan Lenow

News out of Santiago, Chile reports than the first recorded male pregnancy in the nation’s history has officially resulted in the birth of a child. Male pregnancy? Did I read that correctly? Here’s the opening paragraph from The Santiago Times:

A transgender man in Chile’s northernmost city of Arica gave birth late last week. The birth marked the first recorded male pregnancy in Chile’s history.

6472The transgender man, who goes by the name Matías, has received legal recognition as a man but still retains his female reproductive organs. Thus, the biological aspect of birth is not unusual for Matías since women with female reproductive organs give birth all around the world. What makes this case unusual is that Matías has full legal recognition as a man but functions biologically as a woman.

The case of Matías raises an important question for our culture. Is the definition of gender malleable? From a biological standpoint, Matías is a woman. Matías has two X chromosomes, ovaries, a uterus, and naturally occurring female hormones. Matías has given birth to a child—a particularly female function—and may very well have more children in the future. The science of determining gender leaves no doubt—Matías is female.

By contrast, a judge in Chile has determined Matías is a man. Despite the rarity of Chilean judges approving a request from a biological female to gain legal recognition as a man, this particular judge has made the determination that gender has no link to biology. Ignoring the biological evidence, the judge has declared Matías’ self-identification as a man to be sufficient evidence to give legal recognition as male.

Historically, gender has always been determined biologically. When each of my four children were still in the womb, a doctor looked at a sonogram picture—searching for biological evidence—and declared to us the gender of each child. At birth, the earlier declaration was confirmed according to biological evidence.

Our culture, however, is seeking to remove biology from gender. Self-identification has become the new standard for determining gender. Self-identification removes any objective standard from determining gender and places the locus of proof in the subjective opinion of the individual making claims about himself/herself. Thus, no independent observer could confirm or deny the self-identified gender.

Removing Biology

What does this mean for society? Removing biology from the gender discussion scrubs all meaning from the terms “male and female” or “man and woman.” Restrooms would no longer need gender descriptions. Separate dormitories for male and female students would not be necessary. In fact, the distinction of male and female for marriage would be obsolete.

How should Christians with a biblical worldview respond? We must remain steadfast in our recognition that God created male and female (Genesis 1:27). From the dawn of creation, biology was crucial to gender. There have never been male pregnancies or men giving birth to children. Such language only exhibits the truth of Romans 1 as people “professing to be wise . . . became fools” and “exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator” (Romans 1:22, 25).

Gender has meaning. Its meaning is inextricably linked to biology. Any attempt to define gender apart from biology is arbitrary.


Evan Lenow serves as Assistant Professor of Ethics and Associate Director of the Land Center for Cultural Engagement at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, TX. He is married with four children. You can read more of his articles at and follow him on Twitter @evanlenow.

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