A Man of Many Shoes

To Save A Life

To Save A Life

A change in tone. I have to apologize that this blog has taken a turn to the negative the past few posts. I’ve not yet learned to disconnect my emotions from my research and writing. I’ve been deeply hurt; devastated by the actions of those who fundamentally don’t understand the realities we as LGBT Mormons face. This anger and hurt was apparent in my posts. I am sincerely sorry. My goal in writing has always been to provide hope, and going forward, this will be my focus.

For reasons beyond my complete comprehension, I have found myself in a situation that allows me to support those who feel lost or marginalized within their faith. I recognize that I have been blessed beyond measure by my Heavenly Father. I’ve been blessed with an ability to communicate; to write and speak with ease. I’ve been blessed with an ability to experience and demonstrate sincere empathy. I’ve been blessed temporally in a way that being “out” poses no complications for my family’s livelihood, and I’ve been blessed with an amazing wife who provides passionate insights and perspective. I’ve also been blessed with a variety of family relationships that allow me to see and experience the myriad of scenarios others face; ranging from contempt to complete love and support. As I know these resources and blessings were provided to me by a loving Heavenly Father, I know they are to be used to serve others.

I’m deeply grateful for the church’s official statement regarding, specifically, LGBT LDS Youth: “Leaders and members are taught to follow the example of Jesus Christ and to reach out in an active, caring way to all, especially to youth who feel estranged or isolated.” (Source) I have taken this direction to heart. Indeed it’s our shared responsibility as disciples of Jesus Christ to reach out to youth as needs present themselves.

Over the past three years, I have been contacted by hundreds of people. From LGBT youth who were (are) homeless and needed financial help, to youth who were aware they would soon be homeless after coming out, to youth with amazingly supportive parents and families. Parents have contacted me as well asking how they can better support their children, and how they can create safe environments in their homes, congregations and communities. Largely due to unrighteous pride developed from receiving a tremendous amount of attention, I felt as if I had the answers everyone was looking for. I would tell people exactly what they needed to do, who they needed to talk to, and how they too could be happy. I was quickly humbled when I saw that my counsel was essentially useless, and in some cases detrimental. In reality I had.. and continue to possess… no answers.

My new found humility didn’t stop calls from coming and emails from pouring in. LGBT youth want to reach out to somebody who understands them and who won’t condemn them. Within Mormonism, I have noticed LGBT youth already do a fantastic job condemning themselves; they don’t need more disdain piled onto their misery. And they definitely do not need ignorant leaders denying their identity. Sadly, many LDS leaders still reduce LGBT members as well just suffering from sort of affliction or “same sex attraction.” What LGBT youth need is somebody to share their burden. This is why most of them don’t come out to their parents or leaders. They know that the condemnation of another person, especially a person in authority like a parent or religious leader, could very well be the final motivator to end themselves.

So what am I supposed to tell people who reach out to me for support? As it turns out, a lifetime of experience with these issues only qualified me to mourn with those who mourn, and show empathetic compassion. Yet I know I must say something.

I receive two types of phone calls / emails; urgent and less urgent.

For the less urgent contacts, I generally just listen. Most youth just need a listening ear, and acknowledgement that they aren’t alone. You’re not alone. I’ve been where you are. It really does get better. And that’s the simple truth; it really does get better. I understand that you feel that Mormonism is your entire life. It’s been ingrained into your identity in such a way that you feel that happiness can only be obtained by strict obedience to every LDS tenet. I can tell you with complete certainty that happiness can be found all around. Do you really think God would only allow an infinitesimal group to feel true joy and happiness? It’s a completely absurd notion.

For the urgent contacts, there are three sentences I recite immediately. These calls and emails generally occur late at night. As I don’t know the people contacting me, or where they live, I often have no way of reporting to local authorities of a potential suicide. It’s up to me to talk them down. This is what I say: I love you. God loves you. There is nothing wrong with you. I believe these statements with all my heart, and I feel a confirmation from the other end of the line that they are received as truth. Curiously, a number of these calls have come in immediately after somebody has finished meeting with a local LDS leader.

I feel for local LDS leaders; they are pushed into a position with no training on counseling individuals and are expected to learn on the job. Tragically, many of them consider themselves qualified to counsel on issues simply because of the calling they received, or because they read a one-page website published by an institution that fundamentally doesn’t understand its LGBT members. This is curious pride. I wonder if they’ve ever considered that they were called so they would finally realize there are things they are not qualified to speak on… or how to love and accept people who are different, for who they are?

Being LGBT Is Not The Trial

Being LGBT Is Not The Trial

As LGBT Christians, and especially as LGBT Mormons, we often let those with significantly different life experiences define our worthiness and acceptability. While there are certainly eternal principles and standards which apply to all of us, as LGBT believers we’re often forced to reconcile our innate existence with the fundamental repudiation of organized religion. For better or worse, we’ve accepted the standard of subjecting ourselves to uninformed and often unsympathetic religious leaders.

Thanks in large part to supposedly-secular movements, religions have been adapting and modifying their practices to better support LGBT individuals. To be clear: All religions are molded by worldly influences. Religions responding to greater knowledge, evolving social norms, and more educated followers is not without precedent. Think of how dramatically certain teachings and practices evolved between the time of Moses and the time of Christ. Even within the brief history of the Mormon church, it’s easy to see how certain beliefs and practices have changed as the world has become smaller. Indeed, if we didn’t believe in change, we wouldn’t have prophets. It’s in these doctrinal shifts where being LGBT has evolved from being “sin” to being a “trial.”

A week ago, while speaking with a man whom I deeply respect in the areas of religious thought and perspective, I felt the distinct impression that I needed to reflect on our cavalier usage of the term trial while referring to LGBT people. The following two days were spent driving alone from Denver to Los Angeles. This drive provided the perfect opportunity to ponder and pray about the prompting I felt. Immediately upon departing, the thought struck me with force and depth; being LGBT is not a trial.

Would I suggest that being born straight is a trial? No. Would I suggest that being born cisgendered (identity + biology match) is a trial? No. The trials of identity, temptations, urges, and feelings are real. We all face these challenges. We each have diverse pleasures and vices. Yet in these scenarios religions have never labeled a straight orientation, or conforming gender identity as the trial. They already knew what I now know: To define our innate existence as a trial is to deny our divine and eternal worth as children of God. 

It resonated in my heart that declaring “being LGBT” as a trial implies that a person’s inborn existence somehow sits in opposition to God. I’ve agonized over this fallacy many times; sometimes with a gun held to my head, and other times with an absurd number of pills sitting in front of me. Twice with a stomach filled with these pills. Each time I thought… I need answers, and this world doesn’t have them.

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The Adorable Bullies

The Adorable Bullies

My first recollection of traumatic bullying was in my home. Sadly, my earliest memories of being tormented involved my parents. Did they physically abuse me? No. Did they sexually abuse me? No. Did they intentionally seek to harm me? No. Any accusation that my parents purposely did anything to my detriment are completely absurd. My parents raised me to the best of their abilities, according to their beliefs. I love them dearly, and I am deeply proud of their personal growth, love, and acceptance of me as a person, especially since I came out a few years ago. But does this mean they were not culpable in severe and lasting emotional trauma? No. Indeed, that is a pain I still feel today.

Over the past decade I’ve studied, extensively, what abuse is… and isn’t. I have worked with numerous District Attorneys on campaigns to end abuse. I consider a number of Attorneys General as friends and allies; relationships developed during our work to curtail violence, abuse, and bullying. Some even provided incredible references for me when I decided to pursue my Doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology a few years ago; detailing my extensive work in Utah, Colorado, and California to bring awareness to the public on these issues, and to increase prosecutions of offenders. It’s a safe assertion that I am known as an advocate of survivors, and that I have a long tradition of seeking to provide safe spaces for the marginalized, oppressed, or abused. It’s also a safe assertion that I speak on these matters from a position of experience and knowledge, supported by evidence.

If there is one thing I’ve learned as a result of my experience helping survivors, or my years of experience with counseling, is that the emotional scars of offenders and bullies are far more detrimental than physical abuse. In my opinion, the emotional torment a survivor of abuse faces is sometimes worse than death; as at least in this scenario, the victim has moved onto a better place. Escaping bullying is virtually impossible any other way. Some absurd number like 90% of domestic violence cases go unprosecuted, as victims refuse to testify against their loved ones. It’s tragedy on an epidemic level.

Another concept I have been studying and testing, is the concept of “choosing to be offended.” There are many psychologists and counselors that talk about offense being a two-party process. By refusing to take offense by what others say, we are breaking that cycle. It’s a concept that is helping some, but which is also producing catastrophic consequences. From a talk by Elder David A. Bednar:

Indeed, believing that another person offended us is fundamentally false. To be offended is a choice we make; it is not a condition inflicted or imposed upon us by someone or something else.

Where does this view go astray? When we use it as an excuse to openly say things that would harm another. I have had people say absolutely horrific and inaccurate things to me under the guise that should I choose to be offended, it’s not their fault. They’ve washed their hands of the responsibility of their words and actions.

I’ve had various people tell me that I am “sick, an abomination in God’s eye, immoral, mentally ill,” and worse. Random people with a grudge? Nope. Local leaders of congregations I have lived in, and LDS counselors. Before I was even out, I was told these horrible things by people whom I believed were called by God to lead His church here on Earth. Tell me, was it my fault for feeling hurt by these words? No. Why did they say these things? Because I was born with a medical condition that makes my biological sex indeterminate, and my gender identity fuzzy as a result.

As a child my parents didn’t know I was transgender. A couple of clues here and there, but nothing really to provide convincing evidence. I kept that part of myself hidden with incredible skill. This didn’t stop me from hearing the teachings of church, experiencing the culture, and feeling in our home, that to be less than the model of perfection was evil and unacceptable. It became ingrained in my psyche as a fundamental flaw to bear. Can you imagine the emotional and mental ramifications that this belief, carried for more than two decades, would cause? Again, my parents did the best they could… as during this time… it was commonly held belief that people like me were evil.

Now We Know Better

We know that being LGBT is not a sin. Period. No question or debate about it. Those who experience being LGBT; be they born with it, or developing later in life, are not evil in the sight of God. To the contrary, we (should) know that every child of God is an individual of divine worth and heir to eternal glory; literal royalty. As being LGBTIQ__ is not a sin, it must be a weakness. We know that weakness is provided us as a gift from our Eternal Father, as a way to make us powerful here on Earth. Anyone who labels being LGBT as anything other than a gift or blessing from our Father in Heaven has absolutely no idea what they’re talking about.

Despite having an understanding of our eternal worth and kinship, there are many who still feel it appropriate to assign labels that do not represent our true eternal identities. These labels, in my opinion, are responsible for the death of thousands of young believers who simply desired to be loved as fellow children of God. It’s here that the real bullying begins by those who you’d think are the most innocent among us.

Love The Sinner, Hate The Sin? Hate Justified

Are you familiar with the origin of the dictum “Love The Sinner, Hate The Sin?” It’s repeated with such cavalier amongst Mormons and Christians that you’d think it was attributed to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. But he didn’t say it. In fact, he didn’t say anything like unto it. That saying actually stems from St. Augustine, who said, “Cum dilectione hominum et odio vitiorum.” This translates into “With love for mankind and hatred of sins.” Notice here that the original author of the saying didn’t choose to label a person, but expressed an abhorrence of sin. It has since evolved into a statement which is 75% negative, and 25% positive; credited mostly to Ghandi. But even in Ghandi’s interation, he says it’s not right. Does it sound like eternal principle to you? Here’s an example of true eternal teaching as reference:

Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

To me, and hopefully to you, Jesus Christ said it best. Our attempts to replace his words with witty cliche’ have proven to be detrimental. Indeed, it’s a perfect exemplification of the philosophies of men, mingled with scripture.

Who desires us to use a deviation of true eternal principle as our guiding light? Lucifer, clearly. The last (and only) reference I can find of a General Authority of the LDS Church using this cliche stems back to a misquote in 1987.  I can also tell you with complete certainty that this cliche was the last thing heard by many LGBT Mormon youth before they took their lives. Evidence again that Satan is real, and he is using the ignorance of righteous followers to carry out his will.

Just recently I have heard local LDS leaders defend this bastardization of the Second Great Commandment. Back to my earlier point, who are we to label anyone aside from ourselves a sinner? From President Dieter F. Uchtdorf:

It’s that simple. We simply have to stop judging others and replace judgmental thoughts and feelings with a heart full of love for God and His children. God is our Father. We are His children. We are all brothers and sisters. I don’t know exactly how to articulate this point of not judging others with sufficient eloquence, passion, and persuasion to make it stick.

The lasting effect of a sting matters greatly upon the source of the attack. As an LGBT youth, and having extensive experience helping Mormon LGBT youth, I can tell you that nothing is more painful than hearing somebody who is lovely, sweet, and kind use offensive labels about us and our trials. I have heard personally, many times, people tell me directly to my face regarding my condition, “Love The Sinner, Hate The Sin!” I have to ask, what sin? Despite the true intentions of the deliverer, this is how it’s received by me, and countless others: “I am a sinner because I am different, and that part of me that is a gift from my Heavenly Father is not a gift, but inherently evil.” Do you still wonder why countless Mormon LGBT youth have committed suicide? Or do you simply not care, as you believe yourself absolved of your degradation of His children?

This Must Stop Now

We must work to stop bullying of LGBT Mormon youth by peers who don’t know any better, parents who don’t know any better, fellow members who don’t know any better, and by leaders who continue to use horribly offensive and belittling language under the rouse that they are not liable for the pain suffered, or suicides committed as a result of their counsel and guidance.  I am grateful for the policy reiterated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints states on serving LGBT youth:

Each congregation should welcome everyone. Leaders and members are taught to follow the example of Jesus Christ and to reach out in an active, caring way to all, especially to youth who feel estranged or isolated.

Not only should we help those that come to us, but if we are prompted by the Spirit to help somebody, or we see somebody struggling, it’s our responsibility as disciples of Jesus Christ to reach out to them; to love, care for, support and help in any way that we are able.

Let us choose to not be bullies. Let us consider the words coming out of our mouths not by our intent, but with the understanding of how they may be received. It is our responsibility as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, when we hear others using horribly insensitive language, to gently, kindly, and with love educate people as to the harm experienced by their words. This may offend them. To tell somebody what they’ve been doing or saying for years is wrong, generally will be received with reproach. This is unfortunate, but it should not stop us from defending the marginalized or oppressed. And after all, I was told I was evil for almost 30 years. How do you think that felt?

Bullying is real and it comes in many forms, including people just trying to help the best way they know how.

The Transgender Bathroom Kerfuffle

The Transgender Bathroom Kerfuffle

I am greatly disheartened by the recent vitriol towards transgender people being espoused by those claiming to be followers of Jesus Christ. In my opinion, such rhetoric exemplifies the polar opposite of the example of our Lord and Savior. Without condoning sin, His time was spent amongst the downtrodden, oppressed and marginalized. His message and work while on earth was love, empathy, and to lift those who were struggling from whatever their afflictions may have been.

Over the past few months I’ve witnessed many casting heavy stones and declaring transgender people as sick, perverted, and immoral. With no attempt to reach out or support their fellow children of God, these individuals have felt it their place to declare loudly and publicly that there are certain populations exempt from their responsibility as disciples of Jesus Christ to love and serve.

May I remind you, there is no scripture or doctrine which substantiates your malevolence towards transgender individuals. Many have extrapolated their personal interpretation of social norms and have deemed their beliefs as the true eternal law and purpose of God. Such belief, that society is somehow responsible for deciding what is moral and immoral, robs our God of His Power, Wisdom and Glory. Does society’s view of marriage represent the will of God? Hardly. Why then do you believe the societal norms of gender identity represent eternal principle?

Similarly, I have seen those who desire to serve and protect the transgender community use despicable labels for those who believe differently than themselves. I am saddened and troubled that LGBT advocates and allies so quickly assume views contrary to theirs as a threat to their existence. We are all entitled to our own beliefs and agency. I believe greater deference to each other as human beings and fellow heirs of eternal glory would serve us well, and enable greater happiness and richer lives in this mortal existence.

That’s all I’m going say on this matter of transgender restroom use. No amount of argument, debate, evidence, or precedent will change your preconceived notions on the topic of accommodating and accepting transgender individuals; in society, bathrooms, or anywhere else. And, you are completely entitled to your firmly held beliefs. Perhaps you’ve prayed and received your own witness that your view is proper. Even in this scenario, do not fall into the trap of believing your personal witness and answer as applicable to anyone outside of yourself. Until we begin to see everyone involved in the debate as valid individuals with real concerns, we will never allow our better angels to reach for solutions.

If you’d like to have a conversation, and learn more about this issue from somebody who believes both sides of the debate have real and valid concerns, then please contact me. I will sit or skype for 30 minutes with anyone who wishes to genuinely learn more.

My Testimony of Gender

My 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

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.

I have come to understand that our mortal bodies are not precise representations of our spirits. I cannot imagine our premortal spirits being blind, deaf, missing limbs, or having other internal deficiencies. I believe we had diverse personalities, hobbies, talents and preferences prior to our mortal birth which remain with us today. Yet those who identified as dancers or athletes in the pre-existence are born into bodies without legs. Talented artists are born into bodies without sight. Musical spirits are born into bodies that are unable to hear. And spirits who posses the qualities to be incredible mothers are born into bodies with an inability to conceive.

While some may view this as cruel irony, I see it as tangible proof of a loving Heavenly Father and of his eternal purposes. The strongest people I know are those who were born with these incongruences, who through the help of loving parents, communities, science, technology and even surgeries overcame and transformed these weaknesses into powerful talents and testimonies. I have seen the blind paint beautiful pieces. I’ve seen the deaf compose and perform beautiful music. I’ve seen those born without limbs become amazing athletes and dancers. And I’ve seen women with an inability to reproduce take on the role and responsibility of being incredible mothers. I have yet to hear anyone suggest that overcoming their physical and mental trials, even those who underwent extensive and radical surgeries to better their circumstances, were anything but miracles, and the exemplification of God’s love in action.

I believe our mental health and emotional health is just as critical, if not more so, than our physical health. Our physical well being can be dramatically affected by our mental and emotional state. There are some mental health conditions, such as Depression, Dementia or even ADHD, that are understood as commonplace. These mental health conditions are treated, and symptoms alleviated, through therapy, medical intervention, and often through administration of powerful pharmaceuticals. To date, I have yet to hear the classification of such medical interventions as morally improper. Rather, I believe they stand as another witness that God has given us trials as humanity, and the knowledge and tools to overcome such complexities; to treat, love, care for, and accept those so afflicted.

I believe there is much we don’t know about gender. To quote from “Strengthening Our Families,” published by Deseret Book on behalf of the School of Family Life – BYU (page 77):

Of course it is important to realize that marriage, parenthood and gender as currently defined and practiced on earth does not necessarily constitute how they will be understood in the celestial realms…. In these matters of eternal marriage, parenthood and gender we still “see through a glass darkly” (1 Cor. 13:12)

While many believe that being transgender is strictly a mental condition, this is not always the case. Approximately 1-in-100 births is to an individual who does not meet the accepted standard of definitively male or female (source). Through genetics, Gonadal Dysgenesis, Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome, Adrenal Hyperplasia, and other similar conditions, people are born with an indeterminate biological sex.

In these scenarios, do we trust the word of a medical doctor to properly match a child’s designated sex to their eternal spiritual gender? It is an impossibility. If we are to take the word of an MD at birth declaring one’s gender, why then do we disregard them years later when they declare the same individual, upon further testing and study, the opposite sex of the one designated on their birth certificate?

There seems to be a disconnect, and this disconnect may simply be a matter of time and understanding. The concept of somebody being transgender thirty-to-forty years ago, or prior, was so foreign to the medical community, that it wasn’t even considered a possibility during childbirth. Those born with ambiguous external genitalia historically underwent horribly destructive procedures, generally in order to appear female; as this was an easier operation to perform. (source)(source)(source) Sadly, such dangerous procedures still occur in some parts of the world today. Having a child with autism, I wonder what horrible things would be done to him had he not been born in a time where the condition is understood and accepted socially.

We seem to believe that our reproductive organs are the definitive way of determining gender. Does a woman cease to be female when she has a hysterectomy? Is the man who loses his privy member as the result of cancer, or even an accident, not a man? In the case of intersex conditions… how do we determine the real eternal gender of a spirit? I believe that as gender is eternal, and our time here on earth is part of that eternity, our real spiritual gender might simply be our self identified gender. Gender identity has long been established as impossible to change. I believe it may be because we really are who we believe we are.

People often assume our societally accepted standards are representative of God’s law. There is danger here. There are many practices, people, and communities once considered wicked or immoral, which under the lens of hindsight were in actuality, righteous. I thank God for those valiant souls who stood up against the accepted standards of societies, including our own. As Mormons, we defied society in a righteous endeavor to worship and live the way we felt appropriate; We believe it the right of others to worship how, where, or what they may. Let us not cast aspersions on those who are different, or who hold different values than our own. Let us not seek to take away the agency of a single soul.

During my year as Corinne, I managed to make it to one priesthood session of General Conference. Though I had no intention of attending, I felt drawn to it. I am eternally grateful I went, as I heard the following message from President Uchtdorf that night.

But while the Atonement is meant to help us all become more like Christ, it is not meant to make us all the same. Sometimes we confuse differences in personality with sin. We can even make the mistake of thinking that because someone is different from us, it must mean they are not pleasing to God. This line of thinking leads some to believe that the Church wants to create every member from a single mold–that each one should look, feel, think, and behave like every other. This would contradict the genius of God, who created every man different… It also contradicts the intent and purpose of the Church of Jesus Christ, which acknowledges and protects the moral agency–with all its far-reaching consequences–of each and every one of God’s children. As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are united in our testimony of the restored gospel and our commitment to keep God’s commandments. But we are diverse in our cultural, social, and political preferences. The Church thrives when we take advantage of this diversity.

In the absence of additional information from our Heavenly Father, the best information we have about transgender and intersex topics is what the medical and mental health communities can provide us; in combination with our own personal study, prayer and revelation. I have found that the more ready I am to let go of my preconceived notions, the more ready I am to be directed by the Spirit, my Savior, and my Father in Heaven.

In my early years I identified as female, despite receiving the designation of male at birth. As I have stated, this will never change. But I have since found great peace by adding additional identifications to my life. I identify as a Child of God who is loved for who I am. I identify as a father and husband, and honor these roles. These roles have brought me happiness and lasting joy. Until I meet my Savior face-to-face, I will carry on fulfilling these functions to the best of my ability.

I love my Savior. I am grateful for every trial and weakness I’ve faced. Indeed, I’ve managed to turn what was once labeled evil into an ability to help others, to advocate for the downtrodden and lost, and to share my testimony with greater clarity on these matters. If you know anybody that may benefit from knowing they’re not alone, please share this with them. Right now, every second transgender individual on earth is contemplating leaving it. Please, show love, compassion, and a desire to keep them here as long as possible. Thank you for reading.

Detrimental Parenting

Detrimental Parenting

Did you know it’s now considered abuse to prevent a child from living their gender identity, as defined by the child? Originally, I thought this went to too far. It bordered on the ridiculous in my mind to equate denying your child toys, clothing, and support for their true identity with physical or sexual abuse. Looking closely however, I’ve come to realize; it’s worse.

The suicide rate for trans individuals without family acceptance and support is upwards of six times greater than survivors of physical or sexual abuse. The suicide rate for trans individuals in families that accept and support the child gender identity is nearly identical to non-abused, straight individuals. Family Support Saves Lives

There is so much I don’t understand about gender, transgender, intersex or genderqueer topics; and I’ve been studying these issues for decades. As a specialist in this area, I am often perplexed when people with no experience in these matters seem to have definitive answers on what is or isn’t appropriate. For reasons I don’t understand, and reasons that lack any biblical support, this is what people believe. Indeed, people have many beliefs based on societal norms, and attempt to pass them off as God’s will. 

We can even make the mistake of thinking that because someone is different from us, it must mean they are not pleasing to God. This line of thinking leads some to believe that the Church wants to create every member from a single mold—that each one should look, feel, think, and behave like every other. This would contradict the genius of God. – Dieter Uchtdorf

Whether or not you think LGBT individuals are good, evil, or otherwise, one would hope that keeping people alive is far more important than how they present themselves. But even this is not always the case.

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Why I’m Out & Obvious

Why I’m Out & Obvious

It’s important to note that my greatest joy and accomplishment is my family. There is no greater happiness I’ve experienced than being husband to my wife, and father to my children. I begin by declaring this because I am often asked how such relationships are possible given my particular situation. I can speak with full confidence that being separated from them is agony; and should I have a chance to do this life all over again, I would choose whichever path leads me to them.

I am Bisexual and Transgender. Technically speaking I’m chromosomally closer to female than male but that’s sometimes confusing for people; myself included. I’m also a committed Mormon.

Being happily married with an awesome family, I’m frequently tempted to remain silent about my circumstance. Silence would make it much easier to exist within my local community and ward. I live at the intersection of suburbs and rural farming / ranching, and my ward is reflective of the stereotypical cultural beliefs of each. My ward in particular is, by far, the most anti-LGBT ward I’ve ever been in. I’ve been in other wards that are incredibly accepting and welcoming, and understand the concept of the collective burden. In my ward it’s frequently heard that being LGBT is a sin; regardless of your actions (or inactions). Sadly, this belief is also being passed down to the youth. Indeed, it’s an environment that warrants remaining or returning to the proverbial closet. With this being said, I am so glad to be where I am, and feel it’s where I am supposed to be.

So far this year, three individuals that have crossed my path in this realm of conversation have taken their lives. I wish I could say I didn’t understand why. But I know exactly why. 

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Charity In Action: Youth & Transgender Friends

Charity In Action: Youth & Transgender Friends

Yesterday I came across two questions regarding transgender topics on LDS.org. Initially, I was taken back. Double Face Palm. That feeling soon faded into admiration for those who openly shared their concerns; for demonstrating the courage to ask, for not accepting the easy path of hate and fear, and for probably disagreeing with whatever their parents told them… and desiring their own answers. As I know these questions went unanswered, I thought I would do my best to address them. For those that think the church has clear answers on these topics, I invite you to watch the interview with Elder Oaks. He clearly notes on transgender issues, the church has some learning and teaching to do. The power of individual revelation becomes critical.

Question One: Sarah S. Utah – May 10, 2015

I know someone close to me that has decided recently that they are going to become transgender. I know gender is divine, but how should I go about being their friend? I don’t want to alienate them completely as they are being teased a lot and “trans” people have a huge suicide rate. Do you have any suggestions?

Sarah, how wonderful for you to have the opportunity to be close to somebody that is faced with a tremendous trial. Clearly, this is a complicated situation. Our loving Heavenly Father knows us individually, and knows which weaknesses we are able to bear. Your friend must have truly been a powerful spirit in the pre-existence to be worthy of such a trial. You too must have been specially chosen to be there for your friend. Many will cast off this individual. I applaud you for seeking answers instead of rushing to judgement.

Allow me to clear up a couple items in your question. Nobody decides they are going to become transgender. It is not a choice. It’s a trial presented as part of our mortal experience. I’m so glad you took time to look at some of that data before asking your question. Assume your friend has always been transgender. I’m assuming that by your question, that this person has recently come out, and may be thinking about “transitioning.” With this knowledge, know that your friend already has a greater chance of committing suicide than of any other group of individuals. They need love. They need friends and allies. Every voice of insult, judgement, contempt is quite literally a nail in their coffin. It’s that serious.

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Honored + Apologies

Honored + Apologies

I rarely check analytics on this website. This blog is more of hobby for me, and an area for me to share my research and understandings. Today I was flipping through analytics and I saw that I am now up to an average of twelve thousand people who visit this blog each month. I am so honored that you come and read. I have heard from many of you… I have heard your struggles and questions. I am so sorry that I cannot put out more content, and faster. I know you are looking for answers on the issues I write about, support with local leaders in finding your fit within your faith / congregation, or just somebody safe to talk to. You are welcome to contact me and we can talk anytime.

Looking at maps, I can also tell you that I am amazed at who find this blog. While it’s true about 7o percent of you come from the US + Canada, I can see a large number of visitors from Western Europe, and Australia. Do I need to make better language accommodations? Please comment below if there is a need for this.

Thanks again. I love you all.

The Transition Myth: Part One

The Transition Myth: Part One

This will be a series of articles which will provide a look into the issues that arise in the various treatment options for transgender individuals. Eventually I hope to publish this series into a book that can be used as a guide to Christian / LDS Mormon counselors on the treatment, and more importantly, the support of transgender individuals who want to live happy and meaningful lives in the bodies provided them by God.

A current psychological treatment to address Gender Dysphoria is to pursue what is commonly referred to as transitioning; making the necessary changes in order to live full-time in the sex/gender opposite of the sex designation assigned at birth.  Though not recommended by all psychologists, more than ever transitioning is presented as a preferred course of treatment. As society is becoming more accepting of transpeople, I suspect the push towards transitioning will only expand. 

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