2015-06-02-1433217956-4753345-caitlyn_jenner1B-thumbI realize Caitlyn Jenner has been discussed ad nauseam by this point, but I would like to weigh in from a slightly different angle.

I fully recognize that in some rare cases a person’s sex may not comport with their gender identification. For example, hermaphrodites (or “intersex” people) who were born with both sets of genitalia simply have to live with whichever decision their doctor made at their birth regarding their future maleness or femaleness—the physician decides that their body should be female regardless of his not knowing (or being able to know) how his patient will feel about this decision when she grows up. There is no doubt that this can, and certainly has, caused great suffering for those who feel trapped in the wrong body.

Still, these are murky waters, and discussion of this issue can be dangerous.

Many who dared draw the comparison between Caitlyn Jenner and Rachel Dolezal were virtually crucified by the Left for suggesting that the latter, the former NAACP leader who identified herself as black even though she’s white, was doing something similar to the former, who is identifying himself as female even though he’s male. “What’s the difference,” they asked, “between being racially white while identifying and portraying yourself as black, and being biologically male while identifying and portraying yourself as female?”

Setting aside Dolezal’s dishonesty for the sake of argument, it’s a fair question. If Dolezal is biologically white because both of her parents are white, then is not Jenner biologically male since he has male chromosomes and genitalia?

But the counter-argument is interesting, and goes like this: “Jenner may be biologically male, but (s)he feels, and has always felt, like a female trapped in a male’s body.” I consider this to be a powerful point, one that I do not want to dismiss or cavalierly gloss over.

And now for the unique twist I promised above. . . .

In order for this feeling on Jenner’s part (or any transgender’s part) to be valid, a person must be more than their mere biological body alone. Otherwise, there’d be no “real them” to be trapped inside the outer shell of their physical appearance in the first place. In other words, if, as many atheistic naturalists claim, a person is simply a collection of cells devoid of a mind or a soul, then the transgender’s frustration is delusional on its face, since there simply is no “inner you” to feel trapped within the “outer you” (because the latter is all there is). But if those with a more religious and/or supernaturalist worldview are correct about humans being both a body and a soul, then there’s a basis for understanding the transgender’s frustration—such people actually have a lexicon and vocabulary to deal with such claims, and a framework for beginning to try to understand them.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that every claim like this should be taken uncritically or at face value. After all, the majority of people “feel like” on the inside what they “look like” on the outside, and therefore in those rare cases where there is a disconnect, patient care should be taken to understand and diagnose the true nature of the problem.

But it seems to me that in order to even begin dealing with transgender people (with the goal of eventually understanding and showing compassion toward them), we need to first have a paradigm that allows for their claim and that makes their frustration possible.

And I’m sorry, but  due to its closed system and closed-mindedness, atheism cannot do that.

Hashtag, Irony. . . .



  1. karlJuly 21, 2015

    Exactly. I recently told someone the same thing.
    Are we saying the persons soul is not in congruity with their body?

  2. JasonJuly 21, 2015

    That is their claim, yes. My point is that hard atheists don’t believe in souls, and must therefore be dismissive (and intolerant) of transgenders from the get-go.

  3. WilbertJuly 21, 2015

    Hi, avid fan of DXP. I do not agree that atheists are arguing about souls, but rather to the feelings that transgender people have. Catholics believe that homosexuality is fine because there is scientific proof that homosexuals do exist even though we don’t understand them fully. It might be hormonal imbalance, or some other scientific explanation, but it is there. God or nature made them that way and that is how they feel.
    Also, in my opinion, Dolzeal is being rejected by people for misrepresenting herself, not because she was trying to be black. If she said that she was born white, but identifies with black people, then i think people would have been more accepting.

  4. Michael SewellJuly 21, 2015

    Jason, I agree with you twist.
    I have a friend who wrote a NY Times best seller called The Memory Palace. She suffers from a Traumatic Brain Injury. I asked her, given that she has a brilliant mind and an injured brain, if the mind and brain were the same thing. She said they were the same thing.
    All of her work speaks of a transcendence, and her creativity has not suffered as result of her injury, so I was surprised by her answer. At one time she identified as a Christian, but now she identifies as an atheist/agnostic/Buddhist. I researched this a little and found out that at Stanford there are studies to discover if there is a difference between mind and brain. Different theories and findings fell along religious lines. People of faith9 or at least open to the concept) saw a difference while atheists did not.
    These studies deal with Identity Theory and Social Identify Theory, which I hope to someday have the time to fully figure out, are approached as psychology and philosophy as well as a little neuroscience. Researchers have divided into camps of materialist views and those who see something more.
    I am firmly in the “seeing something more” camp and find the limitations of the atheist to be hopeless. If we are merely chemical reactions and everything is predetermined, then we may as well just go home.

  5. ABJuly 22, 2015


    To play the contrarian (stick in the mud Orthodox Presbyterian that I am), why can’t the “inner self” just be some higher form of cellular mass than our lower skin/organ cells? (Yoda’s “luminous beings are we..not this crude matter!!” comes to mind)

    People at work mentioned the 21 gram theory years back around the lunch table, not scientific at all per my understanding, but you can see the naturalist struggling with the question even we suoernaturalists truly do struggle with (the existence of a more real than this reality). Suoernaturalist Paul after all says:

    If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied

    1 cor 15:19

    Which seems to leave open the idea that Paul knew he didn’t have an infallible understanding of all things religious. Just a fallible (world)view that the Infallible Word he came to know and love was Truth, Jesus himself.

    Anyway, thanks for the post. Hashtag irony, yo.

  6. ABJuly 22, 2015


    and I can’t resist, one link per comment or else purgatory (at least at olts..)

    next 🙂

  7. ABJuly 22, 2015

    And by “higher order” cellular mass, I just mean like comparing the eyeball to finger nails, one being more complex than the other.

    Don’t worry, fully supernaturalist here. Again good thought provoking and sorry for the Star Wars (sort of..)

    Take care Jason.

  8. Kevin in NewarkJuly 22, 2015

    I would make some qualifications:

    If Dolezal is biologically white because both of her parents are white, then is not Jenner biologically male since he has male chromosomes and genitalia?

    Male and Female are binary, no? Even if there are genitalia problems?

    White and Black aren’t binary (that’s a fundamentally American division, in my opinion- a way to conceptualize groups when real social and cultural ties have been cut off- like those who report “White” as ethnicity in the Census).

    Most “Blacks” in the US have an enormous amount of Scotch-Irish blood.

    Most Scotch-Irish are a mix of Gaelic and Germans (viking settlements in Ireland, Anglo-Saxons in Northumbria spreading to Scotland).

    Genetic studies show huge overlap between Spain and the UK+Ireland, traced back to prehistoric and early historic times- closer ties I believe than either has with France.

    So Appalachian residents of “American ethnicity,” Ecuadorians, and southern African Americans share in a gene pool going back demonstrably to Carthaginians (thence, of course, via some path to A&E).

    As an example of the incompleteness of materialism when it comes to the human mind, I’ve always liked the simple, old-fashioned example of perception – our perception of an object is not identical with that object although it is certainly of that object (and not of an image of it our something- which is recursive).

    If in some sense a perception of an object exists, then there must be a grounding for it – in our perception (and then imagination).

    I’ve never seen a materialist deal with that properly – although there are those who acknowledge a non-material mind but deny a supernatural soul (c.f. McGinn). At least it’s a start.

  9. JasonJuly 22, 2015


    I do not agree that atheists are arguing about souls, but rather to the feelings that transgender people have.

    Maybe, but it’s still true that trans people claim to “be” something other than what their outward body displays. In order for that claim to be taken seriously there needs to me something to a person beyond his mere body, which atheists deny.

    At the very best they could say that trans people have some sort of problem with their brains or a mental disorder.

  10. JasonJuly 22, 2015


    I am firmly in the “seeing something more” camp and find the limitations of the atheist to be hopeless. If we are merely chemical reactions and everything is predetermined, then we may as well just go home.

    Agreed. Hard atheists are just fundamentalists without the Jesus bit. They’re modernists, basically: closed-minded and really, really sure of themselves.

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