Transgenderism is Like Dividing by Zero

By Jonathan Wells Published on August 15, 2022

In ordinary math, dividing by zero is not allowed. That’s because dividing by zero makes every number equal to every other number. Here’s why: One times zero is zero. Two times zero is zero. Three times zero is zero. So 1 x 0 = 2 x 0 = 3 x 0. If we divide by zero, we get one equals two equals three. Or any other number. Math becomes meaningless.

Something similar is true in ordinary logic. It’s called the law of non-contradiction. If a statement “A” is true then its negation “not-A” must be false. If we allow “A” to equal “not-A,” nonsense follows. That’s because anything and its opposite can be true at the same time. Truth becomes meaningless.

Objective vs. Subjective Standards

About 99.98% of human babies are clearly either boys or girls. Only about one baby out of every 4,500 is born with ambiguous genitals. Among the latter, sex might have to be “assigned” male or female pending further examination or treatment. Among the vast majority of babies, however, sex is an observable fact. I now have a Berkeley Ph.D. in development biology. But I could tell a boy from a girl before I started kindergarten.

Now, a growing number of children born with unambiguous genitals are regarded as having ambiguous or even opposite gender.

Barring developmental defects or disease, a boy is born with a penis. He also has testicles, a seminal vesicle, and a prostate, among other things. When sufficiently mature, he can produce sperm. On the other hand, barring developmental defects or disease, a girl is born with a vulva. She also has a vagina, ovaries that contain eggs, and a uterus, among other things. When sufficiently mature, she can conceive and bear a baby.

Before 1950, “gender” was primarily a grammatical term. It referred to the class of a noun, such as masculine, feminine or neuter. When used in biology, gender was synonymous with sex: male or female. In the 1950s, however, sexologist John Money promoted the idea that biological sex and gender identity are different. According to Money, one’s subjective gender takes priority over one’s objective sex.

Money’s eccentric view has become mainstream. Now, a growing number of children born with unambiguous genitals are regarded as having ambiguous or even opposite gender.

The Mental Disorder of Gender Dysphoria

The 2013 edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), defines “gender dysphoria” in children. It is “a marked incongruence between one’s experienced/expressed gender and assigned gender, of at least 6 months’ duration.” It is accompanied by “a strong desire to be of the other gender or an insistence that one is the other gender.” And, “the condition is associated with clinically significant distress or impairment.” Even transgender advocates use this definition. Note that gender dysphoria is listed as a mental disorder.

The vast majority of children with gender dysphoria outgrow it during adolescence. For them, the best approach is “watchful waiting.” But transgender advocates recommend subjecting them as soon as possible to the Dutch Protocol.

The Protocol has four stages. The first is to begin the transition to the other sex psychologically and socially. The second is to be given a hormone to block puberty. The third is to receive cross-sex hormones (estrogen for boys and testosterone for girls). The fourth is to undergo transgender surgery. In other words, the Dutch Protocol for treating a mental disorder is social and physical.


The result is a “transgender” person. But a person can claim to be transgender without going through all four stages — or even one. In 2021, a 52-year-old man claiming to be a transgender woman exposed himself to women and a young girl in a Los Angeles spa. The women complained, but transgender activists protested against them. One protester held a sign that read, “Trans women are women.” Yet based on the man’s previous behavior and arrest record, he was subsequently charged with indecent exposure.

Scottish law now holds that a person is whichever gender he or she claims to be, regardless of sex. It requires only that the person has lived in the chosen gender for at least three months and intends to live in it forever. Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling noted sarcastically that a rape victim might now be told, “The penised individual who raped you is a woman.”

University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas is on the women’s team. But Thomas was born a boy. After completing male puberty and swimming on the men’s team for several years, Thomas took estrogen to reduce his testosterone level. Then he was told that he could compete as a woman. He subsequently broke several women’s records. “I’m a woman,” Thomas said, “just like anybody else on the team,” Yet in photos with his female teammates it is obvious that Thomas has the physique of an adult male. And he still has male genitals, which he bares in the women’s locker room.

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Three members of the American Academy of Pediatrics recently published a puberty guide for children aged 9 to 13. One of the authors was quoted as saying, “With traditional puberty education, whether it’s in schools or in books, we talk about how girls get their periods and boys get erections.” But “some girls — for example, transgender girls — might not get their periods. They need to understand about erections.”

So the difference between male and female is being erased. According to transgenderism, boys can be girls, and men can be women. But — even ignoring the DNA — a transgender “woman” is never really a woman. Even if he has transgender surgery, he still has a prostate that will have to be checked periodically for cancer. And a transgender “man,” even if her breasts, ovaries and uterus are removed, may still have female cardiovascular and kidney issues.

Traditional Family Relationships Become Meaningless

In March 2022, a woman confronted a person who was about to enter the women’s locker room at a swim meet. The person was a man who had fathered three children. But now he claimed to be a transgender woman and a mother.

Not only can males be females and vice versa, but also fathers can be mothers and mothers can be fathers. Sons can be daughters and daughters can be sons. Brothers can be sisters and sisters can be brothers. Traditional family relationships become meaningless.

Why has this become so common in the past half-century? One reason is surely the rise in self-centered hedonism. But another might be the rise of Marxist thinking in modern American culture. “Marx and Engels’ conception of the abolition of the family was quite radical,” historian Richard Weikart has written. “They never masked their contempt for present family relationships and their hope for radically new social relations in communist society.”

In any case, what dividing by zero does to math, and abandoning the law of self-contradiction does to logic, transgenderism does to sex and the family.


Jonathan Wells, Ph.D. is a senior fellow of Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture. He’s the author of Icons of Evolution, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Evolution and Intelligent Design, and the new book Zombie Science: More Icons of Evolution.

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