I read a great deal. I read books — actual books and also on a kindle — websites, blogs, and newspapers. In a certain sense, as a pastor/church planter, I read out of delight, but I also read out of necessity to maintain a pulse on current events and a sense of history. Several weeks ago I read a first-person story in the Washington Post that has haunted me ever sense.
The article, entitled, ‘Genderqueer at the Gym’ by Marion Cory, is a reflection on a life lived in the borderlands of gender. Marion, is a female law student at Georgetown School of Law in Washington DC. While she was born and raised, in Montana, as a female, she confesses that she has always felt drawn to the masculine identity. The self-admitted confusion of her condition is brought into sharp focus when she enters her gym, it is just such occasions that provide the setting for her article and provide context for her struggle.
Cory writes, “When you don’t look like a typical girl — or feel like an average boy — there are few more confusing places than the gym.” She goes on to describe her stated gender identity and the reasons behind it.
“I identify as “genderqueer” — blurring the line between man and woman. For example, I love my masculinity, and trying to get big at the gym is just one of my avenues for expressing it. I appreciate my femininity, too, particularly my ability to access vulnerability and express emotions freely.”
Her desire is for what she describes as “gender fluidity,” a state in which she can explore both genders without being overly committed to one or the other. The confusion and heartbreak, for Cory, comes when she is faced with the choice of the men’s and women’s locker-room. In individualizing her gender expression, she has effectively alienated herself from convention. She states, “ The way I express my gender places me in the borderland between the men’s and women’s locker rooms.” She seeks after the kind of personal, psychological freedom that most of us take for granted, “I saw freedom in the boy box — but a freedom that would forever be unattainable.”
Cory seems to be advocating for a greater acceptance of gender variance, and expressing a desire for acknowledgement on behalf of those who “transgress gender norms,’ something she says “we all do.”
So what should our response be, and what was my response? Honestly I found the article to be heartbreaking. There is a tinge of melancholy that hangs of the text, she is not writing because she is ecstatic for the life she has, she writes as one denied freedom and wandering in the borderlands of normality and gender. Her assessment is honest and forthright, and in that honesty we as believers are given a great gift of insight into the human condition.
As image-bearers of the Almighty God, we were created and formed with specificity and care second-to-none in God’s creation. We were crafted with physical with biological forms, which corresponded to our mental and psychological condition. This biological and psychological distinctiveness formed the root of our relational consciences, the foundation of our communities and civilization itself. A chief effect of sin was the fracturing of distinction and the destruction of community. Women and men once joined in harmony became pitted against one another in acrimony. Families once fruitful became marred by jealousy, murder, and separation.
Cory is not alone in her isolation. The gift of her gender has been stolen by desires, both biological and conditioned, so that she forever feels alone. That which should be her chief and most basic anchor of identity has been cut, and she remains adrift. So what do we take from this?
We could rage against her call to accept her condition, we could complain about her imposing this confusion and its implication on us. We could ignore her, and others like her, relegating them to the shadows of modern sexual progressivism. Or we could look at her and see what we are called to see, a homeless soul searching for freedom in all the wrong places.
Hope for the Homeless Soul
Each of us struggles to find acceptance, a sure place where we can plant out feet and rest our head. We are born into a world that is both our earthly home, and a mere shadow of what we were created to enjoy. Paul, writing to the Corinthians, gives voice to this desire to know and be known, “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, then I shall know fully.” There is a hope that animates the souls of men and women who are scattered about this earth; souls rendered homeless by sin, cursed to wander apart from paradise. If you are a Christian, you too were once homeless; and apart from the grace of God you would be wandering still. We were restless until we found our rest in the One who calls out, “Come to me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
If you know Cory, or people like her, approach them with understanding rather than reproach. Her confusion is born out of a desire to belong, and her sadness is but an indication this desire has not been met. She may continue to wander, she may continue her struggle to find a home; but we know that the only true identity to be found is when we are found in Christ and the only true home available is found in the arms of the one who made us.
You, too, can help support the ministry of CBMW. We are a non-profit organization that is fully-funded by individual gifts and ministry partnerships. Your contribution will go directly toward the production of more gospel-centered, church-equipping resources.