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What Makes a Woman a True Woman?

What is a true woman? How does a woman earn that one-word descriptor of true? It occurs to me today that as a culture we really have no hope of answering the question. After all, we have trouble defining a woman, not to mention a true woman.

In today’s A La Carte post I shared a link to a story about a transgender golfer, a “woman” who used to be a man. Lana Lawless, a former SWAT team member, was born male but underwent gender reassignment surgery (also known as a sex change operation). She changed her name (I’ll use the female pronoun here simply for sake of ease), changed her genitalia and now lives as a woman. And as a woman she now demands the right to participate in sports as a woman.

Society plays along with all of this. We all call her a “she” and society demands we do so. If she says she’s a woman, she’s a woman. Period. That’s her right. Don’t be old fashioned and pretend that chromosomes and genetics and genitalia define us. We can be who we feel we need to be.

But there’s a problem. Lana is a golfer, you see. She is a pretty good golfer and it may just be that  some of her success owes to the fact that she has the body and the muscle of a man, even while saying that she is a woman. Society may tell us that Lana is not a man, but it can’t erase the fact that a man’s body is very different from a woman’s body (even if we can remove the male genitalia and replace it with something that looks like a woman’s). And so she is suing the LPGA, demanding recognition as a woman—demanding the right to compete as one.

And really, I think I have to side with her on this one. As long as our culture continues with the insanity of pretending that gender is not innate, that gender is something that can come and go (I’ve heard that some university health centers no longer ask if you are male or female but instead ask you to describe your gender history), it seems to me that she ought to have the right to say, “I’m a woman because I say I’m a woman” and have the right to compete on that basis. We can’t have it both ways.

To loop back to where we began, I wonder, how can we possibly understand what a true woman is if we can’t even figure out what a woman is? Paula Hendricks of Revive Our Hearts hit the streets to ask people what a true woman is. Here are the results:

Confusion reigns, doesn’t it? That’s why I’m thankful for the True Woman Manifesto. It may not completely answer the question, but it is certainly a very good beginning. In the midst of all the confusion, it roots womanhood in the purposes of God. And when we begin at the right place, we’ve already half won the battle.