Faith and Gender Dysphoria

Cree contemplated the question again and again. “How do you manage to be yourself and still not have to make amends at church?” But the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints never told Cree not to be himself. In fact the official policy finally said more than it ever had before.

From The Handbook

Transgender individuals face complex challenges. Members and nonmembers who identify as transgender—and their family and friends—should be treated with sensitivity, kindness, compassion, and an abundance of Christlike love. All are welcome to attend sacrament meeting, other Sunday meetings, and social events of the Church.

Cree reread that, over and over again. It wasn’t always how people treated him. Between a Bishop, Stake President, and even members of his own family, he hadn’t felt an abundance of compassion until now.

Gender is an essential characteristic of Heavenly Father’s plan of happiness. The intended meaning of gender in the family proclamation is biological sex at birth. Some people experience feelings of incongruence between their biological sex and their gender identity. As a result, they may identify as transgender. The Church does not take a position on the causes of people identifying themselves as transgender.

“Identify as…” Cree hated that term. It made it seem like people could choose immutable characteristics at their convenience. As Cree had discussed with his psychologist earlier, it wasn’t that he identified as anything. Cree identified WITH the women in his life, so much so that men didn’t make sense. That caused a deep distress, also known as Gender Dysphoria.

Most Church participation and some priesthood ordinances are gender neutral. Transgender persons may be baptized and confirmed... They may also partake of the sacrament and receive priesthood blessings. However, priesthood ordination and temple ordinances are received according to birth sex.

“Okay, so nothing really new there.”

Church leaders counsel against elective medical or surgical intervention for the purpose of attempting to transition to the opposite gender of a person’s birth sex (“sex reassignment”). Leaders advise that taking these actions will be cause for Church membership restrictions.

“This sounds exactly like the old Handbook used to, except it said restrictions instead of disciplinary counsel.”

Leaders also counsel against social transitioning. A social transition includes changing dress or grooming, or changing a name or pronouns, to present oneself as other than his or her birth sex. Leaders advise that those who socially transition will experience some Church membership restrictions for the duration of this transition.

“Now this should be interesting,” Cree mused out loud, glancing down at his extremely curvy body. He’d never had elective surgeries, but as he’d seen, some people didn’t care, all they saw were the curves.

Restrictions include receiving or exercising the priesthood, receiving or using a temple recommend, and receiving some Church callings. Although some privileges of Church membership are restricted, other Church participation is welcomed.

“Same idea, different wording.”

Transgender individuals who do not pursue medical, surgical, or social transition to the opposite gender and are worthy may receive Church callings, temple recommends, and temple ordinances.

Cree reread that, and contemplated sending it to someone. But he thought better of it as he read the next paragraph.

Some children, youth, and adults are prescribed hormone therapy by a licensed medical professional to ease gender dysphoria or reduce suicidal thoughts. Before a person begins such therapy, it is important that he or she (and the parents of a minor) understands the potential risks and benefits. If these members are not attempting to transition to the opposite gender and are worthy, they may receive Church callings, temple recommends, and temple ordinances.

“That’s me,” Cree said, shaking his head. He hadn’t understood the risks at first, and he’d paid dearly for it. The shape and function of his body wasn’t the payment, but there was so much more he hadn’t understood before.

A link at the end sent Cree to a whole new page all about living with and supporting those with Gender Dysphoria. As Cree read the information, he wished so deeply that his family would at least read it.

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