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Transgenderism, Caitlyn Jenner, and How Feelings Rule

For as long as I can remember, I have been a heterosexual, cis-gendered, any-ethnicity-with-melanin female with bold opinions about transgenderism trapped in the body of a heterosexual , cis-gendered, pasty white female who cannot bring herself to express her bold opinions about transgenderism for fear of being vilified and castigated.

Today—in the spirit of courage and heroism—I am opening the door to reveal my authentic self. I am sure you will be supportive, loving, accepting, and tolerant.

Transgender Jenner Feelings

In spite of my typically cynical, flippant approach to everything else in the world, I’m going to try really hard to be respectful. In spite of the fact that I look askance at many priesthood issues, gender issues, temple issues, and a host of other issues more sacred than “gender identity,” I’m aware enough to know that our culture simply disallows certain things. You can mock Mormons, but you can’t mock Muslims. You can bash women who wear knee length dresses and twist their hair in odd configurations, but you can’t bash men with large Adam’s apples and five o’clock shadow who totter about in heels. It’s just the way of the world. I reluctantly embrace it—for this post—to the extent I can muster.

Remember, it is improper to contradict, disrespect, or shame the truly authentic. 

Breathe. Breathe. I’m OK. You’re OK. Love is love.

It’s All About the Bruce

The entire tabloid-ish (plus Facebook) world is still talking about the man formerly known as Bruce Jenner and now known as Caitlyn Jenner. My memories are of him as an Olympic powerhouse but that’s gone the way of the world and he’s now mostly known for being part of the worst reality TV family ever and flipping on his third wife.

Everyone is now publishing super angsty posts and status updates about how warmly and keenly they embrace Caitlyn Jenner with all the sugary love and goodness and kindness (especially kindness, because that is the most important thing we Mormony Mormons can do!) they can muster. He (and the rest of the 0.3% of the population who claim to be transgendered) must be indulged in his womanliness, because any behavior that revolves around gender or orientation or feelings simply must be hugged, nurtured, and coddled in its fragility (as long as it’s anything that used to be considered weird, disturbed, or wrong). The science is settled.

As an exercise in counterpoint, I’m going to pose some questions that have occurred to me over the course of the past couple of years. I don’t have conclusions (yet), so I’m asking you to contribute your thoughts. I’m going to use the infallible Wikipedia as the definitive source to discuss how these definitions only confuse me more.

To be clear, I have presented a number of specific questions below and I’d really appreciate cogent answers to them, with regards to what “transgenderism” is.

Transgender Questions

Definition #1 – Of, relating to, or designating a person whose identity does not conform unambiguously to conventional notions of male or female gender roles, but combines or moves between these.

What do “gender roles” have to do with biology?

I’ve spent the better part of my life (47 of 51 years) trying to prove that my XX chromosomes do mean some things but do not mean everything they’ve historically been said to mean. Below is an inexhaustive list that applies outside of a chromosomal defect or abnormality. (Yes, I know it’s not kosher to say anything is “abnormal” (unless it’s some Christiany moralistic kind of thing), but just go with me here for a minute.) (Wait…is it kosher to use the word kosher?)

XX/XY Means

  • Female/male genitalia will be present
  • Predictable physiological development throughout lifespan can be expected
  • Can/cannot bear children
  • Donation of egg/sperm to offspring
  • Etc.

XX/XY Does Not Mean

  • One is illogical/logical
  • One is emotional/stoic
  • One is nurturing/brutish
  • One is able/unable to control one’s thought or behaviors
  • One is dumb/smart
  • One is physically or mentally weak/strong
  • One can only be a nurse/doctor
  • One can only be a flight attendant/pilot
  • Etc.

When I was about six, I sat in the basement chatting with my dad while he was painting something or other. (For the record, I was also his regular companion while he did all the family grocery shopping and making the nightly dinner salad, which may form foundational proofs that Dad wasn’t unambiguously male.) I told him definitively that I wanted to be a boy.

Fortunately for me, my parents didn’t see this as a sign to transition me with testosterone shots (or whatever they use to make girls look sort of like boys)—because I kind of like being female these days—but instead saw a chance to ask me what I thought I was missing out on. As it turned out, my reasons were:

  1. I did not want to change my last name because I liked Moore and my dad had already made it clear he couldn’t marry me just so I could keep it.
  2. Boy Scouts did way cooler things than Girl Scouts (and I wasn’t really supposed to be a Girl Scout anyway because the church didn’t really like them).

Once women were allowed to keep their own names and do cool stuff and they could be doctors and pilots and CEOs (instead of only being nurses and stewardesses and secretaries) and men could be florists and designers and scrapbookers (think Kirby in Sons of Provo), why would anyone need to claim and be recognized as the gender they do not possess in order to subvert “conventional notions of male or female gender roles.” Why not just do the “unconventional” thing you want to do?

If it’s about communal acceptance, who is more likely to be publicly embraced these days, a female pilot or male-claiming-to-be-female pilot?

Does anyone have an identity that “conforms unambiguously to conventional notions of male or female gender roles”?

While I admit I don’t even know why “conventional notions of male or female gender roles” matters anymore, I understand less why we think identifying unambiguously with a gender is meaningful. Do I have to love knitting, sipping tea from fine china, and smiling blankly in the parlor to be an unambiguous woman? Does Caitlyn?

Perhaps more concerning is the fact that I pitched on the first Little League team in Utah to allow girls and I like math and computer programming.  So…get out my jock strap and suit me up for the transition.

Definition #2 – People who were assigned a sex, usually at birth and based on their genitals, but who feel that this is a false or incomplete description of themselves.

Feelings Aren’t Science

DNA and genitalia tell the gender story in approximately 99.93% of live births. (According to the APA, 0.07% of live births are intersex.) In a fraction of a percent of live births, there are “abnormalities of the external genitals, internal reproductive organs, sex chromosomes, or sex-related hormones.” Some examples include:

  • External genitals that cannot be easily classified as male or female
  • Incomplete or unusual development of the internal reproductive organs
  • Inconsistency between the external genitals and the internal reproductive organs
  • Abnormalities of the sex chromosomes
  • Abnormal development of the testes or ovaries
  • Over- or underproduction of sex-related hormones
  • Inability of the body to respond normally to sex-related hormones

These are complex cases and of course we love the people in question and help them reach their human potential. But it doesn’t require that we stop calling their conditions “syndromes” (such as Turner, Angelman, Jacobsen, Wolf-Hirschhorn, etc.) and start calling them “normal” any more than we should start calling Down’s syndrome just another lifestyle.

Outside of these rare abnormalities, why are we negotiating on DNA results based on feelings? If you want to talk about science deniers, here is your case study: claiming that a man or a woman isn’t a man or a woman because they don’t feel like they are.

Does anyone feel their biological gender assignment is a complete description of themselves?

When I describe my children, my relatives, my friends, politicians, or anyone else I would ever want to describe, I have never felt it satisfactory to simply explain whether or not they had a Y chromosome or just another X added to the obligatory X every one has.

Hi, this is my husband, Sam. He has one X chromosome and one Y chromosome. And…well…that’s pretty much all there is to him! You can see why I fell so madly in love with him!

To be clear, no one thinks biological gender is a complete description of any human who ever lived. So how is this a distinction bestowed on a few to prove transgenderism?

Definition #3 – Non-identification with, or non-presentation as, the sex (and assumed gender) one was assigned at birth.

How does one “identify” with a sex?

This feels like deja vu. Again, I’m not sure what this means in a day when so many gender stereotypes have gone the way of Ma Bell.

What does it mean to “identify” with the gender you biology dictates? Does it mean you like the sound of the word? Does it mean you like the decades-old, very gendered society and want to be part of the other half that used to exist? (Meaning you would really like to hunt wild game for the family to eat or you want to cook the wild game for your male protector to consume?)

How does one “present” as a sex?

Caitlyn Jenner TransgenderWhat does it mean to “present” as the gender your biology dictates? Does it mean you’re a woman who wants to wear a suit? Does it mean you’re a man who wants to wear a ball gown and pearls? Does it mean you choose a name that is gender-specific? (John, Henry, Charles—good. Sally, Jeannie, Rosemary—good. Jamie, Taylor, Skyler—bad.) Is it because you like to dress like a woman (like my friend’s friend who is a married, heterosexual female impersonator) but the package isn’t complete unless you claim you really are the opposite gender?  Does it mean you want to look like the hyper-sexualized version of the opposite gender (like Caitlyn Jenner in a corset (because that’s how all real women dress))?

Women wear pants, men wear earrings. If you’re a woman who wants to wear a tuxedo or a man who wants to wear a heels, I really don’t care. (I might think you’re really stupid on the heels, but that’s because I think everyone who wears heels is stupid—is has nothing to do with your biological gender assignment.)

Intellectual Fluidity

If it isn’t plain, I find the definitions, explanations, and apologetics unclear, ambiguous, contradictory, and confusing. In our attempts to be selectively tolerant, we have jumped the shark from kindness to kookiness.

The recent craziness with Rachel Dolezal—the Spokane NAACP president who’s been pretending to be black for a number of years, in spite of her whitey white whiteness—brings the trans-issues to a head quite nicely.

Melissa Harris-Perry (the MSNBC wingnut who dons tampon earrings) actually, really, truly asked this week:

But is it possible that she might actually be black? The best way that I know how to describe this—and I want to be very careful here, because I don’t want to say it’s equivalent to the transgender experience. But there is a useful language in trans and cis, which is to just to say some of us are born cis-gendered, some of us are born trans-gendered. But I wonder can it be that one would be cis-black and trans-black, that there is actually a different category of blackness, about the achievement of blackness, despite one’s parentage?

But of course. If one can be transgender (something with real DNA markers that are, yes, almost exclusively binary), then why not transracial or transethnic (something with limited identifiers)? Why can’t race and ethnicity be what we feel?

If I could have chosen my physical persona as a college student, it would have been Janet Jackson. She could sing, dance, had gorgeous hair, and the perfect skin tone. Plus cool. Plus rich and famous. (No, I wouldn’t trade places with her now. Not for all the wardrobe malfunctions in the world. OK, I’d still trade bodies, but I like my life better.) My sister was in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir for years and encouraged me to join. “No way,” I told her. “If I’m joining a religious choir, it will be Gladys Knight’s choir. They sing the good music.” My favorite religious songs of all time are Ain’t Got Time to Die and Didn’t My Lord Deliver Daniel. I could certainly claim a non-white inner being.

Two of my girls have “enough soul” that they always get the “black girl songs” when there is no black girl to sing them. Isn’t this enough proof that, in spite of appearances, we have some multi-generational black blood flowing in our veins? (I might have said “African-American blood” but a friend who lives on my street is an American who was born and raised in Africa—and she’s (nearly) as white as I am.) If my kids say they are black girls trapped in white bodies, can they apply for ethnic scholarships? Will you respect and support them in that effort? What if they really, really feel it?

These are sincere questions. In today’s political climate, this is the new intellectualism.

There are now groups who claim to be “transabled.” These people are not physically disabled, but feel they are or feel they need to be in order to be “whole.” And that, apparently, is all that matters. The professed disabilities include:

  • Massive contagion
  • Diabetes
  • Amputation
  • Paralysis
  • Blindness
  • Deafness
  • Etc.

And, while we’re at it, why not transspecies? If I feel like a unicorn, why won’t you respect that and call me courageous for my authenticity?

Before you think I scoff, as noted here, this really is a thing. It’s called “otherkin.” In this authenticity bubble people believe they are partly or completely non-human. Sometimes they are sprites or fairies. Sometimes they are aliens or monsters. Sometimes cartoon or other fictional characters. Some claim to be earwigs, brooms, mirrors, or even bodies of water—all trapped in human bodies by some curse of nature.

What about those who are translife (who want to commit suicide)? What about transfamilial (want to claim another family as their own)? Have we considered the needs of the transmarried (those who want to switch partners)? Or the desires of the transagist (those who want to be older or younger—count me in on the latter!)? And what about the transmental? (If people want to be depressed, anxious, psychotic, schizophrenic, anorexic, bulimic, or paranoid, shouldn’t we encourage them to do so and help them get to their happy place? Shouldn’t we, in fact, call it normal, natural, and healthy?)

Embrace the trans. I can be anything I want to be if I just want it enough, if I feel it enough, if I proclaim it enough. And you, my dear reader, must embrace it, accept it, and celebrate it or be held personally responsible for anything that becomes of those with such issues.

But will you embrace/accept/celebrate these things? Or perhaps might you suggest—as did Dr. Paul R. McHugh (the former psychiatrist-in-chief for Johns Hopkins Hospital and its current Distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry):

Policy makers and the media are doing no favors either to the public or the transgendered by treating their confusions as a right in need of defending rather than as a mental disorder that deserves understanding, treatment and prevention.

Today it’s popular to encourage the idea of gender fluidity along with a host of other orientations, lifestyles, and spectrums with the associated vast social re-engineering that necessarily accompanies such shifts. We do so largely (1) without knowing how they will impact society long term and (2) without taking the time to see if the emperor really has any clothes.

What once were considered disorders become publicized and politicized. Suddenly the diagnoses change and the problem behaviors become officially just another norm to be accommodated, adored, and, of course, covered by Obamacare.

How far does rational tolerance and acceptance go?

{ 54 comments… add one }
  • IdRatherNotSay June 16, 2015, 9:41 am

    I remember taking my first ‘Gender and Society’ course for my BA in sociology when I learned that sex = biological/anatomical makeup and gender = a person’s feelings regarding whether they are a male, female or otherwise. There are situations in which I believe these feelings legitimate. For example, “back in the day,” when babies were born as hermaphrodites, doctors would assign them a sex based on how easy it would be to create one organ or the other (typically they’d choose female because it was an “easier” surgery, but required horrible procedures throughout the child’s life to maintain said anatomy). Sometimes, these kids would grow up feeling as if they were the opposite gender, only to find out that they might have been the other gender but it was difficult to know for sure. I can see how this might happen.

    My heart goes out to the transgenders. I believe they are living in a state of mental and emotional turmoil. I want to reach out and hug them. Really, I do. I cannot bear the thought of any human or animal suffering…

    This is just out of control, though. As a mid thirty-something, I mourn for my children. They are growing up on a seemingly different planet than I did. Schools – public schools – (Fairfax County, Virginia, where I lived for the last near decade) are now preparing to teach children that they should question their gender/sexuality. I am trying to understand where it is the business of the public school system to even discuss what takes place in the pants of children (seems child molestery to me). My babies are growing up in a world where men are women, people are goats and the sexual desires/perversions of adults, though proven harmful to children, are given priority over the most defenseless, voiceless and innocent members of our society.

    I will not be politically correct about something that could harm my children. Enough is enough. Shame on the LDS Facebook mothers (by the way, how does a mother have time to hang out on Facebook all day? I haven’t seen my Facebook page in 3 months!) who use the website as their platform to gain attention at the expense of their children’s future world. I can’t believe I am saying this, but they were less annoying when they were only competing over who could be the skinniest, prettiest or most blonde!

  • Cami June 16, 2015, 9:42 am

    We critics,and I certainly include me, sometimes tend to paint with a broad brush. I,like you, had a talk with a parent about wanting to be the other gender. It was when I was young and I was told to forget it. Yours went away evidently and mine didn’t. Lucky you! I am much older than you so chances are I am stuck, right?
    I am fairly certain that by now you have concluded that I consider myself transgendered and do not consider that a pejorative. Here is where, in my opinion, you run off the rails; I am not asking to be respected, included, tolerated, etc. as it seems you are implying that my ilk are demanding. I was BIC, served a mission, married in the temple, anyway you know the litany. I would like to be left alone, yes, but the other stuff you are implying I gave up on a long time ago.
    I have fractured relationships with some children and some siblings because of my “lifestyle choice”. Cute little phrase, isn’t it? I wonder where they came up with that? Oh, that’s right, they have heard it over the pulpit expressed by those whom I consider ignorant. I guess I still have my right of perspective, correct? And, of course, you have yours.
    You expressed your concern that this post would subject you to vilification and castigation. Sounds so sad so please let me know when the group(s) you identify with has a proclivity for suicide that approaches 40 percent. Then, maybe, we will have some commonality.
    I no longer identify as Mormon but, as you can see, I am still culture curious. I no longer feel inspired buy those representations by individuals claiming to be carrying on with the same organization that existed in the primitive church. What I see reminds me more of Amway. I know they have changed their name but you get the drift.
    One more thing before I go. I did really appreciate the way you characterized the trans person in your ever so clever picture. Don’t use Janet Mock or Laverne Cox for heaven’s sake(I could have come up with other names but felt they may be too pasty looking for you). Using a more aesthetically pleasing picture wouldn’t have had the impact you seemed to be looking for.
    I certainly do not begrudge you, or others, your views of the transgendered but please don’t be representing that I, as a transgendered person, am making demands of society that I am not making.
    Thank you.

  • Alison Moore Smith June 16, 2015, 10:09 am

    IdRatherNotSay, well said.

    We should all have compassion for the pain and difficulty of others whether or not we share or understand it. But that’s not remotely the same as normalizing and encouraging it.

    Public education is an interesting example. I realize we all pay for it, whether we use it or not (ahem), but there has always been an element of delegating stewardship that puts the government in the position of power. That power becomes greater the more we the people see education as a “right’—as having the government provide “free” education becomes the norm such that parents can’t imagine providing it themselves, we become less empowered and more likely to submit to their demands.
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Public School Fail: Mother’s Day Report CardMy Profile

  • Tiffany W. June 16, 2015, 10:28 am

    Part of me feels sadness for the confusion and challenges people and emotional struggles someone who thinks they are transgender are facing.

    But the other part of me is really mad. There I said it. Bruce Jenner may feel like a woman as Caitlyn, but he hasn’t been menstruating since being a teenager. He hasn’t dealt with decades of monthly periods. He hasn’t dealt with fear of being raped or assaulted. He hasn’t experienced the heady excitement/fear of having a positive pregnancy test and then experiencing those enormous changes in his body. I also don’t like how he has defined what it means to be a woman in a cleavage bearing dress with lots of makeup and fluffy hair.

    I realize we have a world which wants to define women solely by their appearance, but that isn’t the sum total of what it means to be a woman.

    Can we talk about gender roles and expectations for men and women? Absolutely. Can we discard things that are harmful and keep people from developing their full potential? Absolutely.

    But this. . . . this reinforces all the stereotypes and gender norms that make me sigh in frustration.

  • Alison Moore Smith June 16, 2015, 10:47 am

    Cami, thanks for commenting. I would love to have you answer any of the questions I posed in the post. I cannot reconcile them with anything I’ve heard or read.

    I am not asking to be respected, included, tolerated, etc. as it seems you are implying that my ilk are demanding.

    My position isn’t that any particular individual is demanding anything. It is that culturally this is demanded more and more—and “tolerance” for a contrasting opinion is unwelcome, demeaned, and vilified.

    To be clear, LDS church leaders didn’t invent the phrase “lifestyle choice.” I suspect if you look into the etymology you will find it first proffered from progressive sources legitimizing the latest wave of formerly deviant or problematic behaviors.

    …let me know when the group(s) you identify with has a proclivity for suicide that approaches 40 percent. Then, maybe, we will have some commonality.

    This trump card is so common that twice I included it in the post before deciding against it. But you force my hand. 🙂

    So you’re saying that as long as lots of people who engage in particular beliefs/behaviors commit suicide their positions should be mainstreamed and glorified? What percentage of suicide bombers commit suicide, Cami? Should we submit to sharia to prevent this atrocity?

    Maybe, instead, we should help those with dysfunction or dysphoria to heal.

    We don’t tell anorexics, “Yes, you really are a chubber. Let me get all the food out of your house, so you don’t eat!” We don’t tell those with social anxiety, “I know! People are so mean and oppressive and hateful. I don’t blame you for avoiding them. Let me help you become a hermit!” Rather, we help them understand reality and deal with it. Then we teach them to be happy in a healthy place.

    Just as with those with anorexia are not told they are correct in their body image and those with severe social anxiety are not told that, yes, all people are worthy of great suspicion so we’ll help you become a hermit.” Does help necessarily require us to simply accept the dysfunction/dysphoria as good and right?

    Perhaps, we should just note that someone’s authentic self actually wants to die. Shouldn’t we support and encourage it? Maybe provide the means? What is the qualitative difference you see between discouraging someone who wants to commit suicide and discouraging someone who wants to pretend their chromosomes are different than they actually are? (Again, if you can answer the questions in the post, it may resolve some of those answers.)

    I don’t know your biology, but let’s say you were born Cameron and now live as Cami (for the sake of discussion). When your chromosomes are XY, why should I pretend they are not? Why should I indulge the delusion that you have XX when you don’t? I don’t care if you like Cami better than Cameron, but why should I be required to say you’re a woman when you aren’t? Wouldn’t it be better to find out why you feel the way you do and help ameliorate it or incorporate it or something? (Per my questions in the post.) What is lacking? What is problematic?

    What I see reminds me more of Amway.

    And why do you feel free to disrespect my religion?

    I did really appreciate the way you characterized the trans person in your ever so clever picture.

    It’s a stock photo I purchased, tagged as transgender. But what’s your beef with it? Are you saying a transgendered person can’t wear lipstick and nail polish and still have facial hair? Who decided this? What about the multi-gendered? (Yes, it’s a thing. Just ask Mykki Blanco.)

    You see, if gender is fluid, it is. And getting your panties/boxers (no disrespect intended to the briefs/commando crowd) in a knot about someone else’s form of fluidity should be castigated and vilified just like any other discussion of gender. If you don’t toe the line (and who knows where that will be tomorrow?), get ready for the firestorm.
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Freedom from the Oppression of the Word of WisdomMy Profile

  • Margo June 16, 2015, 11:36 am

    ***I could have come up with other names but felt they may be too pasty looking for you***

    Cami, did you miss that Allison IS “pasty white” and wishes she wasn’t? Isn’t it OK for her to WISH she had darker skin?

    World gone crazy.

  • Alison Moore Smith June 16, 2015, 11:40 am

    I realize we have a world which wants to define women solely by their appearance, but that isn’t the sum total of what it means to be a woman.

    And there it is. Spot on. DNA is what it is. Dressing in women’s clothing doesn’t change it anymore than it women became men when they could finally wear pants.
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Women at Church: Translating Gendered DoctrineMy Profile

  • Amphibianesque June 16, 2015, 12:17 pm

    This is all so sad. I truly feel for those for whom the transgender issue is a focal point of their life.
    For my money, gender identity issues are the product of a self-indulgent and self-absorbed society. This is at once intense (and unhealthy) navel-gazing intertwined with an anything-goes public environment: the near-destruction of self-respect, duty, responsibility and morality. This results in unhappiness. It is bad to call transgenderism a choice or an issue? Apparently.
    Political correctness dictates that there is no morality, only self. Those who venture to make judgments or even offer alternate opinions are evil, in their world. They accuse folks like me of bigotry, prejudice and hypocrisy. Funny that they hold us to impossibly high standards of traditional morality, while simultaneously holding themselves to no standard at all.

    As a young boy, I was molested, which tends to really mess with the mind. Many victims, male and female (they are true victims) have issues which permeate their lives. Many deal with same-sex attraction. But I grew up in a home where we taught about things greater than ourselves: personal responsibility, service, duty, manners, morality, God, etc. “Self” is a fluid term in my world. Whatever we deal with, we were rightly taught that the ‘self’ is something that we can improve, no matter who we are. We can eventually become our unique, optimal selves. That’s a fundamental Christian principle. That is the diametric opposite of popular culture today.
    As I grew, I found traditional ‘female’ things just as interesting as typical ‘male’ ones. I learned sewing, I enjoyed cooking for the family. As a small-sized kid, sports were not easy and I was the last one picked for teams. Into my youth and teen years, I was a musician, a ballet dancer, an artist, and an actor. Hell, I was the poster boy for so-called gender identity issues. I was very sensitive emotionally. I was uncomfortable around girls. And yes, I did have same-sex thoughts. I believe nearly every boy at some point wonders about their own sexuality. Coupled with the intense unfocused sexual drive of puberty/adolescence, this can be the recipe for ‘alternate lifestyle choices.’ People who seek to capitalize on the sexual vulnerability of youth are just evil.
    But we were taught about morality. We learned that any desire or impulse can be ‘bridled,’ that is, channeled into something even better. Had I been categorized, urged and encouraged to ‘express my sexuality’ during that impressionable time, my life would likely have gone in a different direction.
    This bridling is not the same as ‘suppressing true feelings;’ quite the opposite. Isn’t education all about developing our minds to be productive and more focused? Don’t we, as good Christians, teach our children to channel, craft and otherwise develop their best selves following the example of Christ? Do we not teach them that for every choice, there is a consequence, good or bad? That joy comes from good choices? Yes, and yes. Millions testify of that.
    Bottom line: I am fiercely, gloriously, intensely, heterosexual. I don’t need to ‘suppress’ any feelings. Sexuality is still a focal point in my life (is it OK to say that?). My fantasies are all about women (my wife, actually). My sex drive is greater than ever in my fifties. Good choices result in phenomenal blessings—just as focus makes a light into a laser.
    Last point: I know about people with problems. I understand that homosexuality is not easily categorized and is different for each person. I cannot guilt-trip or coerce people to change their true selves, nor would I try. A ward member walked into my office one day and said, “Hi Bishop. I’m a lesbian.” She was and is a wonderful person, and our ward had others like her. We all have close friends who are gay. But this current transgender fad ain’t the same thing.
    We as Christians cannot jump on the bandwagon and encourage/enable every single aberration of behavior, and label it an identity rather than an issue. (Is porn addiction an identity?) Political correctness requires us to drop our own true moral center and pay lip service in order to avoid being trashed, hated and labeled a bigot. Really, what would Nephi say?
    We need to teach again about the important things that are beyond our own navels. Self-centeredness robs us of our best selves, robs us of great joy and happiness. Gosh, it would seem good Christians might have a secret or two about true happiness.

  • IDIAT June 16, 2015, 12:36 pm

    Couldn’t the same sentiment expressed in the OP have been expressed 50 years ago with respect to homosexuality? Yet, today, it’s “cool” to either be homosexual or claim to be a supporter of it. We don’t know how the Savior would have dealt with such things because there simply aren’t any instances in the scriptures that are on the same footing. Sure, we know Christ was all loving, but we also know he didn’t condone sin. It’s hard to make a reasonable accommodation for people’s choices and still encourage what most would consider “normal.”

  • Cami June 16, 2015, 12:58 pm

    I can’t address the questions you pose for a community but I can respond on the basis of my personal experience. My spouse asked if I would like the chromosomal tests to answer some of the criticism I was receiving from family members and I responded that I didn’t see the point. As it states in the New Testament, “wisdom is justified by her children”. I believe that is true whether it be you, me or whomever.
    The only way either side changes an opinion is if that person is receptive to change. One good thing about the challenge of being transgendered is one can ascertain who legitimately cares for you. There are some wonderful people out there, in and out of the church.
    I know that when I feel complete,or what the Navajos call Hozho, is when I present myself as feminine. That may be far too simplistic for our modern day scientific minds but that is the “burning in my bosom”
    As far as being treated and “cured”I am not a believer. In my opinion this has been discredited on two levels. First, conversion therapy has done so much damage that the Federal Government and some state governments are considering legislation to make it illegal.
    My personal experience of following the Mormon continuum of church attendance, mission, temple marriage/attendance, fasting, prayer and raising a family has been equally ineffective. You know “do the doctrine and you will know of the doctrine”. I also know many LDS may feel I just didn’t try hard enough or wait long enough. Of course one has the right to that opinion regardless of how cavalier I think that attitude may be.
    I realize that church leaders didn’t invent the term lifestyle choice. They did, however, give it their imprimatur to be used in, what I consider, a disingenuous way.
    As far as I am concerned you do not need to pretend that I am anything. It really isn’t up to you to chart my course. I am not asking you for any consideration but merely making comments on your treatise to present another perspective
    I find it a bit curious that many LDS people find it so hard to understand why there are minority groups who ask for understanding. They do this despite the fact that many nascent movements find it necessary to employ some pretty radical behaviour to get noticed. Zion’s Camp or Johnston’s army ring any bells?
    A hundred years or so ago that was the church asking for redress for perceived intolerance. (Side note; for the church to throw around the phrase “traditional marriage” in light it’s origins seems a bit hypocritical to me.)
    I am glad you brought up sharia. I don’t want to threadjack but I would like someone to tell me what the difference is between BY’s blood atonement nonsense and sharia. I also found it interesting that you could take offense at my Amway metaphor and at the same time defend a caricature of trans people I find totally offensive. If either of us believes it is improper to offend needlessly then it would seem we both have an opportunity to repent. I apologize and am sorry for offending you. Sincerely.

  • Alison Moore Smith June 16, 2015, 2:38 pm

    Hello, Amphibianesque. Thanks for commenting.

    For my money, gender identity issues are the product of a self-indulgent and self-absorbed society. This is at once intense (and unhealthy) navel-gazing intertwined with an anything-goes public environment: the near-destruction of self-respect, duty, responsibility and morality.

    That’s an interesting point. I tend to think that is true (to some extent) of many of our current cultural epidemics.

    I have a dear friend who has suffered for years from clinical depression and severe social anxiety. We have talked at length about her condition. She admitted that if a flood were coming down the mountain toward her home, she would leap from her couch, rush to gather her pet cats, and fly down the street to save them. All conditions and syndromes swept aside. But with no crisis in site, she will stay in despair and hopelessness, watching endless hours of movies to distract the world.

    Is this the result of so much privilege and leisure and opportunity? (I’m not talking about “white privilege,” I’m talking about the universal American privilege every person in this country enjoys.) When we aren’t forced to spend every waking hour eking out an existence or enslaved and yearning to be free—but rather when we have relative luxury and freedom—do we get all moody and ungrateful and start picking at every possible thing with which to be dissatisfied?

    Funny that they hold us to impossibly high standards of traditional morality, while simultaneously holding themselves to no standard at all.

    That is truth to power, my friend.

    As a young boy, I was molested, which tends to really mess with the mind. Many victims, male and female (they are true victims) have issues which permeate their lives. Many deal with same-sex attraction.

    Amphibianesque, I have never written this before, because I do know the typical response, but perhaps now is as good a time as any. I have many childhood friends who are homosexual. Of the three to whom I was close enough to have such a discussion, all three of them were seduced/molested in junior high by older boys (ages 17-21-ish). (None of them used the word “molested,” one used “seduced,” the others just said they had sex with them.) All were told by the molester something like this, “You wanted it. It’s obvious you liked it, because you were turned on. It’s obvious you’re gay, because I turned you on.”

    And it was true. They were “turned on,” at least in the way they could understand it. So it “obviously” meant they were gay. All three of these boys were LDS and all three tried to change how they felt (two served missions). But they could not shake the “obvious truth” that they had been aroused by a man.

    Of course, no one ever said, “Hey, are you a sheetosexual? Because, I mean, I heard you had a wet dream the other night and so, yea, your sheets obviously turn you on.” And no one ever pointed out that it’s pretty likely they could be “turned on” by a girl, too. Because, no offense intended but let’s be honest, it’s not hard to get a young male aroused.

    But I grew up in a home where we taught about things greater than ourselves: personal responsibility, service, duty, manners, morality, God, etc. “Self” is a fluid term in my world. Whatever we deal with, we were rightly taught that the ‘self’ is something that we can improve, no matter who we are. We can eventually become our unique, optimal selves. That’s a fundamental Christian principle. That is the diametric opposite of popular culture today.

    Wow, I love this. Bless you for taking a remarkably hard situation and working through it.

    Hell, I was the poster boy for so-called gender identity issues…But we were taught about morality. We learned that any desire or impulse can be ‘bridled,’ that is, channeled into something even better.

    Amen. This may not be true for everyone, but I think most people—if raised in an amoral culture or, in this case, a gender-orientation-nonbinary culture—would find they could be “attracted” to and aroused by either gender. Or children. Or animals. Or inanimate objects. It’s mostly physics coupled with biology, isn’t it?

    Sincerely, what is the difference between a man saying, “Even though I’m attracted to some men, I will choose to remove men from the list of possible sexual partners,” and me saying, “Even though I’m attracted to some men, I will choose to remove all men but my husband from the list of possible sexual partners”?

    Isn’t demanding fidelity just as “inauthentic”?

    Sexuality is still a focal point in my life (is it OK to say that?).

    Absolutely. 🙂

    We as Christians cannot jump on the bandwagon and encourage/enable every single aberration of behavior, and label it an identity rather than an issue.

    Boom.

    We need to teach again about the important things that are beyond our own navels. Self-centeredness robs us of our best selves, robs us of great joy and happiness. Gosh, it would seem good Christians might have a secret or two about true happiness.

    Worthy of repetition. Thank you for your comments.
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  • Alison Moore Smith June 16, 2015, 2:46 pm

    Absolutely, IDIAT. I have rarely written about homosexuality for the same reason I haven’t written about so many other issues. There’s no room for real discussion about choices, culture, morality, unintended consequences, etc. Feelings trump all and those with opposing views are the targets of endless ad hominem. It’s the least intellectually honest arena I’ve seen in my lifetime.
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  • IdRatherNotSay June 16, 2015, 3:17 pm

    I’d just like to point out that Alison actually DOES identify with a group of people who have a high risk of suicide (though I do not know the actual percent). She lives in Utah, which, last I heard, has the highest rate of suicide than any other state. If I am not mistaken, being a female and a stay-at-home mom also increase her likelihood of suicidal tendencies.

  • Alison Moore Smith June 16, 2015, 3:18 pm

    The only way either side changes an opinion is if that person is receptive to change.

    Sure, but we’re talking about DNA here. It’s not an opinion that you can talk someone out of.

    I know that when I feel complete,or what the Navajos call Hozho, is when I present myself as feminine.

    Thanks for responding to that. But what does it mean to you? Does it mean wearing a dress, makeup, and heels? Calling yourself by a girly name?

    The problem is that women are not just what they “present.” That is simply outward appearance and, really, lends itself to further objectification of women in many ways. If you become a woman by taking on a female name and putting yourself in specifically gendered attire (which often means, sexy female attire), what does that say about what women are? We are clothes and makeup and sex.

    And if your “completeness” is based on your clothing/hair/makeup, don’t you see that as a real problem?

    If you mean something else besides your appearance, I’d appreciate a clarification.

    As far as being treated and “cured”I am not a believer.

    Well, it’s hard to promote a “cure” when I can’t even tell what the “sickness” is. As I said in the OP, transgenderism doesn’t make sense to me. Thus the questions. Per the definitions I listed, transgenderism is a nebulous, fuzzy, feely thing without anything concrete to hold onto.

    Let’s assume for a moment that it is a mental illness and not something real (as in, you really do not have a female soul trapped in a male body, you’re just confused or deluded about it). The fact that mental illnesses have a generally crappy track record of cure is just what we’re dealing with. If you have some kind of “body dysphoria,” how is that fixed?

    I realize that church leaders didn’t invent the term lifestyle choice. They did, however, give it their imprimatur to be used in, what I consider, a disingenuous way.

    What examples are you thinking of?

    As far as I am concerned you do not need to pretend that I am anything. It really isn’t up to you to chart my course.

    It’s the collective you, Cami. As I said, you might not individually demand anything, but you know too well that calling Caitlyn Jenner a “he” is cause for scorn. If he says he’s a she, I have to go along with it out of “respect” for his womanly feelings.

    I find it a bit curious that many LDS people find it so hard to understand why there are minority groups who ask for understanding.

    I’m not aware of LDS people who find it hard to understand why minority groups ask for understanding. But I know of lots of groups who are willing to ask whether the “understanding” being asked for is reasonable and good. Those are different issues.

    …for the church to throw around the phrase “traditional marriage” in light it’s origins seems a bit hypocritical to me.

    This post isn’t “the church.” It’s me. And, actually, I am a supporter of traditional marriage—the Adam and Eve kind, not the David, Jacob, Joseph Smith, Brigham Young kind. 🙂

    I am glad you brought up sharia. I don’t want to threadjack but I would like someone to tell me what the difference is between BY’s blood atonement nonsense and sharia.

    Perhaps the biggest being that adherents to sharia actually do behead people for apostasy? That said, you can read more here.

    I also found it interesting that you could take offense at my Amway metaphor and at the same time defend a caricature of trans people I find totally offensive.

    In spite of the fact that I loathe MLM, I wasn’t offended. I was throwing back the cultural “how dare you shame me” imperative. But what is the “caricature of trans people” that bothered you so? If you’re referring to the photo, why is it troubling? It’s a guy with lipstick and nail polish. So what? (And, yes, I’m being sincere. No, I don’t find it attractive, but I have actually seen it in real life and I don’t see it as a moral issue.)

    I apologize and am sorry for offending you. Sincerely.

    Thank you. No need to apologize. No offense was taken. 🙂
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  • Alison Moore Smith June 16, 2015, 3:19 pm

    And thus no one can disagree with me evah!!!!
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  • Cami June 16, 2015, 4:52 pm

    We are so far apart in our world view that there is not enough common ground for a continued discussion. I guess we are both so busy pontificating that, between us, there is no time to ponder. Both of us are convinced that the other’s premises are built upon a sandy foundation and so be it. I have no interest in continuing this dialogue since it is soul numbing to me. It does, however, reinforce my decision to, as the NT counsels, cut off the limb that offends. In other words the institutional church. Not the Savior, mind you, just the self righteous condescension of individuals and an institution who continually try to control the narrative. I truly hope existence is better for everyone in the next estate. Regards.

  • Shade June 16, 2015, 6:11 pm

    Cami, Allison is bending over backwards to get a cogent response. I have a transgender sister and think I’m sympathetic to her, but Allison asked the same question my family has been trying to figure out for years.

    I’m frustrated that you argue against the questions but provide NO ANSWERS! I was hopeful you would offer something.

    My personal opinion is that, like my sister, you have no answers. When someone presses you to actually explain anything outside of the feelings you act hurt and put upon. because you have no answers. That would tell me you have an illness and need to seek help.

  • LovingTruth June 16, 2015, 8:49 pm

    I applaud you, Cami, for speaking up. Thank you!

    And I also recognize the soul-numbing futility of trying to communicate across diametrically opposed background contexts. It’s an entirely different language! It’s why I didn’t say anything sooner.

    I am very feminine and female; always have been. But I also have had cause to recognize and deeply understand the distressing issues of a very genuine Feminine-born-in-a-male-body personage of my acquaintance. What many of you don’t seem to realize, is just how distressing such a condition can honestly be. This person has effectively grown up ignorantly abused by every well-meaning family member, friend, or otherwise of their entire experience – as well as their own body’s hormones! (from the time gender-specific ones started to kick in) – simply because society recognized them by the chromosomal shape of their body rather than the nature of the divine spirit inhabiting it. And the message was delivered insidiously enough that it wasn’t recognized as inaccurate for a very long time. (In such a situation, is it so surprising that the entirely hidden and personal level of abuse would manifest as a high suicide rate among those who came to recognize it? Or that it would have taken so long to rise above the distressingly erroneous attitude that society has ingrained from birth? Ultimately, he/she’s missed out on as much of life as they were wrongly taught.)

    Because the fact is: we aren’t made for our bodies; our bodies are made for us. (Just as, per Mark 2:27: “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”) Nevertheless, there’s not much in the way of easy choices when the only options we have are one binary biological program or the other. In a society that can only see in zeros and ones. In the end, it’s not very fair to judge against someone whose ‘clothes’ don’t fit them as well as yours do you.

    How about another important bit of perspective:
    Have you ever wondered what was it about man that ‘fell’ and needed/needs atonement? It was his identity – from knowing himself as a divine being living within his tangible bodily temple… to a mortal being almost completely defined (and enslaved) by (his own and society’s view of) the circumstances of it. Inevitably, there are many ways people seek and have sought to fix this distressing discrepancy and realize their divine identity again: feeling inspired by God to join and magnify one’s calling in a church is one of them; feeling inspired by God to recognize the true nature of one’s divine self independently from what shape society tells them it must look like – is another.

    Part of the process of successfully accomplishing this atonement is taking on a new name, after all. Just because their method is entirely different, doesn’t make it wrong. It very well may be as inspiring to and necessary for them – as your church is to you.

    And Allison – statements like this one you made (for example) aren’t very fair, when you really stop to look at the whole picture:
    > You can mock Mormons, but you can’t mock Muslims.
    Etc, etc.
    In this day and age, as a whole it isn’t the Mormons in our country who are being mortally threatened against. That fad has moved on. Nevertheless, it’s only fair to extend to Muslims and other suffering individuals NOW the same kind of courtesy that Mormons needed and should have been given around about the 1830s. Do unto others, after all, as you would have them do unto you. All of us need such consideration. And, just because LDS persecution isn’t the top of the news anymore, doesn’t make it right to mock them either.

    Christ shows and tried to teach us the Gospel of Love. In the end, that’s what it all comes down to: Love one another. Whether or not we understand what’s behind their just-as-valid-as-our choices. In doing so, that’s when we will, as identities seeking to realize the divine through church – truly be his disciples.

    Hope this helps,
    LovingTruth

  • IdRatherNotSay June 16, 2015, 11:42 pm

    LovingTruth,

    You said, “What many of you don’t seem to realize, is just how distressing such a condition can honestly be.” Really? Because I think everyone here so far has expressed their empathy in as much as they are able for this population. How do you know what we realize? How do you know what we’ve all experienced? I’m quite certain you and I have never met, so you don’t know me or what I think.

    You also said, “…society recognized them by the chromosomal shape of their body rather than the nature of the divine spirit inhabiting it.” Are we not a combination of both body and spirit? I think it was Tiffany W above who pointed out that being a female is more than just wearing a revealing dress, makeup and long hair. Read her comment above if you haven’t already. She makes a very good point.

    Finally, and correct me if I misunderstood you, are you comparing being transgendered to the life and suffering of Jesus Christ? If so, that is highly offensive. Find a better and more worthy analogy. Now.

    I think we have all stated that our hearts go out to the transgender population. If you and I have never experienced what these people must endure in their lives, then neither one of us can claim that we know what its like or how it deeply affects the lives and souls of these individuals.

    Respectfully, I believe that aside from being born a hermaphrodite and assigned a sex by a doctor, people who identify as transgendered have a mental illness. I think we need to reach out to them as a community and help them with this. Claiming that it is okay and normal is harmful to everyone, including the transgenders. I actually recently read a research article about a longitudinal study of transgenders. It found that most people who underwent sex changes ended up being regretful and hopelessly depressed over their decisions 10 years later. Let’s help these people. Pretending like this is normal/okay is only hurting them.

  • Alison Moore Smith June 17, 2015, 12:15 am

    Welcome, LovingTruth.

    What many of you don’t seem to realize, is just how distressing such a condition can honestly be.

    Of course we can’t. And neither you nor your friend can understand how distressing my issues are. But that isn’t the point. All sorts of mental issues are distressing. The question here is must we simply embrace transgenderism as a legitimate alternative to binary genders or as a mental illness or some other condition that would best be served by treatment.

    The level of distress felt doesn’t answer that question.

    This person has effectively grown up ignorantly abused…simply because society recognized them by the chromosomal shape of their body rather than the nature of the divine spirit inhabiting it.

    Perhaps that’s because there are actual, physical, scientific indicators as to what gender the vast majority of people are. Conversely, there is nothing to indicate that a spirit is a particular gender and certainly not that it is the opposite gender of the body.

    As I’ve asked before, what does it mean to be a gendered spirit? What is the “nature” of a female “divine spirit” as opposed to a male “divine spirit”? In other words, what is it that your friend feels that requires him/her to claim the gender his/her body doesn’t indicate? And should feelings be the most important thing in play?

    In such a situation, is it so surprising that the entirely hidden and personal level of abuse would manifest as a high suicide rate among those who came to recognize it?

    Do other “abuses” produce a high suicide rates? Do mental illnesses produce a high suicide rate? Do high suicide rates show cause somehow? These are sincere questions. I don’t know the answers. But to take the assumption that high presumed high suicide rates are the result of, for example, implying transgenderism is a mental illness is highly problematic.

    You haven’t clarified what you think the “distressingly erroneous attitude that society has ingrained from birth” is. What is it?

    Because the fact is: we aren’t made for our bodies; our bodies are made for us. (Just as, per Mark 2:27: “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”) Nevertheless, there’s not much in the way of easy choices when the only options we have are one binary biological program or the other.

    This post isn’t really addressing the moral or religious aspect of transgenderism. That said you can’t pull one scripture about the Sabbath, twist it beyond recognition to be about bodies, and then ignore the fact that most religions (as well as, well, science) actually do give us binary genders.

    In a society that can only see in zeros and ones. In the end, it’s not very fair to judge against someone whose ‘clothes’ don’t fit them as well as yours do you.

    LovingTruth, we’re kind of back to square one, aren’t we? Clothes, body, physicality. Those are not what make a woman. We are not objects dressed up for “presentation.” And even those “womanly” presentations change radically culturally and historically.

    And if this is just a metaphor, what do the “clothes” represent? What is gained by claiming womanhood that isn’t already available?

    In this day and age, as a whole it isn’t the Mormons in our country who are being mortally threatened against. That fad has moved on. Nevertheless, it’s only fair to extend to Muslims and other suffering individuals NOW the same kind of courtesy that Mormons needed and should have been given around about the 1830s

    Um, LovingTruth, that ain’t the truth. Mormons are pretty safe here in the US. Unless, of course, they draw a cartoon of Muhammad or something. Then, it’s off with the head. Even here in American if they can get to you. And Christians are being slaughtered by Muslims as we “speak.” And please don’t forget that Caitlyn Jenner would be high on the list of people who would be done away with, as would homosexuals.

    Do unto others, after all, as you would have them do unto you. All of us need such consideration.

    But right there you address the problem. The Golden Rule only works in a community of shared values. Do you think what I would want done to me is the same thing a radical Muslim cleric would want done to him?

    So let’s bring this home. If I had body dysphoria or another mental illness, would I want my family and friends to indulge me or help me get better? I would want the latter—and thus I am following the Golden Rule.

    Christ shows and tried to teach us the Gospel of Love. In the end, that’s what it all comes down to: Love one another.

    Except that it doesn’t. The first law is to love God and that requires obedience to his word. “Loving” others doesn’t require us to accept and indulge all ideas and behaviors. That truth is patently obvious once we can pull ourselves away from the frenzied orientation zone and look at the plethora of examples in the real world.

    Whether or not we understand what’s behind their just-as-valid-as-our choices.

    This is one of those circular things, so so so common in today’s politicized climate. You haven’t actually touched on wether transgenderism is actually a valid, healthy, or acceptable choice. You’ve merely asserted that it is. An actual discussion about how this fits into reality and science and, yes, religion is welcome and needed. But begging the question doesn’t do it.
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  • Alison Moore Smith June 17, 2015, 12:42 am

    IdRatherNotSay, perhaps you are referring to this study. It’s opening paragraph:

    There is no conclusive evidence that sex change operations improve the lives of transsexuals, with many people remaining severely distressed and even suicidal after the operation, according to a medical review conducted exclusively for Guardian Weekend tomorrow.

    As someone who has worked with numerous beloved people with rather serious mental health issues for over a decade (though not transgenderism specifically), I will absolutely say that mental illnesses are devastating and debilitating. Overcoming or even just managing them can be life altering in the negative. I would never think they deserve less love or compassion than any other human being.

    The problem isn’t with those who sincerely think they are a soul trapped in the body of the wrong gender (which, by the way, is still just 1s and 0s). The problem is in those who stand to gain influence from peddling this problem as just another norm to be accommodated and glorified.

    Neither the clinical definitions nor the discussions shed much light on what it all means. My suspicion is that it’s because sense cannot be made of psychosis any more than I can make sense of the dream I had last night. It is confusion and dysfunction. We don’t help those suffering from it by jumping on board.

    The only other alternative that makes sense to me is that this is such a state of infirmity that the people cannot be helped in any way. And so we, as a society, just agree to appease them for the sake of peace and goodwill. In other words, we all know s/he is mentally disturbed, but we wink and nod and just all agree to call her/him he or she (or *e, h*, h*s, h*s, h*self—or whatever the person in question claims as the appropriate splat pronoun) and pretend it’s whatever they wear and whatever they say and whatever they call themselves is just totally normal so it won’t upset them.

    I’m not being flippant. When my father was dying, he lived in my home. As his health and mental capacity deteriorated, he began doing things that were out of character and nonsensical. We didn’t correct him or argue with him (once we realized he couldn’t process the info anymore). We just spoke to him as respectfully as we could and as if it all made sense and then did what we could to keep him safe and comfortable. My dad was a brilliant mathematician, but there was no point in trying to convince him logically that he couldn’t watch Perry Mason at 3:00 am with the sound of his TV on the highest setting or that going to sleep with a piece of hard candy in his mouth was dangerous or that he didn’t need to turn off all our outside safety lights because of the 1970s energy crisis. So we accommodated his confusion and helped him to be happy and loved.
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  • Tiffany W June 17, 2015, 7:32 am

    Banging my head against the wall here. Feeling “female” and feminine do not make you female.

    I have a uterus, ovaries, and a vagina. When I hit puberty, I began to menstruate and continue to this day to bleed monthly. THAT is being a female.

    I have carried seven children inside my womb and given birth. No matter how much am an wants to do that, feelings or otherwise, he cannot. No operation can actually give a man a uterus or ovaries. A transgendered person will never experience the basic biological essence of being a woman. And it offends me that transgendered think they have a right to usurp the definition of womanhood, along with correct anatomical descriptions because of feelings.

    Do I sympathize with emotional distress and pain. Sure. But your feelings don’t trump my biology or yours.

  • Tiffany W June 17, 2015, 7:50 am

    This conversation would make a lot more sense if we were dealing with countries like Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan where one sex is prized over the other and gender roles are rigidly defined and aberrations from those roles are severely punished both in society and by the law.

    But here in most of the western roles gender roles are fluid. So what if you feel more feminine (whatever that means) in your feelings and actions. It doesn’t require surgery or wearing a dress to live the way you choose and still maintaining one’s biological sex.

  • IdRatherNotSay June 17, 2015, 8:04 am

    Alison,

    I believe the study I read was different. I recall it lasting 10 years, not 5. Perhaps I’m wrong. I read much of the actual research article (not the published for the internet version). I would need to either go looking for it or ask my colleague (who showed it to me in the first place) where she found it. I read what you hyperlinked in your comment and that was interesting. One hundred people initially participated and nearly half of them dropped out for unknown reasons.

    I think we have very similar opinions. We do not tell people with [insert mental disorder here] that what they are experiencing is ‘normal.’ In as much as they will allow us, we help them to ease their suffering and get them back on the road to good mental health or at least at a level where they can function and cope. I think we are doing a disservice to those suffering with transgender issues if we, as a society, tell them that their feelings are normal.

    Now that the condition has a celebrity spokesperson, I fear that we’re going to see more of this, and I do not want my children thinking it is normal or popular or trendy.

  • Alison Moore Smith June 17, 2015, 11:13 am

    Tiffany W, yes. I’m struggling to see what it means claim female status you don’t biologically have. Still no answers.

    Hey, if you want to wear a dress, go ahead. But I’m not going to call you a woman just because you do it.
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  • LovingTruth June 17, 2015, 12:52 pm

    Alison Moore Smith June 17, 2015, 12:15 am
    >
    > Welcome, LovingTruth.
    I wish I could say I felt welcome here, but you’re missing my point entirely even as I now feel like I’m being battered with your bias. I did not come here for a straw-man discussion, and am not going to stay for one. What is the point of this conversation if not to understand the spiritual realities underlying the issue? That’s what I was trying to establish, by sharing a bit of the testimony I have. However, I don’t feel like you (and others here) really want to know it.

    Ultimately, the reason I felt describing the mental/emotional issues was important: was to establish that the example I gave could not be classed as a mental illness any more than someone who was raped could be called ‘mentally ill’. That would be entirely unfair. Traumatized: yes; exceedingly even. Desperately needing the understanding and support of loving persons: yes. But not mentally ill. Promoting such an attitude would only serve to injure them further.
    >
    > As I’ve asked before, what does it mean to be a gendered spirit? What is the “nature” of a female “divine spirit” as opposed to a male “divine spirit”? In other words, what is it that your friend feels that requires him/her to claim the gender his/her body doesn’t indicate?
    These are good questions, all of which I could answer at length if we had a properly established conversational foundation to build upon (which is what would allow it to be an edifying, rather than soul-numbing, exchange). Spirit isn’t gendered, yet masculine and feminine are designations of spirit. Patterned after this outlook, male and female are designations of the body.
    >
    > And should feelings be the most important thing in play?
    I don’t understand why you would question this. Do you not -feel- the promptings of the holy spirit, and think they are the most important thing in play? Why are you not allowing them the same courtesy?
    >
    > You haven’t clarified what you think the “distressingly erroneous attitude that society has ingrained from birth” is. What is it?
    That they are something different (and inevitably less) than they truly are. Such is the nature of any identity defined by the restrictions of a gendered body form. (aka: ALL of us in one form or another)
    >
    > This post isn’t really addressing the moral or religious aspect of transgenderism.
    Does that mean you’d rather me not try to raise it to a level that’s communicable? It’s pretty hard to bridge a significant language gap without finding common ground to work from. Many of the questions asked in the original post were material in nature. As such, they were not compatible with getting to the root of the issue.
    >
    > That said you can’t pull one scripture about the Sabbath, twist it beyond recognition to be about bodies…
    Sigh. I haven’t twisted anything. I simply observe that the concept applies here as well. I figured the truth would be self-evident.
    >
    > And if this is just a metaphor, what do the “clothes” represent?
    It is; ‘clothes’ was a reference to the body one is inhabiting.
    >
    > What is gained by claiming womanhood that isn’t already available?
    I already answered this, in the section you skipped over responding to.
    >
    > Do unto others, after all, as you would have them do unto you. All of us need such consideration.
    >
    > But right there you address the problem. The Golden Rule only works in a community of shared values. Do you think what I would want done to me is the same thing a radical Muslim cleric would want done to him?
    Well, I can agree with you here that the wording of the Golden Rule leaves something to be desired. More properly, it needs to get across the idea that others should be given the -consideration- that you would have them give unto you. (Aka: the freedom to realize divine happiness) However, because that was always the spirit of the rule even when worded in this way – again, I hoped that was self-evident.
    >
    > Christ shows and tried to teach us the Gospel of Love. In the end, that’s what it all comes down to: Love one another.
    >
    > Except that it doesn’t. The first law is to love God and that requires obedience to his word.
    Ah, but it does. God is Love. God’s word is Love. (*see footnote if you want an explanation) Therefore, the first law is to love Love (Love = the pure love of Christ here; divinely unconditional) … which one cannot do without having love for another.
    >
    > IdRatherNotSay June 16, 2015, 11:42 pm
    > Are we not a combination of both body and spirit? I think it was Tiffany W above who pointed out that being a female is more than just wearing a revealing dress, makeup and long hair.
    >
    > Tiffany W June 17, 2015, 7:32 am
    > I have a uterus, ovaries, and a vagina. When I hit puberty, I began to menstruate and continue to this day to bleed monthly. THAT is being a female.
    >
    Actually, this definition of female is a very materialistic one – entirely defined by the physical body. However, the point I’m trying to illustrate goes deeper than such a superficial sense of identity. Indeed, the term female could also be observed to indicate ‘feminine in a male context’ just as male indicates being ‘one with or of that male context’.

    Still, I had difficulty with this particular terminology as well. Anything less than a true realization of that feminine (as observable in any effeminate presentation that feels only skin deep) doesn’t sit well with me. However, without the societal and biological context I’ve had since birth… which for them is an entirely foreign mindset to have to relearn… neither can I fault them for the effort. It’s not my place to judge.

    > Finally, and correct me if I misunderstood you, are you comparing being transgendered to the life and suffering of Jesus Christ? If so, that is highly offensive. Find a better and more worthy analogy. Now.
    Where did you come up with that?! I said and/or meant to infer nothing of the sort.

    In the end, everyone: please pardon if any of my frustration has leaked into my comments in a way that offends. I do not mean to hurt anyone.

    By the way, Alison: sorry for misspelling your name earlier. The error was entirely unintentional.

    Thanks for the opportunity to share,
    LovingTruth

    *P.S.: Footnote begins here; this is just a somewhat related tidbit of my testimony.

    > John 1:1
    > “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

    Say that again? What is/was God? God is Love.
    Well, if b=a (God is Love) and c=b (the Word was God), then a=c. The Word of God was/is/always-shall-be Love. (pretty simple math, actually) 🙂

    Now the same verse can be reread with better understanding:

    > ‘In the beginning was Love, and Love was with God, and Love was God.’
    > As well, now we know: God’s Word is Love.

    …which incidentally puts Genesis 1:3 into a whole new light:

    > “And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.”

    He didn’t actually have to say anything! God loved, and there was light. It was the light of Love.

    As well:

    > ‘Love is the way, the truth, and the life. No man cometh unto the father but by Love.’

    (See John 14:16; In this quote from Jesus, ‘I am’ and ‘me’ have been replaced by ‘Love’ in the same fashion as above, to better reveal his true intent.)

    Remember: Love, as divinely defined, is unconditional. This means: there are and can exist NO exceptions to its rule. (If an exception exists, the rule is not Love.) As such, Love is the true basis of natural law. (Incidentally, it’s also very important never to allow anything less than this to rule us.) Thus, why the Gospel is about Love.

    Always, everything comes down to Love.

    LT

  • Alison Moore Smith June 17, 2015, 2:54 pm

    I wish I could say I felt welcome here, but you’re missing my point entirely even as I now feel like I’m being battered with your bias

    LovingTruth, I’m trying to discuss a complex issue with you. If you care to point out where I was unkind, I’ll be happy to address it specifically. I don’t think speaking candidly and directly is “battering.”

    I did not come here for a straw-man discussion…

    What are you referring to? I tend to eschew logical fallacies at all costs. 🙂

    However, I don’t feel like you (and others here) really want to know it.

    In such complex discussions, I generally find divining others’ motives/intent isn’t helpful. The fact that some of us have (so far) not agreed with you, doesn’t mean we aren’t trying to make sense of what you say or incorporate anything valid you bring up into our view. We just disagree. In civil discourse that should be accepted as part of the package without ad hominem.

    …establish that the example I gave could not be classed as a mental illness any more than someone who was raped could be called ‘mentally ill’. That would be entirely unfair.

    I’m having a hard time following you. Are you referring to the transgender person you said was “abused”? If so, I can’t understand that.

    Your statement was that the person was “abused,” “simply because society recognized them by the chromosomal shape of their body rather than the nature of the divine spirit inhabiting it.”

    Abuse akin to rape? Abuse because people recognized someone as their actual, biological gender? So if you call me a human and I think I’m a unicorn, it’s abuse akin to rape? And, yes, that’s the same kind of thing we are talking about. Not only do I think that isn’t remotely abuse, analogizing that to rape is absurd and offensive.

    Desperately needing the understanding and support of loving persons: yes. But not mentally ill.

    Of course they need love and support, but that doesn’t mean support in the delusion. If I think I’m a unicorn, “love and support” shouldn’t require you to agree that I’m a unicorn, buy me polish for my horn, and get me a barn (or whatever unicorns sleep in). Christlike love, on the contrary, would require you to continue to love me, to try to help me realize that I’m actually a human, and that being a human is a good thing. It should help me find peace and happiness in my actual human state, not indulge my fantasy of unicornness.

    Promoting such an attitude would only serve to injure them further.

    I did address this in another comment. If you’re saying that reality is actually too much for transgendered individuals to bear and that, for their own safety, we must all play along with the delusion, that’s really a different issue. We can talk about it, but doing so is not the same as actually accepting the delusion as real.

    Spirit isn’t gendered, yet masculine and feminine are designations of spirit.

    Spirit isn’t gendered, but it’s designated by gender? In other words, it’s gendered?

    LDS doctrine indicates that spirits actually are gendered:

    All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.

    The Family: A Proclamation to the World

    Patterned after this outlook, male and female are designations of the body.

    Me: And should feelings be the most important thing in play?
    Loving Truth: I don’t understand why you would question this. Do you not -feel- the promptings of the holy spirit, and think they are the most important thing in play? Why are you not allowing them the same courtesy?

    Truth is far superior to feelings. Feelings don’t create nor do they change truth. Truth exists independent of our feelings. Promptings of the Holy Spirit—when they actually are such—don’t create truth, they merely make us aware of it. And our feelings are highly prone to error.

    It’s not a “courtesy” to allow someone’s feelings to override truth. It’s just irrational.

    But please note that you haven’t allowed me the “courtesy” of feeling that transgenderism is a problematic disorder. If feelings are supreme, why haven’t you respected and accepted mine?

    That they are something different (and inevitably less) than they truly are. Such is the nature of any identity defined by the restrictions of a gendered body form. (aka: ALL of us in one form or another)

    In part this relates back to the OP wherein I discuss the fact that none of us is fully identified by gender. It’s only a piece. But, again, if someone is “less than they truly are” because other people won’t actively deny their actual DNA and label them as something they are not, that’s not healthy. It’s just not.

    Sigh. I haven’t twisted anything. I simply observe that the concept applies here as well. I figured the truth would be self-evident.

    Except that the concept does not apply and there is absolutely zero scriptural or authoritative corroboration of your theory. From LDS dogma, our bodies are made for us AND we are made for bodies…eternally.

    …others should be given the -consideration- that you would have them give unto you. (Aka: the freedom to realize divine happiness)

    Again, this isn’t applicable. In this case you think other should recognize men as women because that will allow them “the freedom to realize divine happiness.” But it won’t. Two problems:

    (1) If his “divine happiness” is dependent upon what I think, it’s not healthy. (Evangelicals don’t have to call me a Christian for me to claim Christ as my Lord and Savior.)

    (2) If his “divine happiness” is dependent on becoming a woman, all the labeling and head nodding in the world won’t change his DNA. Hoping his DNA will change is not healthy.

    Christ shows and tried to teach us the Gospel of Love. In the end, that’s what it all comes down to: Love one another.

    I’m not remotely on board with the “all you need is love” mantra. It’s not remotely scripturally sound. I get that it’s the popular things these days. (And, hey, I’m old enough to remember that is was in the hippie movement, too.) Just to be clear, it doesn’t all come down to “love one another,” particularly not when “love” is defined as “allow feelings to trump truth” or “accept all delusions” or something similar. That’s just not the gospel.

    It’s not my place to judge.

    Honey, nearly every sentence you’ve posted has been judgment. Not that I have a problem with judgment—I don’t—but just because you don’t “judge” a transgendered individual and do judge everyone else doesn’t mean you aren’t judging.

    By the way, Alison: sorry for misspelling your name earlier. The error was entirely unintentional.

    No problem. Happens all the time. Apparently only a few parents know the correct spelling. 😉

    You misread the scriptural math using equivocation. We’re in an LDS context here, so I’ll stick with that.

    God is a man (actually, I believe God is actually Heavenly Mother and Heavenly Father working together “as one,” but that’s a different, unauthoritative post) who is deified. He loves us in a way we can’t understand. But that has never been understood to mean that God is actually a feeling and not a glorified, perfected person. Neither has it meant that all other things that combine to create God are simply equivalent to love.

    Incidentally, it also doesn’t mean that God poofed light (and all of creation) into existence with his mouth closed and love shooting from his eyes. He used true knowledge.
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  • LovingTruth June 17, 2015, 4:26 pm

    I best bow out of the conversation now, because I can tell we’re not going to get anywhere.

    Straw-man, to me, means picking at straws rather than ever being able to get to the real issue. In this case, it’s a symptom of not having enough common ground established to constructively move forward with.

    Just for the record, I’d appreciate not having motivations inferred to my name that were never mine (that I might actually condone overriding truth?! or any definition of Love even close to resembling ““allow feelings to trump truth” or “accept all delusions” or something similar.” Argh.)

    Sigh. Have a nice life. 🙂
    LovingTruth

  • Amphibianesque June 17, 2015, 5:28 pm

    What this boils down to is the term ‘Mental Illness.”
    Is gender dysphoria a mental illness?
    Truth is, we are generally horrified at being labeled mentally ill. It carries a stigma–implying weakness, abnormality, irrationality. I have a mental illness. I have Bipolar disorder and depression and have dealt with it for thirty-something years. I still see a psychiatrist and get medication that helps. I counsel with and help others who have similar problems. And I, like so many other non-mentally ill people, have thoughts and urges. I’m not being flippant. For me, every day, I consciously struggle to control my sexual thoughts when I see almost any woman. Every day I must channel my thoughts and be an appropriate husband, father, and to keep my desires where they should be. I honestly pray regularly for help controlling my thoughts and urges. I honestly worry that my urges are greater than other people’s. Shouldn’t I embrace my true self–one that hungers for sex with many women? Can’t I exercise my feelings and demand everyone celebrate and embrace it—give me permission to be destructive? How is my problem less important than desiring to dress or act differently?
    Again, is gender dysphoria or is it not a mental illness?
    Yes, it is a mental illness. Exercising and glorifying those urges bring trouble and heartache. It’s not ennobling, it’s hurtful. But therapy will help. Willingly walking into a counselor’s (of your choice) office and asking for assistance is a good thing. There is no shame in seeking help. And there is much good help available. What’s wrong with avoiding the clear negative consequences of your intended actions?
    I have a young friend in his twenties struggling with gender dysphoria. He’s a wonderful guy, sensitive and kind. He has opted for counseling. He has not married yet and has a loving family who supports him. Is he wrong to treat his problem this way? Is it evil and untruthful to desire help rather than embrace and explore every nuance of desire? He is finding happiness as he works through his illness. I admire his choice. He is a truly courageous man.
    I submit that the truly brave and courageous person will recognize the path they are choosing. Embracing urges isn’t heroic. Consequences happen. Clearly, it only brings more confusion, sadness, self-centeredness and a higher risk of suicide. The true hero is the one who seeks to channel desires, bridle passions and focus and become a better self—whoever he or she is.

  • Alison Moore Smith June 17, 2015, 11:05 pm

    Straw-man, to me, means picking at straws rather than ever being able to get to the real issue.

    That’s not what “straw man” means in the context of discussion. It’s not looking at details and ignoring the big picture. A straw man argument or discussion is a logical fallacy when one person misrepresents an opponents argument, refutes the false argument, and then claims victory.

    …that I might actually condone overriding truth?! or any definition of Love even close to resembling ““allow feelings to trump truth” or “accept all delusions” or something similar.”

    LovingTruth, do you read what you wrote? I asked you specifically, “And should feelings be the most important thing in play?”

    Your response was to say, “I don’t understand why you would question this. Do you not -feel- the promptings of the holy spirit…”

    Later you said, “In the end, that’s what it all comes down to: Love one another.”

    Love is all that ultimately matters and, according to you, love requires us to give the “courtesy” of accepting a delusional position.

    That’s not truth and that’s not love.
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  • Alison Moore Smith June 17, 2015, 11:19 pm

    Amphibianesque, thank you.

    Truth is, we are generally horrified at being labeled mentally ill. It carries a stigma–implying weakness, abnormality, irrationality.

    Yes. And ultimately don’t we all sometimes drift over into that zone? Don’t we all fight impulses, thoughts, compulsions, delusions? Some minor, some life-changing or life-threatening? So we all—even those not classified “mentally ill”—need to keep our minds healthy and in check.

    Most cases of mental illness I am closely familiar with start as minor thoughts and compulsions. Most grow over time when they are indulged rather than proactively resist and combat them.

    Shouldn’t I embrace my true self–one that hungers for sex with many women? Can’t I exercise my feelings and demand everyone celebrate and embrace it—give me permission to be destructive? How is my problem less important than desiring to dress or act differently?

    A million yeses. Not to your questions, obviously, but to how beautifully you exposed how wrong-headed the current cultural trends are. Striving for some notion of “authenticity”—which has come to mean little more than “doing what I feel like doing”—we become like animals rather than like God.

    He is finding happiness as he works through his illness. I admire his choice. He is a truly courageous man.

    If only our culture would show the true heroism of looking at reality and accepting the struggle to become better, rather than celebrating whatever comes easiest to us. (And, yes, those with body dysphoria are doing so, going with what they feel instead of what is true.)

    Embracing urges isn’t heroic…The true hero is the one who seeks to channel desires, bridle passions and focus and become a better self—whoever he or she is.

    And that, my friend, should be embroidered on a sampler in every home.
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  • Chum June 17, 2015, 11:56 pm

    I know you are going to take major heat for this because you aren’t FEELING enough PAIN for transgenders, but I give you props for speaking up. The emperor has no clothes and it’s blinding to watch thousands of people fall all over each other to prove how CARING they are instead of HELPING these people who really need help.

    IT IS NOT CARING TO IGNORE SERIOUS MENTAL ILLNESS AND CALL IT TOLERANCE. IT IS HARMFUL!

    That’s all I have to say.

  • Alison Moore Smith June 18, 2015, 2:04 am

    I’m going to respond to some Facebook comments here on the blog. (My page is public, you can see it here.) I hate spending much time on social media responses because they just get lost in the ether.
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  • Alison Moore Smith June 18, 2015, 2:05 am

    KGJ wrote:

    It was exhausting reading through the lack of empathy and the seeming lack of desire to try to understand.

    What stood out to me the most was that it doesn’t sound like you know any real transgender people. Have you ever tried to get to know any (even just online), read their stories, etc.?

    So, from the post and comments, it sounds like you don’t trust other people to know the gender of their spirit, because it’s based on feelings. I don’t get that. I intuitively feel/know my spirit, and I trust that others can too.

    I’m on my phone and can’t even begin to try answering your questions until I get to a computer. I don’t think it would make any difference even if I did though.

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  • Alison Moore Smith June 18, 2015, 2:20 am

    It was exhausting reading through the lack of empathy and the seeming lack of desire to try to understand.

    What more can I do than say, as I did, “We should all have compassion for the pain and difficulty of others whether or not we share or understand it.” Still, this post isn’t about my feelings. It’s about what transgenderism is and how we, as a society, should deal with it.

    What stood out to me the most was that it doesn’t sound like you know any real transgender people. Have you ever tried to get to know any (even just online), read their stories, etc.?

    I know exactly two that I know of in real life. Not really well, only peripherally through theater. And, guess what, we don’t sit around talking about their transgenderism. When I’ve been around them we talk about the same things all the other people in the group are talking about (the rehearsal schedule, the show, the technical issues, the weather, the presidential race, etc.).

    As for online, yes, I’ve read quite a bit over the years although it’s not my major life focus. Still, it’s a current and consequential issue, so I’m talking about it.

    So, from the post and comments, it sounds like you don’t trust other people to know the gender of their spirit, because it’s based on feelings.

    Nope, I don’t. I don’t trust anyone who speaks outside the realm of science, reason, common sense, or common experience. Thus the questions that remain yet unanswered.

    But this kind of comment always makes me wonder about something. I have pretty openly expressed my feelings about having bold, unpopular opinions about this (mainly, “I don’t get it, it makes no sense”). So why don’t you respect my feelings on the issue? Why can’t I be my authentic self and garner your support?

    Why is it courageous and bold to claim to be a gender you, in fact, are not, but it’s not courageous and boldly ask questions about a current cultural trend?

    All that said, I’d love it if you could/would address some of the actual questions I posed. They are utterly sincere and foundational to why I lean hard toward the idea that transgenderism is simply a painful mental illness that should be addressed.
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  • Alison Moore Smith June 18, 2015, 2:21 am

    MWG wrote:

    I have had a lot of questions about this issue, too. Instead of reading Wikipedia articles and referencing my college genetics classes, I have spent hours reading the stories of transgender individuals and the stories of their parents. I have wondered if we didn’t have such strong gender norms in our culture if this would be less of an issue. You say that people can dress however they want and do whatever they want regardless of gender, and maybe they can, but they can’t do it free of persecution or the very real threat of violence. I could pull up story after story of violence against cross-dressers/trans individual with a quick google search. I know a couple of trans individuals and have a great deal of respect for them and their personal journeys. Reading the stories has magnified my love and empathy for these fellow travelers in life. Having never experienced the feeling of not being my assigned gender nor the feeling of being attracted to my same gender, it is hard for me to imagine those feelings. But I have felt stuck and alone and misunderstood, and those are the feelings that jump out at me from these stories. I’m not personally willing to hang my hat on a peg that requires me to view these people as less than in some way. Your slippery slope argument is so fallacious to be laughable, except it follows a lot of hurtful comments. To each their own, but I will continue to do my best to understand and support those who live in fear and on the margins of acceptable society.

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  • Alison Moore Smith June 18, 2015, 2:28 am

    I have had a lot of questions about this issue, too. Instead of reading Wikipedia articles and referencing my college genetics classes, I have spent hours reading the stories of transgender individuals and the stories of their parents.

    I didn’t actually read Wikipedia articles. I used the Wikipedia definitions as the basis for the questions. But, yea, I actually do like to research things scientifically.

    While I probably haven’t spent the time you have reading autobiographical material from transgender individuals and their parents, I’ve read into the dozens of hours. I don’t necessarily think that is the best source for factual information, however.

    I have wondered if we didn’t have such strong gender norms in our culture if this would be less of an issue.

    This is a valid question. In my own lifetime I’ve seen such a shift that, to me, the gender norms in the US aren’t strong at all. They are almost nonexistent in most spheres. But, as another commenter noted, there are countries where this would be an enormous issue.

    You say that people can dress however they want and do whatever they want regardless of gender, and maybe they can, but they can’t do it free of persecution or the very real threat of violence.

    Yes, I agree with you. I went to a (temple) wedding last weekend and one male guest showed up in a kilt. I like kilts and all, but even that was a bit startling to me. (And I wondered if they would let him in. They did.) My husband served a mission to Samoa and the men there wear lava lavas and on Sunday they (missionaries included) wear dress lava lavas.

    Anyone who dresses far out of the current norm will be seen as, well, outside the norm. The response, sadly, to men dressing as women is probably the most negative and inappropriate. Frankly, that’s probably mostly due to sexism. Women can dress UP to look like men. But men dressing to look like women is seen as dressing DOWN and an embarrassment.

    My main question about the dress, however, is that it seems (even from Cami, above) that “presenting” like a female is mostly about dress, makeup, hair. That is hard to understand both in the context of it making a substantive difference and in how it can be deemed healthy.

    I’m not personally willing to hang my hat on a peg that requires me to view these people as less than in some way.

    “Less than” meaning that you must accept whatever they say as truth? So, again, why do you claim my thoughts are “less than” rather than just accept and support them as equal in value to your own?

    Your slippery slope argument is so fallacious to be laughable, except it follows a lot of hurtful comments.

    It’s not a slippery slope. It’s actually the reverse. The main argument doesn’t pull to the more extreme, but to the less extreme. Gender is specified in the DNA. Race is not. If you accept transgenderism, it’s utterly nonsensical to reject transracialism. And thus the progressive “tolerance” position becomes untenable (again).

    To each their own, but I will continue to do my best to understand and support those who live in fear and on the margins of acceptable society.

    And I will continue to love and support them by promoting real mental health and helping them learn to find happiness as who they really are.

    But, again, why can’t you accept me as I am, a transgender/transracial skeptic?

    As with KGJ, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the actual questions I posed. If you can make sense of this in some way, I’d love to hear it.
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  • Jermaine June 18, 2015, 3:01 am

    I’m not Mormon so I hope it is ok to respond here. I was just searching for Bruce Jener and found this. Unfortunately I know there will be a lot of loud people telling Allison she is mean and not nice, but they need to read my story.

    Here is my story. After college, I moved to the west coast to start a new life. I didn’t know anyone and they didn’t know me and I thought I could be whoever I wanted to be.

    Since I was about 13 I had a fascination with women, mostly things like bras and panties, jewelry and makeup. I can’t explain it very well and never told anyone at home. (Once my sister walked in the bathroom on me when I had on her underwear. I just ducked down and slammed the door. She kind of saw it, but I think was mostly disturbed by it and never said anything that I heard.)

    Because I had thought about it a lot and to be really honest because I was reading more and more about other people who claimed to be transgender, it seemed like a real thing or a real possibility. The more I thought about how i could be a “real woman” the more it excited me and in a new city, who would know? No one could tell them I wasn’t a woman and I could finally be who I wanted to because I started to think I must be a woman.

    That sounds kind of weird, but I’ve always been kind of a baby face, like Justin Bieber, so it wouldn’t be hard to pull it off.

    I got a job as a girl and dressed like a girl, not the real extreme sexy kind, just kind of “regular” girl look. I called myself Jemma. I did it for about three years (I’m 27 now). I got more and more confused and really anxious and depressed. I know I wasn’t a girl and I don’t know why I wanted people to call me one. I think mostly it’s because I think women are sexy and I wanted a woman to look at ME and be as attracted to me as I was to them. Men aren’t attractive so the only way I was thinking I could be attractive was to look like a woman.

    I don’t know if that makes sense because it’s kind of backward, but that’s what I think.

    Finally I went to a therapist (just a regular one, not something special, but one who was recommended by people online). Thankfully this therapist did NOT just tell me what a great woman I was but instead helped me admit I was really a boy but also helped me see that boys were good too and that I could feel attractive (and really BE attractive) as who I was. I didn’t have to pretend not to be and didn’t need others to pretend (or be fooled) either.

    So there it is. People, if you are in pain because you want to be the other gender, you need to face the truth. You are what you are. There isn’t some magic thing that makes your insides different from your dna. It just doesn’t. Learn to accept and LOVE who you are because you ARE lovable.

    Thanks for letting me say this. I hope it helps someone.

  • FUTE June 18, 2015, 6:23 am

    Some of you are missing the point. The disdain we have is **NOT** for people who sincerely think they are the gender they aren’t, it’s for **YOU** who make it worse by accepting the position of a mentally disturbed person who needs help and in doing so keep them from getting the help they need.

  • Julie June 18, 2015, 10:04 am

    Bravo for this article! Thank you a million times for calling it for what it is, and having the courage to stand up against utter craziness.

  • PoppinCorn June 18, 2015, 10:11 am

    This is so obviously a mental illness. I am so sick of people who act like they are helping very sick people, some who even permanently mutilate their genitals, by *promoting* the illness as *good.*

    It’s not good. You people are presented with a cancer patient and you tell them to use essential oils and a mud mask to help them feel better. Then you dance around pointing fingers at the people who want to send them to a cancer center for real treatment and telling them they aren’t empathetic enough. Good Lord, get over yourselves.

    I HAVE a sister who is a transman. She it utterly deluded because of all the bullshit you people dish out. *Finally* last fall she agreed to see a good therapist. She is the most stable she’s been in *years* and finally coming to grips with the fact that she is a woman and it’s OK to be a woman.

    This is a long process but thank god she got help *before* she had reconstructive surgery.

    You people are not helping!

  • Oregonian June 18, 2015, 11:05 am

    jermaine, that is what courage looks like. deal with the truth and push forward through difficulty.

  • Alison Moore Smith June 18, 2015, 11:38 am

    Jermaine,thank you so much for commenting. Your journey is an inspiration.

    This stood out to me:

    I think mostly it’s because I think women are sexy and I wanted a woman to look at ME and be as attracted to me as I was to them. Men aren’t attractive so the only way I was thinking I could be attractive was to look like a woman.

    Think of that! That makes the “presentation” make sense! You see true sexiness in the way women look and want to be looked at in that way. Aha!

    Sam and I were talking about this last week and thought of a possible reasoning that seems somewhat related, that transgender individuals want to be on the gendered giving/receiving end sexually. By that I mean that a transman wants to be a man in a sexual situation and a transwoman wants to be a woman in a sexual situation. We looked to the sexual aspect (as in your statement of feeling SEXY as a woman) because we couldn’t identify a substantive difference outside of a sexual situation. For example, what would it mean to want to be a female pilot as opposed to a male pilot?

    I’m so glad that you were able to move that desire to be sexy into the realm of the manliness you actually posses. Because, yeah, men are sexy, too!

    There’s another cultural aspect to this I think that may explain why there seem to be (stats anyone?) more transwomen than transmen. In our culture, women are thought of as sex objects. :/ I know there are a few male fashion magazines that focus on how men look, but there have always been dozens for women. For better or (mostly) worse, women are accustomed to looking at other women and evaluating them for sexiness. Women are accustomed to complimenting others on appearance. Women have no problem telling another woman, “You look so hot!” But few men would do so to another man.

    It would seem an outgrowth of that culture that would strongly suggest that sexiness resides mostly in the female sphere. So if one wants to look sexy, that’s the place to be.

    Anyway, Jermaine, thanks for having the courage to work through this and share your story. It may show a path for others with similar struggles.
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Freedom from the Oppression of the Word of WisdomMy Profile

  • Marnie June 18, 2015, 12:02 pm

    I think something is missing here. There are lots of people (not a majority, for sure, but still lots) who look more like the opposite. Men who are feminine and women who are masculine. But that’s just life. So what? When did we start saying that MEANS they ARE the other gender? People are unique and that’s just part of how they look. It doesn’t have to mean anything.

    Also I think it’s pretty clear that this is one of those #firstworldproblems where we have too much time on our hands to create problems. What did someone else say about “navel-gazing”? Yupp.

  • Cambendy June 18, 2015, 12:43 pm

    You know what is disrespectful? It’s telling a man he can BE a woman just by putting on heels and makeup and changing his name to Barbie.

    You know what is disrespectful? It’s telling a woman that gender is a mostly social construct and then saying that claiming a gender you don’t have is VITAL to create WHOLENESS.

  • wreddyornot June 18, 2015, 3:13 pm

    Just wondering? Have you read Andrew Solomon’s *Far from the Tree*, especially the chapter, Transgender? How does it inform your position in this posting and the resulting discussion? If you’ve not read it, I recommend you read do and comment sometime on how it informs your position. Thanks.

  • Alison Moore Smith June 18, 2015, 3:52 pm

    wreddyornot, I read it loosely (skimming parts that interested me at the time) when it first came out (a couple of years ago, I think?) and it’s not a quick read. I wasn’t thinking much about transgenderism at the time, so I didn’t focus on it. My memories of the book are a discussion of how children differ from parents, how those differences (and expectations) impact families, how to raise those children, etc.

    I may need to add this to my stack of reading material, but augh if you could see how tall it is! (OK, it’s not really a stack as I try to read as much as I can on Kindle, but you get my meaning.)

    Do you have some particular insights to share, wreddyornot?
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Mother, Where Art Thou?My Profile

  • Alison Moore Smith June 18, 2015, 4:20 pm

    Wanted to add something I’ve been thinking about writing about for some time. It’s not exactly the same, but related and interesting.

    My husband lived in Samoa for three years as a kid and later served a mission there. In Samoan they have a “third gender.” It’s called fa’afafine. It’s a biological male who mostly lives like a woman. (Gender roles are more defined than in the US.) Usually (in my husband’s experience) they were effeminate males and were just an accepted part of society, with few trying to change them. (There is no female counterpart, to my knowledge.) From my limited understanding, it seems like a very healthy response.

    There is a good movie (true story) called Next Goal Win that features a fa’afafine name Jaiyah/Johnny Saelua. The movie isn’t about him, but he’s a main character on the soccer team. I recommend it.

    For the record, in Samoa there is no recognition of homosexuality. Fa’afafine have sexual relations mostly with non-fa’afafine males, sometimes with females, but not with other fa’afafine. In other words, the three genders can choose to interact with someone from a different gender, but not their own.

    I’ve probably studied fa’afafine more than trangenderism. We kind of love Samoan culture.
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Lifestyle Hacks: Increased Productivity With Personalized RoutinesMy Profile

  • Jimmi June 19, 2015, 1:28 am

    Want to say how much I appreciate the time you spent writing this post. I hear lots of very divisive screaming on both sides, but not very many people take the time to think about the issues on this.

    Your questions are really good. I just wish someone would answer them. Maybe they can’t.

  • Alison Moore Smith June 22, 2015, 9:47 am

    Jimmi, thank you. I sincerely would love answers. I haven’t said much about the issue, but finally realized I just can’t wrap my head around it because the definition itself isn’t logical.

    What we seem to be left with, again, is, “I’m male/female if I feel like I am.” In which case male/female in the transgender sense is a complete and utter equivocation.
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Baltimore Problems and Liberal Guilt AssuagementMy Profile

  • ChesterNut July 3, 2015, 8:45 pm

    This is a good list of questions. When I first read this I thought I’d just think on things for a while.

    < < *Does anyone have an identity that “conforms unambiguously to conventional notions of male or female gender roles”?

    The answer to this is a very big no. The more I look at this and other definitions for transgender it becomes more obvious the whole thing is made up to muddle society.

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