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OPINION

Why I Don’t Want to Be My Authentic Self

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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AP Photo/Sarah Blake Morgan

Being one’s authentic self is in vogue these days. I typed the term into Google and it came back with 370 million citations so I guess it’s out there. But what does it mean? Sometimes, authentic self is defined as how we behave in relationships with others. One step-by-step guide advises, “Your authentic self is who you really are deep down. The part of you that doesn’t care what others think.” 

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The counseling practice The Center for Growth defines authentic self as being, “Who you are at your deepest core. It is about being true to yourself through your thoughts, words, and actions, and having these three areas match each other.”

The notion of the authentic self is particularly prevalent in transgender ideology. It can be a means of convincing people that whatever idea they have about themselves is the correct one and should be embraced. Its definition is squishy by design and it’s now being reflected in public policy and legislation. Justine Harman, writing in the magazine Elle, states that it’s “Absolutely!” accurate to say the authentic self is, “a catch-all that can serve as a funnel into acceptance of the myriad versions of the trans experience.”

There’s nothing inherently wrong with seeking one’s authentic self but the process must begin by first understanding our “deepest core” as a member of the human race. Trying to ascertain our authentic self without knowing our core is like taking a road trip without knowing the destination.

Ask a Bible believing Christian about the core of our authentic self and you’re likely to get two responses. One comes from the first chapter of Genesis which tells us, “God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female he created them.”

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The second is the fact that each of us is sinful. Paul’s epistle to the Romans explains it succinctly: “For all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God.” Some theologians consider the book of Romans to be the Constitution of Christianity, but this understanding also flows throughout the Old Testament. The 51st Psalm tells us, “I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” The prophet Jeremiah wrote, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately sick.” I could go on but you get the point. 

There is nothing squishy here. It’s why many biblical Christians are wary of celebrating the authentic self because our core is sinful and corrupt. But transgenderism does not drill down to this core. Instead, it focuses on the superficial emotion of transgender ideology and likely accounts for its rapid spread through society and policy circles. 

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: DSM-5 reckons that between 0.005 and 0.014 percent of males may be diagnosable for gender dysphoria. The rate among females is even lower. 

These rare and tragic episodes deserve our care and civic defense. Should any of these people be denied the right to vote, discriminated against for employment, housing, or credit, or otherwise prohibited from the rightful pursuit of American life, I would be among the first to demand their transgressors be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. 

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The problem is that many people, a number far exceeding this minuscule segment of the human race, today consider themselves to be transgender. But they are not afflicted with some clinical ailment reflecting an unprecedented mutation of our species; they are afflicted with an idea that is falsely portrayed as an authentic self.

This idea is magnified by a culture that cajoles people into accepting, as their core, a belief that is somehow more authentic than endocrinology, genetics, physiology or anatomy. Transgender ideology promotes a geocentric worldview no less destructive than that of the 17th century enforcers of the Inquisition, who threatened Italian astronomer Galileo with torture for the crime of observing that the sun is at the center of our solar system. 

Finding our authentic self begins with understanding our deepest core. It requires us to observe and accept that our human self is infinitely sinful, corrupt and flawed beyond repair. This is common knowledge; even non-Christians believe we’re sinful creatures. 

We all are afflicted with sin and corruption. The best we can do is try to be less bad, less often, and rely on the saving grace of Christ. Paul’s second letter to Timothy advises us to, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” 

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I choose not to embrace my authentic self for one simple reason: My authentic self is not good. I and every other mortal are stuck with the fact that we are born into sin, live in sin and will die in sin. No one has ever demonstrated otherwise. This is not some form of self-flagellation. It is a recognition of the human condition and its realities. It’s what motivates people to try harder. Rejecting our authentic self in pursuit of being something better is an uphill battle, but it’s worth the fight. 

Scott Hogenson is a political and social commentator who lives in Texas.

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