More LCMS transgender misinformation

The article pictured above appears in the January 2021 issue of The Lutheran Witness. I found the information wanting, the focus wrongly placed, and the reader left with the wrong attitude toward gender dysphoria and transgender persons.

Scroll down past the photo of the magazine cover to find the letter I sent to the author.

In my review, you will see regular references to the author’s previous article—How do you know whether you are a man or a woman?—in our seminary journal, Concordia Theological Quarterly (CTQ). You may read my review of that article here: Scholarly article on gender dysphoria

I also refer to Swyer Syndrome. To learn more about it, click here: https://rarediseases.info.nih.gov/diseases/5068/swyer-syndrome

Finally, I note that with this letter I sent the author a copy of my book, Ministering to Transgender Christians. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08FHBNGQV/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_tkin_p1_i0

As with every time I have communicated with persons in the LCMS, and all of the critiques I’ve put on this blog, my goal is to help correct wrong information, that the LCMS might accurately see gender dysphoria and transgender persons.

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I write regarding your article in the January 2021 The Lutheran Witness. With your previous article in Concordia Theological Quarterly in mind, if I didn’t know you wrote this LW piece I would think it was authored by someone else. In your CTQ article on gender dysphoria and transgender, I found you to have presented a lot of good information. I didn’t agree with all of it, yet it was the best thing I’d read from anyone in the LCMS. This LW article sounds nothing like the CTQ one.

You might not have written the subtitles, yet it is noteworthy that the quote of Ephesians 4:15—that we speak the truth in love—did not happen in the text. Key areas are either inaccurate, misleading, or false.

After referring to our creation and of marriage as reflecting our relationship with the Lord, you wrote, “Anything the devil can do to distort that reflection, he will do.” Though you did not specify transgender, that is the topic of the article, and so that is where readers’ minds are, so they are set up to hear you saying that the effects of gender dysphoria are the doing of Satan and, therefore, of a spiritual/sinful temptation nature. Indeed, that this article appears in this issue dedicated to living a “Chaste and Decent Life,” with features on pornography and immodest dressing, further lends itself to presenting gender dysphoria as a spiritual issue and living as a transgender person synonymous with worldly, ungodly living.

Further, you wrote of sexual ethics, which also set up the reader to hear this: gender dysphoria, and believing one is transgender, are ethical issues, and not the experiencing and addressing of a physical malady.

Writing about transitioning, you use “want” and “wish.” These are incorrect, and reinforce that gender dysphoria is a sinful desire. Gender dysphoric persons, including those who find they need to try transitioning to see if it helps ease their pain, don’t want or wish to be the opposite sex. Rather, they experience themselves as the other gender.

The gender dysphoric Christians I know want and wish they could be at peace with their birth sex, or their dysphoria is so intense they wish they’d been born in the biological sex in which they experience themselves.

And, try as they might to remain living in the gender in which they were identified at birth, striving to do so through trust in the Lord, spiritual care, talk therapy, and outright determination, sometimes they cannot. Indeed, in your CTQ article you rightly noted that intense talk therapy is rarely successful in alleviating gender dysphoria. To this, I can attest. I went into therapy with the desire to be at peace with my male self. I forced two therapists to address every last possibility why I was in conflict. I sought every means to lessen my pain, including placing myself under the care of two brother pastors when I was still in the ministry, and two more pastors after I retired.

I have gotten to know a number of transgender Christians, who have all had the same attitude, who have used talk therapy to find the strength to abide in their birth sex, who have used sheer determination, who have placed themselves in the hands of the Lord and the care of their pastors, and have strived in prayer that He might deliver them from this gender conflict. I can only think of one of these persons, who has so far found the strength to continue living in his birth sex, and one other who uses cross sex hormone therapy to ease his dysphoria—and it’s worked so far, though he had to have a double mastectomy because of excessive breast growth.

In your CTQ article, while commending all Christians to confession and absolution, you also said this experiencing gender dysphoria is not a spiritual issue to be specifically addressed with the Means of Grace. Yet, in this LW piece, I believe readers would believe confessing one’s gender conflict as sin is exactly what is prescribed.

Each of the gender dysphoric and transgender Christians I’ve gotten to know have gone the route of confessing as sin their conflict, believing it a spiritual issue before they learned more about its being a physical malady. They have strived in confession and absolution, receiving the Lord’s Supper, bathing themselves in the Father’s grace, clinging to Christ. They have longed to find comfort in their birth sex.

They know the lay of the land. They don’t want to transition. They don’t want to harm their marriages. They don’t want to disrupt their families. They don’t want to face rejection in every sphere of their lives. They don’t want to be kicked out of their churches.

They find themselves stuck. And, should they try transitioning, seeking the same physical relief their brothers and sisters in Christ seek from medicines and surgeries to heal their infirmities, they are condemned as sinners and kicked out of the Church. I also know that, firsthand.

They are left stuck between the heaviest of rocks and the firmest of hard places. Is it any wonder persons in this spot attempt suicide at a 2 in 5 rate? And the Church is doing nothing to help them.

It cannot be overstressed: gender dysphoric persons do not wish or want to be the opposite sex. They wish for healing and want some internal peace. When we continually misstate, with wish and want, their desiring to be the opposite sex, we do harm to them, because we arm with misinformation those who do not understand, those who do not accept this malady as a real, physical condition—people who, in their state of misunderstanding, end up condemning as unrepentant sinners those who transition.

It might not be the intention not to put the best construction on their situation, but that is what happens.

You defined dysphoria as intense unhappiness. It’s much deeper than that. I use a literal translation—ill feelings—to stress the physical ailment aspect of it.

“Unhappiness” gives people ammunition. You might hear this reaction, “They just want to be happy. Well, lots of us are not happy with many things in our lives. That doesn’t give us permission to sin!”

Happiness is not the goal of transitioning; it is a byproduct of getting healthy. Gender dysphoria is not intense unhappiness; it is intense distress.

Discussing our fall into sin, you wrote: “[W]e can fall into the trap of loathing our physical form and hoping to somehow transcend our biology. Transitioning one’s biological programming is an attempt to transcend that biology,” followed by, “Current trends in sexual ethics encourage people to find their identity by transcending their physical flesh. This encourages people to deny God’s good creation of their bodies. … It is contrary to the Gospel to claim that the immaterial soul is one’s real identity …” None of the gender dysphoric and transgender Christians I know agree with any of this. None have this attitude.

Attitude is everything—the starting point from which a person undertakes transitioning. The trans Christians I know do not listen to current trends in sexual ethics. They are not part of a so-called “transgender movement,” which disparages everything biblically true about our creation. Rather, these Christians are hurting intensely and are seeking physical, emotional, and mental relief—not to transcend their biology but to get their messed up biology into enough order that they can abide in their flesh.

These Christians I’ve gotten to know have flocked to me because they have found in me one who is as peculiar as them: Bible-believing, traditional and conservative in how they think and live, who do not deny God’s good creation of their bodies, yet experience this gender conflict. They have the same attitude as Christians suffering cancer, or a birth defect, or Alzheimer’s. They are living the outcome of Adam’s sin—physical harm to their bodies—and as with other ailments and diseases are striving to find some temporal healing.

They reject these silly notions espoused by progressive thinkers, that we can transcend our biology. They reject thinkers—Christian or otherwise—who claim the soul is one’s real identity. They know who they are, in their biological sex, and have no interest in denying it. Indeed, as I speak with them, I talk about our coming resurrection, and ask them if they recognize that they will be raised from the dead as their biological sex, finally free of this confounding sex-and-gender conflict.

All of them recognize this truth. All of them rejoice in Christ’s gift of the sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life when there will be no more pain, where the former things will not be remembered.

Sometimes, when I introduce this topic, they don’t like the idea of being resurrected in their birth sex. They experience themselves so intensely as the opposite sex that to be resurrected in their birth sex sounds too foreign. I speak gently to them, reminding them that when they are resurrected the conflict will be gone, that they will be healthy. Eventually, they are able to rejoice that the Lord will, indeed, accomplish what right now seems impossible: they will live in peace and joy as their birth sex.

Onto the Church’s response. I appreciated the paragraph in which you suggest the church be neither repulsed nor affirming, agreeing with the sense of affirming in which you write. Sadly, in their repulsion, too many Christians link all transgender persons with liberal trans activists, yet there are many trans Christians who disagree with these activists’ ideas.

As you move on to how the Church should minister to gender dysphoric and trans persons, I don’t see a resolution for those who have transitioned. Perhaps, you were intentional, leaving to each pastor to minister according to each situation.

You wrote, “If someone you know suffers from gender identity confusion, love him.” What does this mean? Listen and be compassionate so long as the person doesn’t transition? Continue in that attitude if the person does transition, or now reject them?

We must ask: what if a Christian transitions? Does the pastor and congregation listen to this person’s confession of faith and how transitioning is viewed? Is this child of God to be excommunicated if they do not repent and cease transitioning?

In your paragraph beginning, “Furthermore,” you rightly acknowledged faith in Christ does not cause gender dysphoria to go away. Then, you reinforced that they are suffering a spiritual problem, instead of a physical malady: “Rather, people who know and love our Lord Jesus continue to struggle against all kinds of sins…”

The gender dysphoric Christians of whom I write do not “delude themselves” or “embrace the lies of the world” or “reject the intentions of their Creator.” They don’t “need to be admonished and invited to confession and absolution” for their gender struggle any more than we would expect a person striving with cancer to confess as sin their pain and desire for wholeness of being.

This point cannot be made too often or too strongly. These Christians hold the same faith you hold, believe the same doctrine you believe, long to serve the Lord and their neighbor to the glory of the Father as you long to do so. There is only one difference between them and you: they are stuck in a confounding malady that is misunderstood and disrespected for what it is.

In your CTQ article, you attested to gender dysphoria being a real, physical malady, when you stated that calling it an intersex condition is consistent with the evidence, and when you recognized that talk therapy rarely eases one’s struggle. Here is a portion of that section: “The hypothesis that gender dysphoria is an intersex condition of the mind/brain is consistent with the evidence. It also helps explain the strong resistance GD [gender dysphoria] has to all forms of psychotherapy and all current drug therapies. If this hypothesis is granted, one cannot argue that maleness and femaleness are determined exclusively by the genitals, gonads, secondary sex traits, or even chromosomes.”

You recognize that maleness and femaleness are not determined exclusively by the chromosomes, etc. Indeed, as only one example of this, women with Swyer Syndrome have XY/male chromosomes, yet they virtually always experience themselves as female. This is one vivid example of how our physical nature does not automatically line up with our experienced self. With Swyer’s, it is easily accepted as fact—a woman with male chromosomes—because it is observable. Most folks’ gender dysphoria is not genetically or otherwise observable. Does that make it less physically real?

Finally, here is how I would expect the average LCMS reader to take your LW article: “Some people are intensely unhappy with their bodies, and because they deny that physical biology is as important as their spirit—which is where we experience happiness—they find transitioning acceptable. They deny God’s Word regarding how the Lord has created us and, therefore, are sinning.”

I’m worn out, Scott. It’s coming up on six years since I went public with my gender dysphoria, and articles such as this continually appearing in LW and other places make me feel that, for every educational step I take forward, I’ve been pushed back five leaps.

Please, read my book. I provide specific, detailed information as to how to minister to gender dysphoric and transgender Christians. Evaluate all of my information, theology, and suggestions for spiritual care. Consider the Christians I profile. As I do in the book, bathe everything in the Good News of our Lord Jesus, so that the Gospel wins the day for hurting children of God.

Scott, might we work together to provide good information for the sake of our fellow Christians?

The Lord be with you!

Kimberley Beregrove: kindred spirit

Rare is my meeting a transgender Christian with whom I match up in important ways: Christian faith, integrity in every aspect of life, conservative attitude, and an intense desire to proclaim the Gospel and teach about gender dysphoria and transgender.

Recently, I met this rare bird in the person of Kimberley Beregrove.

I met her through another person, who learned of my books through Kimberley mentioning them in one of her many YouTube videos. That person emailed me—and she and I also matched up in the important ways mentioned, above—and told me about Kimberley.

I connected with Kimberley and we immediately hit it off. The first time we talked, it was for over three hours. She’s a long-haul trucker, so she has time. While I’m not a truck driver, I am known to be a long-haul La-Z-Boy sitter, so, yeah, I can pull off a long conversation.

I mentioned Kimberley in my last post, because in a couple of her videos she said something to make my heart sing, which goes to why I have published my first two books.

In her video, “Update on my marriage,” she tells how it took her wife’s reading my story to finally grasp what her husband experiences—the struggle, the agony, the desire not to have gender conflict, the inability to simply rid oneself of it, and remaining in faith toward the Lord Jesus.

Kimberley begins speaking about me at 3:12. At 4:08, she starts talking about how her wife reacted.

Kimberley does not live full time as a woman. Indeed, it’s only been since this past summer that she goes on the road as Kimberly as she lives as Peter at home. She is the very rare trans person who is willing and able to present as both female and male which, indeed, is an important display of her integrity of spirit.

At the 10:40 mark, Karen speaks of the impact on her from reading my books.

Kimberley’s most recent video is a great example of how she discusses being transgender and Christian, and using hormone therapy as a viable medicine for the gender dysphoric Christian. I highly recommend this video to you.

In “Transgender acceptance,” I like how she uses one’s being left handed to one’s being transgender. I’m left handed. I didn’t choose to be left handed. And no one chooses to experience gender conflict and transgender.

I encourage you to check out Kimberley’s homepage, where you’ll see her dozens of videos. The amount and variety are not nearly as impressive as the content and her ability to gently and respectfully discuss every topic.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6MiiwWpRS-Ttn_PNyO61ng

Keep up the good work, Kimberley! Your gentle spirit, desire to teach, and proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ fulfill what our Lord encourages in us, in Mathew 5:16: “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Amen to that!

Moms contact me the most

Far and away, I hear most from the mothers of trans children and trans young adults. These women have found my blog and are now reading my books. They are searching for information, longing to understand, grappling with the new reality transgender has presented.

Last week, a mother posted the following review on my book page. The full review follows the photo.

When we look to people to show us God, we’re often disappointed. When we look to God to show us people, WOW. Thank you, Greg, for looking to God to show us people. This book is the most loving, calm explanation of the gender identity conversation that our children know and embrace as second nature. Greg explains the terminology, explores the science, and most of all speaks humbly and openly from his own experience. Thank you for the mirror into our common discomfort with differences, for dissolving fear by bringing the unknown into the light, and for lovingly taking our hands as we join you in your desire that we step out of the littleness of our hearts towards others and into the abundant grace and immeasurable love of our God, who knows us all as we long to be known.

To read all of the reviews, click here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08FHBNGQV/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_tkin_p1_i1#customerReviews

Of 37 star ratings given to my two books, 36 have given the full five stars, with the other at four stars. That a 97% rating. Both the ratings and the reviews demonstrate that the books do the job for which I wrote them: to enlighten and educate.

Some folks find me via Facebook. My profile is Greg Eilers, in Indianapolis. I’ll be glad to receive a note from you via Messenger. Here is my profile: https://www.facebook.com/porthopepizza/

Others message me through my website, https://gregeilers.com/. On my homepage, see CONTACT US on the top right of the screen. I’ll receive your message in my email, and will reply to your email address.

I keep private all persons who contact me. I never reveal information that will break confidentiality.

I typically reply the same day, and always within twenty-four hours.

Some folks prefer to keep our correspondence via email. Many like talking on the phone or via video chat. I’m happy to oblige whatever works best. I’ve received long emails and provided equally detailed replies. I’ve had long conversations on the phone and via video. I have time for you and a desire to be of service.

If you have read, or will be reading either or both of my books, please consider posting a review. If not a review, please give them a star rating.

As you see from the review, above, you can post anonymously. You can do so as an Amazon customer or use an alias.

The more reviews posted, the more the books will receive credibility and attention, the more people will learn of them and might be helped in their struggle and desire to understand.

All of the moms, and all of the relatives and pastors and friends, who have reached out to me have one thing in common: they want to understand. Understanding comes from knowledge. Knowledge comes from reading and learning. That’s what my books and this blog provide: knowledge to foster understanding.

Understanding allows us to be compassionate—and whatever our situation in life is, we all long for others to show us compassion.

I hope no one hesitates to contact me—moms, dads, siblings, pastors, friends, Christians, neighbors, coworkers, grandparents . . . and trans persons, from whom I am still contacted. I am here for you all.

The holiday giving season is upon us. My books make great gifts to anyone searching for information and help, assisting all to open doors and build bridges.

Find my books here, both print and ebook versions: https://www.amazon.com/Greg-Eilers/e/B07N7FM54X?ref_=dbs_p_pbk_r00_abau_000000

My second book: coming in August!

Too many church bodies, and individual pastors, church workers, and Christians, have done and continue to do a disservice to transgender Christians. Knowledge is lacking in what it means to suffer gender dysphoria and all that can result from it, especially transitioning sexes. In the reports, articles, and suggestions for pastoral care I’ve read, I’ve wondered if any of the writers have ever talked with a transgender person or done any thorough study of the topic.

In these pages, I endeavor to provide helpful information and sound doctrine as I explain about gender dysphoria, discuss God’s Word, and provide a path toward compassionate spiritual care for transgender Christians.

I am in a unique position. Because I’ve been there and done that both as a minister and a transgender person, my experience is vital in key areas. As a transgender woman, I received the long arm of the Law when I craved the sweetness of the Gospel. Only the faithfulness of the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit, can take credit for my not ditching Christ and the purity of His Word.

Having been a minister, my heart is with pastors and all in positions of service in the Church. With gender dysphoria and transgender persons, you’ve been presented with new, unusual things which, on the surface, according to your education and experience might seem cut and dried. You want to do right by the Lord, and you want to do right by the persons you serve. It is my desire to help you, to provide the assist you need so that you might, indeed, do right by the Lord and His people.

The book’s title and subtitle declare my motivation. I’ve written in equal measure for the sake of transgender Christians and for the sake of the Church.

My prayer is that you find me faithful to the Word of God in all I write. My hope is that the Church would have a compassionate heart for a group of people who want to love the Lord, but whom, too often, are rejected by Christians.

The six paragraphs, above, conclude the first chapter of my new book, Ministering to Transgender Christians.

Where my first book, A Roller Coaster Through a Hurricane, is the story of my life, this book is its culmination. Contained in these 128 pages explains how the book came to be:

  • from a young age, a strong sense of justice and truth were formed in me, both which I have found lacking in how trans persons are treated
  • summarizing the story I detailed in my memoir, from my suffering gender dysphoria, to my transitioning, to how I was treated by my fellow Christians when I was transgender
  • what I learned along the way about the suffering of trans persons and the misunderstanding of them, both of which are especially acute for transgender Christians.

Since 2013, when I began telling pastors about my gender dysphoria, and especially during the three years (2015-18) I lived as a trans woman, I recognized my fellow Christians needed two things so that they might treat fairly their brothers and sisters in Christ who are transgender.

1. A proper understanding of gender issues

Too many Christians believe trans persons are mentally ill or have given in to a sinful desire. I detail what gender dysphoria is and what might cause it, keeping separate sexuality and how we experience gender.

The profiles of a number of gender dysphoric and trans Christians shows that members of churches large and small, in cities and rural counties, are affected. These Christians long to be faithful to the Lord. They didn’t choose this vexing situation, and they have to find a way to live with it.

2. A way forward

Understanding is vital, but more is needed. I lay out a thorough, step-by-step guide to providing spiritual care to gender dysphoric Christians, along with insights for helping family members and congregations.

I am especially excited about the how to section of the book. I am not familiar with a resource to guide Christian leaders, lay persons, and congregations in specific ways to compassionately minister to their members who suffer gender dysphoria or have transitioned.

When and where will the book be available?

All that’s left of the publishing process is for me to receive and review the proof copy, which should happen in a few days.

The book, in print and ebook versions, will then be available on Amazon, just as is my memoir, A Roller Coaster Through a Hurricane.

New reviews of my book

My memoir, A Roller Coaster Through a Hurricane, now has twenty-five reviews on its Amazon book page. 24 of 25 are FIVE STARS.

The more reviews I receive, the better my online metrics and the greater are my chances of my book being seen by prospective purchasers.

If you have read Roller Coaster, would you consider posting a review? Thank you! Some have not wanted to post their name and were able to select a username. So, know that, if you desire, you are able to protect your privacy.

The two new reviews are from Christians, whose reviews are of high value. Because I am a Christian, I could not help but write of the many ways church and faith have played a huge role, yet …

I did not write a “Christian book,” but worked to demonstrate that my story can, and does, happen to anyone, of any walk of life. I am pleased that my readers and reviewers have come from every walk of life.

In the first of the latest reviews, note what I’ve underlined.

Here’s the full review:

As a general rule, pastors don’t know a lot about transgenderism and, when they do find out a congregational or family members is transgender, they are focused on “what do I tell this person?” This is an important book for the insight it gives into a person’s life and the years and decades he felt conflict within himself. Any pastor who encounters a transgender person should say “let me look into that” and then READ THIS BOOK before going any further. It will save a lot of heartache caused by pastors jumping in and trying to give advice about something they know little about. A must for every pastor’s library.

In the most recent review, note what I’ve underlined. (LCMS is the church body in which I was a minister.) This person informed me of having purchased copies for four professionals in both ministry and mental health care.

Here’s the full review:

As an LCMS member and mental health professional, I highly recommend this book. Greg has certainly had quite a journey, and it is very informative to those who want to understand more about what it means to live with Gender Dysphoria. I hope the day comes where our understanding of causes and best treatments are clearer. One aspect of the book that I greatly appreciate is how throughout Greg’s struggles and suffering, he never loses sight of his faith in Christ and that perfect healing comes from Him. I also greatly appreciate in this time of inflexibility where people with differing views struggle mightily to listen to each other, Greg and Julie have both consistently modeled the patience, grace, and compassion that we all should strive for as Christians. I am looking forward to reading his next book. Soli Deo Gloria.

The “next book” to which the reviewer refers is my upcoming book, Ministering to Transgender Christians, which is intended primarily for pastors.

To see all twenty-five reviews, and to purchase Roller Coaster, click here:

Prayer: an ongoing conversation

This illustration pretty much captures my life!

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The morning of August 1, I was running. It was sunny. In the upper 60s. Low humidity. I was in the third mile, not yet halfway to my 6.33 total, when I put it all together.

I was feeling great. Appreciating my surroundings. Our safe neighborhood. My good health. The desire to work my body hard and the ability to do so.

I said a prayer of thanks to the Lord.

I noticed that I had already said a bunch of prayers as I ran, as I do on every run. As I do throughout every day. As comes naturally after a lifetime of practice.

And I wondered how many times a day I pray.

So I started counting.

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Before I get out of bed. I awoke at 5:15. Before moving, I say “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” then “this is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it,” and finish with Martin Luther’s morning prayer. 1.

Podcast devotion. Making the coffee, I listened to a podcast devotion. I pray with the closing prayer. 2.

Bible reading. I read the daily lectionary, concluding my reading with a prayer of thanks. 3.

Daily devotions. I read two booklets each morning. 4 & 5.

When Julie leaves for work. I try not to pray the same way every day, but my prayer generally asks for her safety on the road and that she has a good day of work. Then, I pray for all who are on the road and giving their labors for the good of the community. 6.

Breakfast. I pray before and after my meal. 7 & 8.

School buses. A bus passed our house. The first time I see one in a day, I pray, “Lord, please bless our school buses and keep safe all of their occupants.” 9.

Ready to run. Before I leave the house, I pray, “Lord, please keep me safe, strong, and smart.” 10.

Beginning my run. I again say the name of the Trinity. I say the Lord’s Prayer, pray for my family and a list of others, pray a refashioned version of Luther’s morning prayer, and conclude with either the common doxology or the “Create in Me,” or both. 11.

Roofers. I saw two men shingling a house. I prayed for them, then prayed for all who labor for us for the good of our homes. 12.

House for sale. The first yard sign I saw, I prayed, “Lord Jesus, bless all those selling their homes and those buying, that things go well for them.” 13.

Public buses. Seeing an IndyGo bus, I prayed the same as I pray for school buses. 14.

Lawn mowers. As I saw a woman mowing, I prayed, “Lord, bless her and keep her safe, and all who are laboring for their homes and families. 15.

The run. Appreciating everything about the morning, I thanked the Lord for the weather, our neighborhood, my good heath and desire to work my body, and for everything He provides for my body and soul, now and forever. 16.

Sirens. Every time I hear a siren, I pray, “Lord, bless those in their need, and those serving them.” 17.

While running. Every five minutes, my app calls out the time, my distance, and my pace. With each call, I say a prayer of thanks. When the call includes having reached the next mile, I add, “Keep me safe and strong and smart all the way, dear Lord Jesus.” 18–32.

Busy roads. Most of my running is on side streets and sidewalks. I have to cross two or three busy roads every run. This day, I had to cross Emerson and 46th twice each. I prayed for safe crossing. Twice, I had to run along 46th, in the bike lane. I run toward the traffic and keep my eyes peeled. Still, I pray for safety. 33–38.

Arriving home. I always say a prayer of thanks. 39.

Lunch. My usual prayers before and after eating. 40 & 41.

More sirens. Wherever I am, whenever I hear them, I pray. 42.

Safe son. Our youngest lives with us. He went on an errand. I prayed for his safekeeping. 43.

Garden. I checked our green beans, but they weren’t ready to pick. I noted our first two watermelons are growing. I toured the entire garden, taking pictures of tomato and green pepper plants that are heavy with fruit. I said a prayer of thanks. 44.

Julie heading home. She always texts me when she leaves work. I pray for her safety, and for all who are on the roads that they might have safe homecomings. 45.

The garage door. When I hear it move, I know someone has arrived home. I said my usual prayers of thanks when my son and Julie got home safe. 46 & 47.

Supper. The usual two prayers. At the dining room table, we pray together. 48 & 49.

And more sirens. The evening is usually busy for our ambulances and firefighters. 50–52.

Bed. I conclude my day with Luther’s evening prayer and anything specific to the day. 53.

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Our mom taught us kids to pray. The prayer I say for my family is an adaptation of the family prayer we said together before bed. As we kids grew, our parents were zealous in their faithfulness to the Lord, brought us up in it, and it grew in me. By the time I was in my twenties, I had an active prayer life.

Prayer is simply the believer speaking praises, thanks, needs, and wants to the Lord. For me, it’s an ongoing conversation—as natural to turn and talk with my Lord Jesus as turning and talking with Julie.

Whirlwind reviews for “Hurricane”

My book has now received twenty-three reviews online. 22 of 23 have given it five stars. The screenshot, below, shows my rating and the latest review . . . and the photo of the hand—thanks, Sue!—shows where I grew up in Michigan (it’s a book reference).

The review might be too small to read. Here it is: This is a book that educates people about being transgender. I loved it! As a Christian, I appreciate the author’s sincerity and honesty in relating his experiences while maintaining and expressing his Christian faith. This book should be read by everyone, especially those who condemn transgender people based on their Christian beliefs.

To read the rest of the reviews, click on the book, below. Even better, you may purchase it today, either as a paperback or an ebook.

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While I hope to sell many books, there are some folks I can’t ask to shell out bucks for it. On July 7, Julie and I attended the annual Eilers family reunion. I took a bunch of books with me to Michigan. Indeed, as I toted a handful to the reunion’s picnic area, I inadvertently snapped a pic:

Announcing that I would be honored if anyone took my book, I set a stack on an end table. After we ate, folks began to grab them. I continued to refill the stack. I was pleased that fifteen were taken . . . and many folks asked me sign theirs.

One cousin zipped through it in a few days. Before you read her reaction, know that when she asked me to sign her copy she requested I note how she’s my best, most wonderful cousin. After her review, I’m not arguing.

She posted on Facebook: You two are amazing and I love you both and admire you so much! Sooo who will play you guys in the movie? Matt Damon and Gwyneth Paltrow?

I have a call in to Matt’s people. I’ll let you know how that goes.

Still a trans advocate (3)

I also have a secular version of the presentation.

On March 14, I gave my second Transanswers presentation. This time, I addressed eighteen pastors and ministry leaders.

They were attentive throughout my ninety minute talk, sprinkling it with their excellent questions and important insights, which brought to blossom the time we spent together.

This is always an area to bring out much discussion.

I mixed in short readings from my book, “A Roller Coaster Through a Hurricane,” which served to enhance my talk and demonstrate what is to be found in the book. I was pleased afterward with how many purchased a copy.

Transanswers is where my heart is, to develop my new career of service and education. Based on the two times I’ve presented it, the need is clearly there.

I expand on each of these to provoke Christians to think deeply.

Might I present to you? To your church? Workplace? School? Group?

How far will I drive to do so? For starters, I will gladly go to the states which surround Indiana. If the occasion is such to entice me further away, I will certainly want to discuss it.

Stop talking about your faith!

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“My faith got me through.”

“I don’t know what I would have done without my faith.”

“The people of Santa Fe, Texas, are taking solace in their faith,” I heard said, the day after the people held a service to unite and strengthen them.

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I wonder whether the Lord sits on His throne in heaven, wincing every time He hears a person refer to his or her faith, without mentioning the object of this faith. In His wincing, does the Lord call out, “Hey, there! Are you forgetting about me, the One in whom you put your faith, the One who gives you something to trust, somewhere to turn in your time of trial?”

Can you imagine a person, who required emergency surgery to save his life, declaring, “It was my trust that got me through. I went under anesthesia with full faith. When it was done, I woke up and now I’m healing. My faith got me through. I don’t know what I would have done without my faith. I took solace in my faith.”

You KNOW that you would not hear such nonsense. The person would not be talking about himself, not one single bit. I don’t have to ask you about whom he would be speaking.

He would be saying, “I was in desperate shape. The surgeon came in, and she assured me that, though my situation was very serious, she was confident that she could correct the problem. And, wow, did she ever come through for me—along with the entire staff of professionals who were in that operating room. They got me through. I was nothing without them. I was dead, to be sure. Without their expertise, their care, their attention to my welfare, I had no solace because of the mess I was in.”

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When we are in a bind, or have been rescued from one, we don’t talk about ourselves. We talk about the person who delivered us from that evil. If the person, whose surgeon successfully operated on him, talked about himself, and did not talk about the surgeon and all who did their job on behalf of him, we would rightly declare, “You sure are full of yourself! Aren’t you forgetting someone?”

In the three quotes, with which I opened this piece, you know of whom the people are speaking. They are referring to God, to their Lord. My question is, why don’t they talk about Him, instead of talking about themselves?

As with the patient whose life was saved by the doctor, who gladly sings the praises of his surgical savior, shouldn’t we be talking about OUR Savior?

Here is how those three quotes should go:

“My LORD got me through.”

“I don’t know what I would have done without the grace of my LORD JESUS.”

“The people of Santa Fe, Texas, are taking solace in their GOD.”

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Christians supposedly have a deep desire to glorify their Lord. Yet, when they find themselves in the worst situations, they rarely do it.

Instead of talking about the Lord Jesus, they talk about their faith. Rather than praising the God who hears and answers their prayers, they talk about the power of prayer, and all of the people who had been praying. Instead of remarking about the Rock on whom they stand, they talk about their foot.

It’s downright goofy.

Why is it this way?

I find it to be twofold. First, that we talk about ourselves, rather than the Lord, displays the self-centered people we are, because of our sinful nature. We love to make ourselves look good. “Look at me! I have faith! Aren’t I something?!”

Second, most of us are too shy, even embarrassed, to explicitly talk about Jesus Christ. We will go to church. We will pray in private. But, to actually talk about the Lord, to cite specific things about Him, even to quote promises from Him which we see that He has fulfilled? Not so much.

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Here’s the worst I ever heard. I was talking with a man, a Christian, about faith matters. I kept hearing about his faith, but never about his Lord. I finally asked him, “Faith in what, in whom?”

He didn’t grasp my question. I had to restate it. After pondering it, he finally said, “I guess I have faith in my faith.”

Faith in one’s faith? Oh, gravy . . .

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I don’t want to hear about your faith.

I want to hear about the One in whom you put your faith.

When you speak of your Lord, I will hear your faith.

As the healed patient’s appreciation for those who got him through the surgery is obvious by what he declares regarding them, so is the faith of Christians evident by how they remark about the goodness, the forgiveness, the mercy, the strength, the help, the love they receive from their God, through the work of the One Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

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Let’s suppose it is a mental illness

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Dear fellow Christians: If you believe gender dysphoria is a mental illness, why do you treat transgender persons so terribly? How do you treat those who suffer any of the many other mental illnesses?

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Because I am transgender, my former church body, the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS), is keeping me from being a member of one of its congregations. I believe there are numerous church bodies, which have the same attitude toward transgender persons, because they are like the LCMS in its biblically-traditional doctrine and conservative practice.

My experience informs me that the majority of these types of Christians hold that gender dysphoria, which leads to one’s identifying as transgender, is a mental illness. I have argued against this, finding evidence for gender identity issues arising from a physical condition. Certainly, one’s mental state is affected, but I cringe at this term—mental illness—because, I have observed, it is not respected. In other words, if a person has cancer, his illness is respected—it’s real, it can be touched, surgery can be done on it—but mental illnesses are not so easily located, often are perceived as personality-driven, and thus are not viewed with the level of seriousness as cancer. One hears, “Oh, he’s mentally ill,” the words perhaps dripping with contempt.

Since I have left many unconvinced that gender dysphoria arises from a condition which is just as physically real as cancer, I will now take up the position of the traditional Christian, that gender dysphoria is a mental illness, that I might help my fellow Christians see how they are improperly treating their transgender brothers and sisters in Christ.

First, a look at some common mental disorders. I bet you are aware of all of these:

  • anxiety
  • eating
  • mood
  • obsessive-compulsive
  • psychotic
  • post-traumatic stress
  • sex

Each disorder has one or more specific conditions associated with it. For example, under eating disorders are listed bulimia and anorexia nervosa. At least one medical website places gender dysphoria under the various sex disorders.

Preparing to write this essay, I read over many of the specific ailments which fall under the general headings. I have found that I could use any of them for my point of comparison. I have chosen to begin with anorexia nervosa because, four years ago, a pastor, whom I told that I might transition, used it in his rebuttal to me.

Believing my gender dysphoria to be a mental illness, and finding that it is sinful for a Christian to transition, he said, “You wouldn’t tell a person with anorexia not to eat, to give in to that desire.”

Of course, no one would encourage the anorexic not to eat. I can’t imagine anyone saying, “Let her be. If she doesn’t want to eat, that’s her business.” No, starving yourself  is an awful thing.

The pastor made his point. I had no comeback. We both thought he had won the argument.

I would now reply to him, thus:

“No, I would not encourage the anorexic not to eat. However, if I were this person’s pastor, and she would not eat, I wouldn’t kick her out of my church. Just the opposite, I would show the deepest compassion. I would encourage and love and do everything in my power, and give Holy Communion—even if it had to be the tiniest sliver of a wafer soaked in a single drop of wine—to provide her with the love of our Lord Jesus. What I would NOT do is shun this child of God, or kick her out of the congregation. I would not make fun, or hold in contempt, or ostracize this Christian, which is what pastors and Christians are doing with their transgender sisters and brothers.”

There it is. It seems to me that my fellow, traditional Christians want it both ways—they want to call gender dysphoria a mental illness, but they want to treat it as if it were nothing more than a sinful desire, nothing different from a person’s bad habit of misusing the Lord’s name. (Funny, I know a lot of Christians who have spent their entire adult lives misusing the Lord’s name, but I can’t think of a one who has been kicked out of a congregation for it.)

I will now make this mental illness argument harder for myself to argue. It seemed impossible when another pastor, who found transitioning an unacceptable way to treat gender dysphoria, said to me, “If a person were a kleptomaniac, you would not prescribe stealing as the cure.” He’s right; I certainly would not prescribe it. However, if he continued to steal and I were his pastor, what would factor into my decision as to how to deal with him? If he told me that he could do whatever he pleased, I would find his position unacceptable. I would tell him that his attitude is sinful. But if he said, “I hate that I do this. The talk therapy helps sometimes, and other times I’m just so weak that I can’t stop myself,” I would show him compassion and have mercy on him.

Every pastor, with whom I have talked, I have told that I hated to transition, that I found it a terrible “cure” for gender dysphoria. If I have missed anyone, I say it again:

I. Hate. This.

As I have gotten to know other LCMS Christians who are in my same spot—some have transitioned, some have family members who are doing so, and some are fighting not to—every one of them has my attitude. They do not embrace this. They do not say that being transgender is normal. They hate being plagued with this awful thing.

Even after transitioning, I continue to hate this—and I am using “hate” in the biblical sense, “to consider evil.” I find gender dysphoria and one’s transitioning among the evils meted upon we human beings because of the Original Sin we inherit from Adam, through our parents. Just as anorexia and cancer are evil things and come to us because of Original Sin, so does gender dysphoria.

I am not happy to be transgender. I do not embrace it. I do not say that I can do as I please.

I will now provide a third, more challenging argument. Body Integrity Identity Disorder (BIID) describes the malady where a person has a compelling desire to have a limb amputated—often, a leg—or wishes he here blind or deaf. The person suffering with BIID feels, for example, that the leg in question is foreign to his body; it needs to go.

Thankfully, BIID is a rare condition, but for even one person to experience it is one too many. If I were this person’s pastor, my compassion for him would overflow. Now, let’s say, despite my pastoral care and encouragement that he work hard at talk therapy, he proceeds to have a leg amputated? How shall I minister to him? Should I inform him, in no uncertain terms, that he has sinned, and that he cannot come to church now because the sight of him would offend the members of the congregation?

You know how I would minister—exactly as in the two previous examples.

It was important that I work toward BIID because there are those who argue that a gender dysphoric male’s desire for sex reassignment, and the gender dysphoric female’s wish to have a double mastectomy, are cases of BIID. (In reply, I point out that the desire is not only for this procedure, but one’s entire life to be corrected. In other words, it is not the desire to have something removed, but the desire for that area of the body to be correct according to the feminine or masculine nature of the person’s gender.)

Whether anorexic, or a kleptomaniac, or with BIID—I could keep naming mental illnesses—I cannot imagine a pastor would treat his member as the gender dysphoric and transgender Christian is being treated.

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Three years ago, on April 29, 2015, I went public with my gender dysphoria. At the time, I was fighting to remain male. I had the love and compassion of one hundred percent of those who responded to my post.

Four months later, I revealed that I was attempting transitioning, so that I might find some healing, to try to remove the thoughts of suicide and fears of insanity. Immediately, many had contempt for me. I was accused of being a sinner. Some longtime friends either chastised me or simply walked away without a word.

Since then, matters only grew worse with my fellow, traditional Christians.

Most of them would say my gender dysphoria is a mental illness.

If it is a mental illness with which I have to be plagued, I wish it were a different one.  Maybe then, I would not be hated by so many of my Christian brothers and sisters.