Trans

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There is a Latin verb, trare, which means “to cross over, beyond, to the other side.” The participial form of that verb would be trans, and that became a preposition in its own right, meaning “across,” a usage that has become common in English formations. One of the ways we use that preposition is in the words transgender and transexual, denoting or relating to a person whose self-identity does not conform unambiguously to conventional notions of male or female gender.

When I was a young man, I was completely flummoxed by this phenomenon. I simply couldn’t fathom making the conscious choice to be a woman. That lack of understanding is common in our culture, which is why trans people face so much discrimination.

Well, many years ago Sunstone used to sponsor a regional symposium in Chicago. The first Sunstone symposium I ever attended was not in Salt Lake City, but rather was the local Chicago iteration. And one of the sessions I attended was on intersex, given by a medical doctor (I want to say his name was Mark Hatch, but I’m not sure at this late date), with lots of pictures. I had never even heard of intersex before, but his presentation was simply outstanding. The main thing I came away with from it was that sexual identity is complicated, and not a simple function of one’s secondary sexual characteristics. Intersex and transgenderism are not the same thing, but that realization opened my eyes and enabled me to see the phenomenon of transgenderism in an entirely new light.

I think it was about a year ago that I saw the 15-minute short film “Transmormon,” about a young LDS man who was transitioning to becoming a woman. (If you would like to watch it, just google Transmormon.) The woman’s name is Eri Hayward, and it is her picture at the top of this post. I was especially interested in this piece, because Eri’s father, Ed Hayward, was a close friend of mine growing up (we were even in a stereotypical teenage band together; he had all the talent, and I “sort of” played bass).

I was interested in this not just because of our shared personal connection, but because I knew that Ed was a very conservative guy, and a very committed member of the Church. While this was very difficult for him, I was so impressed that his love for his daughter won out in the end. You can read his own words about the struggle he and his wife went through during this time here.

I know that Ed has been talking to leaders of the Church about this issue. This Slate article by Taylor Petrey suggests that there is a growing awareness among Church leaders that they don’t fully understand the issue and need to learn more about it, which I find very encouraging.

I’ve been watching the TV show “I Am Cait,” and I’ve been enjoying it, mainly because it is more than just a stereotypical reality show. It is in many ways an educational program.

I try to approach this issue with a sense of humility for how little I understand about it, a sense of empathy for those affected by it, and a sense of hope for a brighter future for transgender people.

What have your experiences been with this issue?

Comments

  1. Transgender and trans double as umbrella terms to encompass a wide range/variety of gender identities and even sexual identities. I am glad that The Church is at least at this stage admitting that they just don’t know. To me, that’s a good first step. I wish not knowing came along with respecting the life experiences of trans individuals but sadly as a Church we aren’t quite there yet. Caitlyn Jenner has done a great deal for trans visibility, and she takes a great deal of heat for it–such is celebrity though. I am grateful that she is using her voice to be a proud trans woman educating others.

    I’m glad you’re seeking out this knowledge, Brother Barney, and then using your voice to lift up the voices of trans individuals.

  2. For members of the church who struggle with this I say that this is a condition of our imperfect mortal bodies and when we are released from them we will enjoy a perfect spirit/body without these inclinations. A trans operation or endulging in these behaviors will not bring one closer to their Heavenly Father For individuals who are intersex I believe in the power of prayer and priesthood council to help them know what their external gender is.

  3. Jake, if you don’t see the inherent danger in opining that the lives of trans individuals will be better _after they are dead_ then I suggest you acquaint yourself with the rates of suicide among the trans population.

    It is well beyond your pay grade to counsel others on their lives and relationship with their Heavenly Parents.

    Motes, and beams and what have you…

  4. The power of prayer notwithstanding, we are instructed to seek knowledge, to love one another, and to judge not.

    Before minimizing the trans or intersex experience as behavior, inclinations, or affliction, education is in order. Seek data and listen to/read the actual, lived experiences of those with firsthand knowledge.

    I personally know people who are in correspondence with LDS General Authorities regarding this. The GAs acknowledge a deficit of experience here.

    I have several CLOSE friends who are not on the gender binary, and they are at their most spiritually connected when they live as they know their true selves to be.

  5. hinduFriend says:

    OK–serious question. Do you guys want to set your own agenda, or bob along in the path of the broader culture, in a conformist way? I’m into Hinduism, and for the former. I’m taking a look at LDS b/c they seem successful, but I am starting to conclude you guys are doing the “bob along in the path of the broader culture” thing–that’s the only reason you would be *right now* interested in this transsexual issue.

    To each his own, but am I right?

  6. Most of these individuals will experience fading feelings with this issue and surgery rarely, if ever, fixes anything.

  7. Not about a Mormon per say but there is a chapter in Andrew Solomon’s book, Far From the Tree, about transgender people and their families. The book is phenomenal and that chapter (like the others) super insightful. Another book, fiction, that really got me thinking about this was Middlesex by Jeffery Eugenides.

    A person very dear to me isn’t intersex but has a complicated reproductive biology situation that excludes this person from pro-creating and requires hormonal support to experience the secondary sex characteristics of their sex . It has brought up so many feelings for them about what God’s eternal plan is for them and trying to figure out what their place is in the traditional LDS view of the plan of salvation. Some real heartache there.

  8. Winifred, nonsense. What are you basing your assertions on? Being trans is not a feeling, it is a state of being. Just as assuredly as you know you are a woman (presumably based on name), trans folk _know_ their individual gender identity. It may sometimes take time to understand it, but that is the fault of a society which insists on a strict heteronormative binary complete with neat gender roles to shove everyone into.

  9. Anon for this says:

    This is an important topic, one that needs to be brought out of the shadows.

    Years ago I inadvertently called a trans woman “sir”. It was an honest mistake, but it hurt her feelings. She gave me a very brief explanation of her situation and then asked me if I had anything to say. I simply told her I didn’t know what to say. Here I had a chance to show empathy and compassion, which I utterly failed to do. She walked away with the comment that “by the way” suicide rate is very high for the trans population.

    It has been over ten years and this 30 second interaction is a deep regret for me. If ever given a similar opportunity, I’m resolved to respond better.

    It is difficult for many people, as it was difficult for me, to understand why a person would choose to live as a different sex then their physical organs dictate. But if I could not choose to be something else, why would I think that trans people can choose? What could possibly motivate a person to go against all societal norms and conventions and their own biology? It doesn’t make sense that people would choose to be transgender or transexual.

    The rate of self-harm among transexuals, including young children, makes this a critically important topic.

  10. Anon for this says:

    Winifred, I would like to know why you think these feelings will go away. I think that more than 95% of professional psychologists and social workers and the vast majority of peer reviewed scientific studies on the topic would disagree. But if you have some basis for your claim, I’d like to know about it.

    I hope it’s based on something other than “God wouldn’t make people that way”, because this world is filled with people who suffer like Job, and they might have something to say about what God does or does not permit to happen.

    But whether surgery fixes anything does not change the fact that I’m determined to treat these individuals the way that they want to be treated. They can do their best to decide how to live a fulfilling life in the way they see fit, with or without surgery.

  11. Isn’t the main goal to trans this body for a better version?

  12. We know gender is eternal. But why isn’t it entirely plausible, in this fallen world, that people will be born with physical bodies where their sex does not match their eternal gender?

  13. “sexual identity is complicated” — this.
    I have no personal experience with trans issues or trans persons (that I know about) and I will not speculate beyond “it’s complicated”. But I will observe that (in my opinion) it would be simply wrong to try to declare a view or understanding of trans from a strict reading of the Proclamation on the Family. If you read the Proclamation with a “most people most of the time” filter, there’s a lot of good there. If you try to read the Proclamation with a “comprehensive coverage applicable to absolutely everybody absolutely all the time” filter, it doesn’t work. People are complicated.

  14. I am an ally of the LGBT community in Louisiana, and as a result I am friendly acquaintances with several trans people. Two of the coolest women I know were born with men’s sexual characteristics and lived as men until middle age or later. LIzzie and DJ both say that the hardest part of the transition was losing 20 IQ points afterwards.

  15. I’m perfectly willing to accept the idea of biological gender and lived/internal gender being different, and wanting to bring those into harmony. If a child is born with a cleft palate, we don’t insist that they live their life in a body “as God created it.” Likewise, we can’t say that people are disrespecting God by “tinkering with biology” if we are okay with infertile women seeking fertility treatment.

    One thing I struggle with is the issue of bathrooms. I honestly don’t think any person declares themselves to be in a gender transition just so they can spy on people of the opposite sex in a restroom. But at the same time, I can understand the discomfort that a cisgendered person would feel if they’re in a changing room and the person next to them seems to have a biological gender that is inappropriate for the changing room in question. It seems like private restrooms are a good solution to accommodate everyone, but I’ve heard of multiple instances of transpeople asking to use the shared restroom that matches their declared gender. How can this be resolved respectfully?

  16. it's a series of tubes says:

    But why isn’t it entirely plausible, in this fallen world, that people will be born with physical bodies where their sex does not match their eternal gender?

    Seems entirely plausible to me.

  17. Wouldn’t it be interesting if it turns out that lgbt is a birth defect as some researchers are suggesting.

    http://my.telegraph.co.uk/reasonmclucus/reasonmclucus/15835803/homosexuality-involves-a-treatable-birth-defect/

  18. It looks like the Telegraph article treats sexual identity as binary, which I think is an oversimplification of the subject.

  19. I would never attempt to minimize or dismiss what is, I’m sure, a very trying and difficult experience for individuals who identify as a gender which is something other than what they were biologically born as. Having said that, I take a “big picture” approach to this whole issue and I wouldn’t even really relate it to LDS theology or culture.

    The issue, for me, is this: if you need to undergo extensive state-of-the-art modern medical procedures, undergo a variety of facial and other additional elective physical alterations, elect to receive hormone injections, and carry out large scale hair, clothes (and potentially make-up) changes to your entire natural appearance…all in an effort to become “who you really are,” then perhaps you need to take on honest look at what the phrase “who you really are” actually means for you in way that isn’t only related to gender. Every one of the steps I’ve mentioned bear out a modernized attempt to portray technology or contemporary practice as being the key to getting to know “the real you.” What we (and by “we” I mean American society at large) are really selling people who have these feelings is artificiality; and this artificiality is born of the world of the internet where “everything you do or want to be is a great thing.” But the internet isn’t real, it’s an electronic bulletin board; it’s good for helping you pay your DMV renewal fees without having to show up in person and wait in line; it helps grandma see pictures of the grandkids sooner than she would otherwise; and it’s great to look up the rest of those song lyrics that you can’t quite remember; but it’s a poor source for finding out “who you really are.” In short, when a 90 pound woman who has been diagnosed with anorexia looks in the mirror and insists she looks fat, we don’t satiate her disorder by performing gastric bypass surgery on her. Instead, we find other ways to help her that don’t pretend that surgically providing what her mind is telling her she needs (and what the actual facts of her body are evidencing is not reality) is the answer.

    Summarily, I do not believe that the current way we work with people who express feelings that that their assigned sex and their gender identity are at odds with each other is helping them come to “who really they are.” Far from it.

    *One note: Please, please don’t tell me how something like breast augmentation operates under the same principle; it does not. Breast augmentation (for all its pros and cons and potential impacts on the human psyche), for the most part, enhances something that is already physically and biologically present with the individual. It does not surgically create something that was never present in any degree (and, yes, I know there are exceptions to this).

  20. Ernie: Interesting . . . but my immediate reaction is that breast augmentation does operate under the same principle, because the principle is people trying to fit into a society that accepts only binary stereotypes, “male” and “female”. And rather extreme versions at that. If our society allowed room for six or seven or eighteen “genders” (as I would personally like to see) then your criticism of extensive state of the art medical procedures to move from one to another among those [eighteen] would carry a little more weight.

  21. To me the Proc and the facts of gender variation leaves room for Trans. If there were never any genetic variation (meaning never any ambiguity in gender assignment), It would be different, but this fallen world makes many things confusing. Gender is eternal, but what if your mortal gender assignment does not match your eternal gender? How difficult would it be for you to adjust to something part of you feels is essential to your being?

    Believing in premortal existence complicates every aspect of what we believe we are as people. How much will you have to overcome from reintegration with your former self? What about you, your race, your height, your body shape, (your gender), will you find completely not what you had believed and need some extensive counseling to deal with?

    And if you think you can depend on Prophets who have seen everyone as “white and delightsome” I’d submit that each of the prophets (and prophetesses) who have seen the other world have seen it through the lens of their own understanding, which includes their own race.

  22. I don’t see a problem within Mormon doctrine with the idea of someone being transgendered. If a healthy spirit can be born in an unhealthy body, why not a female spirit in a male body (or vice versa)? Spirits don’t have heart defects or extra chromosomes or missing limbs. We don’t condemn people’s spirits for the vagaries of the body. (John 9 comes to mind: “Master, who did sin, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”) I can see how dealing with a transgender individual in regards to priesthood ordination and temple ordinances would be difficult for leaders, though.

  23. I know nothing, but I have lots of opinions and questions. Is the disease model (healthy spirit in an unhealthy body) the only one we’ve got? I find it troubling and am not willing to accept it. As a stage in the analytic process, yes. That’s real. As an end point to the analysis, no. It doesn’t seem to respect the real life and person-hood and child-of-God-hood of a trans person.

  24. It doesn’t fit neatly into our (black and white) view of the gospel but physical intersexuality is apparent in a small number of births so why not other types of androgyny as well?

  25. They do fade. The transgender craze or fad is just another way the LGBT community seeks to keep people trapped in their unhealthy way of life. Since i am no ones secretary, just google transgender feelings fade and there you go.

  26. Winifred, homophobia is not welcome here.

  27. winifred: I did and it doesn’t. The best one could say is “it’s complicated”. But pretty clearly “fading feelings” is not a thing. Now if you want to talk about variations up and down over time, or changes in feelings *about* trans issues, or variations in feelings before and after reciprocation . . . well, then it’s still complicated.

  28. Trans_cougar says:

    I am transgender, and I’m currently a BYU student. I would, quite frankly, be devastated to be resurrected with a female body. I’ve spent years, most of my life, pretending that I could be okay with being treated as a woman, with presenting as a woman. I stopped only when I realized that it was my total lack of desire to live in a world where I was a woman that had driven me to attempt suicide (more than once). I started coming out and presenting more masculinely, and it’s been probably the best decision of my life. I’ve been happier than I’ve been since I hit puberty at the end of elementary school. My priesthood leaders are left struggling to know what to do in the gray area between fully presenting as female and surgery. There’s not enough guidance from the church to give them a clear path forward, so we’ll see where they end up drawing the lines. I desperately hope that I can change my name and take testosterone without having to leave the church. But if it becomes a choice between having a life I can stomach living and being Mormon, well, I’d rather be alive and out of the church than dead at my own hand and in it.

  29. I too, have recently been trying to understand transgenderism and transgender activism, especially as it relates to feminism and gender issues. From what I understand, there are two strains of transgender activism, and two feminist responses to those: 1) sex is binary and biological (and can be determined at the genetic level, if necessary), while gender is the social construct built up around sex. This should be more fluid and flexible and allow for variations of expression. 2) sex is not biologically determined, but self-identified and gender is the personal expression of that sex. I believe that the first view is compatible with the aims of feminism, and even the gospel to a certain extent, but the second is not. To say that sex is “not real” and something one can merely decide on is an insult to women everywhere who have suffered abuse, rape, violence, and even gendercide precisely because of the very reality of being women. While a man may identify with contemporary cultural feminine signifiers, he cannot ever think or identify himself into being a woman. Many transgender people wholeheartedly agree and therefore identify as “transwomen” rather than as women. This gets at the issue of the transgender bathroom spaces. The identity comfort of one transwoman cannot supersede the actual safety, not to mention comfort, of an entire population of girls. It is sexism to the highest degree. The onus should be, if anything, on the boys to provide a safe space for the gender-nonconforming male student, not on the girls. There is some question as to the issue of entitlement as well, since it is, at present, overwhelmingly one-sided in that there are far more men who identify as transwomen than women who identify as transmen. Interestingly, school districts are trying to deal with it pre-emptively by writing it into policy that students must use the bathroom associated with the gender assigned to them at birth. Interestingly, and I actually heard about this first, there is a transgender activist movement afoot that is attempting to eliminate gender assignation on birth certificates (right now this is gaining traction and being hashed out in Canada). The whole issue reminds me of the church’s agreement not to perform baptisms for the dead for victims of the holocaust. I didn’t really understand it when I was younger (I mean, they are dead, and if you don’t believe Mormonism is true anyway, then who cares?). I later understood that performing baptisms for the dead for victims of the holocaust was to, in a way, give credence to holocaust deniers. The argument is that if there are records that all of these people were actually baptized Christians, then the idea that they were targeted because anti-semitism is easier to deny. Transgender activism that would seek to deny the biological reality that women exist cannot be supported. That said, my heart goes out to those struggling with their gender identity. While I can understand the desire to throw off the cultural constraints built around gender (like men should be violent, women should be sexy), when it goes too far, and I would say that point is when one begins to harm one’s self through surgical alteration or whatever it may be, it is tragic and looks very much like other forms of body dysmorphia. Also tragic is the “transing” of children. This seems to occur when parents see cultural gender norms as absolute, so that when their child does not conform, they opt for “transing” them or raising them as the other gender. There are really valid concerns with how this should be handled as well. There are so many great articles I have read that I would love to link, but I think this is the one that gave me the most to think about: http://4thwavenow.com/2015/08/22/exiles-in-their-own-flesh-a-psychotherapist-speaks/

  30. Joey,

    If gender is eternal, which I personally doubt, and a female spirit finds herself in a male body, what is that person to do? If, as a mortal male, this person is sealed in the temple to a mortal woman and has children, what is the situation when that person dies and re-identifies with the female spirit? In the resurrection, does that female spirit reunite with a male body? But what if the female spirit in a male body goes through a sex change, so that sex and gender are the same? Again, what happens in the resurrection? No wonder the GAs are floundering over how to handle the situation with transgender individuals.

    Tom

  31. Joey,

    If gender is eternal, which I personally doubt, and a female spirit finds herself in a male body, what is that person to do? If, as a mortal male, this person is sealed in the temple to a mortal woman and has children, what is the situation when that person dies and re-identifies with the female spirit? In the resurrection, does that female spirit reunite with a male body? But what if the female spirit in a male body goes through a sex change, so that sex and gender are the same? Again, what happens in the resurrection? No wonder the GAs are floundering over how to handle the situation with transgender individuals.

    Tom

  32. Erika: Interesting. And not a criticism but a question . . . is there (isn’t there, since I thought the answer was yes) also a thread of “sex is biologically determined but not binary”?

  33. Tom d
    And how would you know with absolute certainty that the wrong spirit is in the wrong body?

  34. Christian, yes, and thank you for prodding me to clarify. I should have said that there are two major strains of transgender activism. There are surely many more that I am not aware of. The one you described is one I have come across but gets a lot of criticism on all sides because of the extreme rarity of actual biological intersex conditions and the recognition of such as a biological anomaly (some intersex individuals really resent their reality being hijacked by transgender activists). On the opposite side, the logic runs along the lines of “just because there are rare instances wherein a person may be born with one leg, or lose a leg later in life does not mean that humans are not a bipedal species.” And from what I understand, even though it may take extensive genetic testing, individuals on the intersex spectrum can find out their biological sex. There is certainly a lot to learn.

  35. If people can be born intersex (which is clearly true), then it seems reasonable they could also be born the wrong sex, meaning the self-identity and the biology don’t align. But Ernie’s point is very valid. Which is screwed up, the body or the mind? I’m not sure we have a good criteria for establishing that. The goal is for the person to be happy, connected, and productive. Attempts to fix the mind seem to have generally failed to accomplish that, so we’ve gone to trying to fix the body instead. Apparently that’s more been more successful. That doesn’t preclude the fact that maybe, somehow, we’ll be able to swap the gender identity in the mind instead. That doesn’t help anyone today, but it would raise interesting questions in the future.

  36. I meant to say “That doesn’t preclude the fact that maybe, someday, we’ll be able to swap the gender identity in the mind instead.”

  37. “Which is screwed up, the body or the mind?” Well, the body is temporary.

  38. Maybe I should have said brain instead of mind. That’s temporary too.

  39. What’s a brain without the mind?

  40. Let me re-phrase: which is screwed up, the sex of the body, or the wiring in the brain?

    And what if we could fix either? What would that say about which is really broken? What would that mean for our gendered-eternities theology?

  41. :-)

  42. I didn’t want to engage, as it felt like engaging Winifred and her fundamentalism, but something has to be said.

    Erika, that’s a horrible, horrible article. It’s basically saying that anyone who feels they are trans is only doing so to gain acceptance, probably from their trans friends. It’s a horrible generalization that has the potential to hurt many. I truly hope this therapist keeps to his desire of no longer treating anyone trans, and that he comes across no one with the least bit of gender dysphoria.

  43. Are we sure something is broken? Is it possible that a female mind in a male body is just another type of person? Admittedly awkward in current Western society, but is it possible that awkwardness should be ascribed to society rather than the person? How do we know?

  44. Frank, thank you so much for taking the time to read the article I linked and for posting your reaction to it. We are going to have to agree to disagree on both the content of the article and its value. I think it represents a valid point of view (that of a clinician who has spent decades working with transgender youth) and discusses a few of the concerns underlying the conflict between radical/maternal feminism and transgender activism (some good stuff there in the comments, too). I also think it (like the original post here) challenges us to ask important questions that are relevant to this discussion, including: What other factors might be at work when it comes to transgender identification? Could there be social factors? Is there a prevailing “trans narrative”? What is the cost of silencing dissenting voices within the clinical/medical community? And of course, where does it all lead – both for transgender individuals and for society at large? I think we owe it both to our transgender brothers and sisters and to ourselves to at least try and figure it out.

  45. also anon for this says:

    I’ve recently heard (through a friend) of a student at BYUI who was trans, she was a returned missionary who was dating a boy who wanted to marry her. She had wanted to commit suicide almost every day of her life. Gratefully she had an understanding bishop and stake president in her student ward that prayed and fasted with her. The bishop counseled her to live/dress/act for one full week as if she were a boy and return and report. The student had never been so happy in her life, and decided the answer to her prayer was that she was to live as a boy and that he didn’t have to get married. God bless all of our local leaders who are on the ground trying to help those in need.

  46. I am also trying to understand this issue better. My current thinking is that transgenderism is a form of body dysmorphia. The implication would be that transgender persons should not be condemned, blamed, persecuted, or patronized for their situation any more than a person with any other condition, mental or physical, should be, but that we should search for appropriate treatment and, if possible and safe, a cure. That would raise other tough ethical questions, but the question I have right now is: What indication is there that transgenderism is something other than body dysmorphia? People seem to think that one’s internal, mental sense of gender is reliable and their physical body is not the determinant of what their gender really is. What reason is there to think that?

  47. Erika, theoretically on the chromosomal classification if you have at least one Y chromosome, you are technically considered male. That does not necessarily fly on determining your biological sex. Most people are aware of androgen insensitivity syndrome, where a genetically XY child looks and thinks like a female. Unless genetic testing is done at birth, the only reason a girl finds out about this condition is when she goes in to figure out why she hasn’t started menstruating. *No-one* (not even docs) would call this person male, even though the chromosomes very clearly show XY.

    When someone is intersex at the chromosomal level (like a kid who has some of the cells in the body read as XY while other cells in the body are XX), the medical community cannot unequivocally state whether that child is a boy or a girl. Honestly, you can get pretty much every variation on that imaginable (XY/X, XXY/XXYY, etc.).

  48. Somewhere above there’s an “extremely rare” comment. About intersex, perhaps? It made me curious. (I come from the perspective of a person with a 2-in-a-million kind of rare disease, so I’m not immediately wowed by “extremely rare”.) Doing a Wikipedia search, I find that the most widely quoted statistics are from Blackless and Fausto-Sterling, who put intersex of all kinds at 1.7% of human births. There are numerous definitional issues, of course, and I see numbers as low as 0.018% of live births (“not classifiable”), but also 0.1% to 0.2% (“subject of specialist medical attention”), and 1% (“some degree of sexual ambiguity”). Regarding transgender, numbers are even harder to find. There are of course problems of definition and problems with self reporting. But I come away with the impression that transgender persons comprise less than 1% but more than 0.1% of the population. Which is still a lot of people.

  49. Molly Bennion says:

    A trans woman and her wife visited our ward one Sunday last winter, They attended the Gospel Essentials class and then left before RS. Our sister missionaries rushed the length of the building to tell me the newcomers had gone and we 3 ran down the street after them, catching them in a few blocks. They had come as part of their therapy, hoping to come to terms with the hurt the trans sister had felt as a Mormon. We had a very cordial conversation and I encouraged them to return for RS. . The sister missionaries and I grieved back to church. The trans sister was a study of pain and anger and we knew we had too little to offer her to have any real hope they’d return. They haven’t.

  50. “I honestly don’t think any person declares themselves to be in a gender transition just so they can spy on people of the opposite sex in a restroom.”

    I honestly don’t think you are correct in your thinking. Where does that leave us? I would like to honestly not believe that people rape little children because they are sexually deviant and stimulated by them, or that entire nation states don’t commit mass imprisonment and murder on a factory scale. But that “honest” unbelief would be wrong now wouldn’t it?

    For the record, this is not me comparing the transgender topic with mass murder or rape. Clearly, the latter are great evils. But it’s strange that someone can just throw out that “honestly don’t believe” about something a sick and twisted individual would do (claim they are born a certain way in order to satisfy their sick and twisted sexual appetites) while being cognizant of the much worse things evil people already do.

    Sorry, you don’t get a pass on dealing with the complexities and cruel outcomes that your misguided views will foist upon other innocents.

    For the record, I honest believe that it is ok to label some behaviors and actions as wrong. I also honestly believe that the presence of anomalies does not negate our religious beliefs.

  51. Given that we know:

    1) Spirits have gender
    2) Transgendered people report that they feel like they are of the opposite sex on the “inside” and that they are in the wrong body
    3) All fetuses being as “female” (not exactly) and develop male genitalia through the introduction of proper hormones at specific times

    I have been contemplating lately the possibility that these people have opposite-gender spirits with bodies that developed the incorrect sex. They could literally be women trapped inside a men’s body, and vice versa. I suppose, if that were the case, in the resurrection they would receive the correct female or male bodies.

    While I don’t know if that’s right, it has certainly caused me to look differently on trans issues. For example, if it were true, then gender reassignment surgery would be a positive thing, rather than a taboo to be unapproved of. Like fixing a cleft palate, it would simply be taking advantage of our medical knowledge.

    In any case, we are called to be compassionate to our fellow man. Even if you treat a trans person with the same respect and dignity, there’s still a significant difference to how you consider them. You can view a trans gendered woman as fundamentally a man that’s confused, or you can view her as a legitimate female being/consciousness/entity that, oops!, was born with a penis. I think the former inspires pity; like even if you were respectful, you feel like you are dealing with a confused man that you just treat/address as a woman to avoid being a jerk. In the latter, I think you would actually look at that person as a woman.

    It’s tough for members because they don’t want to condone the “wrong” thing. I mean, you wouldn’t support and encourage a young adult who is partying and hooking up with girls at clubs. You would condemn that behavior; you don’t expect members of the church to encourage sin. Yet issues of gender and sexuality seem to be another beast entirely. Condemnation drives people to depression and suicide. On the contrary, I’ve never heard of anyone attempting suicide because they were told having per-marital sex or using drugs was a sin. At most, it usually just pisses them off or even provokes a sense of pride.

    Furthermore, you would think after over 180 years, the church would know this stuff by now. I mean, we have living prophets that commune with the Lord Jesus Christ in person. How competent is this church anyhow?

  52. I agree with Eso’s comment above. It seems to me that Mormon theology is uniquely suited to accept transgender people and support their physical transition. Their testimony is clear that they know their true gender does not match their body, and they consistently testify that after the physical transition they feel much better and truly alive for the first time. Seems like a slam-dunk to me. Bring on the transgender Mormons. Heck, Caitlyn Jenner is already Republican and went to an RLDS college. Send in the sister missionaries! (Now THAT would make for some great reality TV…..)

  53. How many people can testify to hearing voices, that they have superpowers, etc… I’ll gladly place myself on the side of thought that says “trans” is a problem with their mentality, not their physicality. Much like the DR in Erika’s link above, I’m not sure why it is acceptable or advisable to indulge/praise the mental health delusions of mentally ill. F

  54. Look at some of the adjectives in this thread to describe trans people: defective, mentally ill, birth defect, subject to a fad. Yeesh, people.

  55. I’m trying to figure out if taken in their context there is a problem with using these term Steve…

    If we’re using defective/birth defect – isn’t this what many transgendered individuals are frustrated with and why they would go to the extent of surgery?

    If we’re using mentally ill – it seems that we’re being incredibly close minded if we assume that 100% of people who feel transgendered are truly transgendered. So “mentally ill” seems like a valid description for somewhere between 1% and 99%.

    Lastly, subject to a fad – if you read some of the cited up articles (and imbedded articles in those), clearly some professionals in this space fear that there is a “fad” nature to the surge in individuals who are professing this. One article cites a teenage girl who identified 9 of her friends as the same.

    I am 100% behind being compassionate, loving and open minded in these sensitive discussions, but if we want to chastise ourselves or live in fear of being criticized for “adjectives”, we limit the amount of thought provoking, nuanced discussions we can have.

  56. How wonderful! Yet another useless internet thread, where ill-informed gender essentialists speculate desperately, grasping to interpret a world that has moved well beyond their limited comprehension. Once again, the “truest church on earth” proves to be far beyond the times in both discourse and understanding. “A female mind trapped in a male body,” you have to be kidding me. Is this Freidan’s nightmarish recounting of the 1950’s? What exactly constitutes a female mind? The mind is what dictates the physical release of hormones — are you saying that a “female mind” can still somehow induce a body to produce testosterone, against all known science and our own bimorphic sexual physiology? Are any of you even remotely equipped to answer that question without resorting to misogynist tropes and disproven neuroscience? Or calling it some sort of spiritual “feeling” that just-so-happens to support your socialized constructs? The fact that actual adults typed this kind of nonsense in the year of our Lord 2015 is laughable.

    All of you want to defend the notion of internalized gender, while simultaneously declaring those people who DO prove your pet theory to be “defective,” “unhappy,” and “mentally ill.” So which is it? Does a god who endorses a confusing concept like internal gender do it to make people happy, even when it’s clear from study after study and all these transgender people that’s not the case? Or does he knowingly destine them to misery, illness, and attempted suicide by placing them in the “wrong spot,” or by forcing nonconforming people to conform to oppressive roles? In the actual study of logic, we call that a contradiction. But I guess Mormon theology doesn’t leave a whole lot of room for individual thought, given that theology (as traditionally practiced by religious scholars) is little more than a by-word in your dwindling cult. I would be *shocked* if any of you could correctly identify the law of noncontradiction as a logical principle, since your beliefs so clearly require you to set it aside each Sunday.

    How about this: seek out a crash course in legitimate neuroscience before you scribble nonsense onto a Mormon apologist blog no one cares about.

  57. Some of these comments are so offensive I think my blood pressure is rising even as I type this. A bunch of Mormons don’t get to decide who is mentally ill. Psychiatric professionals make that call. The current understanding of transgenderism is described as “Gender Dysphoria.” The word “disorder” has been explicitly removed from the DSM-5, along with clarification that the appropriate response is acceptance, de-stigmatization, and access to treatment including hormone therapy, reassignment surgery, etc.

    The notion that transgender individuals can be “cured” of their “illness” is just as wrong as the notion that homosexuals are mentally ill and can be cured.

    http://www.dsm5.org/documents/gender%20dysphoria%20fact%20sheet.pdf

  58. BTW: FemShep, you rock on this topic!!!!!

  59. Kevin Barney says:

    I think I’m going to close comments. Thanks all for participating in the conversation.