What is a Woman?
On Matt Walsh’s new documentary
At the very beginning of the Bible we are instructed about the division of the sexes: “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27). There are only two, male and female, and nowhere does God’s Word indicate that men can become women, or women men. In fact, the Bible explicitly condemns attempts to live as the opposite sex. Deuteronomy 22:5 says that “[t]he woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God.” The Bible is abundantly clear about the nature of sexual division within the created order.
In “What is a Woman?,” Matt Walsh’s new documentary about the transgender movement and its critics, Walsh nowhere appeals to the Bible, but instead uses common-sense, rational questioning to investigate transgenderism’s attempt to overthrow nature—God’s “second book” of revelation. Walsh’s documentary reveals how the transgender movement has exchanged the truth about humanity for a lie. No lie conforms to reality, yet Walsh shows how this lie is especially incoherent and detached from reality. Over and over, licensed doctors, college professors, practicing pediatricians, and sitting politicians fumble through Walsh’s interviews (or end the interview, refusing to answer his questions) thereby exposing their gender ideology for the nonsense that it is. Walsh directs each of his interviewees to a concluding question, one that transgender activists were unable to answer in a direct or logical way: What is a woman? Responses ranged from “Great question” and “I’m not a woman, so I don’t know,” to “Why do you want to know?” and “A woman is someone who claims to be a woman.”
One particularly striking interview was with Dr. Patrick Grzanka, Professor in a University of Tennessee Program for Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Walsh begins by asking Grzanka if sexuality and gender are different. In a long and circuitous way, Grzanka answers that the concepts are distinguishable yet interrelated. When Walsh presses Grzanka, asking if we can identify a person with male physical characteristics who identifies as a transgender woman as in fact male due to his biology, Granzka demurs. This leads to one of the most eye-opening exchanges in the film. Grzanka asks Walsh why he cares so much about identifying someone’s biological sex, and Walsh says he wants to understand reality, to “start by getting to the truth.” Grzanka reacts, claiming that he is deeply uncomfortable with the language of “getting to the truth,” and that such language is “deeply transphobic.”
Grzanka and other transgender activists believe in their ideology despite what they see. The external world has no necessary connection with reality for the believer in transgender ideology. Instead, each individual’s deliberate choice decides whether he is a man or a woman. Transgenderism thus requires its adherents to deny the concept of stable, accessible, absolute truth, as well as stable human nature. As Grzanka and numerous other interviewees of Walsh made clear, they recognized “my truth” or “your truth” but not the truth.
Walsh’s interview with Gent Comfrey, a gender affirming therapist, reveals the extent to which the transgender understanding of truth and the world blurs the lines between men and women. This blurring makes even knowing one’s own gender uncertain. Comfrey explained that modern research has shown that sex and gender are not mere binaries and are not restricted by biological sex differences. She claimed that “some women have penises, . . . some men have vaginas.” When pushed by Walsh to explain how that claim is known, Comfrey said that she learned it by talking with transgender people who identify as the opposite of their biological sex. Walsh then asked the logical follow-up: if these concepts are fluid, how can Walsh know whether he might be a woman or not? Walsh explained that he likes scented candles and watched Sex and the City. Could Walsh be a woman? Comfrey did not dismiss the idea but encouraged Walsh to ask the question with curiosity to start his journey of gender identity development.
Walsh interviewed one person who had taken the concept of individualized truth to its logical extreme. Naia Okami claimed to be both a transgender woman and a wolf therian. A therian is “someone who identifies as a non-human earthen animal either spiritually or psychologically.” Okami told Walsh about how he (she?) discovered his inner wolf-ness at around age 10 when watching an anime cartoon. Apparently Okami then went on to spend time at many wolf preserves, communicating with wolves in non-verbal ways.
Not everyone Walsh interviewed was a supporter of transgenderism. Carl Trueman spoke to Walsh about how modern society arrived at a state where transgenderism is celebrated. Trueman described how modernity teaches us that individual personal happiness and authentic living are the key to a fulfilling life, rather than participation in embodied communities, such as the English village where Trueman grew up. Trueman discussed how the loss of such communities has led to the rise of online communities where the common interest is sexual confusion.
Jordan Peterson discussed the proper role of therapy with Walsh in an effort to describe how so-called affirmation therapy is wrong-headed. For Peterson, a therapist is someone with whom a person has conversations in an effort to fix his problems. A good therapist does not affirm the problems of the client but rather seeks to address them. Affirmation therapy, therefore, is premised on an incorrect conception of what therapy is. Peterson recognized that there can be masculine girls and feminine boys but rejected the solution as one of affirmation through therapy or sex surgery.
One of the most memorable conversations in the movie was with a people-group not confused about gender: the Maasai tribe of Africa. Through a translator, Walsh asked the tribesmen what they thought about gender changes, gender identity, and the concept of “non-binary.” The tribesmen laughed at such ideas. When Walsh asked them what it means to be a man, the Maasai responded with answers that humans have given for all of history until recently. A man has certain physical characteristics. A man takes care of his woman. A man has children and provides for them. The Maasai seemed to be a happy, healthy, and flourishing group of people.
Walsh’s film reveals at least two things about the movement. First, the entire concept of “transgenderism” is incoherent. Just as one cannot have a square circle or a round square, a “transgender male” does not exist. No matter what internal disposition or feelings a boy or girl has, his maleness or her femaleness does not change. Neither does hormone therapy and sex surgery make a person become the opposite sex. As Scott (Kellie) Newgent, a victim of the gender ideology tells Walsh:
I am a biological woman that medically transitioned to appear like a male through synthetic hormones and surgery. I will never be a man. . . . Why is it that a couple hundred years from now, if you dug up my body, they’re gonna go ‘Yup, that was a woman. Had babies.’
Men and women, human males and females, are unable to “transition” in such a way that they actually become the other sex. The entire premise of transgenderism is faulty, and that is why, when pressed by Walsh, every pro-trans interviewee’s answers devolve into incoherence. A square is not round, a man cannot become a woman, and attempts to do so will always be futile.
Walsh’s film also reveals the evil of the transgender movement. It is not merely that people are misguided when it comes to gender (although a great many are); the originators and the propagators of gender ideology—those at the head of the movement—knowingly practice evil. Walsh introduces viewers to Alfred Kinsey, a mid-20th century social reformer, who actively worked to rid American society of Christian values, especially regarding sexuality. According to Walsh, Kinsey’s research on sexuality (which included sexual experimentation on infants and children) has been demonstrated as fraudulent, yet still influences the gender ideology of the Left today. Walsh also describes the influence of another 20th century academic, John Money. Money coined the terms “gender identity” and “gender roles.” He believed that babies could be raised as either boys or girls, regardless of their biological sex. He also conducted sexually abusive experiments on young boys in attempts to ground his absurd theories. His ideas now form the foundation of modern gender ideology.
Walsh shows that this evil at the head of the transgenderism movement is not only something in the past. It is still propagated today with a high hand. Doctors are cutting off the breasts of minors. Pediatricians are prescribing “puberty-blockers” to children—the same drugs that are administered to sex-offenders for chemical castration. Walsh interviewed one pediatrician, Dr. Michelle Forcier, who admitted both that she prescribes Lupron to children, and that Lupron is used for chemical castration. Those leading the charge in the transgender movement say they are promoting acceptance and love; their actions betray their evil and degeneracy.
Although Walsh’s film does not provide much to the viewer in terms of immediate action steps, it does suggest one central application, one that Christians can wholeheartedly support: Speak the truth. Near the end of the film, Walsh says that the time has come to stop asking questions. It is now time for people to speak up. In September 2021, Walsh spoke up. In Loudoun County, Virginia, there was a controversy with the school board about allowing transgender students into the bathrooms of the opposite sex. Walsh temporarily changed his residence to Virginia in order to speak to the school board about the issue. Walsh no longer politely asked questions; he refused to play the language games of modern gender ideology. Instead, he bluntly stated the truth to those pushing both the dangerous bathroom policies and transgenderism itself:
You are all child abusers. You prey upon impressionable children, and indoctrinate them into your insane ideological cult, a cult which holds many fanatical views, but none so deranged as the idea that boys are girls, and girls are boys. By imposing this vile nonsense on students to the point even of forcing young girls to share locker rooms with boys, you deprive these kids of safety and privacy, and something more fundamental too, which is truth. If education is not grounded in truth, then it is worthless. Worse, it is poison. You are poison. You are predators. I can see why you tried to stop us from speaking. You know that your ideas are indefensible. You silence the opposing side because you have no argument. You can only hide under your beds like pathetic little gutless cowards, hoping that we shut up and go away. But we won’t. I promise you that.
Christians must follow Walsh’s example of truth-telling. We must be unafraid to speak the truth, even when it will offend. In Romans 12:9, Paul instructs Christians to “Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.” These exhortations are two sides of the same coin: For Christians to truly hold fast to what is good, to truly seek the good of their neighbors, then they must hate what is evil. They must hate the evil lies promoted by transgender activists. Out of love for others and love for the truth, Christians must refuse to speak the lies of transgender ideology.
*Image Credit: Unsplash