I know this amazing kid “W” who is coming out as trans. W is 16.
W is one of the 1.5-3% of US teens who identify as something other than the Male-Female binary system we’ve been raised with. Numbers are guesstimates because there are no formal nationwide studies yet. “Gender Expansive” includes:
1) transgender – born one gender but identify as the other
2) gender fluid – identify some days as male, some as female
3) agender – identify as neither male nor female
Note – this is TOTALLY different from “what is your sexual attraction – are you gay, bi, straight, etc.”. That is who you are attracted to – gender identity is who you ARE.
Some of you may be revolted by this idea. “You are what God made you and that’s that.” Gender-expansive people of faith may answer “Exactly. God made me this way.” Battles, criticism, etc. may ensue.
Here’s what I ask – just love them.
W is a great person – has always had a giving heart, nurtures others in their challenges, has gifts a’plenty, and desires to serve God throughout their lifetime.
“I could never call her a he” … “I don’t know what to say to her.. him..”. I’ve found being neutral has helped me with this challenge. I often just use the name, “the Kiddo”, or sometimes “they/them/their” – as in “someone is coming to dinner” “Really, what do they like?” (no gender! no problem!)
Treat W like you would any teenager. Engage in conversation – how is/was school, what are your plans for summer, doing anything cool, tell me about your trip, have you read any good books lately, are you still into art, etc. Just like I don’t sit down and talk with people about “how is it being a (gender) today?” it doesn’t have to be a topic of conversation.
“But I believe they’re doing wrong, and you’re doing wrong for encouraging it.” Well… this is where we have room for discussion. I look to the Bible for guidance – the Big J himself, when he spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well or the woman about to be stoned for committing adultery. I want to model how Jesus talked to them. He was calm, tender, and gentle. No brimstone, no browbeating “you VERY NAUGHTY GIRL YOU WILL BURN UNLESS YOU TURN!”.. no threats – just healing, and a call to eternal life.
The name for this is grace. Grace is extended to each and every human being, no matter our sins, over and over throughout our lives. Every one of us slips away and the shepherd brings us back to the fold.
Whether that looks like W ultimately identifies as female or male or whatever is between W and God. I do not know what His plans are for W or what W will go through on that journey. As a confidant – my role is to love, teach, guide, and encourage the best I can (and pray a lot!).
I’d also like to make an invitation – if someone you are close to is going through a similar thing, and you’d just like to talk with someone in a supportive environment? Let’s talk. We can support each other. And don’t worry – if you’re not a church person, that’s cool – I won’t preach at you. This is just me talking about my own experience and how I’ve found peace with it all. Your path my vary 🙂
In short – Always remember these timeless words of Abraham Lincoln:
#trans #christian #grace