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Critique Essay Humanities Nonfiction Social Sciences Theory

The Nature of Gender: Gender Identity in Persons who are Intersexed or Transgendered

By Heather Looy and Hessel Bouma, 2005

We usually take for granted a harmony between our gender identity and our biological sex. However, persons who are intersexed or transgendered often experience this relationship as ambiguous or com- pletely contradictory. They wonder whether they are female or male, neither or both. Their struggle raises important questions for all of us about the nature of gender. To what extent is our gender identity innate? Embodied? Is ambiguity in gender identity a relatively rare deviation from a dichotomous norm, or a reflection of a broader multiplicity of genders? The existence and experience of persons who are inter- sexed or transgendered challenge Christians to reflect seriously on our theologies of gender, and their implications for our understanding of what it means to be male and female. They also call us to consider how we might, in Christian community, seek to minister with persons who are intersexed or transgendered.

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