Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Pondering the Complexities of Transgender Issues

A very intelligent and kind friend of mine shared with me her journey that began with her birth as a boy and ultimately led to sex-reassignment surgery. Her story is amazing but reasonable and sincere. It compels me to recognize that clear-cut models of life and human gender don't capture the wide diversity that can occur in mortality. What might make sense for the vast majority may not do justice to the complex situations that some may be in. As a result, I feel a renewed need to be more cautious and to withhold judgment in cases that transcend my experience or ability to relate.

In discussing and defending the Church, I frequently make reference to the fallible nature of all humans. Only God and Christ are perfect - here in mortality, all else is open to question and "complexity." Those who demand perfection, absolute valor, or even consistent good behavior from any human will invariably be disappointed (my wife being the sole mortal exception I know of). Even revelations and scriptures that pass through mortal hands will be subject to apparent error, apparent contradictions, or other complexities. The pervasive puzzles and contradictions of mortal behavior extend to the biological side of mortality as well.

My friend suggests that just as height, weight, skin color, athleticism, and other physical characteristics span wide a wide spectrum, so can characteristics often associated with gender and gender identity. I accept the LDS Proclamation on the Family and its statement on gender: "Each [human] is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose." I believe that is true. However, when it comes to the specific expression or manifestation of gender in this mortal realm, there may be some gray areas or puzzling contradictions and complexities that require me to step back and recognize I don't have all the answers. Perhaps the best I can do is to focus on my duty and be charitable toward others, even when I cannot possibly understand or relate to their complex journey.

Similar thoughts extend to the area of homosexuality. I've been reading Born That Way? by Erin Eldridge, an LDS woman who describes her almost superhuman effort over many years to transcend her same-sex attraction and comply with her understanding of how she should live here in mortality. While her story challenges the idea that change in behavior is impossible, it does show that it can be painfully hard, and that simple "cures" and solutions others may offer may not be helpful. Patience, unconditional love, acceptance, and charity are needed to stand by those who do wish to change (and shame on those who condemn them for trying!). I think the same principle should apply to those who wish to make changes that we disapprove of, such as sex-reassignment surgery. Patience, love, and kindness are the most we can do. Perhaps there are matters of behavior or belief that a person's Church leaders may need to deal with, but for the rest of us, withholding judgment (and freely offering love and kindness) may be the best we can do.

I offer my typical disclaimer that these are easy things to say. Having true charity when we cannot understand another person can be difficult - indeed, charity, actually comes to us as a divine miracle and is one of the least natural human behaviors. But charity is the kind of change in human behavior that I think we all can endorse and hopefully strive for, with God's help.

63 comments:

Johnna said...

I like this. Leading with charity is the heart of the gospel.

Lori D said...

I am a 37 year old Christian transwoman who has searched the Scriptures and been in prayer about who I am in Christ since first hearing the gospel at age 18. It's way too complicated to so easily encapsulate into a small comment, but I think you hit the nail on the head about charity. Most of the other believers in Christ and religious people who reached out to me are those who practiced true charity. And in doing so I sensed their true love for Christ, and for me. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

Chino Blanco said...

Echoing the previous commenters, I liked this and thank you for sharing it.

Ian said...

Great post Jeff, you never cease to amaze me with your insight.

It is unfortunate, however, that people need to remind us that one of the first and foremost Christlike qualities that we should want to emulate is charity. Especially in situations where we disagree with other people.

Anonymous said...

You are the one other person I know of who is clear on what the Proclamation DOES say and DOES NOT say on the gender matter, or who at least picked up on it on their own. I believe our spirits are eternally only male or only female but that in mortality a few of us will have situations where our bodies at birth don't accurately express what our spirit is. There are many different ways in which this can happen.

The vast majority of humankind seems to have been lucky enough to have a perfect spirit/body gender match and may never understand what it's like for somebody who doesn't.

Nicole

Huston said...

Jeff, of course we always need to be charitable--treating others with kindness and empathy--but what does the practical implementation of a "more charitable" attitude look like on the larger scale?

I'm sure you know that the Church does not allow people who have had a sex change operation to go to the temple. Would you modify that policy, and how? Should the Church start making judgment calls on whether or not people have changed genders for a good reason or not?

I'm not trying to be difficult; I actually agree and recognize that there are good people living in a gender-grey area that we need to help. My question is, what excatly do we do for them, beyond being understanding?

And, Lori, good luck in your search for happiness. I'll pray for you tonight to find the peace and answers you seek.

Anonymous said...

Huston,

Part of the answer comes from the Church recognizing that there is, quite often, perhaps not always, a medical basis to gender identity disorder. I think they have come to realize this somewhat over the years. They may even realize it fully now, but each case is still handled on an individual basis as it should be, and not in a public way.

I believe that when the phenomenon first came to the attention of general authorities that it was seen as somebody taking sexual sin to the extreme, being ungrateful for the body that God has given them, trying to find some sneaky way to have gay sex, etc. But over time they began to learn about things such as chromosomal abnormalities, intersexed conditions and more, and that there were people who have these conditions who are still sincerely trying to live all the commandments.

Usually a person with XX DNA is a girl and a person with XY is a boy, and even that is not always the case; a baby was born in England recently who looks and acts like a girl, has girl parts, with ovaries and uterus and everything but her DNA was shown to be XY. But if a person has XXY or XXXY chromosomes or some other such situation who is it that determines what the gender of the spirit in that person's body is? To me it's sort of up for grabs, and possibly largely dependent on what gender that person feels like they are.

You can say, "Well, whatever the person's genitalia is when they are born that determines what their spirit's gender is," and, by and large, that IS the case. But if you look into scientific evidence enough you will find many grey areas to that. So you can then say, "Well, I guess it's not the genitalia that determines gender but the DNA." But if you start looking at all the examples of people who have been born into this world you find that even the DNA issue is not so clear cut. Then what do you do? If you have a person who was born with outward male genitalia but has strongly identified as a female since birth (when Satan is unable to tempt them) is the answer to tell them that their burden is to live as a boy whether they like it or not? That is basically the situation I am in now. It seems to me that the "orthodox" course of action is to stick it out and try the best I can to live as a male even if I'm not very good at it, even if I don't want to despite trying my hardest to, and even if I simply get worse at it over time.

The partial solution for now is to not think that everyone who is suffering from GID is doing so because of some sin they committed.

Nicole

Jenny said...

You have a great heart. My question and statement is that, yes, we should love those people who do struggle with these tribulations and help the better themselves with it... but leaders tell them not to act on such thoughts and for someone to go through the gender change would that be considered ' acting on the thought?' If that is the case how should you feel that they are not trying and not taking the words of the leaders to heart... Like you said, you dont know the answers and i dont either so all in all love conquers all.

UnderstandingBookofMormon

Mormanity said...

Nicole, well said. Those are exactly the type of complexities in human biology and gender identity that should give us pause. We have to recognize that there are difficult gray areas or situations where our normal rules might not apply.

I am not trying to tell Church leaders how to make decisions. That is not my role and I will leave it to them, recognizing, of course, that decisions may be made by one individual or at one time that might be made differently by others or in a future era. Just as I wish to be generous with those who struggle with gender issues, I also wish to be generous with mortals struggling with the unsought burden of Church leadership who seek inspiration from God in making difficult decisions that I may or may not agree with within my heart. I wish them the best in their difficult work, and if advances in scientific and medical knowledge help them grapple with some challenging issues, so be it.

Mormanity said...

Implicit in my response is the recognition that injustice is possible. In fact, it is highly probable in this mortal life. Thus, good people may be misunderstood or harshly judged. I don't have a fix for that. It's mortality. Likewise, people trying to be sympathetic can also fail to properly help people who are making poor decisions, rebelling against God, or even standing as threats to others. There is a need for a judge in Israel, and he can't be all "hey, everything is cool."

Anonymous said...

Jeff, well said on everything in your last two comments. As far as the last remark goes, and going off the fact that I can't post all my extensive thoughts here, I've tried to subtly hint that we can't just be like, "So, you feel like you want to get a sex change? Then, by all means, go ahead!!" That's why every case is handled on an individual basis.

Anonymous said...

We know from the church that the lord has given us the wonderfull bodies - We are not alter them. In the church we are told not to have piercing or tatoos. I would say a person who does go through with the such operation has been far from the spirit to help them and has lived a life in more sin than good. The lord will help these people with faith and prayer. I would see it as the adversary controlling this persons life.

Tianna said...

Thank you for your post Jeff, and for your comments Nicole. I have been perplexed over the issue of gender identification for a number of years and couldn't possibly imagine why someone would want to have a sex change operation. The notion that someone's spirit gender could be inherently different than the expressed gender of their mortal body has never entered my mind as a possibility. The things spoken of hear definitely give me reason to pause and ponder all the many differences that can happen in these bodies we have while on the earth.

sundaypage said...

Thanks for recommending Born That Way? I saw that in a bookstore yesterday, and I was hesitant to pick it up not knowing what stand it took. I think I will go back and get it!

Anonymous said...

We know from the church that the lord has given us the wonderfull bodies - We are not alter them. In the church we are told not to have piercing or tatoos.

Unfortunately, this comment displays none of the good sense of Jeff's original post. We alter our "wonderful" bodies all the time. We diet or work out. We remove tonsils and appendices. We cosmetically modify cleft palates. We insert artificial joints and synthetic arteries. We perform breast augmentation, nose jobs, and face lifts. (These latter strike me as mostly frivolous, but the Church has never treated them as sinful).

It may be that gender alterations are medically necessary in some or all cases; broad assertions about the person undergoing the procedure being "sinful" are unhelpful. Jeff's approach of witholding judgment and focusing on charity is the right way to think about the issue.

Andrew S said...

It seems rather straight forward to me (even in the church's teachings).

Gender is about mental identity. It is about the soul, if you will speak about that. So, even if you believe in eternal gender, this should not preclude anyone from possibly supporting the plights of those who seek sex reassignment surgery. Because in fact, it's not like they are denying eternal gender.

Rather, they are recognizing and accepting that gender and recognizing as well that their bodies, as a result of a fallen world, may not be perfect.

I guess this misunderstanding would begin to alleviate if more people recognized the difference between "gender" and "sex"

Anonymous said...

Jeff, thanks for a deeply thoughtful presentation of this issue. I wonder if gender attraction shares some similarities to gender identity, having some physical components.

I admire your compassion extending to those who serve as church leaders. Keeping up with developing understanding of these issues, striving to keep judgement in pace with God's word and inspiration, dealing in love with real people, is not easy.

My daughter came out earlier this year as gay, so these issues have assumed a much more personal urgency, as it has put a huge wedge between her and the church, and I hope for ways of reconciliation between them.

Mark

Anonymous said...

When you understand and believe the doctrines of the restored Gospel you won't be striving for anything other than a man/woman marital relationship (meaning a person with a male spirit pairing up with a person with a female spirit). If you find yourself struggling with homosexuality or transsexuality or whatever you will do what it takes to deal with it properly, even if it means waiting until the next life. It may not always take that long though.

bunker said...

Hope this doesn't change the subject too much. I think I will be in the clear.

One thing my mere mortal mind can't understand is why would the Lord allow someone to be born and have feelings towards one of the same sex. Doesn't this affect their agency in a way? If they aren't attracted towards the opposite sex than it is far less likely that they will ever marry one of the opposite sex and have kids. Then doesn't this preclude them having children and a spouse to be sealed to? What happens to that 3rd degree of glory then? I know they can be sealed later on after death but why? Does the Lord allow it as a test or challenge? (Cop out answer, sometimes)Or does he just let nature take its course.

I believe many gay people genuinely have feelings towards only those of the same sex. I find this to be unfair. But I guess I will always defer to the Lord's wisdom.

Anonymous said...

"I believe many gay people genuinely have feelings towards only those of the same sex."

This may be an issue some struggle with (apparently) but the problem is in seeing it as some set in stone thing. When a person is convinced that they are incontrovertibly gay then they are unlikely to ever change. When they see it is a struggle that can come to an end (even though it may take a long time) it'll make things easier.

Nicole

Actually, I'll leave with this thought from noted LDS psychologist, Carlfred Broderick:

I think that I am as knowledgeable about the condition we call homosexuality as any heterosexual in the Church. My life has brought me into close association with many fine people whom, fortunately, I had the privilege of knowing well before I knew of their sexual orientation. My professional activities have led me to be a student of the research on this condition. As a priesthood leader and as a therapist I have worked with many people over the years as they have struggled with difficulties they face in resolving the tensions between the homosexual lifestyle and the gospel path. No one knows what determines that one individual will be drawn toward members of his own sex and another to the opposite sex. There is beginning to be some evidence that there may be a biochemical factor. Perhaps certain life experiences make the opposite sex seem more dangerous and less attractive to some than to others. Whatever the origins, I have never met a homosexual who remembered choosing to be so oriented. Each experiences it as an unbidden affliction.

Given that premise, it has nevertheless been my observation that those who act on those unbidden feelings lose the Spirit and before they know it are pulled step by step into a world at complete odds with the Kingdom. Those who earnestly seek to conform to the Plan are provided small miracle after small miracle until they are able to experience every blessing of the gospel. I have yet to find an exception to this rule. This puts me at odds with both those who treat men and women with homosexual feelings as though they were voluntary perverts and also with those who insist that there can be no genuine reconciliation between such persons and the highest standards of the Kingdom.

catholic defender said...

Good Morning All,

I can not pretend to understand what it means to be homosexual as I am not. As such I have no concept of the world from that point of view. I can tell you though, that a former roommate of mine was a lesbian. She would often bring her lover to our home, and it was very much an eye opening experience for me. Here's what I learned.

People who are homosexual are no different than those of us who are heterosexual. They have the same wants and desires as you and I. My roommate was a very kind and giving person. She lived as Christlike of an existence as any other person I've met. Her parents, being of a fairly conservative protestant faith, condemned her as being destined to hell because of her lesbian actions. That's gotten me thinking over the years as to what God would want us to do.

It seems to me, that none of can truly say whether God will accept the transgendered or the homosexual into his kingdom. We do know that he loves them, because they are his children, just as you and I are. If God allows someone to be born with homosexual leanings...the DNA makes them prone to attraction to the same sex...then it seems that God must have a plan that we neither know, nor understand. Our job as Christians is to love the sinner, we don't have to love the sin. God will work out the details of what happens to the homosexual or the transgendered.

Its far to easy to take the absolute position, espoused by an anonymous blogger from yesterday, that God gave us these wonderful bodies, and acting on homosexual tendencies is the adversary acting on us. Our respective churches may teach that, but it doesn't mean they are right. We as Christians need to take a higher road, and show compassion, empathy, and support; not condemnation to Hell. We are called upon to love our neighbours, even the homosexual or the transgendered. When pondering this complex issue, it seems prudent, at least to me it does, for us to do what God calls upon us to do, and let him work out the details. As for my friend, and former roommate, I believe she will be taken care of, even if she is attracted to someone of the same sex, and even if she has acted upon those feelings because I believe in a merciful God who will take all of a person's life into consideration, not just a snapshot portion of it.

Sincerely

Catholic Defender

Ryan said...

This may be slightly off topic, but the comments about how compelling GID desires can be made me think of some of the more dangerous addictions that surround us. A crack, heroin or porn addict wrestles with desires which may never go away. A member of our ward in Pittsburgh once admitted without hesitation that he could still pick up a cigarette and smoke it, 40 years after quitting, but that he does not because he has a testimony of the WoW.

NOTE: I am NOT trying to say those who suffer with GID have made a bad decision to cause it. In fact, I'd lean the other way: I would submit that many who suffer from addictions that are "their own fault" made a choice, a long time ago, without any clue how terrible the consequences would be. I suspect most would erase that fatal choice in an instant if it were possible.

In that sense I think we would do well to extend Jeff's advice to all who suffer from desires which run counter to the gospel.

Anonymous said...

Ryan, I think you are trying to understand and for that you get credit. What this post is about is the fact that some people are born into this life with bodies that are not strictly male or female, even if their outward appearance is male or female. Even then there are cases where a person's outward appearance has male and female characteristics. One example of this is when somebody who appears to be a male starts growing breasts due to having an XXY karyotype. There are also things that could occur with the genitalia such as a person having ovotestes. There are many more examples but I don't need to get into them all here.

This is not the same as a boy getting into pornography when he's 11 or somebody taking crack at 20 and having to deal with the fallout for the rest of their lives. If someone has an XXY DNA karyotype that is their body basically saying it is half male and half female. What kind of spirit goes into a half male and half female body? A male spirit or a female spirit? Many XXY people identify as male but maybe about 20% of them feel as though they have a female spirit. Until they find out they are XXY they can't figure out why they feel like a female and experience lots of guilt and shame over something that occurred through no fault of their own. When they do find out they are XXY then things make sense to them. If someone has a female spirit in an XXY body is the solution to tell them to live with the pain and angst until they die? Is the solution to tell them to try to get married to someone with a female spirit in a female body? Does that make everything better?

I do understand that this stuff is hard to wrap your head around if you haven't dealt with transgendered issues much before.

Nicole

Ryan said...

Nicole,

I'm actually aware of many strange things that can happen when chromosomes go wrong (including all the ones you mentioned), and as I tried to say, I'm not trying to tie GID back to drugs, etc. at all. In fact, it wasn't even supposed to be a comment about GID so much as one triggered by it (hence the worry about off-topic).

It just struck me that it really doesn't matter how someone became the way they are if they struggle against nearly impossible forces to change (or even endure) their current situation.

So, whether it's GID, infertility, some addiction, being a single parent with several small children, battling disease or injury, loss of a loved one, not being able to find a spouse, stuck in gang life, or whatever, the answer is the same: they've got a real battle on their hands and need support and love to get through it (and most of us are in no position to understand, let alone judge).

Back on topic, I'd never considered the implications of spirit vs. body gender mismatches before, and I don't think there is a clean answer to that issue, other than what C.S. Lewis said in Mere Christianity (paraphrasing big time here):

"Many of us will be shocked, upon arriving at the other side of the veil, at who will and will not be saved. The deviant sinner we thought we knew, stripped of his mortal handicaps, may very well outshine the externally pious but sin-cankered soul we sat next to in church each Sunday. Only God can judge, for He alone knows both our heart and the unique baggage we are forced to carry though mortality."

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the clarification. I guess I was kind of addressing you and kind of addressing a prior commenter (with the timestamp of "11:47 AM, July 30, 2009") who seemed like they hadn't read everything here that might've helped them understand this issue better.

I've also been meaning to gratefully respond to Andrew who said, "Because in fact, it's not like they are denying eternal gender."

That is true. Most people with GID in the Church are seeking gender clarification, not gender neutralization, at least the ones who understand the Gospel best.

Nicole

Lori D said...

Wow, a friend of mine sent me the link and I was the second one to comment. I just came back to an intriguing discussion (and someone sincerely caring for my well being).

My own blog has documented my own journey through transition (at least the last year of it). It's at http://lorisrevival.blogspot.com if anyone cares to see some of the ups and downs of this, as well as the way I believe God sees me.

I'm not Mormon, but i believe that I have been cleansed by the blood of the Lamb. I believe that I am forgiven, and I believe that God allowed this to happen to me for his purpose and glory, something I'll truly not understand while in this mortal body.

I haven't written about the following Scripture at length yet, but John 9, when the man born blind was brought before Jesus and he was asked, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"

"Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "so that the work of God might be displayed in his life."

From my earliest memories, I always felt this sense of incongruency between my mind and body. I've prayed what felt like seventy times seven that God would remove this cup from me. But it wasn't until I honestly bowed before him and said, "nevertheless, not my will but yours be done," and decided to live authentically as Lori that my relationship with Christ actually INCREASED. My desire and hunger to see the works of God manifest on this earth has grown, and I have more of a heart for people including those who are LGB and T especially than ever before.

To start fighting Scripture against Scripture in hopes of being divisive would prove unfruitful. This is simply the best way I can explain my perspective of why I am the way that I am.

Fearfully, and wonderfully made.

Thank (most) of you all for having such a tempered discussion about charity. It's refreshing.

bunker said...

Nice responses, they have given me clarification and something to think about as well.

chosha said...

"Those who earnestly seek to conform to the Plan are provided small miracle after small miracle until they are able to experience every blessing of the gospel. I have yet to find an exception to this rule."

Carlfred Broderick needs to get out more. I could put him in touch with five people right now who are most definitely exceptions to this 'rule'. All five felt more worthless the more they strived to conform with the teachings of the church on homosexuality. At least one became suicidal.

As for transgender, when so-called truth does not match reality, you have to question that truth and test it. Trans men cannot hold the priesthood. Transgender men and women who have SRS cannot get a temple recommend. The reason for this is that the temple ordinances are gender-specific and the church clearly does not accept their gender identity but only their assigned gender at birth. (Where that leaves intersexed folk I do not know.)

There were many reasons, most of them doctrinal, that I stopped attending church. But it was this exact issue that finally made me decide that this move was permanent. People with GID present a conundrum the church cannot solve, and does not handle with compassion and honesty.

The emphasis on gender, gender roles and division between gender in the church make it easy to categorise people and put them in little boxes. But it isn't real. People aren't like that. People are born not like that.

It is not enough to say that every difference from the LDS doctrinal norm is a trial to be borne. It is not enough to offer paternalistic 'love' for the 'afflicted' that continues to dictate what they must do - what unhappiness and pain and confusion they must suffer - in order to be deemed worthy.

This is reality. People's brains don't always match their bodies. We can't JUST love them. We also have to BELIEVE them, ACCEPT that what they tell us, no matter how foreign it might be to our own experience, is TRUE. And accept that difference is not wrong. It just is.

I am so pleased, Jeff, that you have determined to 'be more cautious and to withhold judgment in cases that transcend my experience or ability to relate' but you still go on to make it sound as if church leaders can (and have the right to) deal with these matters in accordance with the limited doctrine and harsh church policy that exists on transgender.

Reagan said...

Thank you, Jeff for posting this blog. While I am not transgendered, I am friends with many that are. Since the day that I first learned about this situation, my heart went out to anyone having to deal with this life crisis. I have seen the pain and anguish that the transgendered go through; how it rips their lives up. For one second, I don't believe that this is anything that is "chosen." It just is. I have come to learn that being their true identity is something that they have to do, b/c if they don't, they can no longer deal with the suffering and many wind up taking their own lives. I am Christian and believe that there is significant reason behind this; although I don't quite understand it (why anyone should have to go through this). There are so many loving, amazingly kind, intelligent people out there with GID. It bothers me that there are people out there that are so unkind and cruel to them, bestowing their judgment on them, when they haven't walked a mile in their shoes. They deserve to be treated with love, kindness, and just being treated like a human being. Don't we all?

Anonymous said...

"All five felt more worthless the more they strived to conform with the teachings of the church on homosexuality."

There is nothing saying that anybody has to have any type of sexual relationship. You can have somebody who's 18 or 21 or 31 or whatever who thinks, "Well, I'm struggling with homosexuality now and it hasn't gone away yet and I have to have a relationship with someone so that forces me into a homosexual relationship." Actually, no it doesn't. I have heard straight guys say, "It's taking me too long to get married and I have to do something about this sex drive I have so I can't wait until marriage anymore to have sex." Actually, yes they can wait. There is nothing forcing you into any kind of sexual relationship. It's not just about homosexuality. It's about keeping the commandments. There will be numerous ways you can be tempted away from a good, temple marriage. A struggle with homosexuality is only one of them. If you accept the doctrine of eternal marriage you'll do what it takes to achieve it no matter how long and hard the path. If you don't accept it then what are you complaining about? If you do accept it but think it should include homosexual relationships then your answer is to start your own church, which you have the freedom to do. I am an example of somebody who is far from perfect but who has a testimony of the Gospel and doesn't let other mortal's shortcomings take away her activity in the Church and who has chosen not to have sexual relations until her issues get worked out (yes, the opportunity to have sex has arisen once or twice in my life), so it can be done. I am living proof of it. I do fully understand though that what your five friends are going through must be very difficult, so this is not castigating them, it is offering them hope.

"The reason for this is that the temple ordinances are gender-specific and the church clearly does not accept their gender identity but only their assigned gender at birth."

That's not true, actually. That is your overly generalized take on the matter that you use as an excuse to lead you away from activity in the Church.

"(Where that leaves intersexed folk I do not know.)"

From what I know the Church is understanding and handling the intersexed situation better as time goes on.

chosha, I wish I had time to answer all your assertions. I've discussed these matters before elsewhere with others until their concerns have been resolved and the same thing can happen for you. The one thing I will say here is that I know enough about the matter to know that transsexuals are receiving better treatment overall as time goes on. I hope you can participate in the slow but steady renaissance. Or you can just be mad and angry about it.

And thanks for your comment, Reagan. I believe I have seen you over on the Pink Essence site. Good to have non-trans people like you and Jeff advocating for us; it'll help in the long run, although I wouldn't blame Jeff if he's not exactly trying to make this his life's crusade.

pjbrownie said...

Is it true that those that seek to undergo a sex change cannot hold the Priesthood or have temple ordinances performed? Rather than be seen a a punishment, could it be a recognition that ordinances are gender based and without the knowledge of gender in the case of someone with GID, that those ordinances will have to wait for a further clarification of said gender in the next life?

pjbrownie said...

Vis-a-vis chosa's comment here are a few concerns with her experiences with those who are gay.

Experience doesn't necessarily equal truth whether its the anecdotes of the the psychologist or yourself. We should and ought to strive to understand people, but there is no impetus for someone to believe ME when I testify of the truth of the gospel anymore that I must believe in the authenticity of gay or lesbian or transgendered person. The reasons people believe the way they do (just as with religion) can be caused by cultural and belief factors that are misguided and wrong.

That doesn't mean we shouldn't strive to at least understand and appreciate their reasoning. This is the love I think we are talking about. It's accepting the plausibility of their premises that is the loving part regardless of whether we accept the truthfulness of them. We "love them" yes, we should visit them, befriend them, treat them as equals--this is love, not accepting your version of truth as truth. By this logic, I should be offended and hurt by all those that don't believe in my Mormon experiences.

Anonymous said...

"Is it true that those that seek to undergo a sex change cannot hold the Priesthood or have temple ordinances performed?"

I think that is generally the case but I'm not sure it has been the case in every specific instance.

"Rather than be seen as a punishment, could it be a recognition that ordinances are gender based and without the knowledge of gender in the case of someone with GID, that those ordinances will have to wait for a further clarification of said gender in the next life?"

Yes, I think it could be something like that. I know of how a number of different cases have been handled and I can't get into all the particulars here but I don't believe that the Church is just giving a kneejerk, blanket condemnation to every transsexual. Sometimes it's more like, "Let's just do the best we can for now and save the rest for later." We know anyways that the Millennium will be a time of working out a lot of kinks that occurred in mortality.

Nicole

Lori D said...

pjbrownie said: " The reasons people believe the way they do (just as with religion) can be caused by cultural and belief factors that are misguided and wrong."

I agree, I'm glad you pointed out the part of viewing religion can be misguided and wrong as well. It seems like there are things the "church" eventually realize aren't based on gospel at all but on keeping cultural expectations the status quo. I think that's why Christ said in Luke 6:42, "How can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,' when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye."

Choosing to let God be judge and not our own hearts should be at the forefront of charity.

Brian Duffin said...

Well said, Jeff.

A good friend of mine revealed his homosexuality to friends and family two years ago. While I struggled with my friend's decision to live as a homosexual, I realized that my duty was to love him and withhold judgment.

Thank you for sharing this post.

Anonymous said...

"While I struggled with my friend's decision to live as a homosexual, I realized that my duty was to love him and withhold judgment."

That is true and good thing for you to do as his friend. That doesn't change the fact, however, that homosexual relationships cannot be made eternal in the celestial kingdom. Just like with the smoking thing that used to be talked about more in the Church and which fortunately we don't see much of anymore. You can have a friend who smokes and you don't have to condemn them or ostracize them but it doesn't change that their behavior is bad for them.

Nicole

Praise Always said...

There is a distinct difference between homosexuality and gender identity.

Whilst I can just about buy the argument (without necessarily accepting it) proposed that DMA materials can affect the way in which a human being relates more as a man or a woman in terms of gender, the relational argument is totally thrown out Biblically in terms of homosexuality.

In Genesis 19 there are explicit events in Sodom and Gomorrah, where the angel visitors to Lot were requested by a mob outside the house who wanted to 'know' them. Biblically where this is mentioned it is usually in a sexual sense when a husband and wife are summarised to bear their offspring. In the term here in Gen 19, there is no way that the men (old and young) had any such intentions of bearing children and indeed had the visitors biologically been 'men' and not angels, this would have been impossible. This account is a vivid description of perversity at it's worst.

Another example that comes to mind is found in Leviticus 20:13
13If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.

It may seem hard to swallow, but Biblically this is an abomination to God. We may not need to apply the same capital punishment in today's society, but the sin is still an abomination to God. God does not change and the God's final punishment will not be changed either.

Don't like some of the OT language, fast forward to the NT ...
Homosexuals. [Gr. arsenokoitai.] A term appearing once in the RSV (1 Cor 6:9), where the KJV reads “abusers of themselves with mankind.” The Greek term denotes male homosexuals, pederasts, or sodomites.

The list of sins found in vs. 9, 10 includes most of the common sins of the flesh (see Gal. 5:19–21; Eph. 5:3–7). If a man persists in cherishing any of these evil habits, he will be excluded from the kingdom of God. He who lives a life of slavery to the sins of the flesh not only forfeits his own chance of a share in the glorious inheritance of the saints but passes on to his offspring a legacy of weakness, both physical and spiritual.

At the end of the day homosexuality is a lifestyle choice and not a necessity for life. Just as gluttony is a choice about eating food, homosexuality is a choice for a same-sex partner. Choose to sin or choose not to sin - that is the question!

Praise Always said...

Oooops that should be 'DNA' - sorry for the typo!

Lori D said...

That last comment about the use of the Greek aresenokoitai merits much discussion, but not here. This thread seems to almost get hijacked by the insistence on talking about homosexuality vs. gender identity. The explanation the last commenter provided was very limited in scope and understanding of the that Greek term (and you might as well talk about "malakoi" also. For a more in depth explanation, see: http://fogarty.org/tim/gay_issues/word_arsenokoitai.html

And yes, I studied Koine Greek for two years, though I'll gladly leave the term "scholar" to others.

Mormanity said...

Lori, thanks for your comments and for sharing your journey with others. May God bless you continually and help all of us better understand one another and have increased trust in Him, in spite of all the confusion that happens down here.

Praise Always said...

Lori D,

No hijacking - I think that you misread me totally. I have total sympathy and a willingness for charity where it is deserved, for those who are honestly challenged in this way.

I guess that as a fully functioning biologically gendered human being with no doubts as to my one gender, it is difficult to imagine how gender alignment can not be linked (however limited) to homosexuality.

If a determined male at birth is really feeling and sharing thoughts internally as a 'typically born female' would, then would any gender re-alignment be due to personal comfort and an outward display of innermost thoughts? Or would it be to share in that most intimate of God's gift to mankind which was granted to husband's and wives? You see the dilemma that most 'Christian one-partner heterosexuals' have is that whichever way a 'gender case' is thought about or discussed, the motive is selfishness and not from God, to the glory of God or as a thought for others (ref. the two great commandments of Jesus summarising the 10).

The secondary issue is one that I highlighted - is it possible for one having gone through gender realignment surgery to live a life of celibacy? If not, then was the real motive (for an individual born as a male) to have same-sex experiences but without the typical 'male homosexual' tag because the sexual organs have been modified accordingly ? If the same individual was to start a same-sex relationship in their gender modified body with a biologically born female, then the argument would be that this could have been enjoyed as a man to a woman in the heterosexual experience. If not, then the motive most certainly would be for the want of only experiencing lesbian sex, which again comes down to selfishness and the Biblically described 'lust of the flesh' found in many scriptures.

You may very well be a scholar in Greek and you may be well able to spin words to suit your own situation. I personally do not know you apart from reading your comments and from these words I am not able to forge any opinion or any type of judgment against you. This is only between you and God.

I can however point to an individual's motive and then scripture to make my own observation that whichever way you look at gender vs homosexuality, they are very closely linked.

As a final observation, view the events at the carnival down in Rio that can often be viewed in holiday TV programs or documentaries. There are many male born individuals that flaunt their feminine modified bodies in the claim of 'freedom of expression'. This is often performed within the carnival atmosphere in an overtly sexual manner. In most circumstances it is a well known media recorded fact that these male captive audiences and subsequent bedroom partners are mostly males too, when the original male target has not themselves undergone the entire gender change! How are we to think about this 'pleasure-seeking' or homosexual promiscuity as Christians ?

Lori D said...

@Praise Always -
First of all, I CLEARLY stated I was no scholar.

More importantly, however, is your continued sexualization of gender identity. The growing evidence supports biological causes towards many who have incongruous gender identity with their sex that they were ASSIGNED at birth.

You insist on focusing on tying gender identity to suit your argumemnt that I'm either desiring to have "same sex" relations or desiring a lesbian sex relationship, both of which are selfish according to you. Your inability to understand gender incongruence and the congenital condition that we face is what makes you consider this as some sort of "out", and excuse for me to have sex with men.

By the way, my sexual attraction and desire is NOT towards men. In fact, it's not towards women either. My compulsions lead me to desire to stay in the committed relationship that God joined together. And what God has joined together, let man not put asunder. Furthermore, God has ordained my marriage to my spouse and my commitment towards remaining committed to her has absoutely nothing to do with some sort of suddenness that I'm now in a lesbian relationship. If you think this then you have much to learn about what it means to be transgender.

So please don't lump me in with those who would jump around flaunting their hedonism at Carnevale. I'm not on those floats. But then again, maybe someone should love every one of them on those floats as Christ loved the world.

Then and maybe then would people be willing to listen to the gospel and feel the call to turn to Him.

Nicole said...

Praise Always, no, transexuality and homosexuality are two different things and if your only concept of transgendered individuals is what you have seen from Rio's Carnival then of course your viewpoint will be horribly stunted. As a faithful (not perfect, but temple worthy and attending) LDS member who has struggled with gender identity her whole life I can tell you those people have nothing to do with anything I am aiming for. In fact, my main concern about letting people know about my situation is that they will think I am trying to be like "those people," the ones who are the most outlandishly parodied examples of supposed femininity simply because those are the most visible examples and you have proven my concern to be well-founded. BTW, there are plenty of examples of parodied heterosexuality as well.

Cammie's Song said...

My heart has ached as I face this challenge each day through faithful efforts to raise my transgender daughter with a healthy relationship with God and a healthy self-concept. The understanding and guidance that I have gained through the power of prayer directly reflects your perceptions. Please visit our blog at http://cameronsong.blogspot.com - I have faced ridicule and rejection from my fellow LDS family members and the two bishops that I met with to discuss this issue were unable to give me guidance and their discomfort in the matter led to their vacancy in my life. I guess we will "go it on our own". I recently wrote a letter to the First Presidency asking to have our names removed from the record of the church... truly the saddest day of my life.

Cammie's Song said...

Also, to Huston who's feelings tend to address the "slippery slope" issue... if the church is truly inspired of God and led by prophecy, this would be a non-issue? It was never an issue for Christ. Whatever became of the power of discernment? Does it merely apply to simplistic spiritual matters??? My experience demonstrates that anybody who turns to the Lord in faith will receive TRUTH. "Ask and ye shall receive, knock and it shall be opened unto you." Is that too much to ask of our spiritual leaders?

chosha said...

1:06 PM, August 01, 2009, Anonymous said...
"There is nothing saying that anybody has to have any type of sexual relationship."

Actually I'm referring to them conforming to the doctrine by NOT engaging in ANY relationship. And feeling completely alone with no prospect of ever having a meaningful romantic relationship. And being made to feel evil for thoughts of any relationship they actually would value and enjoy (something that straight single members do not have to endure).

"If you accept the doctrine of eternal marriage you'll do what it takes to achieve it no matter how long and hard the path. If you don't accept it then what are you complaining about?"

It really, really isn't that simple. When someone is born in the church it is part of their identity, their family and community culture. It is much more complex than just deciding.

"I do fully understand though that what your five friends are going through must be very difficult, so this is not castigating them, it is offering them hope."

Yep. Talk to them. See how much hope they are feeling. Try none.

"That is your overly generalized take on the matter that you use as an excuse to lead you away from activity in the Church."

That's a mighty big assumption. I was active in the church for 35 years before the undeniable truth destroyed my testimony and tore my heart out with the knowledge that I could no longer be a part of something I now knew to be false. I am happy with the decision now, but at the time I was really sad. I had no particular desire to leave the church and no need of an 'excuse' to do so when I did.

Lori D said...

@Cammie's Song: You will NOT "go it alone." I will hold your hand and step forward with you and Cammie. I will promise to pray and support you. Agape, unconditional love is the love of Christ. God bless you!

Nicole said...

"And feeling completely alone with no prospect of ever having a meaningful romantic relationship."

I am in that position now and am dealing with it. I am proof that it can be done. And I am not the only one.

"I recently wrote a letter to the First Presidency asking to have our names removed from the record of the church."

Totally unnecessary since the First Presidency understands the issue better than most bishops do.

Plenty of people in both "chosha's" and "Cammie's Song's" position have found that leaving the Church is not the only option. This may be a hard concept to grasp but local leaders are not "the Church." This is one issue where quite often appeals need to be made but so many people encounter some resistance from a bishop then think their only option is to leave.

When I know of cases where the Prophet himself has allowed people to live in their true gender identity then I know chosha and Cammie's Song are not giving the final word on the matter and that apostatizing actions are no solution. Trying to word this in a nice way. As I said elsewhere I feel I just need to at least give good info and I hope firmness and clarity isn't seen as meanness.

I am in two TS support groups online where I have talked about these things more in-depth and while I cannot give a final evaluation on everyone's situation I have at least helped several to see that leaving Christ's Church is not the only option and and there's a lot of options that are a lot better.

Praise Always said...

Dear Lori D,

I was trying to be generous in naming you as a scholar because anyone who studies any Greek for two years deserves to be named as a scholar. It was intended as a compliment.

If you rely on the powers that be in science to fulfil all your answers regarding nature and the biological nature of mankind, then according to the popular misconceptions, you would also arrive at the notion that we have descended from apes and evolved from single cell organisms after a huge cosmic bang millions of years ago.

Science is particularly prone to error, misconception and the development of theory prior to real fact finding. When I speak about the topic in question in this blog, I do not have you personally in mind or your individual circumstances. I am generalising across the spectrum of the world’s ‘known facts’ as we have them today. You obviously have issues with the general accepted view of transgender from both the world and also within Christianity and my heart goes out to you, nut these issues have not come from me so I, nor my opinions should not be the butt of your complaints as a self-confessed transgendered woman. At the end of the day, this was your individual choice. It was not forced upon you (at least not in the way that you write), so ultimately you are responsible for the consequences of your life decisions.

Personally I find no Biblical support for what you have done in gender re-assignment. On the contrary, I find that if you were biologically born as a male and had all the physical qualities of a male form, then there are many Bible verses to oppose your decisions - even to only the wearing of a female’s clothes.
Deut 22:5
5The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God.

My personal opinion based on scripture is that your body from birth onwards is the temple of God.
1Cor 3:16,17
16Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? 17If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.


You can choose whether you ask God to dwell with you and in you by obeying what He requests from you or you can choose to follow your own path and destiny. It is all between you and God – no-one else. But please don’t get upset with those who choose to follow God and who do not have to struggle with what you have to experience inwardly. I sympathize, but I can not empathize. I can love you as a fellow Christian, but I can not condone your lifestyle choices because of the counsels of Eze 3:16-21 . We are responsible for the safe keeping of each other in the eyes of God. I can not innocently stand by and be quiet if I see something that is not in keeping with how God wants us to live.
To defend my previous comment which (from your claims) does not apply to you – most transgender modifications are to enhance personal sexual pleasure in one form or another (male or female) and are directly related in one form or another to homosexuality. In your individual situation you are now involved in a biological change that sees you having potentially modified same-sex relations with your ‘spouse’. Whether you actually have any physical relations or not, is none of my business and I don’t want to know. But the possibility and plausibility remains.

You may not personally hedonistic and flaunting yourself on a float at ‘Carnivale’, however there still are very many that do. In many of the ‘gay-pride’ marches around the world, trans-gender is also well represented, so why do these ‘trans-gender’ individuals have the desire to attach themselves to something that you so strongly oppose in my observations?

Praise Always said...

Dear Nicole,
Transexuality and homosexuality are two different things – I agree entirely and I never claimed that they were the same. I only suggested that there are direct links between the two and that certain individual’s may choose gender assignment as an excuse to fulfil their desires in ‘excusing’ / experiencing same-sex promiscuous relations. To have a desire for a man if you are born as a male, or for a woman if you are born as a female is not condoned in the Bible. However a distorted view may be that gender reassignment may ‘fix’ this issue. However as God is the ultimate authority, should we as humans, be changing what God has blessed us with.

Isn’t it more important that we have working organs, heart, brain, liver, lungs etc, rather than being concerned what we look like, what gender we are or what we look like or what our shape is? Fully functioning rather than cosmetically pleasing!

I have exactly the same argument for breast augmentations. If it it purely for cosmetic reasons, then no, no no. If a life is terminally in danger and a double mastectomy can be reversed through enhancement surgery, then of course I would strongly support that choice of the individual for an ongoing acceptance and question avoidance by society. The media plays a major part in how society thinks ticks and treats all sectors and individuals. Likewise if an individual was to choose to live without breasts, then they should also have the right to that choice too. But ultimately for medical reasons and not as a choice because their breasts do not fit their mindset. (Intended as an example only).

I agree that heterosexuality is portrayed in a very negative way in movies, TV, magazines and mostly on the internet. But it is not the same everywhere in the world. I for one uphold the ‘one marital partner of the opposite sex for life’ Biblical concept started in Eden. Whatever and however other ideals are portrayed, I will not turn from that which was ordained by God at the start of this world’s history.

Promiscuity is a very negative factor and anyone can be guilty of this just in the way that one chooses to interact. There are also many extreme individual cases. I have used the examples that are most widely publicised in previous comments and if you have higher intentions, then I can sympathize with you too, but unfortunately still disagree with your personal aims for the same reasons as highlighted in my comment to Lori D above.

Nicole said...

"I only suggested that there are direct links between the two and that certain individual’s may choose gender assignment as an excuse to fulfil their desires in ‘excusing’ / experiencing same-sex promiscuous relations. To have a desire for a man if you are born as a male, or for a woman if you are born as a female is not condoned in the Bible. However a distorted view may be that gender reassignment may ‘fix’ this issue."

It's not like that for everyone, in fact it's not like that enough for it to be generalized to everyone who experiences transsexual feelings. I can tell you that I dealt with my issue long before I had any concept of what sexual intercourse was.

When President Packer has admitted that there are sometimes accidents of nature and when President Hinckley (and other Church presidents) have approved a few cases for people to live as the gender they feel most comfortable in I'm not sure the best answer is to say, "We just need to live with the bodies God has blessed us with." There are so many types of birth defects that are corrected as soon as they can be without anyone involved thinking they are offending God. A baby girl in my ward was just born with club feet and she is having those corrected and nobody is telling her parents they are doing the wrong thing. Or is it that when comes to defects of the genitalia that that is one area where nobody is to intervene?

As I stated earlier: If someone has an XXY DNA karyotype that is their body basically saying it is half male and half female. What kind of spirit goes into a half male and half female body? A male spirit or a female spirit?

Lori D said...

@Praise Always - Simply by reading your quoting of Deuteronomy 22:5 gives me reason to stop this discussion with someone who so easily lumps Mosaic rituals into Christ-centered teachings. (By the way, have you applied all the other rules YOU as a heterosexual man are supposed to abide by in the REST of Deuteronomy? Yes, EVERY one. You'll come to agree that many simply are ridiculous in this day and age and don't pertain to you.) Deuteronomy 22:5 had NOTHING to do with what man calls man clothes and what man calls woman clothes.

Give me a break. Please review THAT Scriptures intended meaning and do your homework. Now if you'll excuse me there is a world hurting who needs Jesus I need to expend my energy on. God bless us and give us all increased wisdom and knowledge. The fear of the Lord is the begninning of wisdom.

Don't quote Scripture at me and use it as a sword, brethren.

Lori D said...

What begin as a talk about "charity" is quickly devolving into who can sling out of context Scripture. I suggest @Mormanity close this thread to further discussion before all charity is lost and those who were hurting and came to this place no longer find an oasis of love.

Nicole said...

Yeah, I don't want Jeff's blog to devolve into negativity. Let's keep it positive. If anyone has any concerns they want to direct my way they can e-mail me directly at nickyjade2003@yahoo.com

Praise Always said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Praise Always said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Mormanity said...

I don't want to shut down comments here, but do request that comments address the topic. I specifically do not want this post to be a place to throw out scriptures to condemn those for whom I'm asking for a little consideration. You've made your point - let's get back to the gist of this thread or offer new insights - always in a civil way, please.

Praise Always said...

New insight was there and how was it it uncivil please?

Anonymous said...

I'm 34, a friend of Christ, and going through some trans issues. I feel my spirit is female. I think, process the world and identify more with the female gender. I would like to share some insight I have gained with the intent that these words might bring hope to your heart if you are struggling with these feelings.

I have always been shy about posting because I had fear that my knowledge could somehow be misinformation on the subject and would lead others astray or my "good intentions" would be"bad executions" and affect somebody's life in a negative way. Anybody who has struggled with these issues knows that we have looked to our leadership for guidance. Many have good intentions but inevitably have resulted in "bad executions". So I can tell you that I'm extremely sensitive in not leading anybody astray or giving false information. I can only share the wisdom I have found through my walk with the Savior, Jesus Christ.

On rejection: If anybody knows how this feels it's our Lord. The world rejected him, spit in his face, whipped him and crucified him. Many of us feel rejected by the church, But I can testify to you that My Lord will never reject you. Of the 100 sheep, he will leave his 99 sheep just to find the missing one. Don't ever forget that. The outcasts, the ones society never understood are the ones he seeked and continues to do so today. Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of God.

Marriage: Matthew 19 versus 10-12. Not everybody is destined to marry in a traditional sense. "He who is able to accept it, let him accept it.” I invite you to pray and meditate on that verse. Who were the Eunuchs our Lord was refering to when he said, those that were Eunuchs thus born from their mothers womb? Learn about Eunuchs.

There are many mysteries our Creator has not revelead to us yet. Divine timing is just that divine. I don't need somebody to bash me or my feelings because I can do a better job myself. I have struggled and have even contemplated suicide because of these feelings. I honestly think I'm reaching a point where I have cried so much I have ran out of tears. One day i was crying and telling the Lord I was done, take me home, and I heard a voice tell me, " Just show up, I will take care of the rest". It struck me like lightning. When I let go trying to figure out everything is when peace came over me. I show up to life and I'm honest about my feelings. The truth is many who have good intentions on this subject truly have bad executions.

I have testimony our Father in heaven is clearly aware of what we go through. These issues do have a hidden blessing for me because I have grown closer to the Lord. I'm dealing with acceptance right now. Acceptance to my feelings rather to live in denial. I dont know where I'm going but I know I'm not driving. I will continue to show up to life.

I give thanks to my Lord to those that have gone with the wisdom of their heart guided by the holy spirit to seek to understand those that are facing transgender issues.

I invite everybody to get to know the Lord our Savior with their heart not only their mind. He's awesome, truly a perfect friend.

In Jesus' blessed name...

Anonymous said...

Jeff, thank you for sharing your thoughts. I love your blog, especially the Book of Mormon evidence pages. :)

I'm no longer active in the Church but I was born and raised LDS. I stopped attending church at about the age of 14 due to my gender issues. I'm in my late 20's now and I've since transitioned to female.

I feel an ache in my heart when I think about Sunday meetings and feeling the clean and loving warmth of the spirit in church and in the temple.

I never informed my bishop about my issues due to being afraid of how he might react. Being excommunicated would be devastating to me. Even though I'm no longer active I do try to live by the morals I learned in church and I do feel the love of the savior. I continue to feel the spirit in my life when I follow the commandments and open my heart.

I have two older Sisters who are active in the Church that no longer speak with me due to me being transgender. My Father has also severed all contact with me. It's been incredibly difficult and heart breaking, but I understand that they have gone through pain as well. I still love them and hope that they will make contact with me again eventually.

My mother is still a big part of my life. She is not happy about this, but she is happy that I am happy. She didn't understand that this wasn't a choice for me, it was something I had to do to be true and feel 'right' it's difficult to explain so I'll leave it at that.

I truly feel that Heavenly Father understands and loves me. I am a bit nervous occasionally, but over all I look forward to the afterlife. I hope that I'll be able to marry a good man in heaven, if I'm unable to do so on earth.

Anyway, thank you. :)

J Hopkins said...

Dear Jeff,

I am an active LDS High Priest and retired/disabled general surgeon. I have come to believe that transsexuals are part of a spectrum of disorders that resemble intersex abnormalities.

In doctors presented with a child with ambiguous genitalia recommended exploratory surgery to determine whether the child had ovaries or testis and to examine their internal genital anatomy. A decision was made regarding whether this infant's anatomy was mostly male or mostly female. A gender was assigned and surgery was performed to enhance the external appearance of one sex or the other.

That method of handling intersex person with ambiguous genitalia was eventually abandoned. Instead, infants with ambiguous genitalia and/or sex chromosome abnormalities were allowed to mature until they began to identify themselves as either male or female.

The sexual self-identity of a child is usually expressed clearly somewhere between the ages of 4-6. Now only when a CHILD is clear on what sex he or she THINKS he or she is, is surgery or hormonal therapy allowed to enhance that child's self perception of his or her sex. This policy has been regarded as so critical to desirable medical and surgical outcomes for persons with ambiguous genitalia that the UN has issued a policy statement on the matter.

In person with ambiguous genitalia or intersex conditions, THE CHILD determines his or her sex, not doctors and not parents and not bishops or other church leaders.

I believe the same policy should apply to trans-children who tell their parents, many around age 4, that they are a male or a female despite having genitalia that would suggest otherwise. This condition has been associated in the medical literature with trauma to the mother-child bond at an early age in some cases but also with intra-uterine exposure to what are called hormone disruptors.

Hormone disruptors are generally substances that have an estrogenic or anti-androgen effect on fetuses and include environmental estrogens from women on birth control pills or cattle placed on estrogens to fatten them for market, DES (diethylstilbesterol) banned in the 1960s, lead--leaded gasoline was banned in the 1970s--DDT, also banned in the 1970s, and other insecticides, and PCBs, a common environmental contaminant around plastic manufacturing plants. Genetic mutations and exposure to mutagens like radiation and a host of drugs now banned for use during pregnancy may also play a role.

In the case of DES, 1/4 of male esposed to this compound, which was placed in prenatal vitamins that were available without a prescription from the late 40's until it was banned, were transsexual, transvestite, or gay.

Animal studies confirm these findings both in the laboratory and in environmental studies. Unfortunately, the general public seems to more concerned about transsexual fish, amphibians, and birds than they are about transsexual humans.

Coming to earth from the spirit world during the last days when pollutions would abound, as Moroni prophesied, must have been a daunting decision for those would face the consequences of coming to a polluted mortal world in which the brain could have a gender that was different from the physical body.

It makes perfect sense to me that a premortal female spirit might be placed in a male-appearing body that had a female brain sex. The mind-spirit connection, again, I believe would trump any incongruity of the mind-body or the spirit-body connection.

I believe the public in general and the church in particular need to become aware of these findings and consider not only toleration but facilitation and assistance in helping these individuals achieve congruity and happiness in their lives, preferably at an early age rather than as an adult trying to cope with a sexual identity that has been thrust on him or her through social intimidation or physical and mental abuse.

Sincerely,

James L. Hopkins, MD

Cammie's Song said...

Dr. Hopkins,

Thank you so much for the blessing of your insight. I was raised L.D.S. and my dad was a bishop twice, branch president, and served on the high council. I have three brothers and one sister. I have four children, my second of whom is a twelve year old transgender child. This has been a very difficult path for me. The leaders of the church threatened excommunication if I embraced my child's identity. I spent a great deal of time fasting and praying about the decision to accept her and love her unconditionally. As I did so, spiritual truths revealed themselves through the power of the spirit. I know that Cammie has a female spirit, just as I know that Christ is my redeemer and Savior. I posted your comments on my blog in a post entitled "Mormon Doctrine, M.D. (Healing the Spirit). I would really like you to visit the blog and read this post. It would mean a great deal to me. Many of my family members have disowned me and condemned me for our decision. My dad, however, and has been my rock and given me so much strength through the most difficult challenge of my life. I have been blogging about our lives with respect to this circumstance for three years, prior to our transition to present. Our blog chronicles this experience from beginning to end. The most recent post (mentioned above) can be found here:

http://cameronsong.blogspot.com/2011/10/mormon-md-doctor-of-spirit.html

Christian Taylor said...

Thanks Jeff. I just wanted to add a comment since I am transgender and a long time member of the Church.

I've always felt out of place in my body. For a while I thought I was a girl until my sisters dressed me in girl's clothes and my brothers made fun of me. When I was very little I had nightmares about my private parts and I often saw myself as being a girl in my dreams or growing up to be a woman (that has never changed). After realizing that people made fun of me when I behaved 'like a girl' I tried to hide nearly everything about myself and tried my best to mimic the behavior of my older brothers, even to mimic their likes and dislikes.

I tried so hard to kill the person I was on the inside and to replace that person with a male. I pleaded with God nearly every day for over 20 years “Please God give me a new mind.” But no matter how hard I prayed, fasted, studied the scriptures, served a faithful mission, fell in love, got married in the temple and had kids—the person I was in my mind was still a woman.

One day I said to God “If it be thy will I will do everything in my power to leave the person I am on the inside and be what you want me to be. If it be thy will I will do it.” Then God said something I did not expect: “I love you for who you are on the inside. Why can't you love yourself for who you are too?” I realized that God did not change me because he loved my mind and soul just how they were and I realized for the first time in my life that I could love who I am inside too.

After much sincere prayer I finally brought myself to ask God and I've come to believe that my spirit is female and that God allowed me to be born in a male body to teach me love, compassion and understanding—that's exactly what it has done for me and I am grateful for it.

I now plan on staring to live my life as a woman. I don't know how the church will handle my situation, but one thing I do know: I believe that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true—I always have, and I always will. No matter how people treat me. It is God's church, not the people's church. I believe that the leaders of the church are called of God and that the church's policies are to further the building up of the kingdom of God on the earth. I believe that some of these policies are to protect people from their own unpreparedness to obey God's will. Here's an example of what I mean: I believe that blacks could not hold the priesthood and serve fully in the church prior to 1978—not because there was anything wrong with them: there were many who desperately wanted to be baptized and receive the blessings of the gospel and they did everything in their power to be completely worthy of it. I believe that this is because the majority of the people in the church at that time were not prepared to accept blacks into the church leadership (many apostatized and left the church because of the proclamation in 1978. How many would have left if it were given sooner when racism was at its peak?).

Just think about the consequences of a proclamation to the church that trans people could go to the temple! So many people would leave the church. For this reason I say that even if I am excommunicated for being tran I will always believe that it is God's Church—the same spirit of love that told me who I am also told me that this is God's church.

If anyone would like to read more about my story feel free to visit my blog at transchristian.blogspot.com