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.
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 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.