The most impressive thing I’ve been able to witness in my time working with patients is the experience of healing that comes from sharing a pain with one who doesn’t judge or condemn, and who instead provides the safety and space for their feelings to exist, their story to be heard, and the compassion to join them in their sorrow. I often weep after meeting with a new patient. I absorb a little piece of their agony. In addition to sharing in my patient’s emotions, I carry an extra level of pain based on a single premise: How did we get to a place where masking emotions, identity, or trauma is the accepted standard of behavior and is often rewarded by community, commerce, family and faith?
Suppressing those parts of ourselves deemed socially unacceptable to share without repudiation or unrighteous judgement has repeatedly been shown to result in feelings of loneliness, isolation and desperation. Left untreated these feelings quickly begin to appear as physical symptoms… sleeping longer or having trouble falling asleep, lack of energy, lack of motivation, or worse. Suppressing that pain will often result in long term health consequences including heart conditions and shortened life spans. For a growing number of individuals, a considerably shorter life span. This is the price we pay to feel included, accepted, and maybe if we are really lucky… liked.
I was overcome with emotion this morning as I read through dozens of heartfelt pleas for help. On November 19th, youth from around the world will have the opportunity to hear from leaders at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints regarding the realities we all face. I am deeply impressed by church leadership bringing this level of access and openness to the youth. For far too long, youth have struggled in silence with questions that racked their souls. There is healing from having a venue to openly discuss questions, and to learn they are not alone in their struggles. I applaud this amazing effort to truly minister to youth in a format that I know strengthens bonds, and testimonies.
The following questions submitted for the upcoming event illustrate that people, even those born with gender irregularities, are pouring out their souls in their quests for Divine guidance. It is clear to me these are valiant souls who just want to know they belong. I’m a little fuzzy on if I can actually publish the questions here, but here they are… I did not type these, and I have not made any corrections for grammar/spelling. I’m sure more will be asked, so visit the event website to see more.
Q: What is the church’s stance on gender dysphoria? How can we support those who are experiencing this while struggling to find their place in the church, where the divine role of gender is so important?
Q: What gender are hermaphrodites (people born with both male and female sex organs)? What about other gender disorders, such as males without the Y chromosome? How should parents react in these situations? If I have a child with both sex organs, do I raise them male or female? Should surgery be performed?
Given that many of you are first time visitors here, I feel it’s appropriate to provide highlights of my personal views and understanding of gender and being transgender. If you are transgender and need somebody to talk to; if your child is transgender, or you suspect they may be; or if you simply feel I need to hear your deeply held convictions, please contact me. Though I’m not yet a practicing psychologist, I have more than 20 years of experience in research, coping strategies, and surviving. I am more than happy to spend time with those who desire more information, or who need help finding peace in this trial.
I believe there is an inseparable connection between gender, and the eternal gospel of Jesus Christ. I believe fully in The Family: A Proclamation To The World:
ALL HUMAN BEINGS—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each 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 our bodies, even in their fallen state, are a gift from a loving Heavenly Father. Where the world sees imperfection, I see divine influence and beauty. I believe God would not leave our physical development in the womb to genetic, environmental or biological chance. I believe that we are born exactly the way we need to be in order to face the necessary trials, and posses the proper weaknesses needed for our mortal and spiritual development.