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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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.
This is the third 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 college years from after my mission up to my marriage. Part II can be found here.
Things had changed at home while I was on my mission. My family had moved, my mom and stepdad were now married, and the family I returned to was very different. I hated it, actually. To make matters worse, I hadn’t planned ahead and was stuck with a nine month wait until I could go back to BYU-Idaho. I disconnected from my painful reality and spent my time working, exploring the internet and studying languages, linguistics, and the guitar. I didn’t do anything social since all my friends from high school were away at school, married, or on missions still. I honestly don’t remember much from that time other than that I hated being at home but I had nowhere else to go. This, together with the fact that I had failed in my mission to cease desiring to be female, increased my discouragement and isolation greatly.
One evening my mom confided to me how my stepdad had expressed to her his doubts over my sexual orientation. He thought I was gay. While she didn’t come out and say it, she was questioning it herself. Panicked that I wasn’t keeping up the appearance that I was ‘normal’, I assured her that I was not attracted to men (the truth) and that I was just having a hard time transitioning from being a missionary (also somewhat true, but not the primary reason I wasn’t dating). I felt even more pressure that I needed to date to do things the right way, still utterly confused about what I was feeling and what was stopping me as I had no trouble identifying girls I was interested in.