A conversation developed on a reality TV show which has now spread to the BBC here in which a “trans woman” named India Willoughby asks a guy if he would date a trans woman. He declines and she (and a good number of viewers) decide that he is “trans-phobic.”
For those readers who are befuddled by this sort of story, a “trans woman” is a biological male who, with the assistance of chemicals and surgery, has altered his appearance to present himself as a woman. India acknowledges the problem she faces:
“all this superficial stuff that you are a woman and all that sounds great and is the right thing to say. But it makes no difference if people don’t believe it – that’s the problem.”
Yes. That is the problem, and it indicates a deeper problem in society generally, and that is not only are people confused about who exactly India Willoughby is, we’re increasingly confused about what a man is and what a woman is.
This video illustrates the hilariously sad opinions of college students on the question:
This is a question I ask young people who are coming to prepare for marriage in our parish. I’ll ask the guy, “What is a man?” and the girl, “What is a woman?”
They often seem confused by the question, then they will say something along the lines of, “A man has certain chromosomes and male genitalia.”
“OK. And a woman?”
They’ll reply, “A woman has female chromosomes and breasts and female genitalia.”
Then comes the crunch question. I say, “And what are those breasts for?”
Blushes and maybe giggles then, “To feed babies.”
“Correct answer!” I continue…”and what is the male and female genitalia for?”
“Correct again. Therefore the definition of a man is a father or a potential father and the definition of a woman is a mother or a potential mother.”
We then go on to discuss how being a father or a mother fulfills not only the person’s masculinity or femininity but also because of that, completes their humanity, because we are not created as neutered humanoids. We are created male and female.
It is interesting that feminist theologian Phyllis Zagano, in her book pushing for female deacons, calls for the church to embrace what she calls “a single nature anthropology”. That at the essence of our humanity we are not only equal, but the same. This idea fits neatly with the zeitgeist in which the distinctions between male and female are being obliterated.
What corrects this skewed anthropology? The simplicity of recognizing that a man is a father or potential father and a woman is a mother or a potential mother.
I understand that some feminists will cry, “You want to keep us barefoot and pregnant and in the kitchen!” When G.K.Chesterton was confronted with this argument he said something along the lines of, “Yes. The woman’s place is in the home, but the man’s place is also in the home, and the only reason he leaves home is to work in the world to provide the home.”
On Twitter Fr Matthew Schneider commented about the question of dating a “trans woman”, that if dating were about a man looking for a woman who he might marry and with whom he might have children, then the question would not be whether the man was “trans phobic” or even whether he found the trans woman attractive or not. It wouldn’t even be about whether the man wished to have sex with the trans woman, but it would all be much simpler. The trans woman doesn’t have a womb therefore the trans woman would not be an eligible candidate for a relationship.
Invariably this brings us back to the question of artificial contraception. Artificial contraception breaks the natural link between the sexual act and procreation. To quote GKC again, he quipped, “Birth control? No birth. No control.”
Artificial contraception has become part of the culture. Therefore the disassociation of procreation with the sexual act has become part of the culture. People have literally forgotten what sex if for. Therefore they have forgotten what their genitalia are for. No wonder, therefore that they are confused about what a man is and what a woman is.
What is the answer?
The answer is not to fuss and fume and rage against feminism, homosexuality, transgender people and the whole muddled mess. That doesn’t do any good.
The answer is for young Catholic men to look for young Catholic women and hear God’s call to be fathers and mothers–and for this to be their primary vocation. Then, forming strong families they should join strong parishes where there is a joyful, family based community that is pro life in every way. This shining example of true masculinity and true femininity will also be a shining example of true humanity–a humanity that is radiant with joy, with love and with life.