Toward understanding gender dysphoria

In a post entitled, “Higher Things—Quo Vadis?” which gave reference to me, on the site of The Brothers of John the Steadfast, it was stated that in my interview on Virtue in the Wasteland the doctrine of the Evangelical Lutheran Church and Natural Law were not affirmed. No references were given, though the article encourages its readers to listen to the podcast and judge for themselves.

Specific to my part, I have been in this discussion many times with LCMS pastors and lay folks who quote “male and female He created them” and rest their case. None of them have undertaken a serious study of gender dysphoria, intersex conditions, or their possible causes. Some of them have studied nothing, and some have read things like the CTCR document and perhaps a bit more. Speaking from general ignorance of a terribly complex topic, they have judged me as sinning, of rejecting God’s Law.

On many of my blog essays, I have written of my doctrinal stance, which has not changed since I was ordained twenty-one years ago. If anyone has found error in any of my writings on God’s Word, they have not made them known to me. The singular issue has been “male and female He created them,” which ends the discussion.

I uphold “male and female He created them.” I do not espouse the view which says that gender is a construct. I reject all notions about the body which are in disagreement with God’s Word.

I also uphold the Fall of Adam. I uphold our total brokenness. I uphold that the Fall means more than that we commit sins, but that our bodies do not fully work as the Lord created them, nor does the world work as it did before sin entered it.

We are prone to every sort of dysfunction.

It is to our brokenness that I appeal. My study of gender dysphoria led me to learn about intersex conditions and maladies caused by disruption to our endocrine system. There are several intersex conditions, and there are even more hormonal maladies. Diabetes and thyroid troubles are two common hormonal maladies.

I will speak to two conditions and then make a connection to gender dysphoria.

From the late 1950s to the early 1960s, thalidomide was prescribed to pregnant women to ease morning sickness. When thalidomide was administered early in the pregnancy, the fetus sometimes formed wrong, with some babies born with no arms or legs, or deformed ones. It is estimated that, worldwide, 20,000 to 100,000 babies were affected. Once they figured out what was causing it, they stopped giving the drug to pregnant women. It was learned that in some women the thalidomide disrupted the endocrine system, causing the deformities to the baby.

Autism is a malady which is mysterious in its origins. It is suspected that it might be caused by both the genetics of the parents and by environmental factors. It very likely is, as with the work of thalidomide, the result of the baby’s endocrine system having been disrupted in the womb.

I use these two conditions for comparison because the affects of both are obvious and easy to grasp. The results of endocrine system disruption to the sex hormones are not easy to grasp, unless one can actually see the malformation of one’s genitals.

Just because we cannot see something, or define something, does not lessen the reality of it. Indeed, the cause of autism remains profoundly mysterious. Despite that, no decent person rejects the reality of autism. No one would argue that the one with autism has nothing more than a mental illness. With gender dysphoria, the argument of my opponents is that it is merely a mental illness, often compared to how one suffers from bulimia.

The cause of gender dysphoria is mysterious. As with “thalidomide babies,” I believe mine can be traced to another drug, diethylstilbestrol, given during an eerily overlapping era, to mothers in danger of miscarrying. While, as with autism, no absolute connection has been made, there is much anecdotal evidence.

Diethylstilbestrol is but one of many drugs which have been determined to be endocrine disruptors, as have chemicals and plasticizers. When one wonders why there is so much gender dysphoria in our world these days, I point to these known endocrine disruptors.

While I do not insist on having all of the answers, I have learned much to give me enough confidence that my gender dysphoria is a condition just as real, just as physical, as to those who suffer autism and the deformities of the “thalidomide babies.”

But, with gender dysphoria—even if it is a real, physical intersex condition—traditional Christians, including LCMS Christians, will have grave difficulty with, and are prone not to listen to any discussion of, the remedy being transitioning medically with cross-sex hormones and surgeries, and transitioning socially, adapting to the clothes and name of the other sex.

I do not attach myself to “the transgender agenda.” Indeed, as a Christian, who holds a traditional reading of God’s Word, I am viewed with suspicion by many transgender folks because I am not on board with their entire docket. And then I am viewed with the same suspicion in the LCMS, with folks believing that I want to introduce the entire LGBTQ agenda into the church.

Not so.

I hate that I could not find a remedy that could keep me living as a male. I was constantly fearing that I would either kill myself or lose my sanity. I undertook both pastoral and secular counseling, from numerous pastors and two therapists, striving to remain male. Even as far as I have gone with transitioning, if something were to arise, to give me some confidence that I could have relative peace as a male, I would be interested in pursuing it.

I do not disagree with God’s Law. I disagree with how gender dysphoria is viewed. For many traditional Christians, when it comes to the sexes and “male and female He created them” it is as if the Fall could do nothing to touch this one aspect of our creation. Christians such as I, who are striving to be faithful to the Lord and  have a measure of temporal healing, are objects of condemnation instead of compassion.

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27 thoughts on “Toward understanding gender dysphoria

  1. What do you think of the book, Understanding Gender Dysphoria: Navigating Transgender Issues in a Changing Culture (Christian Association for Psychological Studies Books), by Mark Yarhouse? I have not read it myself but have seen it referenced elsewhere as a resource, and therefore am considering purchasing it.

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    1. I recently read it, David. Yarhouse is compassionate, with loads of experience with trans folks. Many will not like his understanding manner, as he recognizes as Christian trans folks he has gotten to know. I wish every pastor would read the book.

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      1. Thanks for the recommendation. Just bought Understanding Gender Dysphoria: Navigating Transgender Issues in a Changing Culture to read while on vacation.

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      2. I’m reading Yarhouse right now. Picked it up after reading about it here. I found it interesting that the two quotes he uses to encourage people NOT to seek out the most radical means for dealing with gender dysphoria (pp.120, 212) come from two individuals who, according to my brief research, are not necessarily the best qualified or suited to support his encouragement to take things slowly. Do you have any thoughts on this?

        One other question: does this site have search capability that I’m just missing?

        Thanks.

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      3. I hope Yarhouse is proving insightful, Rick.

        Re pp 120-121, when I read this I took Yarhouse as going to the extreme – which McHugh sure is, and the best known – on purpose. It’s where Yarhouse would find the best (ugh) quotes to make the opposing view.

        McHugh is seen by many as the best of the best qualified. He is seen by just as many as tremendously biased, heavily influenced by his Roman Catholicism, and that he neglects much in order to force his ideas. So, that Yarhouse used him told me that Yarhouse is as even-minded, and desiring fair play, as I was taking him to be.

        If this site has search capacity, I’ve not found it.

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  2. Great article Gina…. The drug DES was given to many pregnant women in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s to prevent miscarriages. When the medical group found out how dangerous the drug was, it was taken off the market. Many Doctors destroyed their own personal records so there was not a trace that they prescribed the drug to warn off potential lawsuits.

    Many DES babies where found to also be MTF transgender. All babies start out in the womb with a female brain. At 6 weeks, a male fetus receives what they call a testosterone wash to masculine the brain. If the fetus misses this important wash, it is left with a female brain despite having a male body. It was well known that the drug DES caused many males to miss that important wash.

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  3. Bottom line is we should all treat others as we’d want to be treated. There isn’t a person on the planet without some quirks. Until we’ve walked in someone else’s shoes, we have no right to judge him or her. How you live your life should be of no concern to anyone as long as you’re not harming their freedoms. When preachers speak on behalf of God to condemn others, they’re only masking their own insecurities and hubris. Keep on living your authentic life, and if others have a problem with it, remember who has the problem!

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  4. It’s quite scary to venture outside the comfortable “box” of one’s invested beliefs. There is a real, but unnecessary, fear of the so-called “slippery slope.” I think a larger issue for the “clergy” (a term I personally abhor but, as a no-longer-pastor, I recognize has meaning for others) is the simple fact that, for those whose “bread is buttered” by a very specific belief system, to change the beliefs is to lose the job. Most areas of employment do not have a doctrinal statement to sign. Doctrinal statements often become reasons, pressures, to not think deeply any longer. Fear of losing one’s employment makes it easy to dismiss the issues you raise. Just throw out a “God created male and female,” then go out to cash your paycheck with a clear (?) conscience.

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    1. Oliver Wendell Holmes is quoted as saying, “For the simplicity that lies this side of complexity, I would not give a fig, but for the simplicity that lies on the other side of complexity, I would give my life.”

      Most conservative church-goers (and many, if not all, their leaders) spend their lives on this side of complexity, i.e., they bump up against difficult questions, uncomfortable questions, challenging questions, and they beat a hasty retreat saying: “But the Bible says…,” “but the pastor says….”.

      It’s so much “safer” on “this” side. To enter into the liminality of complexity is to experience discomfort, inner dissonance, and (sometimes) pure, unadulterated fear. It requires a community of like-minded people to endure this experience and to begin to emerge on the other side into authentic simplicity. This is what Richard Rohr describes as “the second half of life,” a time which recognizes, draws near, and embraces mysteries and ambiguities. For me, it also carries a residue of fear as the roots of conservatism have wound tightly around my heart and mind. BUT, I’ve come to far to go back, plus, it’s too beautiful on this side.

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  5. In the situation of gender dysphoria, it’s more, “but the pastor says … ” than “but the Bible says ….” There are pastors who believe that the Gospel is for everyone, while there are other pastors who would say that the Gospel is for everyone but …. No, they don’t say this explicitly, but they firmly believe, preach, and teach this. They would not say that one who suffers from a form of cancer and who seeks a cure in the form of “mutilating the body” by surgery for tumor removal is sinning. But the fact that gender dysphoria has to do with sex means that it is treated differently than other diseases. The Gospel says, “Blessed is the man whose sins are forgiven.” We cannot afford to distort or limit that message.

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    1. I like your using “mutilating the body” to refer to removing a tumor. Who thinks of it that way? I suspect almost no one. Yet, for a trans person to have surgery . . . well, you know the rest.

      Excellent comments. Thank you.

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  6. Rick, I always appreciate your insights. You are well-read and express your thoughts clearly and helpfully. I sometimes wonder if, by what you write, you think I am naive to things, that I don’t reckon that about which you write, perhaps because I don’t include those things in my pieces. Regardless of how you read me, your comments always expand and enlighten, so I thank you.

    I really appreciated your closing. When I think of who I was, the young, naive person who never wanted to leave his hometown, and who I became, having stretched my experience and my understanding of my fellow humans, I much prefer what I’ve become than what I might have remained, all narrow-minded prejudice and bigotry and so much more having been educated and experienced and compassioned out of me.

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    1. I certainly don’t consider you naive to things, to anything in this sphere. I read to learn from you, then I write as I do because your writing stimulates thinking in me. Writing is a gift I’ve not been able to exercise for some time. At the same time, I certainly don’t want to come across as supercilious or demeaning. If I have done so, I ask your forgiveness. That is certainly not my intention.

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  7. Thank you for this, Rick. I gladly forgive you.

    I appreciate your saying that you read my stuff in order to learn. That is the part that has been lacking in your comments, which were, more and more, leaving me feeling, to use your word, demeaned. If, on occasion, you were to begin your comments with something like, “This has opened my eyes to . . . ” or “Well done, Gina, and now I am thinking . . .” it would completely change how I receive your thoughts.

    Truly, Rick, I love your comments. You expand and enhance what I’ve written. I hope my hurt feelings do not hinder you from exercising your gift to write, an exercise which is a gift to me and, surely, to all who read your words.

    The Lord be with you, friend.

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    1. Appreciate your straightforward statements. I understand and will take care to balance my comments. So glad you took the risk to challenge me. Otherwise I would have continued to bumble along and risk further harming you and our (at present) online conversations.

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  8. Thank you, Rick. And, do know, I’ve not forgotten you. Between healing from my April surgery, and the setback I had with my voice, I’m only very recently feeling up to both sitting and chatting for any length of time. But, through the rest of July, I am watching my granddaughter all day. So, if you still want to get together, perhaps we can do that in August.

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  9. Dear Rev Eilers (Ret),

    It seems you have come to the conclusion that your condition is of the brain, and that in fact it is a disorder, contrary to the progressively persuaded APA. Your dysphoria is only a symptom of a (disordered) brain that is not presently in the created order God intended, just as someone born blind, has an eye that is not in the created order God intended. Please correct me if I have read you wrong. It seems to me, that historically the health care professions strove to restore people to wholeness (intended created order). Unfortunately, because of the progressive forces and influences, people with your condition will probably never have the opportunity to be made whole by the medical/psychological establishment. Restoring people with your condition to wholeness would mean changing the brain. In some areas of psychology this is perfectly acceptable. Research in psychotherapy for people that have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder involves what treatments and therapies are successful in changing the brain. It makes me sad that this will never happen for people who suffer your condition. Because the APA and AMA only focuses on the symptoms of dysphoria and how to change the physical to match the mental (brain), I am afraid this will never happen. In the currently charged environment, any researcher that focused on a brain disorder, and research on treating the brain to be in congruence with the body, would face bias, no financial support, and probably banishment from the profession. This type of research for OCD and the like is challenging, not easy, and is over the long term.

    Don’t you wish there was or will be a treatment that involves dealing with the brain rather than the body?

    Your thoughts?

    Kindly in Christ,

    Kevin

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    1. Dear Kevin,

      You are generous in addressing me as Rev Eilers (Ret). I wish I were only retired. Since I was put into a position where I had to resign from membership in the LCMS, I no longer merit the title.

      Your assessment of how I understand my condition is not quite correct. I believe that my gender dysphoria arose from my endocrine system having been disrupted while I was in the womb. I certainly agree that my sense of myself is not ordered as the Lord created humans male and female. I believe that I have an intersex condition, not a mental illness.

      I agree with your assessment of the general mindset of mental health and medicine. I sought help from a therapist, to find a way to rid myself of my dysphoria, that I might find some level of contentment as a male. He was willing, though he also thought that it was okay for me to transition. My former district president, and a pastor in our district who also is a psychologist, knew of my desire to be a male and remain in the ministry, so they tried to find a solution. The day that I thought they had called me to a meeting for the purpose of telling me that they had a lead on a place, instead they delivered the news which was as devastating as when I was told that my son died. The exact words were, “There is no therapy. There is no hospital.”

      Even Rev Scott Stiegemeyer, in a lengthy article on the topic in our seminary’s journal, acknowledged, “There is no form of talk therapy or psychotropic medication that can fully assuage the intense dysphoria felt by many transgender patients.”

      I must say, I am saddened that the APA and AMA are not (that I know of) noting the increasing number of gender dysphoric and transitioning people, and that this awful disorder is affecting even the very young, and recognizing that this is not good, that people have this horrible conflict between their sense of self and their body. It is beyond me how anyone can think that transitioning is a good remedy, a satisfactory solution that needs no improving. I wish it were viewed as being as evil as cancer, or Parkinson’s, or you name it.

      Yes, transitioning has its benefits—I have benefitted in that I no longer feel like I am going to go insane, and I have been able to resume a productive life—but the cost is high, far too high, to individuals, to marriages, to families, to every last sphere of life. Traditional Christian church bodies don’t know what to do with people like me. So, it doesn’t matter that I write and write and write, and speak in person to pastors and leaders a confessional, doctrinally pure faith, explaining that I am treating my condition in a medical manner, and striving to live a godly life as I do so. Some are hearing me; most are not. And the vocal ones—which prompted my writing the piece on which you placed your comment—are so fierce that, at least from my experience, the ones who will listen and give consideration to what I am saying are afraid to speak up out of fear of the same vocal ones, who would then work to make their professional lives miserable.

      To your final question regarding a treatment, I do wish there would be a treatment but, as I understand the origin of my dysphoria, I am doubtful that most dysphoria is comparable to OCD. I believe most gender dysphoria is a bodily disorder. I compare it to what happened to the babies of mothers who took thalidomide, to however mal-affected were the babies who are autistic, to any of the many known maladies of the endocrine system, to the ill effects about which we are learning that are caused by chemicals, plasticizers, and medicines.

      I hope I have adequately addressed your thoughts. I am interested in your reply.

      The Lord be with you,
      Gina, but always Greg Eilers

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  10. Dear Rev. Eilers,

    You received an MDiv, and although you are not a pastor anymore, once a Rev, always a Rev, and you may not be a current member of the Church Militant, you still will be a member of the Church Triumphant.

    Please don’t take offense that I said it was a brain disorder, therefore you took it meant that it must be labeled a mental illness. Labels are of the surface, sometimes they are political or ideologically driven. I have to conclude from what you have said, that yes indeed, it is a bodily disorder, and the organ/system of the body that is disordered is the brain and possibly the endocrine system. Your brain is telling you (presumably because you missed the testosterone wash because of the meds your Mother was given) that you are female when your body and genetics objectively are saying otherwise. Therefore, the organ in your body that is disordered (not in the intended created order) is the brain, so logically the brain should be to focus of efforts of what ultimately should be treated, until it is definitively proven it is impossible. Because of ideology and politics, like we discussed, probably will never happen.

    I have been around some youth that I would probably classify (sinfully probably, against the 8th Commandment) as Transtrenders, they are not experiencing a debilitating level of dysphoria, and they are given or discover a self centered solution to a feeling/ideation they happen to have and are pushed to embrace their feelings, pursue the level of transition they are comfortable with, and not a hint of treatment to affirm or conform to their natal gender (because that is ideologically unacceptable to the ways of the world and the APA). At least they could receive treatment for adjustment disorder. Although I bet they are not getting any treatment at all, and are getting their diagnosis and prescription via the internet and social networking. The APA says many who identify as Transgender do not even suffer any dysphoria. I would have to say that the concept that one can simply self identify to whatever gender they choose, is way out of order, is self-centered and an indication of the rebellious nature of the Old Adam. Again this paragraph is not about you, but the general (youthful) transgender mentality.

    So pastorally and within the Church, I believe we need to acknowledge that all maladies are part of the Old Adam, including inclinations to identify as the opposite gender. So that Old Adam, along with any thoughts or actions that come with the Old Adam (this would include thoughts of wanting to be the opposite gender, and acting out on those thoughts by doing those things that are normatively exclusive to the opposite gender, along with all other sins of thought, word and deed) as part of the baptismal life, should by daily contrition and repentance be drowned and die…and that a new man should daily emerge and arise to live before God in righteousness and purity forever. Children should be taught this about gender identification counter to their natal gender. That way, spiritually through the living out their baptisms, their minds might be healed that they would not allow sin to reign and maybe avoid encountering profound discomfort and dysphoria as they grow older. The Church has not done this, probably because the numbers didn’t press the issue. However, now the Church needs to address this, as the issue is being pressed by the world. The Church and you should have been in an honest dialog about your transgender inclinations long before you entered seminary. You knew about what was going on with you (having desires to be a woman and feeling exhilarated when cross dressing), but I am sure you felt shame and were inclined or felt forced to secrecy. The Church should be a place where individual confession and absolution is the norm, where Grace is given to overcome shame in confidentiality, offering forgiveness and newness of life reinforcing our baptismal life in Christ.

    Regarding your situation, I am in no position to tell you about what you should be contrite and repent about. You are baptized and believe and confessed your predicament before God and the Church. Your conclusion that you have an intersex condition is as valid or more valid than any other conclusion. It is difficult when the evidence is not physical, but maybe someday the evidence will become more concrete.

    Lastly, as I interact with transgender people, I learn, and I have yet to learn any better than what I have learned from your witness. One of the major things I take away from this journey, is the level of profound mind exploding insanity from dysphoria that can arise purely from the mind body disconnect, unlike many who blame much of the dysphoria on the way society has treated them.

    Kindly in Christ,

    Kevin

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  11. >> The APA says many who identify as Transgender do not even suffer any dysphoria. I would have to say that the concept that one can simply self identify to whatever gender they choose, is way out of order, is self-centered and an indication of the rebellious nature of the Old Adam. Again this paragraph is not about you, but the general (youthful) transgender mentality. <<

    Just a note to say that gender dysphoria is not always recognized as such by the sufferer, who feels it nonetheless and suffers as a result. There is a minority of transgender people who, for whatever reason, never connect the general dissatisfaction, depression, etc., they experience with gender.

    I’m a case in point. If you had asked me seven months ago what I thought about transgender people, I would have said that I believed they were experiencing a real discontinuity between their sex and their gender, but that they were going about resolving their conflict the wrong way. Although I am not a Christian, as you no doubt believe I, too, believed that we are born in the form we are with purpose, and altering that form with hormones and surgery was misguided. Suffering is a divine device, in both your frame of reference and mine, to enlightenment – though you might say purification.

    I’m only weeks younger than Gina; and, in March, I began to suspect I, myself, was transgender. In April, I knew – and, believe me, it was as much a shock to my rational mind as it would be if you discovered the same thing about yourself. To my reasoning mind, it was an impossibility, an incongruity that defied explanation – and yet, I knew it was true. Since then, there have been many confirmations. After a lifetime of being bottled up, my personality has been set free. I am happier, more outgoing, more confident … so many things. Somewhere back in my earliest years, something led me to bottle up my female self and hurl it into the abyss of my unconscious.

    As a side note, which is nonetheless curious, the first person I told was a transman whom I had not seen for a number of years and whom I had never known well; he was a friend of my ex-wife’s. I sought him out because he was the only trangender person I knew, and I didn’t know what to do. He shocked me when, in his response, he wrote, “This news does not surprise me.” Apparently, the signs were there years ago, to someone equipped to recognize them.

    The point of this narrative is to demonstrate that it is possible to be transgender without experiencing dysphoria that is recognizably tied to gender – or even, I think, that is recognized as dysphoria at all. I think some people in my category once regarded what they now know to be gender dysphoria as being “just the way I am.”

    Interestingly, after realizing that I am transgender, I experienced dysphoria that I could see was connected to gender. I am not alone in this. It’s as if a blindfold has been removed and what once was hidden or repressed is now open to view. The first two times this happened, it was merely odd; I remember the first instance, and my thought was, “How weird!” The last time this happened, it scared the daylights out of me because it wasn’t just weird; it was the same kind of thing that tormented Gina and has tormented most transpeople for years and years.

    So … all this to say, that just because someone doesn’t experience “gender dysphoria” as a gender-related problem, it doesn’t mean they aren’t legitimately transgender. I don’t have any trouble believing that there are young people looking for attention or status who may see it in “being trans”; it’s a legitimate possibility, and, if you work with such young people, you might well have more insight into this than I could. But I think you must be slow to judge, for the reasons I have mentioned here. As you no doubt know, the attempted suicide rate among transgender people is twenty times that of the general population. This is no mere ideological debate; there are real people living on the edge of their capacity here. In most individual cases, I would suggest patience, and above all compassion, and give the truth time to emerge.

    For what it’s worth.

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  12. Both Ann and Kevin, please forgiveness the slowness of my response.

    Ann, the insights regarding your personal experience are helpful. Thank you for your well written, thorough thoughts. We have a transwoman, who is active in our group, who showed up two years ago only days after realizing about herself as you did about yourself. It was almost stunning how quickly she, in her forties, began living full time as a woman. She never skipped a beat and has finally felt right about herself.

    Kevin, I appreciate your understanding manner when, I must be honest, I first began reading from you I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, and for you to turn on me. (It has happened enough times, especially from LCMS folks, whose notes began nice enough, but who would finally conclude that I am going to hell.) When your second long post arrived, I again feared that with each new paragraph would finally come your condemnation of me. That you wrote, “you still will be a member of the Church Triumphant,” I was comforted. Indeed, not because of anything I have done or will do, but because of the Lord Jesus Christ, I will, indeed, be a member of the Church Triumphant.

    Thank you for the clarification on the usage of “brain disorder.” I am hyper-sensitive regarding this because, in my experience, when the word “brain” is alone used, people think “mind,” and then think “mental illness.” And when this happens, all is lost.

    I agree that all maladies are to be included under the Old Adam. Of course, that does not mean that they are not deserving of treatment. Sadly – I won’t rehash the well-established details – severe gender dysphoria does not currently have a God-pleasing solution. (But that doesn’t mean that a person cannot make use of the current solution – transitioning – and do so in a manner which is God-pleasing. That has been my goal from the beginning, to use a bad thing and do good things with it.

    I appreciate your quoting Luther, that we should daily drown our Old Adam, etc. Several pastors, with whom I worked when I was striving to remain male, commended me to daily repentance for my healing. As I continued to worsen, I also continued to contend that they would never tell a person who has cancer to find healing in the Gospel, to repent of feeling lousy because of the cancer. That’s where we always diverged, when they would not agree with me that I had a real, physical malady, and their contending that I only had a sinful inclination. I was told, “You don’t tell a kleptomaniac to steal all he wants, to feel better.”

    This paragraph is as gold to me, where you wrote, “Regarding your situation, I am in no position to tell you about what you should be contrite and repent about. You are baptized and believe and confessed your predicament before God and the Church. Your conclusion that you have an intersex condition is as valid or more valid than any other conclusion. It is difficult when the evidence is not physical, but maybe someday the evidence will become more concrete.” Did you tell me that you are LCMS? Who are you? Are you someone who has a voice in the LCMS? You have experience with trans folks, you know theology, and you are reasonable (!) . All I want from the LCMS is patience, is the acknowledgement that we don’t know much about the origins of gender dysphoria, and that people like me – I know men like me who are LCMS – who express a clear confession of faith are not wanton sinners who want to do whatever they please, but who are hurting terribly, and long for the sound doctrine of the LCMS, and seek humility by the LCMS and compassion from its pastors.

    Finally, thank you for the last paragraph, and for this: “the level of profound mind exploding insanity.” When I was explaining to a former brother pastor, with whom I was very good friends, and who, himself, suffers from PTSD (an ailment which, like depression, is not always respected by others), that I had grown suicidal and that I truly feared I would lose my mind, he responded, “Surely, it can’t be that bad.” I. Was. Dumbfounded.

    This is where we are, who suffer this ailment which I would not wish upon anyone. We are disrespected. And – it is not my intention to break the Eighth Commandment, but to speak from my experience – by the Church we are simply lumped with the sexually immoral, and because they don’t know what else to do with us they leave it at that, condemn us, and move on, as if they have properly addressed us.

    Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy upon us sinners.

    It took me a day to reply because, yesterday, I once again felt swamped by this topic, with no energy to compose my thoughts in a reply to you. Ann recharged me with her post. And, once I got going with writing, my frustration again, as it always does, turned into zeal to stand up and speak, to fight for understanding.

    Kevin, who are you? Do you have any way to be of help to us in the Church? I am drowning in my efforts, mostly being ignored by those I contact. Julie and I are unable to commune, though we do worship every week. We long to be members of a visible church, to connect with our being members of the invisible church. But, as of now, if a congregation took us in, the vocal opponents would get wind of it, scream about it, and we would once again find ourselves where we were eleven months ago.

    It is enough. The Lord be with you, my brother in Christ.

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