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June 5, 2015 / Randall

Two Christian Responses to a Trans* Child – Which One Is “Right?”


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For a host of reasons,1 the issue of trans* identity is in the news a lot lately, and there have been a variety of responses from Christians.

As a way of furthering this discussion, I’d like to contrast two recent stories. Both involve transgender children of Christian parents, but each responds in a vastly different way – both informed by their faith.

First, we have the story of Debi Jackson – a “conservative Southern Baptist Republican from Alabama” (3:29).

In the following months, she became more insistent. We saw the psychologist and an endocrinologist to make sure there wasn’t a hidden medical issue. She became more determined to express herself by wearing those pink sparkly shoes to day care. She wanted to go out for ice cream in a fairy dress with wings. Eventually, we couldn’t hold her back. She was showing signs of depression and refused to leave the house dressed as a boy. The day I let her go to school in girl clothes, she was happier than I had seen in a very long time.

The kids were great and the teachers were awesome. But then the kids went home and told their parents, and they weren’t so great after that. Adult bigotry had influenced them. We lost most of our friends and some of our family. We basically went into hiding for about a year while my daughter grew out her hair to look like the girl that she is.

When we emerged again, it was with a very happy and confident daughter.

Second, we have the story of Leelah Alcorn, a transgender teen who tragically took her own life. This is a bit of how she describes her experience:

To put it simply, I feel like a girl trapped in a boy’s body, and I’ve felt that way ever since I was 4. I never knew there was a word for that feeling, nor was it possible for a boy to become a girl, so I never told anyone and I just continued to do traditionally “boyish” things to try to fit in.

When I was 14, I learned what transgender meant and cried of happiness. After 10 years of confusion I finally understood who I was. I immediately told my mom, and she reacted extremely negatively, telling me that it was a phase, that I would never truly be a girl, that God doesn’t make mistakes, that I am wrong. If you are reading this, parents, please don’t tell this to your kids. Even if you are Christian or are against transgender people don’t ever say that to someone, especially your kid. That won’t do anything but make them hate them self. That’s exactly what it did to me.

My mom started taking me to a therapist, but would only take me to christian therapists, (who were all very biased) so I never actually got the therapy I needed to cure me of my depression. I only got more christians telling me that I was selfish and wrong and that I should look to God for help.

When I was 16 I realized that my parents would never come around, and that I would have to wait until I was 18 to start any sort of transitioning treatment, which absolutely broke my heart.

Two transgender children, two Christian families.

Two different responses, two drastically different outcomes.

What do we, as Christians, say about these stories?


1. The Caitlyn Jenner story and Amazon’s award winning series, Transparent are just two recent examples.


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