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Dallin H. Oaks doesn’t understand biological sex at birth and the lie of ‘binary creation’

The Kirtland Temple, the first temple built as part of the Latter-day Saint movement and now-tourist site resides in Kirtland, Ohio in July 2018. Dallin H. Oaks, apostle of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, defined gender as “biological sex at birth” emphasizing God created humans as either male or female. But, gender is determined by how you identify yourself and there is no established definition of male or female. (Lewis Figun Westbrook)

Dallin H. Oaks, apostle of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, defined gender as “biological sex at birth”  Oct. 2, emphasizing God created humans as either male or female. 

As a transgender, still technically Mormon and a college student living in Utah, I have some thoughts about this. 

An article in The Salt Lake Tribune quoted Oaks saying, “The intended meaning of ‘gender’ in the family proclamation and as used in the church statements and publications since that time is biological sex at birth.”

Now immediately, I disagree with this definition of gender because gender is determined by the way you identify. But even if we were not talking about the difference between sex and gender, I would still have problems with this statement.

First, there is no established definition of male or female. Sex verification or testing in sports has been trying to find one for a long time.

They started with physical examinations. This meant that if you wanted to compete as a woman in the Olympics, you had to let a panel of doctors examine your genitals

Then, according to The New York Times, they switched to chromosome testing in 1968 to test if a person had a Y-chromosome. This was argued to be inconclusive and inaccurate by many scientists and also excludes intersex people.

Most recently, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) put a limit on testosterone levels in November 2018. If you want to compete as a woman you have to have testosterone levels under 5 nanomoles per liter of blood. It is important to note that testosterone is a hormone produced by both men and women naturally. 

All of these “tests” of sex are problematic, but one of the worst things about them is that different people will pass different ones. A person could pass the physical exams, but not the chromosomal testing. A person could fail the testosterone limits but pass the chromosomal testing.

So, the question is: why do we keep separating people based on something we can’t even define?

There is no way that Dallin H. Oaks can prove I am female. So, the church that my family attends can’t tell me that I do not fit into the family proclamation, nor that I do not live up to their definition of male.

When I was 13 years old I believed that when I die I am going to be in heaven with a perfect body. To me, that meant a flat chest and no genitals.

I still believe that if there is a heaven, I will be there with my perfected body.

To Dallin H. Oaks: I want you to know that I believe you are part of the problem of discrimination because LBGTQA+ youth are eight times more likely to commit sucide when they are rejected by parents and caregivers. With this statement, it may cause more parents and caregivers to reject their kids based on something no one can define.

Dallin H. Oaks, expressing love is not enough for the transgender people out there. 


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Lewis Figun Westbrook is a transfer student majoring in communication and minoring in psychology. In their free time they enjoy reading, writing and most importantly binging Netflix. They hope to one day write queer YA novels and be a graphic designer.

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