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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This is the second part of a larger, multi-post entity in which I discuss SRS, God’s intentions, and some of my decisions concerning both. For context and set-up, please read Part I first!
Scientifically it’s a difference of rarity and perception
If we step aside from morality and God for a moment, the biggest distinction between the birth defect I came into the world with and the ‘defect’ of my body’s gender is one of commonality: roughly 50% of humans are male* but only .14% of the population has the type of birth defect I had.
Have you seen the movie Penelope? A girl is born into a family with a long-overdue curse that grants her a pig’s snout and ears. She goes through a lot of trauma, not because pig snouts are inherently disgusting, but because she’s different from the norm. How would the movie have turned out if pig snouts weren’t so unusual? What if roughly half of the population had noses like pigs? You’re right, there’d be no movie – she’s have lived her merry life and we’d all be watching movies about those rare people with a third eye or flower-scented flatulence or something.
This post turned out to be really long, and I can’t think of a good way to shorten it. So, I’ve posted it in two parts. If you read one, read both, as the overarching argument leads directly through the two of them. Find the next part here.
The million-dollar question: does God make mistakes?
Short answer? I don’t think He does, but that’s hardly all the story, so read on!
Let’s start by clarifying what Sex Reassignment Surgery (hereafter called SRS) is: it’s the process of surgically altering genitals and other secondary sexual characteristics to more closely resemble another sex. Treatment can be divided into two parts, plastic surgeries (to change, remove, reshape genitals or other secondary sexual characteristics) and hormone treatments (where androgens and estrogens are blocked or increased in the body to match those of the desired gender, also resulting in physical changes). As there are varied physical differences between men and women, all of the different ways of treatment are grouped under this label, and knowing that someone has pursued SRS doesn’t contain any detail about what sexual characteristics have been treated or in what manner.
Obviously, there are limitations to this practice and nothing in the actual chromosomal and genetic makeup of the body is changed, just ‘surface’ features. SRS requires multiple surgeries, is expensive, and is often not covered by medical insurance policies. Plus, like any surgical procedure, there is a risk of other complications.
This is the fifth 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 the process through which I ceased to view myself as damned for my desires to be female and my decision to tell my wife. Part IV can be found here.
Andromeda and I had made some uneasy amends after our falling-out over the bedrest incident, but nothing was actually solved. The pot had boiled over, but it was still simmering and our relationship was in no better of a place. To add to this, life had suddenly become much busier and complicated with two more infants and many other unexpected life complications (traveling for work, unexpected financial troubles, vehicle accidents, etc.).
I had started to think a little more openly and rationally about my beliefs and feelings of dissatisfaction with my gender as well. To start with, by living outside of Utah and Idaho I had met many non-members who had forced me to reconsider my previous world-view as Mormons being good and everyone else bad, dangerous, or at least untrustworthy. (Note: this is not a doctrine of Mormonism!) Many of these people had different standards than I. Some of them had different sexual orientations. I realized that when all was said and done, sexual preference wasn’t much different than any other preference, such as race or even hair color in terms of having any bearing on how good or trustworthy an individual was.
I don’t want to be transgender.
Don’t get me wrong, I like who I am. In fact, I have a good sense of personal value and worth – I am pleased by my abilities and derive great satisfaction from my personal growth and development. I am able to succeed in my endeavors, and I value the blessings, opportunities, and support I’ve had to allow this.
I am happy with my likes and content with just about everything in my life right now. I even like much about my body – it’s healthy, strong, and it allows me to do many valuable, creative things. I receive particular satisfaction from creating complex works of art with my hands, and I’m very grateful for this ability. I have nice hair and eyes that are the blue of summer mornings. I’m even okay with my many moles and various visible scars.
This is the fourth 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 the experiences of the first 7 years of my marriage, up to the point that I told my wife about my wish to be female. Part III can be found here.
Getting married was great, but had the opposite effect I had hoped with regards to my concerns over my gender. In fact, if anything, it was harder because now I was now in the intimate presence of a woman and I was reminded on a regular basis what I lacked.
Like we did in courting, we moved fast after being married also. While I continued my studies (in an area I didn’t like but felt I had to pursue to support a family) Andromeda dropped out of school, got a job and soon got pregnant. With that our ‘honeymoon phase’ ended quickly. She was incredibly sick. She was spending her time working and being sick for our child, and in return I was a beast. I was unhappy and stressed about what I was doing in my studies, I was stressed over how sick she was and how rough it made my life, and on top of it all I was more stressed than ever over my unhappiness with my gender. I tell you, I really was being a self-absorbed beast. I look back on my selfishness and mistreatment of my wife with great regret.