In a previous post from July 2009, I discussed some of the new things I was learning and pondering regarding transgender issues. I have learned much from a new friend, a transgender Christian, whose personal journey has opened my eyes to some of the complexities and challenges that can occur in mortality.
Since then, I’ve heard from a transgender Latter-day Saint who kindly gave me permission to share a little of her story, as follows:
I recently read your article on transgender issues. I am what many consider trans and I am also a faithful member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I am a Male to Female member.
No, I don’t have an axe to grind. I thank you for your article! Well written and sensitive. I figured I might be able to shed more light on things.
The true transsexual is not a sexual deviant. I have kept my baptismal covenants and refuse to have sexual relations until I am married. And yes I can legally get married as a female. What happened to me was not a twist of fate…or an act of nature. It happened because my mother took a drug called DES. A drug marketed in the 60s to prevent miscarriage.
That drug was later classified as a mutagen…a teratogen. Translation? It screws with a developing baby to the extent it can alter gender attributes.
We do the best with what we are handed and we are at the whim of the evil designs of man. God did not make this happen to me…but as we both know this world is not a perfect world. If it were perfect…it would not be that good of a test.
Despite the hell I have endured I have chosen to keep the Lord and the church near me. What and who I am is not a contradiction in the terms of the church unless I make it so. For example flaunting it…making a big deal about it or acting immorally. That is why I am sending this to you privately because it is a private matter. My ward does not know about my past except for the RS president…Bishop and Stake pres.
Any way…there you go. If you have questions feel free to ask.
Thank you, Sarah, for an example of handling an incredibly complicated and unfair situation in life with courage and faith. I cannot comprehend what you’ve gone through and truly don’t understand these issues, but increasingly recognize that there can be genuine exceptions to my conception of how things should be. Yes, I believe that gender is a divine attribute and existed before we were born. But it also seems that mortality makes it possible for all manner of challenges and exceptions to arise with these mortal shells we carry, just as can happen with other aspects of the human experience, so I suggest we need to be extremely cautious and reticent regarding our superficial assumptions about the transgendered. Your example of holding on to your religion and living the moral standards of the Church, even in a situation where most others are surely prone to misunderstand, may be among the truly choice stories of faith that future generations should know.
2012 Update: An insightful post on some of these complex issues is “Jim’s View” on the LDS Gender Blog.