Parents of Australian school students will most likely be surprised, if not a little shocked to discover that their children are being taught that “genitals and [the human] body don’t actually reflect anything about a person’s gender at all.”
This is what some of the material from the so called ‘Safe Schools Coalition’ is teaching children without the knowledge or consent of their parents.
What is most concerning is the deeply flawed thinking that is leading to this belief and the indoctrination of children.
Needless to say, as human beings, we are embodied and enfleshed. We do not live as spirits detached from the material world. Indeed, our nature as embodied beings is a good thing.
While I would strongly state that a human person and his or her worth is not ‘reducible’ to the mere physical, we are to a large extent shaped and defined by our bodies and physical nature. That we are to a large extent shaped and defined by our human bodies has been an accepted basic tenet of anthropology, philosophy and theology for centuries.
You cannot separate mind from the body. Religious cults such as the ancient Gnostics however did assert a sharp body/mind dualism, and such distorted thinking led to some rather bizarre and extreme practices, whether it be brutal asceticism or unrestrained hedonism. Regardless of the particular extreme practices Gnosticism promoted, what was held in common was a radical devaluing of the body and of one’s mortal life.
From rudimentary biology, we know that combining an X and Y chromosome produces a male. Combining two X chromosomes produces a female. Believing that I am something in defiance of what my physical body exhibits is delusion. It is not coming to a deeper knowledge of one’s true self, on the contrary, it is to live in self-deception and ignorance about oneself.
Believing and wishing that I am a racing car driver doesn’t make me one. Using my body to race a car in a competition is what will make me a racing car driver.
Similarly, an obese person who believes they are in fact a skinny person is incongruent. Identifying as a tall person doesn’t make me tall.
In the disease anorexia we see one of the most tragic conditions where often young women (and increasingly young men) believe things about their bodies which are untrue. Sadly, these distorted beliefs are sometimes held to the point that it kills them.
Our identity comprises aspects of both development and discovery, and as such growing to adulthood is often a confusing and fraught period for young people. What’s more, many of us do not develop a firm sense of gender identity and sexual orientation we are in our early to mid 20s. Intruding into this critical process during childhood by the Safe School Coalition is not only unhelpful and misguided, but potentially very damaging to our children and the next generation.
Photo by Rose Morelli