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Born in the wrong body?

«Are you born in the wrong body?» You may have heard someone ask that question. On TV or perhaps on YouTube, at least. Some children and young people say they are "transpersons" and others that there is a "3rd gender" or that there are many genders. In recent years lots of people have begun defining gender in a completely different way than before.

For a long time in the western world the focus has been on the equality of men and women. But most have agreed that the body shows which of them you are, while the roles men and women have basically depend on the society we live in. 

Nowadays there are people who think that gender has nothing to do with the body at all - the thing that matters is how a person feels. Therefore they say that one is not born a boy or a girl but has their gender "pushed on them" at birth. They also think that you can quite easily be a boy even though you're born with the body of a girl, or be a girl even though you're born in a boy's body. This would mean that your gender has got nothing to do with your body. Your gender and gender-identity only depend on how you feel about it.  

Maybe you think that this sounds liberating. Isn't it a good idea that everybody decides for themselves what they want to be? Why should someone else dictate to me what gender I am? Maybe I'm even a completly different gender from either a boy or a girl?

Biology however, shows that gender first and foremost is something to do with the body. In both animals and people the sex is decided by the sex chromosomes. They are XX in girls and XY in boys. Whether we become a boy or a girl is decided at the moment of conception, when the sperm and egg merge together. The result is echoed and can be seen in every single cell of the body. Neither your feelings, hormone-treatments nor surgical operations can change it at all.

It is true that a tiny number of babies (about one in five thousand) are born with a chromosome error that deforms the genitals, and many term these "neutral gender" but that doesn't mean they are a "third sex" or some completely different one.

We find this in the Bible, too. Right from their creation, (Genesis 1:27) humankind are made in God's image as Man and Woman. Gender, therefore, is one of the most basic aspects of being a human.

People who say they are "born in the wrong body" often called themselves trans persons. Recently, there's been a large increase in the number of young people claiming this, especially girls. More than half of these young people are struggling with psychological challenges like autism, ADHD, depression or eating disorders. A number of them think that their problems would be solved if they "changed sex". There probably have always been a handful who have had a strong feeling of being a different sex from their body. For about 10 years, it has been possible to be diagnosed as suffering from "gender-dysphoria" or "transsexualism" after a thorough medical assessment. This means they feel serious discomfort about their physical sex, and acute cases have been able to have hormone and surgical treatment to make their body more like the opposite sex. But there has been very little research into whether this has serious side-effects or into how this affects these young people in the long run. However, more and more of them regret having treatment and say they wish they had received a different kind of help, for example from a psychologist.

A girl who is treated with testosterone cannot get back her high voice even if she stops. A boy who gets oestrogen will develop breasts and a female bodily shape that never turns back to the way he was before, even if he regrets it, and stops taking oestrogen. It is very common for these boys and girls to become sterile for the rest of their life, which means they can never have children. For this reason many qualified doctors warn against starting such a treatment before a person is an adult. It is thougt-provoking that Norwegian law does not permit a person to undergo sterilisation before they are 25 years old. Research also shows that 80 to 90% of children and young people who desire to change sex, don't still feel that way once they are adults, providing they have not received hormone treatment.

It has only been possible in modern times to use hormones and surgery to treat people who feel they're born in the wrong body. Therefore the Bible doesn't say anything directly about transsexuality or gender dysphoria. But it does say that God made us as either men or women. The Bible also has a fundamentally positive view of the body. When Jesus came to earth in the "incarnation" the Bible says he became human. The original text says he became "flesh" or "meat", in other words a physical body (e.g in John 1:14). Human beings are not merely "equipped" with a body, our bodies are part of who we are. Spirit, soul and body form one complete unit. At the same time, the Bible says all people live under the consequences of the Fall. None of us are a hundred percent "whole". We all more or less have a damaged identity and sexuality. Anyone who is struggling with difficult feelings when it comes to their body, therefore, needs to be met with a lot of love and empathy.

Most important of all: there are no real good reasons why all girls have to be typically "girlish" or all boys be typically "boyish". All people are made in God's image. Male and female traits are qualities we have from God, and both boys and girls can have them. But some girls are different and have other interests than most other girls, which just means they are unique; and the same goes for the boys. God has created us all as unique individuals with enormous personal variation in our personalities, qualities and interests. But that does not prove that any of us are "born in the wrong body".

The text comes from the book: Gutt og jente - en bok om sex, forhold, kjønn og identitet

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