Editor’s note: The following essay appears in the Fall 2021 issue of Eikon.
“Does Bluey being blue ruin gender stereotypes?”
This was the question a reader asked after I recommended the Australian preschool cartoon “Bluey,” a show about a six-year-old puppy and the make-believe games she enjoys with her younger sister and parents. As I said in my WORLD Magazine review of the show, the Heeler household at the center of the stories, being modern city dwellers, are quite a bit removed from the Leave it To Beaver model of yesteryear. Yet, whether intentionally or not, their interactions mirror biblical gender paradigms within the framework of how nuclear families live today.
Dad, the primary breadwinner, is an archaeologist who often works from home, thus providing childcare for his two daughters whenever his wife is away at her part-time job. Yet his parenting style is distinctly fatherly—teasing, tough, and a little more rambunctious than Mom’s more careful, nurturing approach. Based on the models they’ve seen at home, when the neighborhood children play “mums and dads” the girls select “husbands” who demonstrate a masculine protective streak.
In short, in an era of transgender indoctrination where Muppet Baby Gonzo demonstrates his genderfluidity by wearing a dress and Blues Clues tutors three- to five-year-olds in the meaning of “non-binary,” Bluey is a rare gem that closely represents the family as instituted in Genesis 2.
That said, the title character strongly resembles her father rather than her mother. Further, being a dog, she doesn’t wear dresses, bows, or other overtly feminine trappings. Like all the other canine characters, she has an androgynously doggy name (just as her parents—Bandit and Chilli—and her sister, Bingo, do).
The only thing to identify Bluey as a girl, then, is the fact that, well, she simply is one. And so, this young dad told me he was having a debate with another Christian father over whether Bluey’s creators were sending a poor message to little audiences by not being more obvious about her sex.
How are viewers to feel confident in Bluey’s gender identity if she doesn’t, like Gonzo, make a show of donning dresses?
It wasn’t the first time I’d heard the concern. Some months before, when discussing the show with a twenty-something mom of toddlers, she, too, wondered if I thought it a problem that the creators didn’t take greater care to outwardly demonstrate Bluey’s girlishness. Given all the other laudable, wholesome qualities of the series, the worry struck me as paranoia born of our cultural moment.
After all, I doubt parents of the 1950s had the same unease over scruffy Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird. Or that those in the 80s worried overmuch about how motorcycle mechanic Jo on The Facts of Life might confuse female viewers. In those decades, girl was understood to mean something more than a role you performed or a persona you assumed.
But then again, we are Christian parents raising children in an age when it is no longer taken for granted that the body settles the question of gender — when “male and female He created them” will have to be conscientiously taught.
The Abolition of Woman
The transgender revolution that is disconnecting biology from personhood has pummeled the definition of “woman” far more than that of “man.” The lack of accommodation or even acknowledgement of the female sex and its unique, God-given capabilities is proceeding at a break-neck pace.
The span of a few months in 2021 saw the White House issue a budget that replaces the word “mothers” with “birthing people” and a congresswoman refer to women as “menstruating people.” Meanwhile, in September, the ACLU altered a quote about abortion from the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (who, ironically enough, founded the group’s Women’s Rights Project) to remove both references to “women” and female pronouns.  
Politicians and political non-profits being what they are, their motivation to shape their rhetoric to keep up leftist social agendas can, on some cynical level, be understood. Yet the medical establishment, too, has taken up the cause of removing women from the lexicon.
One of the oldest and most-respected medical journals in the Western world, The Lancet, described women as “bodies with vaginas,” while the American Cancer Society issued new screening recommendations for “people with a cervix.” Not to be outdone, the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine now refers to breast-feeding as “chest-feeding,” an act accomplished, they tell us, by “people who lactate.”  
While I have yet to hear of any significant mainstream examples of men referred to as “people with prostates or penises,” women are the gender that dare not speak its name.
Yet beyond the narrow focus of protecting girls’ and women’s sports from the incursion of biological males, very little pastoral discussion of transgenderism focuses on the dehumanizing harm this movement is specifically causing to women.
Today, a person is a girl by virtue of whether one feels attracted to and fulfilled by girlish things, instead of on the infinitely deeper basis that God created women physically and spiritually to accomplish what men cannot. The soul-deep destruction this is doing to the dignity of women as a class is incalculable. Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling put it well when she said, “If sex isn’t real, the lived reality of women globally is erased.”
This speaks not just to concrete questions of fairness in athletics or safety in restrooms but the worth of women in society. How much value can be afforded us if women cannot even be identified, if a woman is reduced to a clinical summation of her body parts?
Just as that erasure is taking place, the role models of beauty and allure that Madison Avenue is increasingly holding out to girls are, in fact, boys. While it’s not a trend I would expect many pastors to keep up with, the fact remains that young women in their congregations are being pummeled with images of famous males tricked out as the feminine ideal.
Flip through a teen girl’s Instagram feed and you’ll see Hunter Schafer, cover model for upscale cosmetics manufacturer Shiseido, and Andreja Pejic, brand ambassador for the equally high-end Makeup For Ever. A bit lower down the price ladder, you’ll find Hari Nef, newest face of the mid-range beauty company L’Oreal. Victoria’s Secret, long the market arbiter of sexualized pop-culture iconography, hired a man going by the name of Valentina Sampaio as the latest model for its PINK spinoff, a line specifically targeted at girls ages 13 to 22. And the Louis Vuitton and Chanel logos that have danced through the dreams of brand-conscious teen girls for decades? They’re now both being peddled by a lithe, willowy 27-year-old male named Teddy Quinlivan.
The list of men now walking runways, posing in ad campaigns, and staring out of the cover of fashion magazines dressed up as seductive sirens could go on and on, but suffice it to say this onslaught of displacement is one that is being felt almost entirely by women, and very young women at that. There simply is not an equivalent blitz of celebrated messaging-filling spheres that were once reserved for boys and men.
What psychological burden does it place on girls to see such images and absorb the subtext that one must prove one is feminine enough to qualify for the title “girl” and “woman”? As Students for Life President Kristen Hawkins recently pointed out, viewed from within the transgender framework, there is “nothing special or unique about being a woman other than a dress code.”
If being a woman is something you feel and present to the world rather than something you innately are, it creates works-based gender requirements that grotesquely narrow the infinite, unique manifestations of individual womanhood. We are flattened to caricature.
A generation of girls is taking note.
The Opt-Out Revolution
In 2017, the U.K.’s Guardian reported that 70 percent of sex change referrals for British patients under age 18 are now female, an almost total inverse of the ratio from ten years previous. Studies in the U.S. have found the same astonishing shift: A disorder that once almost solely affected males, has, among adolescents, come to be overwhelmingly dominated by girls. 
As one doctor who works with gender nonconforming children told Slate Magazine anecdotally, “At our clinic, the balance was about 50/50 when I started [7-8 years ago], and it’s shifted to be maybe 65-to-70 percent transmasculine [girls who want to become boys] today.”
In her book Irreversible Damage, journalist Abigail Shrier deftly traces the social contagion of female self-rejection at the root of this trend.
“Until just a few years ago,” she writes, “gender dysphoria — severe discomfort in one’s biological sex —was vanishingly rare. It was typically found in less than .01 percent of the population, emerged in early childhood, and afflicted males almost exclusively” [emphasis mine].
Until, that is, around 2016, a time when trans rights became a hot national topic and the question of how churches should show love and hospitality to those who believe they are transgender began to be widely debated in Christian circles.
That year, the number of gender transition surgeries for females in the U.S. quadrupled. Meanwhile in Great Britain, the rate of tween and teen girls casting off their natal sex increased 4,400 percent over ten years.
Working from a study conducted by ob-gyn turned public health researcher Lisa Litton, Shrier says two patterns in this sudden explosion stand out: “First, the clear majority (65 percent) of the adolescent girls who had discovered transgender identity in adolescence — ‘out of the blue’ — had done so after a period of prolonged social media immersion. Second, the prevalence of transgender identification within some of the girls’ friend groups was more than seventy times the expected rate.”
In other words, what appears to be influencing these girls to throw away their most fundamental identity is the natural feeling of awkwardness and discomfort that so often attends adolescence (particularly when one feels one doesn’t fit a neat mold) combined with the influence of the culture.
The irony, of course, is that while we view the past as more repressive and regressive when it comes to gender roles, the bounds of womanhood were elastic enough then to include such outliers as Calamity Jane and Annie Oakley who didn’t conform to stereotypical femininity.
Today, more and more of those little Blueys, who pay scant attention to frills and perhaps look and behave more like their fathers, seem to feel in some fundamental sense that they’re failing to qualify under womanhood’s new performative requirements. And so, they are opting out of their sex.
Rowling has said, for example, that were she growing up today, she, too, might have seized on the relief trans identity offers from the pressures of femininity. “The allure of escaping womanhood would have been huge,” she wrote in a much-maligned blog post. “If I’d found community and sympathy online that I couldn’t find in my immediate environment, I believe I could have been persuaded to turn myself into the son my father had openly said he’d have preferred.”
Given how unquestionably our culture is devaluing women as women, the key question for Christian men is whether they see the missiles being fired at women and what they are prepared to do to shield them.
Transgender Pagan or Female Sheep—Whose Needs Come First?
With the above foundation laid, the matter of how the church should respond to the questions the transgender movement is putting before us must include the specific harm being done to women. If brothers, husbands, and pastors join the culture in erasing women or minimizing what women are, even with the aim of showing hospitality to the lost, they are failing to fulfill their God-given role of protectors and leaders.
For example, in addressing what pronouns Christians should use when speaking to a transgender person, pastor and former Southern Baptist Convention president J.D. Greear framed the question as one of erring on the side of truth or kindness as it applies to the transgender individual.
“Some people on one side are going to say, ‘Hey, we got to tell the truth. And the truth is this person is male or female. So I would be lying if I called somebody who is female and identified as male,’” he said on his podcast, Ask Me Anything. He contrasted that with another view: “There are others who would say, ‘Look, as a courtesy, you should refer to a transgender person by their preferred pronoun as sort of a ‘generosity of spirit’ kind of approach. You see evidence in the Bible of that.”
Greear concluded by saying he tends more to the “generosity of spirit” side. “If a transgender person came into our church, came into my life, I think my disposition would be to refer to them by their preferred pronoun,” he said, summing it up with, “The question is: Is that the battlefront that you want to choose?”
In outlining the battlefront this way, Greear, as a pastor and an influential leader in the largest protestant denomination in the U.S., considered only the impact such an exchange would have on the transgender individual and the degree to which his choice of words might draw this person to the church. What he did not consider is the impact his pronoun use might have on a girl or young woman (whose feminine identity might very well already be in a fragile state) should she overhear it, or hear of it from a third party, or who certainly might hear his podcast answer.
If ever the clarion call of Acts 20:28 applied to a moment — Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseer — it is this one. And the degree to which pastors and elders in the church fail to see the danger may simply be because they are men and not as vulnerable to it.
When I later asked Greear for clarification of his “pronoun hospitality” position on the podcast The World and Everything In It, I believe he had the wrong interpretation of the issue then, as well.
I brought up the relevance of the Apostle Paul’s writings on meat sacrificed to idols, specifically 1 Corinthians 10:27-29:
If an unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience. But if someone says to you, ‘This has been offered in sacrifice,’ then do not eat it, both for the sake of the one who told you and for the sake of conscience. I am referring to the other person’s conscience, not yours.
Greear’s response [lightly edited for clarity]:
Paul puts himself definitely on the side that thinks that you should be able to eat meat that’s offered to an idol. He basically says all things are clean for the Christian. And he calls those who don’t agree with him there weak spiritually. So, it’s clear that he has an opinion on this and he feels free eating meat and he’s even free enough in a public letter like Romans to say I think people who don’t see this are wrong.
But what’s amazing is what he does after that. He then says unity in the body is more important than how I feel about this issue. I actually think that’s a marvelously relevant topic for this because I do think, Megan, there’s somebody like you that’s just convinced that in no situation — even if I’ve been clear on the truth and even if it’s clear that [in using the transgender pronouns] I’m kind of quoting what [the transgender individual] is saying — I just feel like I can’t do that. I think that’s a conviction that we can take in good conscience.
In this case, Greear only addressed the portion of Paul’s writing that asserts eating meat sacrificed to idols isn’t sin. So in our analogy, simply using the words “he” or “she” may also not be sin. But he did not address Paul’s care for the conscience of the weaker believer.
If a Christian does not know a transgender person is transgender on sight, or if he suspects but isn’t certain, and uses a pronoun that doesn’t correspond to the individual’s biological sex, of course the Christian is not in sin. He is only “eating what is put before him” without “raising questions,” so to speak.
But if this individual announces their transgender identity with the expectation that the Christian will now use corresponding pronouns — if the unbeliever draws attention to the sacrificed meat — and the Christian still uses them, particularly if he uses them in a way that others may hear or eventually hear of, then he is not caring for the consciences of weaker believers.
Paul makes it clear that the Christian’s priority in matters of conscience must be to show care for the weaker brother (or sister) who may experience raw emotions over the customs of a pagan society. This both helps protect the weaker believer and provides a witness for any observing unbeliever of the sensitive care Christ-followers take of one another.
In this case, the pronoun question is put into a completely different paradigm than one of truthful combativeness versus relation-based acquiescence as far as it involves transgender individuals. Instead, it is one of seeing to the needs of a part of the Church that is being pummeled daily, in various ways, with the message that our sexual identity as ordered by God is not worthy of protection.
This is not to single out Greear, as he is hardly alone among evangelical leaders in not considering this issue’s impact on the women. For this essay I searched the archives of Christianity Today, The Gospel Coalition, and several other prominent Protestant publications and failed to find any that specifically addressed the question of how the church should respond to the transgender movement’s destruction of womanhood.
I also reached out to several female Bible teachers and professors of theology. They, too, told me they knew of no significant discussion being had among pastors on this topic.
To gently chastise my brothers, this must change.
Shrier’s book and others like it documenting the transgender craze’s destructive power over girls have topped the bestseller lists and made headlines for over a year now. We are late to a conversation in which we Christ followers, above all groups of people in our society, are best equipped to shed the light of truth.
I do not want my tender seven- and twelve-year-old daughters to hear anything from their pastors, elders, or ministry leaders that might bolster our pagan culture’s message that their precious womanhood, given to them by God, can be sacrificed for the sake of some “greater” good. They are already daily hearing that what makes them uniquely feminine can be trampled and bartered away on a social engineering whim.
They are young girls. They are the weaker vessels who demand careful, sensitive consideration both by virtue of their age and by virtue of their sexual identity, as highlighted in 1 Peter 3:7.
If the men of the church join in contributing to this plague on their womanhood, they will have failed in their protector roles as both men and stronger brothers.
Megan Basham is a reporter for The Daily Wire and the author of Beside Every Successful Man: A Woman’s Guide to Having It All.
 Scottie Andrew, “Nonbinary characters like ‘Gonzo-rella’ are lighting up children’s TV and encouraging self-acceptance,” CNN, Sept. 25, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/09/25/entertainment/gonzorella-nonbinary-childrens-tv-cec/index.html.
 Blues Clues & You, “The Blue’s Clues Pride Parade, Sing-Along Ft. Nina West,” May 28, 2021, Children’s video, 3:28, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d4vHegf3WPU.
 Benjamin Fearnow, “Biden Admin Replaces ‘Mothers’ With ‘Birthing People’ in Maternal Health Guidance,” Newsweek, June 7, 2021, https://www.newsweek.com/biden-admin-replaces-mothers-birthing-people-maternal-health-guidance-1598343.
 Matthew Miller, “AOC Explains Trans Men and Nonbinary People Can Menstruate After Referring to ‘Menstruating People,” Yahoo News, Sept. 8, 2021, https://news.yahoo.com/aoc-explains-trans-men-nonbinary-231600146.html.
 American Civil Liberties Union (@ACLU), Twitter post, Sept. 18, 2021, 12:07 p.m., https://twitter.com/ACLU/status/1439259891064004610.
 Yaron Steinbuch, “Leading British Medical Journal Ripped for Calling Women ‘Bodies with Vaginas’,” New York Post, Sept. 28, 2021, https://nypost.com/2021/09/28/the-lancet-ripped-for-calling-women-bodies-with-vaginas/.
 Sandy McDowell, “ACS Updates Cervical Cancer Screening Guidelines to Start Screening at Age 25,” American Cancer Society, July 30 2020, https://www.cancer.org/latest-news/acs-updates-cervical-cancer-screening-guidelines-to-start-screening-at-age-25.html.
 Caroline Downey, “Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine Encourages Use of ‘Chestfeeding,’ ‘Gender-Inclusive Language’,” National Review, Aug. 14, 2021, https://www.nationalreview.com/news/academy-of-breastfeeding-medicine-encourages-use-of-chestfeeding-gender-inclusive-language/.
 J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling), Twitter post, June 6, 2020, 6:02 p.m., https://twitter.com/jk_rowling/status/1269389298664701952.
 Mary Jackson, “Erasing Womanhood: Transgender-inclusive language seeks to dismiss the realities of biology,” WORLD Magazine, Aug. 7, 2020, https://nypost.com/2021/09/28/the-lancet-ripped-for-calling-women-bodies-with-vaginas/.
 Jamie Doward, “‘Take These Children Seriously’: NHS clinic in the eye of trans rights storm,” The Guardian, Nov. 18, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/nov/19/nhs-clinic-trans-rights-storm-gender-identity-specialist-centre-transgender.
 Madison Aitken, et al., “Evidence for an Altered Sex Ratio in Clinic-Referred Adolescents with Gender Dysphoria,” The Journal of Sexual Medicine, Jan. 22, 2015, 12:756–63.
 Evan Urquhart, “Why Are Trans Youth Clinics Seeing an Uptick in Trans Boys?” Slate, Sept. 13, 2017, https://slate.com/human-interest/2017/09/trans-youth-clinics-are-seeing-more-trans-boys-than-before-why.html.
 Abigail Shrier, Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters (Washington, DC: Regnery Publishing, 2021).
 J.K. Rowling, “J.K. Rowling Writes about Her Reasons for Speaking out on Sex and Gender Issues,” JKRowling.com, June 10, 2020, https://www.jkrowling.com/opinions/j-k-rowling-writes-about-her-reasons-for-speaking-out-on-sex-and-gender-issues/.
 Samuel Smith, “SBC Pres. JD Greear Says He’ll Refer to Trans Individuals by Their Preferred Pronouns,” Christian Post, Nov. 26, 2019, https://www.christianpost.com/news/sbc-president-jd-greear-says-he-will-refer-to-transgender-individuals-by-their-preferred-pronouns.html.
 Greear’s comments go to a wider divide beyond the purview of this essay over whether the first and primary responsibility of the shepherd is to attract new sheep into the fold (the seeker-sensitive/winsome witness model) or to feed the sheep already in the pasture. For this conversation, I would argue that the assumption that the sheep already in the pasture are secure from the ravening wolves of our culture’s sexual identity confusion is a misguided one, as demonstrated by the preceding sections.
 Megan Basham and Nick Eicher, interview with J.D. Greear, The World and Everything In It, podcast audio, Jan. 17, 2020, https://wng.org/podcasts/culture-friday-j-d-greear-and-pronoun-hospitality-1617918243.
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