The Washington Stand recently had the opportunity to speak with author, legal scholar, and philosopher Dr. Gerard Casey on the subject of transgenderism, which he sees as a precursor to transhumanism. Casey holds law degrees from the University of London (LLB) and University College Dublin (LLM) as well as a primary degree in philosophy from University College Cork, an MA and Ph.D. from the University of Notre Dame and the higher doctorate, DLitt, from the National University of Ireland. He led the Christian Solidarity Party in Ireland in the 1990s and has published several books, including “Hidden Agender: Transgenderism’s Struggle against Reality.”
The Washington Stand: It’s hard not to be inundated these days with pro-transgender propaganda. But transhumanism is not a word that most people are familiar with. Can you maybe explain to us, just clarifying terms, what that is?
Dr. Gerard Casey: You’re right. It’s a sort of a niche idea. Less niche than it used to be. It began in around the 1980s and 1990s in the sort of Silicon Valley area. And as might be expected, many of the people who were enthusiastic about it come from that sort of background. But generally speaking, what it means is if you take the two elements of the term trans and humanism, trans meaning across or beyond, it means beyond humanism. And the idea is that human beings, such as we are, are limited in our capacities, largely because of our embodiment. And there is a possibility, according to the Transhumanists, that we can go beyond what we are now to become something very different — in fact, almost a new species so that we can leave aside the limitations of our bodies which would allow us to go travel to other planets. We can enhance our cognitive and sensory capacities so that we can know more and know better and see and experience and hear better. We can, according to them, if we undergo certain changes — especially, for example, either meshing with machines, robots, or cyborgs, or, even better, leaving aside all reasonably concrete forms of embodiment. Obviously, we would not be biological because we want to leave that behind — that’s too fragile to subsist in some way, if you like, on some kind of internet, ethernet, as it were — so that we are effectively freed from all the limitations of embodiment, at all. And in so doing, live, as it were, forever, and so leave behind the limitations of humanity as it is now. That’s about as much as I can say, really.
TWS: And you see a link, a correlation, between transgenderism and transhumanism. What do you see as the key indicators, so to speak, of that link?
CASEY: Well, I suppose you might say the clue is in the word ‘trans.’ So transgenderism really is the idea that biology doesn’t determine what we are in terms of our gender and gender is — well, who knows exactly what it is? It’s a much-disputed term, but the one thing it’s not equivalent to (unless you want just to be pleonastic) is sex. Gender is, if you want to try and make sense of it … I suppose, your sense of masculinity or femininity along a sort of scale or a spectrum. And people can identify, obviously in an infinite number of ways along here, but the idea then that makes it radical is that our gender turns out to be more fundamental than our biology. And in fact, it needs to be protected and people need to have, if you like, legal protection for this and to be able to switch from one gender to another.
Now, what causes all the problems, of course, is that the terms “gender” and “sex” either mean something different or are the same. And what you see in all of the literature here and all the propaganda is a systematic switch back and forth between the two. Very often, in many cases, gender is taken to be the equivalent of sex. So a man who is said to be a trans woman is said to change sex, which is very strange, because whatever one might think about gender — whatever that is, and we can dispute it — it’s clearly not the case that somebody who is of the male sex can by any means become a member of the female sex.
And I’m not saying, of course, that somebody can’t simulate it or look like it or, you know, wear clothes or make up or dress their hair or even have surgery, which will alter the external features. But none of that is actually effective in changing sex for the simple reason that one sex, apart from the sort of obvious secondary characteristics that manifest themselves, what sex really has to do with is the role one plays in reproduction. And there is nothing whatsoever you can do to a man to change his role in reproduction. He cannot perform the role that a woman plays in reproduction. And there’s nothing that you can do to a woman to change her role in reproduction. She cannot do anything. Of course, you can simulate aspects of the bodily structure of males or females, if you like, by surgery.
But the thing is, it’s not just a question of what something looks like, it’s a question of what it can actually do and what it performs. That’s essential, right? And people sort of miss that. So it’s a very strange idea, but it’s one that has gone from being extremely niche, even more niche than transhumanism, to suddenly becoming, as it were, a flavor of the month in a whole host of organizations, governments, schools, universities, businesses — all seem to be buying into this with what degree of authenticity? I don’t know whether they’re doing it just to be hip and cool and fruity, as we might say. Whether they actually believe any of this is another question.
But whether or which, it’s having a remarkably destructive effect on a lot of things, particularly on children and children’s education. Indeed, for very young children who are in large measure being encouraged to think of themselves as being of a different gender/sex to what they are, especially at an age when they are vulnerable, to being unsure of what it is that they are. You can end up with a situation where these children are encouraged or given hormones which will affect their development, sometimes distorting their ability, their puberty and indeed preventing them from normal development, to the even more radical surgery, which can involve the detachment of body parts — penises in the case of men, breasts and so on, in the case of women, and then reconstructive surgery to simulate penises in women and vaginas in men. But, of course, that doesn’t it will work because all you get if you remove a man’s — I hope this isn’t gross for anybody — but if you remove a man’s penis and simulate a vagina, you don’t get one. You get a hole which, given the way the body works, tries to close. Okay. And therefore, it has to be permanently opened, kept open. That’s not the way a real vagina works and so on. Similarly, a penis isn’t just a strange appendage that a man has at the front of his body, but it works, as we all know in particular ways. And unless it’s doing that, it’s not really a penis. So it’s a very, very strange idea. But even stranger, as I said, is the rapidity and the extent of the, pardon the pun, the penetration into institutions.
TWS: And it’s everywhere. You can’t go anywhere without seeing it now. Aside from just the verbiage of it with “trans” that’s linked to transhumanism, you’ve drawn a series of correlations between the two, transgenderism and transhumanism. What are some of the distinct correlations?
CASEY: I probably wasn’t as clear as I might be about this. So both of them, what they really have in common, although they do it in different ways — the commonality is the rejection of the embodied nature of human beings. Transgender says this is not essential. We can have human beings that are essentially plastic. We can make ourselves to be anything that we want. And in that way, as it were, leave the body behind or diminish its significance. Transhumanists similarly think that human nature is not fixed or limited. It is for them limitless and the body is for them not so much plastic as rather an obstruction to their plans for the future development of a new species. So they reject embodiment in the end as well. They do it in different ways.
TWS: You recently spoke at a conference where you made a point about the dynamic between the body and the soul. How do both transgenderism and transhumanism reject that fundamental truth?
CASEY: Well, as I just said, they both, as it were, reject any essential connection between what it is to be human and being embodied. They do it in different ways, but that’s essentially what they do. So transgenderism rejects it by suggesting that our gendered nature is somehow given to us in a way that is completely independent of our biological structure, which is a really strange sort of thing. So that in fact, for the transgender ideologists, you can change your sex, but you can’t change your gender, which is really odd when you think about it, because you would have thought it would be the other way around. No.
Some transhumanists reject the body because of its limitations, its fragility, its inability to support what they think it is that we need to do. The limitations that are placed on our knowledge, our cognition, our relatively short lifespans. And for them, the goal is to do two things — one, a kind of immortality. I mean, they really do think that it would be possible for human beings, even embodied because of developments in nanotechnology and so on, to live for much more extended periods than we now do, maybe even by a factor of 10. But even more importantly, to live, as it were, without a body at all, because they, like the transgenders, think of human beings as being essentially minds. And therefore, these minds can be transposed, uploaded into machines, and so live forever.
And indeed, then the transcendent dimension of transhumanism, which turns it into a kind of religion, is that they see our task, as it were, of filling the entire universe eventually. And for that, the body really has to be left behind because there is no possibility of anything like extensive cosmological travels with a body we can hardly get off our own planet. Getting out of our solar system would be something major. Anything more than that clearly requires leaving the body behind.
TWS: In your view, what can Christians do to effectively confront or combat the transgender agenda? Or is it maybe already too firmly entrenched in our society? And as sort of an addendum to that question, would combating transgenderism help prevent or at least mitigate the onslaught of transhumanism?
CASEY: A good question. I think in the case of transgenderism, that it’s doomed to fail. It’s so blatantly crazy that it’s simply unsupported. And I see it as having, if you like, the evanescence of an intellectual fashion. Now, it can last a reasonably long time. And of course, its institutional installation will preserve it. But I think, in fact, I suspect there are signs already of a turn here. There is certainly mounting resistance in a way that there wasn’t even when I published my book in 2021. And since then, I’ve seen more and more and more — especially women, who feel themselves strangely, biologically disenfranchised more so than men — are beginning to resist. And again, because women have perhaps a greater day-to-day concern with the upbringing of their children and they’re beginning to see the effects that this is having on them.
So there are strong signs, as it were, of resistance mounting. And I do hope that in time there will be a return to something approaching normality. We’ll always carry the wounds of this particular movement, though. I mean, it won’t go without leaving damage behind. But I see that as being overcome-able. It may not be in my lifetime, but then I’ve got a relatively short number of years left. But I would think in the short, in the medium term, it’s something that will be defeated. It won’t go away on its own. And the resistance needs to mount and to be mounted and to get stronger. And we need to recapture law, we need to recapture the universities, we need to recapture government, we need to recapture churches, all of whom have sort of bought into this, many for reasons they think are good and nondiscriminatory reasons and so on. I mean, not necessarily bad intentions, but nonetheless foolish.
The transhumanist thing is a little different in that there are sort of three dimensions to transhumanism. One is that it does touch on something which it seems to me is perfectly in order, which is what we always have done as human beings, attempted to adapt ourselves to the world in which we live, not to freeze to death in the winter because we light fires. There’s nothing wrong with that. By cultivating the fields so that we don’t have to go trekking after animals all the time, so that we domesticate our animals and our food. So we’ve always used technology. And the history of mankind, in a sense, is almost a history of technology as we were. And of course, the most explosive one, of course, was the industrial Revolution, which has brought us in the space of 200 years from a situation where almost everybody in the world was living on the brink of starvation for almost all of their lives, to a situation where well over half the human population now is living at a level that even kings and princes would hardly have lived at in the not-so-distant past. In other words, the use of nanotechnology to preemptively prevent things like cancer or to treat people with microscopic surgery, all that sort of thing. None of that, it seems to me, is intrinsically problematic. We use remedial or prosthetic devices all the time to help our lives and help people live better and to live longer. And that’s not essentially a problem.
The second aspect of transhumanism, however, is enhancement. And on this one, I’m a little bit conflicted because in a way we already use enhancement. I mean, the books behind me are a form of enhancement. I could not in my lifetime produce everything that’s in those books, I could not think them up on my own, but they’re there for me to consult. And therefore, they’re a way in which the collective thoughts, wisdom, and sometimes stupidity — because not all books are great — are there for me to make use of and to make new things from. And that’s a good thing. And of course we have the electronic version of those now in terms of the internet and electronic communications, electronic access to libraries in a way we didn’t have. And all of that’s good, that’s a good thing. It can be used badly like any technology, but that’s the nature of technology.
What Transhumanists, of course, are thinking is, “Why don’t we move this inside?” So that you’re not just using a machine or looking at a screen, but rather that you build it into the individual. And this is where it starts to get a little bit problematic because now you’re talking about one of the key elements of transhumanism, which is the sort of meshing of machine and man in a significant way. And again, on the outer fringes of this, we already have this. I mean, somebody who’s using, say, a prosthetic leg, which is connected neurally to the brain, is already, as it were, doing something like this.
But the Transhumanists don’t see this as something which is going to be purely remedial, but they see it as a kind of enhancement so that the idea would be to kind of move from a biological body with all its limitations and its fragility to something, at least in the beginning stages, like a machine, which would be much more robust and the parts of which, of course, could be interchanged without affecting us. You know, just as you take your car in and you can change a part, okay, the car doesn’t die. And there’s no blood and guts. So you could, as a driver with your new mechanical machine body, as it were, if a part broke down, simply have it replaced, and so continue literally, you know, forever, if it could be maintained in this particular way.
And then finally, there’s the idea of moving away from any kind of embodiment at all, whether it’s in the biological structure that we now have. Or what they call the ‘Sims,’ these kind of mechanical substrates to living in what they talk about in computer terms is the cloud. And we live there as it were, electronically, and interact. Now the problem with all that is, of course, that apart from any technical problems — and those aren’t small, and there are people who are skeptical about whether they can ever be overcome. Anyway, I’ll leave that to one side. The problem is that this conceives of human beings as if they were simply minds. But we’re not. If you think about it, you take a phenomenon like anger, an emotion like anger or, indeed, any emotion. A phenomenon like anger is psychosomatic. It’s felt in, created by, located in a body. I mean, you can’t be angry without your bodily structures changing, without your pulse racing, without your heart beating faster, without becoming flushed and your eyes dilated. It’s just not possible. And so all our emotions are psychosomatic.
Even our love for other people is located in and expressed in bodily ways. It’s hard for us to think of it. And even if you come to something like pure intellect — think about it, it’s very hard — that is simply a part of what we are. It is not entirely what we are. So we’re not minds, as it were, with a kind of adventitious or accidental connection to a body that can be left behind, but we are essentially embodied creatures. And that for me, is one of the key insights of Christianity.
I mean, the whole Judeo-Christian tradition, in fact, and in my atheistic phase, I can remember being required to read some Aquinas. I wasn’t very happy about that particular project, but I read it and when I read his commentary on Corinthians 15 and he said, ‘Anima mea non est ego — My soul is not me.’ I was struck by the kind of bodily robustness of that and thought, ‘Oh, this is the kind of guy I could really get behind.’ I found that very interesting. … So we’re not simply minds attached to bodies. We are essentially embodied creatures.
And therefore, that’s why transgenderism and transhumanism in their varied and different rejections of embodiment, if you like, are false to what it is that we are. And I think both are destined to fail. Transgenderism in hopefully the medium term, preferably the short term, and transhumanism can keep going forever because they can always postpone. Well, the promises can always be pushed out 20 years, and 20 years is long enough to make it seem exciting in the near future, and long enough for people to forget what it is that you promised 20 years ago when we get to it. But we shall see. Well, somebody will see. I won’t see because I won’t be here.
TWS: Wonderful insight, Professor. Thank you again very much for your time. It’s been great talking with you.
CASEY: Okay, no problem. Talk to you again.
S.A. McCarthy serves as a news writer at The Washington Stand.
EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2023 Family Research Council.
The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.