Why Gender Confusion is Increasing and What Can Be Done
As a Rabbi in Southern California, I have been confronted recently all too often with tweens and teenagers wanting to become a different sex. Clearly a lot of this has to do with the push for gender modification from the leftist establishment in California, including especially schoolteachers who seem to think their agenda on this issue is more important than the wishes of the parents, let alone the children themselves.
But while this external push to lose gender identity is being thrust upon our children, it seems that an inordinate percentage of them are accepting this notion of becoming “gender fluid”. In working with youngsters in our religious school and Bar Mitzvah program (the Bar or Bat Mitzvah is the rite of passage a 13-year-old Jew goes through), it has become clear to me that we, as parents and teachers, must understand the deeper issues that are troubling young people so that we can combat this abuse of our youth by the political and leftist elite.
There has always been an extremely small percentage of people who have gender dysphoria, formerly called Gender Identity Disorder (GID). According to DSM-5 (the 2013 official diagnostic tool of the American Psychiatric Assoc.) it is approximately 1/100 of one percent of the population that experiences this condition. In many tribal cultures this rarity has always been recognized, and often the person with this condition is trained to be the shaman or medicine person for the tribe as they are considered special and with more potential conscious spirituality as true gender dysphoria is so incredibly rare. And it has always been extremely rare.
But while the statistics are that less than one person in 10,000 has this condition, the media, politicians, and leftist elite would have us think that at least five percent of young people are actually transgender. This is a disparity of a factor of 500. Seemingly, in only a few years, there are 500 more times transgender individuals than only a few years ago.
According to a recent UCLA report, transgender identification currently is 130 times the statistics as understood in the official DSM-5 of 9 years ago, less than the media would have us believe but still a significant increase. These disparate statistics point to one of two explanations: either individuals were underreporting by a factor of 500, or recently people have suddenly started accepting and self identifying as transgender. Given the political agenda to maximize this self-identification, we must look at why teenagers and tweens have suddenly started embracing this new self perception foisted upon them.
I found the answer to this question through dialogues with young people exploring their gender identity and seeing a consistent pattern. After exploring this pattern more deeply, I believe that we all need to have a greater understanding so that we can help those young people who are dealing with gender issues and being pressured by the left into true gender confusion.
The primary challenge is that Western society in the 21st century has conflated three different aspects of individual identity into one, and has resolved these three issues with one purported solution: changing gender identity.
There are three aspects of identity that are related, but should never be conflated: sex, sexuality, and energy. While they are tangential to each other, they are distinct and separate. It is their conflation that is causing the gender identity issues, and only through re-separating them can we begin to help young people navigate their journey of self exploration in a healthy way.
Sex is, simply put, a person’s plumbing and DNA. All cultures throughout history recognize this truth with the rare exception of hermaphrodites or intersex, a segment of the population (currently estimated at .02 percent, or 2:10,000) that are born with both male and female physical characteristics. But other than this rare exception (whose percentage is nearly the same as the DSM-5 statistic of true gender dysphoria), a person is born to either the male or female sex. It is in the physical body, and in the DNA.
While elective surgery may be able to change the physical characteristics, the DNA cannot be changed. Despite whatever hormone blockers, drugs, or surgery; on a purely genetic level the sex remains the same throughout our lives as x and y chromosomes cannot be altered. All science agrees that our genetic identity is the same throughout our life as it was at birth, as x and y chromosomes cannot be changed.
Will Thomas views himself as a female swimmer named Lia. But when we do not conflate the issues of sex, sexuality, and energy it is clear that he is a male from a strictly sex and genetic perspective. God gives us our sex, and despite how someone may try, that definition is immutable since the genetics cannot be changed.
The next aspect that is currently combined inappropriately with sex is sexuality. A person may be heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, pansexual, asexual, or any combination thereof. And our sexuality may change throughout our lives for a variety of reasons. We may be attracted to men, women, both, or neither, and that sexual self-identification can change over time. But this sexual preference is not the same as sex. While there are many arguments over sexuality being based in nature, nurture, or a combination; it is clear that sexual preferences can change over a person’s life.
It is the third aspect of “energy” that has been entirely lost in Western culture. And it is this aspect that may be playing the largest role in teenagers experiencing gender confusion.
Feminine energy is classically understood throughout all cultures as energy that receives and transforms. In Chinese medicine and philosophy, it is called Yin, as opposed to male energy being referred to as Yang. Male, or yang, is the energy that goes outwards. An easy analogy is to look at different techniques of hunting. A spider personifies feminine energy when it creates a web and draws in it’s prey. Conversely, a wolf hunts with male energy as it seeks out its prey in the wild.
It is this issue of energy that, by being conflated with sex, is causing so many young people to become confused. A young man who finds that he is full of feminine energy is being encouraged to view his sex as female, when it is only that he expresses feminine energy. Or a tomboy who has lots of yang energy is encouraged to view herself as a boy and change their sex self-identification. This is a travesty, and when we separate the three issues it is easy to see how their conflation causes confusion.
We all manifest male and female energy at times, but that doesn’t mean our sex changes with our energy. All wolves hunt with male energy by going outward, but we do not call a female wolf a “he”. Nor do we call a male spider, who spins a web and hunts with yin energy, a “she”. Energy does not define or transcend sex in any part of the physical world. Yet through the conflation of sex and energy, our youngsters are being encouraged to do just that: reassign their physical sex through drugs, attitudes, and even surgery to match their energy and/or sexuality.
It is this combining of disparate aspects that is leading children to accept sex reassignment. And in doing so, is causing pain and wounds that will be felt for a lifetime.
Let’s evaluate a specific case study. I recently spent time with a 12-year-old girl who decided (with her teacher’s encouragement) to view herself as a transgender boy. Throughout the first twelve years of her life, “Josephine” (as I will call her) had always been a tomboy, playing, roughhousing, and hanging out with boys. She then experienced her first menstrual cycle, and was devastated, as she was now different than all of her male friends although she still wanted to be like them.
Josephine’s teacher encouraged her to try out being a boy named Joe for a while, and to see how that felt. As Joe, she was able to continue to express her male energy and play with other boys. She was more comfortable in her social circle of boys than she would have been as a young woman, and able to avoid the seeming inner conflict between her physical body and her energy.
Until I spent time with her, no one had pointed out that she could simultaneously be a woman and personify male energy. Upon realizing that, she decided that she would explore that understanding rather than go down a destructive path of sex modification. (It is an irony ignored by sex change advocates that so many teenage tomboys ultimately become well balanced, beautiful, strong, healthy adult women.)
This is the understanding that we need to explore with our children. We need to explain to them that although these three aspects of sex, sexuality, and energy are related and tangential to each other, they should not be conflated. This is the dialogue that we all need to have with teenagers who are considering altering their bodies to match their sexuality or energy.
Teenage years are tough, and always have been. Hormones are raging and confusing; the brain is developing at a rapid rate; society is starting to place pressures on the teenager; and the young person is filled with identity confusion as they are no longer a child but not yet an adult. Teenagers are incredibly vulnerable, and it is a travesty that political activists are using them as pawns.
We must always be especially gentle with teenagers going through this identity crisis. They may eventually be the one in ten thousand who really are experiencing gender dysphoria. They are vulnerable and confused. Everything in their life is changing, and they are desperately seeking a sense of constancy, stability, and self identification. But we can be gentle while still teaching them of these three disparate aspects, and guide them to not conflate them together and go down a gender modification process prematurely and unnecessarily.
This is not only our privilege to do, it is our responsibility. We must bless those younger generations by passionately combatting the political agenda of sex change through thoughtful and supportive education.
In Judaism, we say “l’dor v’dor”: from generation to generation, we must teach truth and wisdom. May we all have the courage to lovingly teach the next generations of the differences between physical sex, sexuality, and energy. In so doing, may we heal and hopefully prevent the many wounds that young people are experiencing as they progress down a road of self awareness.
Rabbi Michael Barclay is the Spiritual Leader of Temple Ner Simcha; the author of “Sacred Relationships: Biblical Wisdom for Deepening Our Lives Together”, and a columnist for PJMedia. He can be reached directly at Rabbi@NerSimcha.org
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