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 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 is the first 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. I’ll discuss my earliest childhood memories here up through junior high or around when I was 16 years old.
I cannot remember ever not wishing to be female. My earliest memories involving gender revolve around my interactions in playing with my siblings. I am the oldest of the children and my younger siblings are very close to me in age. Growing up we were best friends, fought rarely, and played together all the time. We’re all very creative and imaginative, so we’d often play pretend. We’d be grown-ups, teenagers, dinosaurs (The Land Before Time influenced us greatly!), or other animals. Almost invariably, I’d pretend to be a female animal, dinosaur, or human. This cross-gender pretending wasn’t done by my brother or sisters, but none of them ever seemed bothered by it.
I played regularly with both ‘boy’ and ‘girl’ toys… I had some Transformers, My Little Ponies (Firefly and Magic Star were my favorites!), Glofriends, but most of all I loved Legos. As I got older, my interests continued to straddle both stereotypes. I was very interested in arts and crafts, computers, music, math and science, painting, video games, and crochet.