In the 1.5 years since my last post…

Many things have changed and some things haven’t.

I stopped posting deliberately because my mom found out about this blog and I felt awkward. (Hi mom!) Not that I didn’t want her to read what I’ve posted, but more that I felt safe to be absolutely honest under the guise of anonymity. With my cover blown, every new essay I attempted to write was done so knowing that some people who I value highly and relationships that I didn’t want to hurt might be reading my honest airings. My desire for raw honesty lost this battle, and thus my posting stopped abruptly with 10 drafts in various states of refinement just waiting for me to push the ‘publish’ button.

My silence here was further complicated by a very unexpected (and wonderful) career opportunity that presented itself about a year ago and took a lot of time and attention. This has been a major life change for the better for me and my family, and has allowed us to embark on new adventures of restoring a beautiful old home and other completely unexpected opportunities for personal learning and growth.

My relationship with Andromeda has become much healthier with its foundation on honesty and respect, and I am happy that we made it through the dark times a few years ago and I feel privileged to have her at my side. Our family has drawn closer and I took the scary step and came out to my children, explaining my wishes to be female and disconnect I felt with my body’s masculinity.

The other big life change happened about half a year ago when I carefully and deliberately decided to stop attending and supporting the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints with my time, attention, and money. I am anything if not planned and deliberate, and I treated this choice with the same level of conscientious thought as I have any other important choice. I was getting nowhere with the church but frustrated in spite of my efforts to be the best Mormon possible (warning, incoming Mormon-ese): fulfilling all my duties as well as I could, serving in multiple callings simultaneously including an Elder’s Quorum presidency (the men’s organization, of all things!), and regularly attending the temple, studying my scriptures, praying, and holding family home evening. I was the best home teacher I could be and gave a lot in terms of time and attention to my ward and stake.

In return, I felt happy for succeeding in my goal to be as good as I could and I also was happy to give to others. Some of the ways I was able to serve were particularly meaningful and I’m grateful that I’ve seen the good that comes from being giving and selfless. With these good things I also received shock after shock over what was said in General Conferences, the way that the Ordain Women events were handled (as an unaffiliated observer), and ridiculous PR statements from the church on a number of topics. I saw move after move made by a church in a reactionary, self-focused, and defensive pose – not characteristics of an organization led by God’s omnipotent omniscience. And there was still no place for me in the doctrine; no sanctioned hope.

And when I was absolutely honest with myself, I didn’t know that this church was true. I didn’t know that the leaders were men specially called by God, and there was no confirming sense that they were when I sought divine guidance on the topic. My attendance at and involvement with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints had become increasingly negative and the costs outweighed the benefits and this became increasingly apparent.

This post is not about why I no longer associate myself with the church so I’ll leave the amount of detail in this matter at that. Soon enough I realized that I didn’t need the church to have my own personal standards, be a moral person, or to serve and be giving to others. I didn’t need the church to (mis)teach my children about principles of moral, mindful living either. So I quietly slipped away after we moved out of the ward and I haven’t gone back. I don’t expect that I will.

What hasn’t changed is that I still am reminded on a daily basis how my body’s sex disheartens me. I don’t expect that this will change as long as I draw breath either. While I think that someday I might share this personally with my colleagues and acquaintances, it is still only my family and family of origin that knows this about me. I fear that the potential costs of this sort of authenticity to me and my family would be too steep. Thus I still express masculinity and have no plans to do otherwise for the foreseeable future.

In spite of this, however, I’m okay. I have many happy and positive things in my life now, ranging from my job, to good friends, colleagues, and family, to exciting and engaging projects. I am healthy and have hope for the future. Hope, of all things!

I have hope that I’ll be able to continue to learn and increase in ability. I have hope that I’ll be able to meet my familial responsibilities and teach my children about what’s most important in life. I have hope that God is pleased with my bravery and willingness to live according to my conscience and truth-seeking rationale. I have hope that I’ll be able to continue to be with Andromeda my love and that someday, even if it’s after my body has died, I’ll feel right and beautiful and capable of authentically expressing to her my love and gratitude for her. I have hope that constant peace and perfection can be in my future.

Though I haven’t always wanted to live, I want to now – there are unfinished tasks I need to accomplish and important things to do. There are lives to touch and beauty to create. My existence is far from ideal and although there are a few major things I wish I could change – my body’s masculinity and a few extra hours in the day would be a great start – I’m grateful for what I do have and I’m hopeful for what’s to come. I can do hard things and I can be patient.

Finally, I sincerely apologize for having gone so long without posting here. If you’re one of the approximately 3 people that read this, let this post assuage your anxiety – I am well and in an overall better state than I’ve ever been. I can’t promise that I’ll continue to post more, particularly as this blog was primarily founded to explore how gender dysphoria and mormonism intersect. Now that I’ve left half of that equation behind, I’m not sure how much more I’ll have to say on the matter… suffice it to say that they don’t intersect very well.

Thanks for reading!

On the BSA decision regarding homosexuality

Nearly a month ago, the Boy Scouts of America made an official statement containing “a resolution to remove the restriction denying membership to youth on the basis of sexual orientation alone.”  This means, specifically, that openly gay teenage boys that meet all other membership requirements (including no sexual conduct) cannot be denied membership in the BSA program.

Previous to this, open or avowed homosexuals were not granted membership nor could they be involved in leadership positions.  Openly gay adults are still not allowed to be leaders.

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On the Family Proclamation, eternal truth, and its relation to transgender concerns

I’m not aware of a more-widely quoted document (other than scripture) in Mormonism than the Proclamation on the Family.  This statement was first presented in the General Relief Society Meeting on Sept. 23, 1995 by President Hinckley in his address.  It is, as per the byline, is a “proclamation to the world” presented and endorsed by the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

The status of the document

In my church experience, I’ve never come across anyone who treats the document any differently than scripture.  A bishop in my college ward even had all of us young married couples memorize and recite it, similar to how seminary students memorize and recite certain scripture verses.

While many members don’t seem to have any qualms with treating this statement as no different than revelatory scripture, it is, in fact, in a sort of unique in-between place.  A helpful guide to seeing what has been canonized in the history of the modern church and the process that is followed can be found here.  In essence, revelation to the church must come through the President of the church, be accepted by the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and then be presented and sustained by the general membership of the church.

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On hope (and the sad fact that ours don’t align)

It’s all about misalignment with gender dysphoria, it seems, at least in my case.  Not only does my sense of self not align with my body’s gender, but there are many misalignments between my hopes for the eternities that go contrary to what my hopes are ‘supposed’ to be (as a man with one or more wives).

As distressing as that misalignment is, there is an additional misalignment that causes some distress that’s more present – the misalignment between Andromeda’s and my hopes for our future.

In my last post on hope, I mentioned that I do have hope that I can be happy and at peace in the eternities.  The only hope I can see is that I will be female and that I can continue my marriage with Andromeda.  I hope that my eternal relationship will be of the f + f sort, and that’s not a relationship style that my church looks highly upon or even believes can persist.

It’s tough to feel like the one hope I have with regards to my gender goes against all that’s supposedly ‘true.’  But to complicate the matter there’s the not-so-small factor of my partner’s desires.

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My experience with Gender Dysphoria – Part VII

This is the seventh of a sequence of posts in which I describe my personal experience with concerns and confusion over my gender.  This was hard to write and even harder to put out in public.  Please be kind.  This part contains my the events from my wife’s plans to divorce to the present.  Part VI can be found here.

Though it was only a year and a half ago, I remember very well when my wife of over eight years informed me that she had started to file for divorce.  We were on our way out to a family Halloween party.  I spent the whole party going over the biting irony that my wife had taken the first steps to leave me unbeknownst to anyone else there.

I was heartbroken.  It had been four months since when she’d left for the week.  It had been nine months since I’d opened up myself and my long-held desires to her.  I had done my very best to be loving, kind, and respectful.  I had taken away all my expectations.  I was living for the family.  I was doing whatever I could to be good and to try and keep her from breaking our family apart.

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On hope (and the fact that I still have some)

I need to add an additional clarification to my previous post on hope.  I do retain some hope, in spite of everything, otherwise I wouldn’t be here today writing this.

Against all I’ve been taught and against all common sense, I hope that I am spiritually female and that my body, when perfected, will be made entirely whole, even in gender (not that my gender is a mistake).  I hope that my parents, siblings, and children will still love me and understand that I’m not out to be perverse or do wrong.

I hope that my Heavenly Father knows me well enough to judge me fairly and that I can live worthy of my Savior’s sacrifice.  I hope that trying to make it through this in the only way I know how will be enough.

I hope that I can be with Andromeda, my wife, forever.  I hope that there’s more than just one allowed gender combination of eternal marriages.  I hope that she will not only still love me, but love me more and deeper than ever before.  I hope that we can be Goddesses together.

This is my hope.  This is why I’m still alive.

This hope is just a flicker.  It’s small against the rushing wind of the world.  It grows dim under the shadow of doctrine.

Am I wrong to hope what I hope?  Must I feel like my hopes are bad or evil?  Am I evil at heart and I just don’t see it?  Must I feel like I have to abandon all hope?

When it was all I had left, I turned away from my hope and turned myself over to the dark, trusting that I’d be given other light.  No other light came.  With my back turned, I was almost extinguished.  Andromeda (of the stars) provided light for a time until I could see again the tiny flame amid the immense dark of space.

It has not gone out yet.

It’s all I have to look to in the dark.  I pray it’s enough for what’s left of time.

I pray to God.

Review: Transgender Visibility Guide

Just a day or two ago I became aware of this wonderful new resource.  The Transgender Visibility Guide (click for website or brochure pdf) was published by the HRC just last month.  I was a little unsure of what to expect as the HRC can be at times a little radical in their push for LGBT rights.   (It’s a well-intentioned organization, of course, sometimes they just take some stances or make some arguments that I disagree with.)  Upon reading the brochure any reservations I had promptly dissolved.

This brochure provides a wonderful introduction to the misunderstood concepts of gender identity and gender expression.  Its 32 pages introduce and address important topics, spending the bulk of the time on all the intricacies related to coming out.  That’s not to say the brochure is overly limited, however, as other important and related concepts, ranging from personal acknowledgement of one’s gender identity to concerns related to transitioning are discussed in a very informative and appropriate manner.

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On hope (or the lack thereof)

Warning: This post is rather discouraging.  I also reference a lot of LDS doctrinal terms that may be confusing or opaque to readers not familiar with the Mormon doctrinal concepts.  I’ve included brief explanations and links in footnotes when they occur.

One of my purposes in writing about my experience with gender dysphoria here is that I’m desperately seeking hope for myself now and in the eternities.  Gender dysphoria is not pleasant, and even more so with some of the choices I’ve made on how to deal with it.  I need a reason to keep going.  I need to know that going through life with this challenge is going to be worth it.  I need comfort, peace, solace, and hope, but it’s been pretty scarce for some time.  Let me explain.

According to current and long-standing LDS doctrine (and some interpretations of such which aren’t necessarily scripturally supported), there exist two genders, male and female.  Marital relations are only allowed between different genders (male + female).  In other words, of the three possible combinations of the two discrete genders only one is viewed as having the potential to be an eternal* relationship.  The other two combinations (m + m or f + f) are not only not allowed, but are viewed as fornication or adultery and thus sinful.

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Our Heavenly Father’s Eternal Companion

This post, instead of being about gender dysphoria, focuses more on ‘truth.’  Specifically, I question the assumption of the existence of a Heavenly Mother.  I know that this can be a very heated topic and my intent here is not to offend or cut down anyone’s beliefs.  I am completely comfortable with the idea of having a Mother in Heaven – I’m not writing this to demean the place of women in the eternities.  I fully believe that they will attain a level of glory or godhood no less than that of men.  I am completely uncomfortable, however, with believing things to be true that aren’t necessarily so.  Thus, in this post I’ll examine evidence to see if the belief in a Mother in Heaven is doctrinally sound or if it’s assumed.

It’s a widespread belief among Latter-Day Saints that we have a Mother in Heaven, the spouse and companion of our Heavenly Father that bore us as spirit children.  With our thoughts turning naturally to our mothers around Mother’s Day, there have been some recent posts by the Mormon blogging community assuming the existence of God’s female companion.

I spent some time a few months ago trying to dig and find out what’s really known and doctrinally established about a Heavenly Mother.  It turns out that there’s not much.

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My experience with Gender Dysphoria – Part VI

This is the sixth of a sequence of posts in which I describe my personal experience with concerns and confusion over my gender.  This was hard to write and even harder to put out in public.  Please be kind.  This part contains my disclosure to my wife and the turbulent events over the next year.  Part V can be found here.

I had been silent for too long.  A few months after realizing that maybe I wasn’t consigned to the depths of hell after all for my constant desire to be female, I decided to tell Andromeda.  I had considered somewhat the ramifications of what I was about to tell her, but I hadn’t really put myself in her shoes completely.

I was also perhaps a little overconfident or at least unrealistic in my expectations of how she’d take it.  To begin with I was still completely overjoyed with this new understanding and insight I had gained.  A huge amount of guilt was suddenly lifted off my shoulders and I had more hope than I had ever had.  I also had felt like she might already suspect it, as in spite of my best efforts to appear normal, from my perspective little truths and evidences had started to slip out here and there over the past seven years.

I wasn’t confident to the point that I thought it wouldn’t matter at all, though.  I realized the gravity of this deceit, and I knew that she was under no obligation to stay with me if I wasn’t what she wanted.  I knew that by revealing this I could very well be initiating the beginning of the end of our relationship.  But I couldn’t go on any longer.  I had hope that things would work out alright.

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