The following article appeared at The Witherspoon Institute’s The Public Discourse as: National Geographic’s “Gender Revolution.” This article by Denny Burk and Andrew Walker provides a thoughtful critique to the current narrative concerning gender identity that is promoted by National Geographic and much of the media. It is certainly worth being aware that the foundations of the narrative are on very shaky ground and that most of what is published as fact is actually very subjective with little scientific backing. RMF
National Geographic’s “Gender Revolution”: Bad Argument and Biased Ideology
by Andrew T. Walker and Denny Burk
Accepting the claims of transgender ideology requires papering over one’s conscience and making a mockery of the “law written on the heart” that our bodies bear witness to in our complementary design.
The January 2017 issue of National Geographic is dedicated to exploring what it calls the “Gender Revolution”—a post-Sexual Revolution movement that seeks to deconstruct traditional understandings about human embodiment, male-female sexual dimorphism, and gender. In an article titled “Rethinking Gender,” Robin Marantz Henig cites evolving gender norms as a justification for the Gender Revolution. But Henig’s argument is not only unpersuasive, it’s also based on a radical proposal about human nature that is at odds with both natural law and biblical anthropology.
The purpose of this essay is not to address every facet of gender that Henig explores. Rather, our goal is to address some of the more glaring errors in the piece. Many of the criticisms below apply not only to Henig’s article, but to the broader philosophical problems inherent within the transgender movement.
Gender Identity, Category Confusion, and Moral Inconsistency
First (and most problematic): Henig offers no substantive argument for why one’s internal, self-perception of his or her “gender identity” ought to determine one’s gender or have authority greater than one’s biological sex. The essay offers testimonies of people who say that their gender identity is at odds with their biological sex. But testimony is not sufficient. Asserting a claim does not demonstrate the authenticity of that claim. Readers are given no explanation for why we ought to regard the claims of one’s gender identity as reality rather than a subjective feeling or self-perception. Continue reading