Transgender ideology and what it means to be a woman

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Transgender ideology and what it means to be a woman: A conversation with Dr. Katie McCoy

June 5, 2023 -

Transgender ideology and what it means to be a woman: A conversation with Dr. Katie McCoy

Transgender ideology and what it means to be a woman: A conversation with Dr. Katie McCoy

Transgender ideology and what it means to be a woman: A conversation with Dr. Katie McCoy

Dr. Katie McCoy and Dr. Mark Turman discuss Dr. McCoy’s upcoming book, To Be a Woman, the origin of transgender ideology, why so many more women and girls are transitioning, and how to practically, lovingly, engage with trans ideology.

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Show notes:

Dr. Katie McCoy talks about why she wrote To Be a Woman and the definition of gender dysphoria (3:13). She discusses the history of ideas that led to the transgender movement and reflects on the surge in female-to-male trans people (13:17). Dr. McCoy defines other terms like gender-affirming care and the effect of social contagion, pointing to social media as a reason for the rise in trans teens (22:24). She ties together critical theory, trans identity, and philosophy to explain how gender and sexuality became separated (42:14). They close by reflecting on gender pronouns, whether Christian kids should be in public schools, and other practical questions of how to live faithfully (51:06).

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About the host

Mark Turman, DMin, is the executive director of Denison Forum. He received his DMin from Truett at Baylor and previously served as lead pastor of Crosspoint Church.

About the guest

Katie J. McCoy serves as Director of Women’s Ministry at Texas Baptists. She holds a PhD in Systematic Theology from Southwestern Seminary (TX), where she served on faculty for five years. Katie teaches and writes on the intersection of theology, culture, and women’s issues, and has co-authored a work on the doctrine of humanity as part of the Theology for the People of God series (B&H Academic). Included among her research is discovering the pattern of justice for women in Old Testament laws. You can find Katie online at


Transcribed by

Mark Turman  00:09

Welcome back to The Denison Forum Podcast. I’m Dr. Mark Turman, Executive Director of Denison forum and host for today’s conversation. Today we’re taking up a conversation significant to all of us in our culture, the intersection of culture and faith once again, today we want to talk to Dr. Katie McCoy, who is the author of a new book called to be a woman. Katie McCoy serves as Director of women’s ministry for Texas Baptists. She holds a PhD in systematic theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where she also served on the faculty for five years, Katie teaches and writes on the intersection of theology, culture and women’s issues, and has co authored a work on the doctrine of humanity as part of the theology for the people of God series. Included in her research is discovering the pattern of justice for women in Old Testament laws. We’re glad to have Katie with us, you can also find her on the internet at blonde That’s blonde And we’re going to look forward to our conversation today with her about her recent book about gender ideology, gender confusion and what it means to be a woman. Katie, welcome to the podcast. Dr. Katie McCoy, welcome to the Denison Forum Podcast. We’re glad to have you with us today. Hey,


Katie McCoy  01:32

thanks for having me.


Mark Turman  01:34

So tell us a little bit about you so that people have an understanding of your background. I did the formal introduction that people will hear, obviously, but tell us something that’s not on the resume that we might find interesting about Dr. McCoy.


Katie McCoy  01:49

Well, one thing is I love to bake. That’s a fun one. I am a messy Baker though. So you never really know what you’re gonna get. I have not yet mastered cakes. Whenever I tried to do layer cakes, it ends up being just a gigantic slide of of icing and it’s it ends up just being more of a blob. So before that, really before it was called to ministry, I was a music major in college. And so it’s it just feels like a million years ago now. But I used to play the harp. And so I did that for that was life. And unfortunately, it was just a piece of furniture. So I had to I had to find a new home for it. But that’s something that that’s one of those fun facts.


Mark Turman  02:35

So kind of sounds like somebody’s exercise bicycles just over in the corner and you want to do it you know, you shouldn’t do it, but you never get around.


Katie McCoy  02:42

That’s exactly it. That’s exactly it, you know, free up that space and exercise. Bicycles are overrated anyway, eat the doughnuts.


Mark Turman  02:50

That’s right. Exactly, exactly. Well, today, we want to talk about a really big and in many ways, confusing and difficult subject. But the title of the book is to be a woman. So tell us a little bit about the background of how you came to write this book. And who are you thinking of who you Who are you hoping reads this book? Yeah, so


Katie McCoy  03:13

the book sort of fell into my lap as an opportunity. It was talking with a friend who works for b&h publishing, and she described how this was such a need that they had of someone to write a book. And I had been teaching on these topics for several years at the time already, in kind of my former life as a seminary professor. And that’s when this was very much on the fringe. And, you know, I made the mistake of thinking, Oh, I’ve been teaching and talking about this for a while. So I’ve already got so much that I can draw from and in creating this manuscript and and while it was a good start, once I started researching, I realized this was like, a black hole of information to try to understand all of the different elements that have been affecting and influencing the self perception, particularly among teen girls, why this issue has so exploded, and what we can do, and really to determine we’re still learning some things in real time. If I were able to still be working on this manuscript, it would probably be, you know, my poor editor would be terribly frustrated, because I would say, well, we need to have this in there, too. We need to have that in there too, because we’re learning more and more things about it as not only an ideology, but a political identity, and how that is shaping a lot of the public discourse and even public policy related to it. So I my big hope is that the parent, perhaps a pastor, who is dealing with this in his community or his church, will be able to pick it up and find that it’s accessible. It’s a it’s a good introduction to the landscape. Of all the issues that are out there. And then look at the research, I tried to pack as much research as possible. Someone’s already made the point that I have I have a doctorate in theology. So I’m not. Who should I? Why should I be talking about these issues? And to which I would say you’re exactly right. And that’s why I packed it full of research from pediatricians and endocrinologist and psychologists and secular psycho sexologists and as many ologists, as I could find, to show that the public narrative does not match reality. And I think the more parents especially who are empowered with that information, the more we’ll be able to take either preventative action, or keep their keep their families, their children, from making some irreversible decisions, in the name of acceptance, in the name of really compassion and love, and to not be deceived by many of the things that that so called professionals are saying,


Mark Turman  06:06

right now, and we want to get into some of those issues. But one thing is, it’s really helpful right off the bat from reading your book. And some of the sources that you cite, I love the fact that you’re like, hey, I come at this from a theological perspective, but theology matters, faith and, and theology is at the core of who we are. And we’re not simply biological entities, we are spiritual realities and spiritual persons. And that’s just as valid and just as important as some of the other aspects and avenues by which we talk about who we are and, and who we can and should become. But you have a unique approach and talking about this from the standpoint of what we’re seeing with, with women with females with young girls. But before we get into some of those trends, just real simple, it just feels to me like we keep learning new words and new issues every single day. I was trying to think back when the when the term gender dysphoria first crossed my radar, and it’s certainly within the last five years, which means it was, you know, probably just before COVID, we’re all measuring our lives now as the pre COVID world in the post COVID world. But somewhere in the last three to five years was the first time I ever heard the term gender dysphoria. Talk about that definition with some foundation clarity for us. And then what are some of the disturbing trends that you mark out in this book, particularly as it relates to gender dysphoria and young girls? Yeah, so


Katie McCoy  07:46

the term gender dysphoria is a clinical term. And it’s been around in professional settings in the psychiatric community for a while. The term itself means anytime you hear that word dysphoria, it just means something is out of alignment. It is it is not holistic it is there’s something that is not as it should be. And that relates to one’s sense of gender. So broadly speaking, gender dysphoria means that someone’s self perception of being a man or a woman, or something in between, or some combination thereof, is out of alignment with one’s biological sex. Now, as Dr. Carl Truman points out about 50 years ago, or so, if someone had gender dysphoria, and went to their medical professional or mental health professional, that mental health professional, would be trying to help the person’s mind come into alignment with their bodies. Today, now, that’s all reversed. And now the body has to be brought into alignment with the mind or rather, the self perception. And the book gets into how we got there. Why that is, but the big shift that occurred in gender dysphoria is that it went from being a fraction of a percent among natal males, so biological males, and in the course of about 10 to 15 years, the demographic shifted to being predominantly biological girls, and a enormous and enormous spike in these cases. And whereas it used to be not only named natal males, but natal males between about two and four years old, who first expressed this sense of gender dysphoria. Now, it was natal females who had no prior expression or history of gender dysphoria, and seemingly overnight said that they had a transgender identity, usually middle school, high school, and then we’re even seeing it into those college years. And so we get into with the bulk of why is that what has occurred, and and why is it that there’s this enormous shift in the data and Spike I Generally speaking, in our culture, you’re going to hear things like trans people have always existed, and that people are just now feeling safe enough to realize who they truly are, and express it. And that completely ignores, frankly, how God made females and females are highly emotive, relational, and empathetic. Those are strengths. And so often these young teenage girls find identification in their friends, their peer groups. And these friends and peer groups are contributing to this enormous spike among natal females having a sudden trans identity. I might be getting a little ahead of myself there, though. It weaves together.


Mark Turman  10:50

Yeah, it does. It does. And let me just ask you to clarify a new term when I was reading your book, if I was for me, anyway, the term natal refers to what is the person’s biological sex at birth? Right? Correct. So that’s a clarification. But one things your book does well, and I thought in a really great and concise way, is talking about how we got here. We sometimes have the at least the hope, perhaps, maybe not well founded. But if we can understand how we got here, then we could reverse the tape and back the train up and try to get back on the right road. It doesn’t exactly work that way. But it is important for us to understand. John Stonestreet at the Coulson Center. I’m sure you’re familiar with him. He said ideas have consequences. Bad Ideas have victims. Others Carl Truman, even our founder, Dr. Dennis and his written on this layout for us in in layman’s terms, which is how I need to hear it is what are some of the trends relative to being? We hear terms regularly, around being post Christian Post truth? What does that mean? What does it mean to live in a, in a society culture, a collection of communities that have a predominant way of thinking or a default way of thinking that we now call post Christian and post truth? And how, how is that new? How was that laying a foundation for? What seems to be these crazy forms of thinking that are becoming very popular? Yes.


Katie McCoy  12:32

So one of the reasons why if if people are looking around and saying it feels like this is a runaway train, how did we get here, the truth is we did not get here overnight. This is the product of several ideas, if you can imagine just a big soup, that they’ve all been thrown into a big pot, and mashed together, allowed to marinate over time. And this is what we’re seeing, we are in kind of a soup of ideas that have affected people’s sense of not only their identity, but where they find happiness, fulfillment, and what it means to be truly human. You mentioned this term post Christian culture. And when we hear that we might originally think that it is an anti Christian culture or an on Christian culture. What we mean by that is, it is a culture that has been influenced by the ideas or perhaps the value systems of Christianity, but it has left Christianity’s primary and exclusive claims. So for instance, our culture loves believing that everyone is equal. And that is a true statement. Every human being is equal regardless of their socio economic status, regardless of their ethnicity. Everyone is equal. But most people don’t know that that is not a product of Western society, but rather Christianity’s influence on western society. Our culture also values. Things like kindness, justice, those are values that come from the influence of Christianity in society. Where we’ve become post Christian is people want to keep those values, but they don’t want anything to do with the God and the moral compunctions and claims that those those values come from. So people love Jesus until we start talking about how he’s Lord, He is God, and we are all accountable to him. Everyone’s a fan of him, until he starts making claims like I am the Way the Truth and the Life. So people want to keep the values of Christianity, but they don’t want the God of Christianity. And I think the best summary of a post Christian culture is when Pastor Mark Sayers said they want the kingdom but without the king, so much of this that we’re seeing in related to gender dysphoria, and and I even believe Doctor term and this is why we’re seeing Generation Z as the most anxious generation in American history. I think the statistic was something like the average teenager today has the level of mental health crises that a psychiatric patient did in the 1950s are alarming. That is absolutely alarming. But when we when we see it in, led through the lens of these post Christian eye cultural ideas, I don’t think it’s any coincidence that this generation is both gender confused, anxious, and completely unmoored from any type of objective, external authority. All of that is deeply interconnected. So we have a generation of people who are trying to answer very deep philosophical worldview identity based questions, with nothing more, but their feelings.


Mark Turman  16:01

And that’s yeah, Chris Brooks, the pastor up in Detroit, that is a friend of our ministry, he talks about how we’re asking very profound anthropological questions, what does it mean to be a human being? And then beyond that? What does it mean to be a female? What does it mean to be a male? And it’s, to me, it’s very interesting, and it’s always comforting, where we can identify where some of these ideas came from, you know, going back, as some others have done, you know, one 200 years, and we can actually kind of mark it out by certain thinkers and how they added to the soup, I love that term, they added to the soup, and it all started to, to marinate, and to mix together in ways that we never would have envisioned, it would ultimately result in this, and is resulting in a lot of really destructive ideas that ideas become in times actions, and then at times, they become policies. We’ll talk about that in a moment. But it’s leading to this, as you said, confusion, and also to this anxiety. But let’s, let’s talk a little bit about some of the specific things that are going on it. It just seems like when when you watch this conversation, listen to this conversation. It seems like so many of our medical doctors and mental health experts, it almost seems like that the majority of that community has just rushed into the direction of what your book describes as gender affirming therapy. And I’d love for you to describe how the common road is from social transition, when people are confused about their gender to hormone to surgical map out that that pathway, but is it is it just wrong? Are we just seeing a skewed picture that it just feels like even worldwide? That the first knee jerk reaction over the last? Oh, five to 10 years has been? Well, we can’t question the ideas behind this. We just need to rush to affirm what what some individual, even at a young age might walk into our office and say to us or ask of us without questioning the thought processes behind it. Talk about that, how that’s working itself out? And what your what your opinion of just the both the mental and medical approach has become


Katie McCoy  18:38

sick? It’s a great question. So gender affirming care, is an approach to therapy that does not try to steer the patient in any direction, but rather takes the patient where they are and adapts to the patient’s self perception. Now, there are a few ways that this can work out. And especially for our Christians who are licensed professional counselors, they in many times feel like they’re between a rock and a hard place, because they’re legally bound to take a particular approach. But they’re not legally able to dispute or refute a person’s claims about their sense of self. So gender affirming care states that essentially, if I were your therapist, and you came to me and said, I believe that I am a girl trapped in a boy’s body. I would not just agree that you feel like that, but that this is actually who you are, and that I need to support you and your self perception and adapt physical reality to your psychological self. gender affirming care as a result, has ushered so many teenagers into methods of transition. Oftentimes, in fact, I would probably say most of the time, without addressing some underlying conditions that may have proved used this sense of gender dysphoria. So we’re seeing so many in the transgender community D transition from their trans identity, because they do all of the different therapies and measures. And they find that their anxiety and depression are remaining, that there are other issues that lead to this sense of gender dysphoria. In fact, one particular psychologist said that this is just something we’ve seen in other generations, called a psychic epidemic. And what she means by that is, people are fixating on certain feelings or symptoms as a way to receive the psychological care that they need. And what we don’t need to hear from that is people are acting or being fake, it’s that they’re redirecting, and they’re taking a social script, as it were, and trying to fulfill or play that part in order to receive the type of care that they need. So in other words, it’s a cry for help. It’s a coping mechanism. It’s it’s something that this is not the primary issue. But rather, if you address the primary issues, the gender dysphoria often dissipates, or is identified as this was something I was fixating on. And it’s not actually what’s going on. Now,


Mark Turman  21:24

is that is that just is that to say, Katie, that this is that a lot of what’s going on right now is a rush to treat the symptom, and even not to treat the symptom in a good way, rather than to treat the cause is that pretty simple way of putting it precisely.


Katie McCoy  21:39

And some of why we’re seeing that as well, is a culture that has has sanctioned the method of Self Realization, being entirely your feelings. So if you feel like you are something then that’s actually who you are. And we hear this in these kind of three word mantras, right, follow your heart, live your truth. And and as we are adapting even in our Christian circles, sometimes we take that, you know, speak your truth. And, and these words have a way of getting very deeply ingrained into our worldview, our sense of who we are, who God is, who what the world is, and believing that truth is not something external to us and objective, but something that is created and subjective, internalized. And so these transition methods are all in an effort to align the physical self with the psychological self. Social is what you might see. More commonly, someone’s hairstyle, someone’s clothes, someone’s preferred name or preferred pronouns. That’s a hot button issue to have, we maybe


Mark Turman  22:55

don’t yeah, we get we get into the options there. Most most pastors are living at that level right? There, it


Katie McCoy  23:03

is a big challenge to think through, but we can come back to that. So the the hormonal methods are related to cross sex hormones and puberty blockers. And then finally, the surgical methods. Broadly speaking, it is the amputation of healthy organs, and the surgical route not even reconstruction. But fabrication, really, of Oregon’s belonging to someone of the opposite sex. We can’t really say it’s a reconstructed Oregon because that Oregon is not capable of fulfilling its function in a reproductive sense. So it is the appearance of an organ, but it’s not actually that organ. Very important distinction. You did mention


Mark Turman  23:45

didn’t and it’s an it’s an organ that didn’t exist before. Precisely. Precisely, okay, it can’t be a reconstruction because it wasn’t ever considered. It’s never constructed.


Katie McCoy  23:54

Exactly, exactly. And there’s all kinds of complications, some horrific side effects, that that are intrinsic to that, as well. You mentioned this, we’re, we’re worldwide. And let’s park on that for a moment because something that most Americans may not realize is that among the most progressive nations on gender affirming care for minors, for people under generally 18 countries like England and Sweden have reversed course. They are looking at the data saying this is not working. This is not helping the mental health of children. In fact, the only gender clinic for children in the UK called Tavistock completely shut down. And it was it was the result of some whistleblowers. It was the result of some of doctors related to their board. Looking at the data going we are rushing the These children into life altering procedures. And it’s not even what they need. It is it is alarming how many doctors and health insurance companies have just jumped on to this without thinking, when we get into why we’ve got, again, all that cultural stuff that we talked about that is that is creating our new value system, our new social ethic. At some point, when I look at all of this information, and we see it through the lens of the Christian worldview, we have to see it spiritually. And there is absolutely a spiritual warfare battle going on this is good and evil, and, and more and more of the evil roots to this movement, they are coming to the surface in ways that it’s like this whole movement is starting to tell on itself, what it’s really based on. And we can’t forget, as we’re doing these philosophical conversations and cultural analyses, to remember that we are in a cosmic battle, we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, we wrestle against spiritual forces in the heavenly places. And Satan hates God, so hate Satan hates God’s image bearers. And every human being, regardless of whether he or she has a relationship with Jesus is an image bearer of God. And so if if the enemy can get people to believe that the pathway to true liberation, and peace is to defy their Creator, and harm themselves, he is he will do whatever it takes to convince people of that fact. So this is very much a spiritual battle that we are in, in our generation.


Mark Turman  26:47

Right. And it’s, and it’s one of the fundamental aspects of life, one of the most basic questions that we ask even before we know that we’re asking it, which is this very fundamental question of who am I, you know, where did I come from? And who am I? So, you know, the, the word identity gets tossed around all over our culture these days. But it’s actually not new. And it’s actually something very fundamentally important. And the Christian gospel has the only true answer to that question. It’s a multi dimensional question and a multi dimensional answer, you know, who am I but it starts in your relationship with God, and then moves into your relationship with other people. That’s why Jesus said most important thing was that we love God and love others and understand, first of all, that God loves us. And that we are, as you said, his image bearers the pinnacle of his creation. But But talk about how. And let me just pause for a second in that pathway from the so when people start to have dysphoria. They move along this pathway, usually from social transitioning to hormonal transitioning to surgical transitioning. Is it is it I think it’s important to call out, when you start messing with the hormonal realities, you’re actually you’re actually, in this is something of what the UK folks, I think, discovered, you’ve actually altered things in a way you can’t come back from when you move to that second and third level. And we’re seeing this with some of the testimonies of people working their way through D transitioning, it’s one thing if it is a mental and sociological reality of names and dress and hairstyle. But when you move to that next level, particularly hormones, and certainly surgery, you really are talking about changing a person’s life for for the long term for the rest of their life, correct?


Katie McCoy  28:56

That’s precisely correct. You know, when we talk about some of the social things, it’s a little bit like how teenagers might go through a phase. That’s not to treat it trivially. We we need to keep in mind that a socially transitioned teenager is far more likely because he or she has been living and relating according to the opposite gender, they are far more likely to hop on that hormone and surgical train and make some irreversible decisions. The hormonal factor if this is one that it is so, so new, it’s only been recently given that we still don’t know its long term effects. So the hormone blockers I believe the correct pronunciation is gonadotropin hormones. So these are drugs that were originally created to arrest the progression of hormone related cancers. So prostate cancer breast cancer. In other words, these were drugs Designed to heal. And instead they are being prescribed off label meaning something that it was not originally intended to treat. They’re being prescribed off label to children, either at or right before puberty. Some of the effects of this are devastating. Our own FDA acknowledged last summer that it can include brain swelling, and I believe in that report, it was a higher risk of stroke. There’s, there’s a connection between hormone blockers, and bone density and the skeletal system, we we underestimate the presence and impact of hormones on brain development. And for some who take hormone blockers, and then cross sex hormones. First of all, cross sex hormones, they they have essentially consigned themselves to lifelong infertility. And we’re still learning about the effects of cross sex hormones on overall health, blood clots, so many different things. But along with that sexual dysfunction, they may forever for the rest of their lives suffer from sexual dysfunction, because they are injecting their bodies with hormones that their entire system was not designed to sustain. Now, some people may say, everybody has the presence of you know, even females have the presence of testosterone, okay, but but original testosterone, we’re not talking for in testosterone, that someone would inject that would change their structure, we’re talking about a level of testosterone that their entire system was not created, to ingest. And so we’re seeing absolutely devastating effects. But it’s even worse than that, because some of the research is demonstrating that these puberty blockers and cross sex hormones are no more effective, or giving no substantive relief to gender dysphoria compared to other methods like talk therapy, and even medication, you know, an antidepressant or an anti anxiety to perhaps deal with maybe the physical effects of depression, while the patient addresses the underlying emotional, spiritual and psychological issues.


Mark Turman  32:29

Right? Yeah, so, so helpful to understand just the danger of what’s going on there. You know, the, the idea that, you know, we can, we can create whatever reality we want, or solve whatever problem we think is in front of us from a medical treatment of some kind, be that be that a medicine or a surgery, I want to before we move on, I want to talk about, again, just a little bit more under this, how we got here. Not only the, the idea soup that you describe, so well in this book, and how all of that, eventually, that soup, produces something within our culture, but talk a little bit about, you know, we we form our identity in community, we form it in relationship, not only with God, but with our family, with our parents, our siblings, our friends, our neighbors, and that type of thing. Talk about how there is seemingly a clear connection between what’s going on particularly with young females feeling this dysphoria, and how how social media is playing an influence into that talk, talk about how that reality, because here’s, here’s my general approach to this, when it comes to tech, you know, technology has been liking social media. But anyway, the ability to have the kind of technology that we have has been likened to the discovery of fire, a subset of that is social media. We are now building identity through social media instead of in person. It just whether you’re whether you want to talk about dating apps or other things, but we’re looking at particularly in this case of young females feeling gender dysphoria, and there seems to be a direct connection to how they are building their identity relative to others. And they’re doing that in the art the artificial world of social media. Am I on the right track? Completely? I know you can say it better than I can.


Katie McCoy  34:45

Social media is an enormous factor to why this has metastasized as the cancer that it is. So social media is full of these trans influencers who describe how their life just came together, they felt all of their emotional problems go away when they transitioned hormone ly or surgically. And and with that there’s either an implicit or explicit call to action of this is why you two need to start getting testosterone. By the way, testosterone shots alarmingly easy to obtain, like easier than antibiotics, you could get a testosterone shot by walking into your local Planned Parenthood. One girl describes how she didn’t even see a doctor, she saw a nurse practitioner who gave her exponentially more times the starting dose. I mean, you just think about the checks that we have to get basic medication, and something that put this young girl at enormous risk. And we’re, again, we’re still learning some of the physical side effects of that. So these social media influencers are urging their their viewers to transition as well to tell their parents these words, and they’ll get you to a therapist, tell your therapist these words. And one one person, I believe a therapist actually counseled teenagers to fake a suicide attempt. And then parents will give you whatever you want. And and parents, by the way, oftentimes are just as much of a victim of this system as as the children are because these parents hear their pediatrician or their child’s psychiatrist or psychologist say, you know, we really need to get your child on puberty blockers and press pause, so to speak on puberty. Because if, if we don’t do that, now, she may harm herself. And what parent would not stop everything and say whatever you need. And it’s it is the goodness of the parent child relationship that is being manipulated. For another another end, social media that look, there’s a reason that Silicon Valley execs do not let their kids have smartphones and social media. I saw a headline from


Mark Turman  37:14

Steve Jobs on down, right. I saw a headline


Katie McCoy  37:17

just the other day, I think it was it was some big actress who told her kids you know what, if you can find an article that says how this is good for Children your age, then I’ll let you have social media. And and she just she put that challenge out to her children. And and that will that that is a very, that’s a very bold thing to do. But it’s exactly I think more parents need to recognize social media is an excellent tool, like like every other means of communication. But there are there are aspects of a teenager’s life and even brain development, that have not matured to the point of being able to measure whether something is a safe piece of information or how it is going to affect them. You mentioned the relational aspect of gender and relationship is so very important because our sense of self perception has to be confirmed by someone else. Someone Someone made this point that there is a Biden aspect, when a young man grows his hair out dresses like a woman perhaps gets Facial Feminization Surgery, that, that he’s doing all of this in order to be received and confirmed as a particular gender identity. It’s one of the ironic things about this movement that says, You are who you are, and no one can can differ with that. But then places all of this emphasis on appearing and finding confirmation of that inner sense of self perception in other people, to the point that if society if a complete stranger fails to affirm and confirm your self perception that that complete stranger is quote, unquote, misgendering you and they are a not safe person. And so all of this is about that relational buy in of this connection between how people present themselves and who they want other people to perceive them as being


Mark Turman  39:34

it’s like, the ultimate contradiction in in realities is to say on the speaking out of both sides of your mouth, right to say on the one hand, it doesn’t matter at all what other people think. Go do go live your truth go do whatever you feel is affirming and right for you but then, to make it even criminal in some cases, not to affirm what this person is attempting to declare about them precisely. It’s, in essence enormously confusing to people. How how the culture can move in both directions at the same time, isn’t it? Which is just, yeah, just another part of, again, why your book is so helpful. And just to help us see the contradiction in that. One of the other things that that I thought was really helpful to me in your book, as you talk about the the relationship between biological sex and gender, many of us, particularly, you know, I’m 60 years old, my age and older are wondering, okay, when in the world did we separate those two terms, you know, sex, biological, sex, and gender. And then we’ve had this whole cultural conversation, pushed forward in many ways about, you know, very hope high profile people not even being able to say this is what a woman is, this is what a man can talk a little bit about that connection, as well as the cultural separation of biological sex from gender. And then I loved how you kind of mapped out with some research from other writers around the definition of female related to potentiality, as instead of actuality that I’m still I got to you, Katie, I’m trying to wrap my brain around what you’re, what you’re saying there? I think I get it, but I want to hear it from you as well.


Katie McCoy  41:29

Yeah, absolutely. So this idea that sex can be separated from gender is, we can we can locate the beginning of that in a few different sources. The big umbrella of it, though, I think we’d say we can’t really understand it, if we don’t see this through the lens of a more broad social movement of critical theory. I know, that’s something that you have done a lot of work and research on. And so this, this idea of critical theory being applied to society, if I could say it in a very kind of general way, it’s the idea that if it’s something in the majority, it is defacto, it is automatically oppressive, and needs to be somehow torn down, removed from the center of society, and then have a different view or a different way of living re centered as a challenge that so in other words, if the family is at the center of society, then we need to dismantle that and replace it with a new way of relating to our culture and having a social identity. Fascinatingly, in I’ll talk about this in the book, most true ideological gender activists are honest about their affinity for the economic theories of Marx. Now, you think, why is that a connection? Well, it’s a connection, because it’s this idea that the majority culture is sort of all in on it. And everything that they do in their way of life is about protecting their majority status. And so the righteous and good and just thing to do is to dismantle everything related to their lives and what they’re trying to protect, including the family and including ideas of gender. Now, we saw some explicit theories on sex and gender related to Judith Butler, and she wrote an article describing her view that gender is just a social script. It’s a social performance, something that we inhabit. Simone de Beauvoir is a pre feminist philosopher, she wrote a book called The Second Sex in the 1950s. And she had this famous line that a woman is not born, she’s made. In other words, based on her biology, she is sort of molded into this social script of what is expected of her as a woman. So we have this idea that your biology should not have any determination of who you truly are. Couple that with other ideas in our culture, such as your sexual identity or sexual preference, or if you like, orientation, that that is the most important thing about you. Everything else revolves around that. And so couple that, of course, with our culture of identity politics, where we, we separate ourselves and group ourselves together according to these affinity groups or different aspects or elements of our identities. And so it really all adds to that soup, that big soup that is all sort of stewing and said worrying and creating a culture in which people who are fighting for what they call trans rights, believe that they are advancing and advocating a view that is going to lead to a recentering of what is normal, a deconstructing of what has been in the past, and that this is a righteous and just cause. What we haven’t done is examined this claim, can biology truly be separated from gender? I have a whole chapter on the biological differences between male and female. And it’s not what you might think it it begins with neurology. And it even addresses things like muscular tissue differences. It’s not the it’s not even related to our reproductive systems at all. However, you mentioned this difference between potential and actual, this count this comes from a thinker named Abigail for volley, wonderful philosopher, she is a Catholic thinker, brilliant woman. And she defines a woman as someone who has the potential to gestate new life. So it’s a female who has the potential to just a new life. So what do we mean by that we mean that her entire biological system is organized around the possibility of carrying, nurturing and bearing a baby. A male is someone with the potential of siring or inseminating, creating new life. And she even goes, makes this wonderful point when she describes that when when someone is infertile, when a woman is infertile, it’s because her her system is not able to fulfill the potential around which it is organized. We don’t use that word in fertile, referring to a biological male, because his biology is not even set up to center around gestation. And so I loved this, this difference between potential and actual and and part of why is because people are saying, well, what is true of every woman, that that we would be able to narrow down to a definition, and, and whatever, whatever characteristic you come up with, you’ll always find someone who does not fit that characteristic, and yet is still a woman. And so what value does is she takes it all out of the realm of things that are incidental to female identity, and just frames that around how the female body is structured around the possibility of bearing new life. And that in that sense, it covers all women, it includes all women, with without it and excludes all males. So it was a brilliant definition.


Mark Turman  48:05

Yeah, they is really helpful to get to get down to something that is very clear, and very simple. And as you said, universal. And getting down to this, and doesn’t mean that you’re only you’re only a female or only a woman, if you actually have a child, it’s the potential of being able to just stay a child. And that that is the clearest universal characteristic beyond the biology, of physical structure, and helping people to understand that that was really, really helpful in that way. Let’s, let’s move in the few minutes that we have left to talk today. Such a big topic, but what what are your concerns at this point? And as you said, at the beginning of our conversation, there’s so much happening almost on a daily basis around this whole conversation. What are your concerns right now as it relates to gender ideology? What do you mean by gender ideology and how that relates to the development that we’re seeing relative to policy because as a pastor for 34 years where I was living with this issue pastoring, a church was really around two significant questions. There are more now but at least these questions of, well, what do we do if somebody says that they now want to be called this and they want to be used, they want these pronouns? And then the other policy part of that was parents saying, Okay, is it just time to take my kid out of public school? Because public school policy, I mean, I had this conversation a week ago with my own adult daughter who is raising two preschool children is, I just don’t know if I can trust any public school system. Because of the way policies seem to be evolving around these issues. And I know that, Katie, some of this has a lot to do with where you live geographically. Because not all communities, not all states are handling these conversations the same way. What what’s, what’s your view? What would you say to parents, and to policymakers, for that matter along this conversation?


Katie McCoy  50:21

So you mentioned that phrase, gender ideology, what what I mean, when I say that is, it’s that umbrella of a philosophy that separates sex from gender, the bio biological self and one’s self perception, and believes that those two can be separated now under that there’s a lot of different beliefs. And that’s, that’s what I that’s where I’m coming from when I say, gender ideology. And those principles, as you said, are being taught in public schools. So the first thing I would say to parents is get very inquisitive about the curriculum that is being taught. And not just the curriculum, but those unguarded moments that a teacher may have with a with a child to say things like, well, mommies and daddies don’t really know whether you’re a boy or girl. So they look at their bodies, and they just guess when they’re born, that this is part of a gender ideological framework. And whether it is an institutionalized curriculum, or not formally recognized curriculum or not, it could still be being taught. I don’t have kids. But I can tell you that if I did, unless I was living in a few different states, and I think Texas is probably going to become one of those states, we’re waiting to see what our legislators do. But unless I lived in Florida, and I don’t know, is Virginia, probably one of them, too, I would not have my children in public school, I met a wonderful couple out in El Paso. And they upgraded their family from California, because of what their children were being taught in elementary school. And it was, it was fascinating to hear that they were they were willing to start over in a new city, rather than have their children in California public schools, California, by the way, is the worst, just the worst. Where you can a parent can even opt out of saying that they don’t want the school system to teach their children on particular sexual reproductive organs, but children cannot be removed from the gender, education, the gender ideological education in California public schools. Children are impressionable. And and this is why they need guidance, they need the guidance of parents, of spiritual leaders of teachers. And unfortunately, the way that our school system is being guided. And I would even add to that without trying to be too partisan, but But pay attention to what some of these teachers unions are saying some of these teachers unions have taken up the cause of gender ideology and public schools, and made this part of their platform. And I think enough parents when enough parents realize what’s going on, we’re going to see really a movement of concerned parents, and I believe it will stop this, it’s going to arrest this but but there’s a tipping point, because right now, I think people are very concerned that they’re going to be judged that are going to be canceled, and with good reason, because that’s happening. But again, part of why that’s happening is because a very small minority is being able to control the conversation for the majority. You mentioned this issue of pronouns. And I’ll tell you that in the book, if you read, there’s a chapter where I talk about what you can’t afford not to know. And I address whether to use preferred pronouns. And the approach that I tried to take was generally what what Christians say. And there are two approaches. And I tried to give both of those approaches in a way that someone who held to that approach would say, yes, Katie, you have accurately represented my position. But then, in the next paragraph, tell you what I think so I’ll tell you, I think that there are with with good motives, but misguided conclusions, people who are using preferred pronouns, and I’ll tell you that the the more that I’m learning about how significant language is to this gender ideology, the more I am seeing is demanding compelled and controlled speech, so that it’s no longer perhaps you’re trying to be compassionate or you’re trying to make sure you don’t close a door and again, those are good motives. But instead, this movement sees that as an act of submission, this will movement is viewing that as an as an acquiescence to their view. And on the basis of not submitting to compelled speech alone, I think Christians should refuse to use preferred pronouns. My own take is I will use whatever name someone has given me, you know that people, we can only call people by the names that they tell us that that they have, whether that’s a nickname or preferred name, but I won’t use preferred pronouns, I will avoid it wherever possible. And a lot of times, you really can’t avoid it. There was a fascinating case that I heard it on the on the news several months ago, where a college professor had a transgender student, and he refused to call this transgender student by his preferred pronouns. And he worked out a solution with this student to say, I want to respect my conscience and my own deeply held religious beliefs that God has created people as either male or female, we can’t choose our gender. But I also want to respect you as a student. So can we find a solution so that I am not disrespecting you, but at the same time, I am respecting my conscience. And wonderfully, they found a solution. The school however, still had a problem. Now, I don’t even know if that type of solution is possible anymore, because it seems that we have really left conversations of tolerance. I don’t think tolerance is even the goal. Now, it is recognition, and unqualified acceptance. And so this is this is one of the ways that we in our generation of the church, in our generation of Christians in this culture, at this time, are going to separate ourselves from the world. And I think now more than ever, we have to settle it in our own hearts, are we willing to incur even earthly loss, because when enough people speak up, I believe that we will see the tide turn. But again, there’s so much fear, there’s so much apprehension of backlash, that so often people are frightened into submission, into into using language that they don’t agree with, that does not accord with their conscience. And maybe, in fact, I would say is reinforcing a belief that is contrary to God’s design. This is not an easy thing to think of. And I even say I conclude this section in the book by saying, you have to wrestle with this, with the Scriptures, with the Holy Spirit with the people of God. And whatever you do, don’t do it out of fear, do it out of a conviction that you are, you know, that this is how you are to be a faithful witness to Christ, in your lifetime in this culture, and in this day on this issue.


Mark Turman  58:02

Yeah, such a good word and a good place for us to bring this to a close for today. But so much an affirmation of what the Bible says that, you know, Romans, I think it is 1314, if it’s not a faith, and it’s not from God needs to be an act of faith. And, and as we like to talk about it in some forum, it is about showing up and showing and telling the love of Christ in the way that you talk and the way that you treat people speaking the truth in love, and then being willing to serve, and the part that is harder for us. And sometimes the part we want to push away, are we willing to sacrifice and suffer for our belief and loyalty to Christ, if that’s necessary in this culture. But his history shows that that’s really where our faith gets validated in some of the most profound ways is when we’re not only willing to speak it, but willing to suffer for it if we have to. And we hope it doesn’t come to that. But in some ways, we have to be prepared for that. The book is called. Yeah, the book is called to be a woman by Dr. Katie McCoy. Katie, thank you for spending some time but even more, so thank you for your good, good work in this area. This book is so helpful. And I know you’ll be looking for ways to add to it as the conversation in the situation evolves. You can find this book at all major booksellers, right? Yep. All right. And you can also as I said, in the introduction, you can find more of Katie’s work at blonde thought that was a creative way of identifying yourself on the internet blonde I want to thank our audience for listening to us if this has been helpful to you. Please rate and review us and share this with family and friends that will help to get the message out even further. And we want to thank you today for being a part of the Denison Forum Podcast. Dr. McCoy got bless you in all our continuing work


Katie McCoy  1:00:02

thank you so much Dr Turman Great to be with you


Mark Turman  1:00:05

we’ll see you next time on the Denison Forum Podcast



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