This is a repost from my original authoring on May 13, 2016. I wanted to make sure this was still available as I deactivate the other site this post resides on. It’s rare that I still wholeheartedly endorse something I wrote almost two years ago, but here we are. This remains my personal testimony of gender.
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.
Last night I was conversing with an individual who had asked me about my experience of being diagnosed as intersex (Gonadal Dysgenesis / Adrenogenital Syndrome). She also asked me about Dan Reynolds (Imagine Dragons) and the work that he is doing to bring awareness to the LDS LGBT epidemic of youth suicides, and general intersectionality. As I was explaining some of the oddities I faced in my physical development, I realized that I was no longer talking about myself, I was sharing my testimony of what it means to be, to serve, and to love the queer community.
Suicide is a growing concern for numerous reasons beyond that of an LGBTQ status or identity. My focus is exclusively on queer research within religious denominations, so I can only speak to that. I have lost numerous queer Mormon friends to suicide over the past 20 years. Religiosity is a known mitigator of suicidality. However, for youth who acknowledge a queer identity or orientation, religiosity is positively correlated with suicidality (as religiosity increases, suicidality increases, mediated by queer status). What’s fascinating in this research is that the dogma surrounding LGBTQ individuals in their respective religions is irrelevant. It’s the variables of social support, group cohesion, and inclusivity which are comprised in religiosity which predict the increased suicidality. It should be noted, many of these studies are conducted with youth who have survived a suicide attempt, with data collection occurring in clinical recovery settings. This isn’t just people talking or theorizing. It’s people that chose to die, and miraculously survived, telling us exactly why they decided to leave this realm.
This Is What I Wrote, My Testimony
I am completely in love with the upcoming generation. They seem to have an ingrained sense of simply loving people for who they are, and where they’re at. I think my daughter is built this way. I’m scared of her losing that. She’s received recurring messages of the “othering” that we as Mormons have historically excelled at. We do this all the time… Mormon Prom, no school dances, let’s play on our own sports teams, keep Mormon friends, let’s go to our own schools, let’s trick-or-treat in our churches, let’s go to girls camp with other Mormons, and so on. Each of these are fine when viewed individually. It’s the underlying theme which sends an implicit message to our kids, “the world is dark, don’t go there.” And then we wonder why Mormon youth endure disproportionately high depression and anxiety rates. I believe the world is beautiful! The very special light emanating from our youth will help it shine even brighter, serving as beacons guiding it towards that which is good… Get Out There! It’s not a suggestion, it’s a calling. Don’t let our traditions of distancing ourselves from others become a bushel to your flame!
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?