As we prepare to celebrate the women in our life, both our birth mothers as well as adopted or spiritual mothers, it is necessary to pause for a break to discuss a critical issue within our society right now. What exactly is a woman? What makes a person a woman, as opposed to making a person a man?
In what may have been a little bit of a surprise during the confirmation hearings of now Supreme Court Justice Judge Ketanji Jackson, Senator Marsha Blackburn from Tennessee asked the judge to define a “woman”. The judge told the senator she could not give a definition of a woman. I suspect it was simply playing along party lines, since she never directly answered any question given to her regarding her beliefs or ideas about crucial issues, but it’s important to note there are specific identities given to each human upon creation. Let’s look, and perhaps in the process we can help the good judge out and let her know what a woman might be since she needs a definition.
Dr. Angela Franks, Ph.D., professor of theology at St. John’s Seminary, wrote an excellent article for Catholic World Report addressing this issue in 2020. She discusses a range of aspects associated with defining “woman” and “man”, but one of the most accurate descriptions I have seen came from her article.
“The ancient Greeks noticed that binary sexual generation was not reserved to humans but also was a feature of the most developed animal species. While entailing quite a bit of variation, nevertheless sexual generation that was a binary affair usually followed these parameters; approximately one-half of the species-members contributed to reproducing outside of themselves (the males), and the other half of the members by reproducing inside themselves (the females),” wrote Dr. Franks. “We know now that this is because males produce spermatozoa, and females produce ova. But these gametes contribute to reproduction outside and inside the body respectively, so the ancients were grasping things correctly, albeit partially. This division certain holds for human beings.”
She continues in the article by breaking down in an even simpler, one sentence, definition. “Thus, we can say that a woman is a human being who reproduces inside of herself,” wrote Dr. Franks.
Her explanation of a “woman” concurs with the basic definitions of “woman” and “female.” According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, a woman is “an adult female person”. So, we must ask what determines a “female”. A female, according to Merriam-Webster, is “of, relating to, or being the sex that typically has the capacity to bear young or produce eggs.”
If a human being is born with the capacity to produce life inside itself, as Dr. Franks writes, then that human must have the physical and biological parts at the time of birth to have that ability. That means the person born is a female. In essence, that points to the fact we are created to be a specific sex at birth.
“Men and woman have been created, which is to say, willed by God: on the one hand, in perfect equality as human persons; on the other, in their respective beings as man and woman. “Being man” or “being woman” is a reality which is good and willed by God: man and woman possess an inalienable dignity which comes to them immediately from God their Creator.” (CCC 369)
“God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27)
By denying the biological sex of a person at the moment of their birth, we are essentially denying their purpose and will for life for which they were created by God. By defining a person, or ourselves, as non-binary, then we are saying we are not special enough, important enough, or have enough worth and dignity to be defined as the person we were created by a loving God to be.
One might argue a transgender woman may be able to produce and sustain life inside the body, therefore fulfilling the definition of “woman”. Although that is certainly possible (with the proper medical treatment, organ transplants, and a host of other medical interventions) to enable the body to do such an act for which it was not created to do, it does not fill the definition of a woman because the body itself does not possess the organs or biology to produce life inside itself. It takes medical technology to make a biological man’s body able to produce and sustain life inside the body just like a biological woman is able to do.
We, as humans, are born with a dignity and worth. We are also born with a purpose and part of that purpose is to be “male” or “female”. There is a reason so many people in the United States are miserable and depressed. There is a reason so many people in this country are struggling with anxiety and a feeling of helplessness and hopelessness. It is because we are not fulfilling our God given purpose for which we had from God before we were even born.
“For I know well the plans I have in mind for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare, not for woe! Plans to give you a future full of hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
When we reject God then we end up rejecting the purpose of our life. We cannot give glory to God with our life (which is our ultimate purpose) if we deny the purpose of our life on a very basic level by declaring it does not matter whether we are male or female.
If you truly want to feel better, have a more peaceful life, and be less depressed and less angry, perhaps you should try fulfilling your purpose rather than changing your body.