How do you react?

When something big has happened in your life, how do you want others to react? If you share good news, do you want hooray and good job and hugs? If you share bad news, do you want commiseration and compassion and hugs? And if you share news that’s hard to reveal, do you want others to listen, to truly hear you, to dig in with their love for you … and hugs?

This piece is about how people have reacted when a loved one or colleague told them they are transgender. To set the stage, I return to an event of thirty years ago.

Back in the days of my working in an office, one afternoon a car veered off the road, came into our parking lot, and hit the car of one of my coworkers. Her husband worked nights and they lived nearby, so she called him.

Some of us were in the parking lot as he arrived. Exiting his truck, he was huffing and puffing and screaming bloody murder: “We’re going to sue!” He did not wait for anyone to speak. He asked no questions. He only began ranting. His embarrassed wife tried to calm him.

I had never seen such a display of someone with no concern for anyone else, who took no control of his temper. Any respect I might have had for him was out the window.

Our immediate reaction to a big event can set the stage for everything to follow. Think of your first impression of people upon meeting them. It’s the same idea.

As my books are gradually finding a wider audience, I’m hearing from more folks—the trans persons telling family of their gender dysphoria, and the family members of trans persons. I’m struck by the first reactions.

I return to Julie’s first reactions to me. Before we married, I told her I was a crossdresser. Her reaction was to calmly say she knew nothing about this, that she wanted me to teach her, and that she could tell this was an integral part of who I am.

Twelve years later, when I was crushed with gender dysphoria, I told Julie I didn’t know if I would survive if I had to remain male, that I might need to transition to living as a female. As previously and according to her nature, she calmly replied, “We’ll figure it out.” (Here’s what I wrote about it, in 2016: https://eilerspizza.wordpress.com/2016/03/07/well-figure-it-out/)

If Julie had replied with the “We’re going to sue!” equivalent—“I didn’t sign up for this”—I can’t imagine our marriage surviving or, perhaps, me surviving.

As I went public about my experiencing gender dysphoria, the initial reactions ranged from understanding to judgmental. When I announced I was transitioning, the hardest ones to swallow were “The devil is leading you by the nose” and “You’re following the ways of the world” and, addressing the severity of my suffering that was leading me to try transitioning, one pastor said, “Surely, it’s not that bad.” That ended our relationship.

Many first reactions were two quotes of the Bible. First, that God created males and females. Second, that men shall not wear women’s clothes and vice versa. Every time these reactions were presented, the person thought they provided the absolute judgment and the case was closed.

I wish I’d kept track of how many times I was told, “God doesn’t make mistakes.” Of course, this is true. Also of course, it has nothing to do with the topic. Using this with a person whose sense of self is in conflict with his biological sex, that it can’t be because God doesn’t make mistakes, is akin to telling a person with cancer that it can’t be because God declared “good” the creation of everything and, clearly, cancer is not good. I guess these tumors are all in these folks’ heads.

The reactions I’ve quoted all served to shut down the conversation. In some cases, I suspect that’s what people wanted. It’s like with an in-person conversation, when someone says, “Well, I just don’t agree!” and leaves.

In other cases, they kept writing to me on social media and using email, but never came off their initial reaction. While they might have been convinced that I wasn’t making my case, because of their initial reactions I feared they had their minds made up and there would be no budging.

I won’t make the joke, “Don’t confuse me with the facts,” but I’ve thought it often.

On Super Bowl Sunday, I received an email from a woman. She’d just found my books, bought both of them, and was midway through reading. That evening, she had finished them.

Here are the opening words of her review of my memoir, A Roller Coaster through a Hurricane:

Suppose you found out that a terrible fire had left your adult child a burn victim? You would look for every answer that might minimize your loved one’s suffering. If you found the memoir of someone who himself was a burn victim and had been treated by the finest care available, you would scour that book, searching for understanding of how your child feels and any clues to effective treatments.

Now, there’s a first reaction for the ages.

Her full reviews are worthy of reading. Here are screen shots of both. Following them are the links to both pages, where you can read many more excellent reactions.

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.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

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!

Book reviews: feast or famine

The screenshot, above, tells the ratings story of how my book, Ministering to Transgender Christians, is being received.

Well, almost. While the seven 5 star ratings and sole 1 star rating is real, it doesn’t reveal this: the seven folks who’ve rated the book have posted reviews, while the only person to click 1 star didn’t say a word.

I can imagine why the person gave the book 1 star, but I don’t want to be left to guessing—though I admit my initial thoughts were not exactly kind toward the person: “That punk,” I murmured, “If they can click on one star, they can have the guts to tell me what their problem is.”

I’d love to hear from that person. What didn’t they like? Where did they find me to be wrong? What can they tell me to improve or correct my text?

The ratings might be feast or famine, but the reviews are all feast. Here are the two received since I last posted reviews, beginning with this screenshot that captures Katie’s full review:

I’ve messaged with Katie a number of times over the past few years. I’ve appreciated her evenhanded and compassion-filled approach to things, and all the more so because she is a Lutheran and a Bible study leader, speaker, and writer.

I also like Katie’s title: “Important book for anyone especially moms.” When I began writing Ministering, I thought I was talking specifically to Lutheran ministers. Eventually, I saw that my audience was wider, and changed my focus to any Christian leader who might find themselves in need of this information. Yet, what I’ve so far seen is that parents are being helped by this book—and, based on reviews and messages I receive, they are my largest audience.

Included is the parent who posted the most recent review:

The screenshot only captures the first half of it. Click here for the entire review: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08FHBNGQV/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_tkin_p1_i0#customerReviews

I’ve shared many emails with this parent. They are a Christian who is conservative and traditional in every way. They struggled greatly with their child’s transition. Now, having read both of my books, they have been able to reach out to their child and reconnect.

Though parent and child have vastly different views on important things, they are striving to understand and love one another. For this, I rejoice.

If you know anyone who would receive value from my memoir, A Roller Coaster through a Hurricane, or from Ministering to Transgender Christians, please reach out to them. Click the pics, below, to go to either book for ordering.

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

Content as a guy

Every Sunday, I inject estradiol, a synthetic form of the female hormone, estrogen. I just hit the two year mark since going on a low dose of it.

After completing my transition from male to female, I stopped hormone therapy. After a few months, my bones, muscles, and joints hurt. My doctor said it was because my hormone levels were too low.

My sex hormone levels resemble those of a genetic female. Indeed, at the last check of my blood, my estrogen was high, so my endocrinologist had me reduce my dose by twenty-five percent. See the tiny bit in the syringe? That weekly dose keeps my bones, muscles, and joints strong.

Because I no longer produce anything but a tiny bit of testosterone, my sex hormone levels are reverse from what they should be for a male. Yet, I feel completely male. I’m nearly at the three year mark since it started.

It was the day before Thanksgiving in 2017 that I completed the last of my operations: facial feminization surgery.

The day after.
Two days after surgery.
Before and after.

I spent the final five weeks of 2017 with a splendid case of euphoria, feeling absolutely giddy. I’d done it! The seemingly impossible! I’d completely transitioned and I finally felt right. I was done with the years of seeing a therapist, figuring out how to navigate my inner turmoil, taking every step in transitioning—medical, social, legal, surgical—and I was ready to finish my life as Gina.

Christmas 2017. My smile reflects how I felt.

My euphoria didn’t make it seven weeks. The second week of 2018, I couldn’t figure out what was going on inside me. Within days, I knew what it was. I’d returned to the old fight, a male and female striving for dominance in me.

Soon, I realized it wasn’t that—it wasn’t a fight between the two, but rather that I felt completely male and I couldn’t believe it. I’d just completed my transition, and now I feel male? Now??? I was angry, confused, and lost.

How long would it last? That was the big question. I didn’t trust it. When I experienced it in 2013, in the first months after I started hormone therapy, it endured for six weeks. And when, in 2014, I stopped and restarted hormones two times and it returned, it remained fewer weeks. Would this be like those times?

Did I want it to last? At the time, I did not. (It wouldn’t be until the end of April that I finally felt I could trust it and embrace feeling exclusively male.)

I hesitated telling Julie. The end of January, I finally did. She was so flummoxed, she said almost nothing. The look on her face said, “Are you kidding me?”

Unlike in 2013 and 2014, this time it remained. I came to realize it was because my hormones finally settled into place—no more fluctuation of my testosterone—reverse for a male, but perfect for my messed up endocrine system.

By April, I was living more as a man than a woman. In May, I was back to male all the time. In July 2018, I went public.

And it stuck. I am thoroughly and completely content that I am a male.

These days, it’s hard for me to look at photos of me as a female. Though I lived as Gina for three years, and it only concluded in 2018, those years seem a lifetime ago—as if they were someone else’s life.

That’s an interesting observation, because it is how I felt when I experienced myself as a female. In those days, my entire previous life—fifty-seven years!—seemed like the life of another person. It was as if I was looking at the photo album of a different person.

And, now? Looking as me as a female is surreal, that it can’t possibly be me, but has to be a different person.

It doesn’t matter that I have the surgeries to prove that I transitioned. They don’t affect my feeling male.

I can’t avoid the surgeries. They affect me, every day. Indeed, all I have to do is smile. There it is, the numbness I continue to experience in the top and sides of my head.

While I wish I hadn’t had to go through all I did to get to this point—who wouldn’t avoid the years of struggle, the rejection and strife, the surgeries, the cost?—I believe I had to. Therefore, I regret nothing.

I learned so much—and now have substantive proof that my condition is hormonal—and have put it to good use. Last year, I published my memoir. This year, I published Ministering to Transgender Christians. With those books and this blog, I’ve been blessed to help many people—transgender persons, family members, pastors, and more.

After fifty years of gender conflict, I finally experience and enjoy inner contentment.

My new book: chapter topics

I’m holding the proof copy of my book in front of the cover artwork, the creation of my daughter Erin, which hangs above my computer. Using the proof, I photographed the title page of each chapter. Here we go!

Pastor Jon Klein perfectly sets the table for the book. He never imagined having a transgender person in his congregation … until he did. Desiring to minister to that person, he found me. A friendship was formed. He graciously agreed to my request to get the book off to a good start.

I use my daughter’s struggle with depression to open the topic of gender dysphoria—both being daunting, mysterious challenges.

This book is the culmination of my life. Everything about me led to my desire and need to write this.

I love provocative openings. This chapter is filled with them. My aim? To lay things on the table. In the first two chapters, I make clear where I’m going and seek to accomplish.

This is a book about Christians and for Christians. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is our foundation. Sadly, the Gospel so easily gets messed up, and never more than in how trans folks are treated.

Deadname. Bottom surgery. HRT. Cisgender. Genderqueer. Lots of words and terms are unique to this discussion. Here they are, up front and handy.

Well, that says it!

That says it, too, but now things are not so straightforward. I dig deep to penetrate what might be behind this vexing condition.

One of my favorite chapters, perhaps because it arose from an aha moment. Working on the previous chapter, I dropped the “dysphoria,” and began pondering. Soon, I was staring at a list of intriguing, important ideas.

Trans persons transition socially, legally, medically, and surgically. There’s no one way to do it. Describing every aspect, I keep separate how adults and youngsters transition.

Gender dysphoric and trans persons attempt suicide more than TEN TIMES the rest of the population. This chapter lays out why.

This discussion is about real people. I profile several folks I’ve gotten to know, who are in various situations.

A number of biblical passages are used to stop and stifle all discussion that being transgender is anything but sinful. I address each of the passages typically cited against trans persons.

With the topic of transgender, so many misconceptions are held—and those that hold them think their thinking is correct.

We’ve never done it that way before. How often we hear this in the church to stop whatever change someone has suggested! Well, how about this: We never believed it that way before. You know, as in mixed race marriage. Or suicide. Or the role of women in the church. Now, let’s add transgender.

In a sense, everything up to this chapter was table-setting. Here, the book becomes a how-to text. Step by step, information to know and questions to ask will equip a person to provide compassionate spiritual care to gender dysphoric and transgender Christians.

More how-to, a miscellany of information so that no topic is left unaddressed and the reader is thoroughly informed.

My favorite chapter, because this gets to the heart of the work of ministering to Christ’s people. This is a keep the main thing the main thing chapter. It’s all about Jesus Christ. It’s all about the Gospel.

Justin is one of the persons I profile in Chapter 10. As I was nearing the completion of the final draft, things were developing with his addressing his gender dysphoria. Our conversation in February made for a fitting conclusion.

And that’s it. That’s the book. Order it here: https://www.amazon.com/Ministering-Transgender-Christians-Resource-Christian/dp/B08FRJLQBG/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

My new book: now available!

Ministering to Transgender Christians: A Resource for the Christian Church is now available for purchase on Amazon in paperback and ebook editions: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08FRJLQBG/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

Who would benefit from reading this book?

Anyone interested in learning about gender dysphoria, how it affects a person, what it means to be transgender, and how those who have trans relatives and friends might show them compassion, will benefit from this book.

While the book is geared toward how transgender Christians are widely viewed in congregations, with an eye toward better seeing them as genuine brothers and sisters in Christ who experience a unique, challenging, and often difficult condition, with the aim toward providing them with compassionate, spiritual care, every chapter contains insights that transcend the Christian faith.

When I began writing, I thought I was talking specifically to pastors. I had been a pastor, and when I was a trans woman it was primarily with pastors I interacted. Over the eighteen months since beginning to write, I found that it was important to speak to a wide audience.

Pastors might be the prime readers, as they lead congregations and minister to the entire flock, but pastors are not the only ones who are lacking in transgender education. Not only are pastors not the only church leaders who provide spiritual care, the topic of transgender affects everyone.

  • Christian counselors will find themselves sitting across from those who have made the difficult declaration that they experience gender conflict.
  • Teachers in Christian schools will have children whose gender identity does not match how everyone knows them, and those with siblings and friends who have socially transitioned.
  • Those who attend to the business of congregations need to be informed so that they can support their pastors, assist their members, and address for the good of all matters regarding transgender members.
  • Lay people need to be no less knowledgeable. If a member transitions, they deserve to be informed. How is this person being treated? This might be their friend, or someone with whom they serve on a committee, or the person who always sits in the pew in front of them. Regardless, all trans church members are their fellow believers. For the sake of all, every church member deserves to have a good education in a challenging subject.
  • Let’s not forget those who serve the greater church body. Decisions about transgender persons are coming down from the top. Those at the top should make decisions based on sound information and good theology, or else the congregations they serve and their members will not be properly served.

In my next post, I’ll provide a synopsis of each of the book’s seventeen chapters.

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.

2019: 3 unthinkable things

2019 was mostly an excellent year. I achieved an older goal and a newer one, both which had seemed insurmountable, even unthinkable. Along the way, another unthinkable thing occurred, one that cut deeply.

I’ll get that one out of the way, so that I can end on a high note. In the spring, I was told that if I continued to go the local transgender support group, there were some who would not attend. Because I did not want to be a roadblock for anyone, I elected to stop attending.

Julie and I started going to this group in January 2015. We attended most meetings. We received support and provided it. Because Julie was able to grasp transitioning in a loving, compassionate manner, she was especially helpful to SOFFAs (significant others, family, friends, allies). With my pastoral experience and natural gift for gab, and because I experienced every step in transitioning, I too offered my share. Indeed, the Christian faith was a familiar topic, especially those suffering rejection by Christian family members, and I regularly provided insights and understanding.

A year earlier, I had resumed living as a male, so why would I want to continue to attend? The reasons were numerous. This had become my group. I had made some good friends. Retirement from the ministry had ripped me away from people; this group filled a void. And, because I like helping others, I could continue to be helpful.

Even more, what I experienced in feeling male after transitioning proved beneficial. As I related what was going on, others opened up. I broke the ground for some to admit that they don’t always feel strictly male or female, and it sometimes scares them because they transitioned.

A young trans woman approached me about what she was experiencing. She visited at our house a few times, where we had long talks. Soon, she resumed living as a guy. He’s doing fine now, feeling he’s sorted through things. I was happy to help him.

Others admitted that my detransitioning scared them. I suspect that one or two didn’t want me at the meetings because they feared what happened with me could happen with them.

One of those trans women unfriended me on Facebook, without saying a word. She and I had been close. It hurt a lot.

Indeed, the Facebook unfriending became rampant. No one told me, of course; they simply did it. I had to figure it out, recognizing I was no longer seeing them in my newsfeed.

Many didn’t unfriend me, but they’ve kept their distance. Only one local trans woman has acted the same toward me as she did when I was a trans woman.

I found it all so absurd. Some of the same people, who cry for acceptance, now rejected me. I was the same person I always had been, but by no longer identifying as transgender they turned from me.

They turned from me the way they hate how others turn from them.

And so it goes. There is no one group of people fully able to do for others what they ask from them.

My final meeting came right after I received my memoir in print. I brought it to the meeting. Before leaving, I addressed the group. I read some paragraphs, showing them how I was still supporting them. My final words to them were, “Whether or not I see you again, I will be speaking up for you and educating wherever I can.”

In 2020, I will publish my second book, Ministering to Transgender Christians.

That’s a nice segue to the older of the two major goals I achieved in 2019. I had long been wanting to write a book, which I thought would be a novel. (That sits in my computer, unfinished and untouched for years.) Ever since my therapist, in 2013, told me to write what I was experiencing with my gender dysphoria, I had been compiling my memoirs. In September 2018, I completed the first draft.

At that time, I knew nothing of self-publishing, so I had no clue whether I would be able to get it into print. When I learned that I could, cost free, publish it through Amazon, I was elated and took the plunge.

The other previously unthinkable goal, which I’ve only had since taking up jogging year-round in 2016, was to log one thousand miles in a year. I hit the mark the first week of November. As I type this on December 30, the following screenshot from my app reveals where I stand for 2019.

My 2020 goal? 1,200 miles—to average 100 per month.

My second 2020 goal? Publish my second book.

My third 2020 goal? Get cracking on promoting my books and my program of transgender education.