/ Gentle Reformation

Transgenderism and Kids

Last week at the Presbyterian Church in America's General Assembly, I had the privilege of meeting Mary Weller, the Project Coordinator and Public Relations Manager of truthXchange. She shared the resource letter below with me which we publish here with their permission. This letter serves as an example of how to interact with families with a wealth of information as they deal with transgender issues.  

Dear Carla,

Thank you for trusting me with the challenges your family faced recently with Emily. I admire your deep, compassionate, dedicated love for your kids. As you recounted Emily’s depression during the Covid lockdowns and her upheaval as she stands on the threshold of puberty, I was deeply moved. And then you recounted her conviction that there is something horribly wrong with her body – that she might actually be a boy. I could hear the heartbreak in your voice and it broke my own heart. Now I know why you stopped posting on social media and even seemed distant in our occasional text chats.

Carla, I’m so relieved that you felt free to pour out your heart to me last week.

You asked, “What if Brent and I are wrong about all of this? What if Emily should change gender?” I can only imagine the pressure you must feel. There are so many messages out there about gender and we are told that to question anyone’s sense of gender confusion is to hate them. We must affirm a person’s sense of who they are “on the inside,” or else we are canceling them, denying their existence—even endangering their lives. To disagree with the current gender narrative is bigoted, homophobic or transphobic. It’s a new religious rite: if you won’t acquiesce, you’re nothing short of evil.

It seems to me that you and Brent face two overarching areas in your stance on Emily’s behalf. First, your sense that truth does not change based on how we feel about it has been shaken. If truth is not objective, then everything we affirm as Christians can be challenged. The very notions of “who” we are and “why” we exist become confused. Second, you have both heard strong opinions about how those who identify as transgender should be treated. You’ve been given dire warnings about your daughter’s future; even her life is at stake if you don’t comply with immediate and total affirmation of Emily’s gender confusion. This seems to me a terrible pressure to be under, Carla, and I hope that my thoughts on each of these in turn will help you stand firm as you and Brent guide Emily.

So, how can you know that sex and gender are real and fixed, not changeable based on feelings? This gender ideology movement is so complicated and confusing. We can tie ourselves in knots trying to figure out where to begin. But in his Word, God gives us clear wisdom to address the issue of gender. What Scripture points us to, sweet friend, is the ultimate and beautiful simplicity of Truth.

Do you remember the time we spent in the garden with the kids when they were little, talking to them about the wonder of creation? We showed them the pumpkin vines as they blossomed, explaining that the flower with baby fruit at its base was female, and the flower with lots of pollen on its stamen was male. We’d just started our reading of Romans for Bible study that year, and kept talking to each other about what the Apostle Paul said in chapter 1, that “what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them” and that He could be “clearly perceived…in the things that have been made.” That school year was filled with times when we could clearly see what Paul meant! In creation, we saw male and female (distinct and complementary) in almost every species, and the intricate design for reproduction and flourishing was plain in the world around us. Later in that chapter, Paul said that men who claimed to be wise became fools: “They exchanged the truth about God for the lie,” worshiping created things rather than the Creator.

As we struggle to know if sex and gender are truly binary, we realize that all of reality is ultimately based on one main binary: God and His creation (a reality we could call “Twoism”). The lie always offers some form of nonbinary world (or a false reality we could describe as “Oneism”), where we deny God’s existence, or discover that we are the same as God; and therefore we create and define ourselves. It’s vital we remember that God, as Creator, has ultimate say in the “what” and the “why” of who we are; and He created us male and female. Genesis 1:27 says “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” This is our “what.” Genesis 1:28a says, “And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it.’” These instructions were given to Adam and Eve but they reveal to us the “why” of our existence as human beings.

Bearing God’s image, the first man and the first woman existed in the fullness of who they were both as complete persons and as a one-flesh unity. They were to go out into the world to work order in it, while also filling it with fellow image bearers.

Of course, sin changed just about everything for the man and the woman, but we cannot gather anywhere from Scripture that the sex binary was changed. In fact, we see quite the opposite, which explains the sense of disorder we now see regarding sex and gender. Genesis 3 tells us that God put enmity between the serpent and the woman, and between her offspring and his offspring. This means that the woman still existed as the first of a distinct category of humans (female), separate from the man. God tells the woman that her task of bearing children will now be filled with pain. This shows us again that she still represented the humans whose bodies would produce children in the way that only women can (Gen 3:16). He also told her, “Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” This same language is used some verses later, when God tells Cain that sin is crouching at the door: “Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” By this, we can gather much about what Eve’s new desire for her husband would look like, and what Adam’s rule over her would entail.

Generations later, God saw that the wickedness of man had so increased that “every intention of the thoughts of his [man’s] heart was only evil continually.” So, God determined to wipe out “all flesh,” saving only a covenant people for himself through Noah and his family. As God prepares to carry out His judgment and His salvation, He clearly states in His instructions to Noah, “And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every sort into the ark to keep them alive with you. They shall be male and female.” When the flood comes, there is a threefold repetition of this saving of all flesh: 1. “male and his mate (clean), 2. male and his mate (unclean), 3. male and female (birds),” along with Noah, his wife, and his sons and their wives. Once again, we see the male and female binary as the world “starts again” after the flood.

Carla, I worry you might think I’m focusing too much on the male/female binary, which continues after the Fall. But it seems so necessary in light of the article and the video your friend at church gave you. I watched it—all about the family highlighted on Fox News for LGBTQ+ Pride Month. The parents have a daughter they are raising as a boy. The reporter said that part of the reason the family believed they should let their daughter identify as a transgender male was because of their Christian faith. The child’s mom is quoted saying, “For me, it’s just a deep spiritual belief that…we believe in God, and He created us the way He wanted us — you know — well then, yes, He created Ryland just the way he is.” This is a theological statement of huge importance. I’ve heard quite a number of voices within ostensibly Christian circles discussing whether Christians can affirm someone in their gender confusion. The reasoning goes like this: “God does not make mistakes, so if someone is transgender they can embrace the fact that God made them that way!” However, this does not take into account Scripture’s witness to the effects of the Fall. God creates us, yes. But when sin enters the world, God gives us clear instructions about how to live in this fallen world. The deception of our sinful hearts will one day be cleansed because of the salvation plan God will accomplish, sending His Son to die for us and reconcile us back to Himself.

In a more nuanced version of the idea expressed by this trans-identifying child’s mother, I have read accounts of people trying to reconcile their Christian faith with a transgender identity by referencing the Fall rather than forgetting it. In one account, for instance, someone who professes faith in Christ quite passionately has also felt a distinct and severe discomfort with his body and has decided to attempt to transition to be a female in as many ways as possible. This person’s thought is that “trans people” are true paradoxes as a result of the Fall, something of a mismatch between the exterior body and the interior soul or mind (I’m paraphrasing a bit here because I’m trying not to write you an essay instead of a letter, my sweet friend!). However, Carla, Scripture does not seem to allow for that. Even after the Fall and as God was about to wipe out all living flesh because all their thoughts were evil, God still references only male and female in deciding to save a few. That little verse that we’ve read over and over again from toddler Sunday School classes ‘til now becomes vitally important in our understanding, “And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every sort into the ark to keep them alive with you. They shall be male and female.” Noah could tell which was which. Their embodied reality told him so. They were a complete representation of all living things.

This brings me to one last thought on how different people claim to be engaging with the idea of transgenderism from a Christian perspective. Christians who begin with activist terms and foundations will usually end up in a worldview irreconcilable with a biblical worldview. For example, transgender activists define “sex” and “gender” as two separate things. In their minds, “sex” refers to the biology of a person; “gender” refers to the internal sense a person has about whether they are masculine or feminine, or even androgynous (nonbinary). Though a person’s body seems to be male or female, we can’t know what they truly are until they express “who they are on the inside.” Until very recently, the idea that sex and gender were separate categories would have been totally foreign. However, during the 20th century, feminist Simone de Beauvoir began to redefine womanhood as an oppressive social construct that could be thrown off if women were not held back by the required weakness and vulnerability brought on by motherhood. (Never mind the amazing strength and unique ability shown in motherhood!) Approximately 25 years later, John Money, a doctor at Johns Hopkins, began using the phrase “gender identity.” He performed a disastrous experiment on a twin boy whose penishad been badly mutilated during circumcision. He taught the boy’s parents to “girl” their son. Ten years later, the injured twin discovered his true sexual identity and began to live as a male as best he could until he finally committed suicide at age 38. His twin brother died of a drug overdose. John Money was later revealed to be a sexual abuser and his work was shown to be both horrific and predatory. In spite of his fraudulent and evil work, his ideas seeped into academia and took root. Drawing from Money’s work, Judith Butler gave her own spin on the subject, making waves in the early1990s by insisting that both sex and gender were social constructs rather than immutable aspects of our embodied selves.

In stark contrast, the biblical worldview makes it clear that the idea of gender, or male or female behavior, is directly linked to our sex. Gender is a “therefore.” I am a woman and therefore the things I do are done in feminine ways; my husband is a man and therefore he does things in masculine ways. A girl can be a tomboy, but this does not do away with her femininity; she is simply a girl doing things that are more often associated with boys. There is actually far more liberty in this than what one finds in the current ideology of gender. I’ve read a good number of children’s books written from the transgender perspective. Ironically, they show a very strict gender conformity. If a little boy likes glitter or enjoys playing with his sister’s dolls, the suggestion is made that perhaps he is a girl trapped in a boy’s body. If an adolescent girl doesn’t like her looks when her breasts begin to develop, she could be told right away that she might be a boy inside. A biblical worldview offers freedom to handle such children in a different, loving, and holistic way that values both their internal sense of themselves and what their body represents about who they are. That same little boy can be encouraged to know that daddies and brothers also care for babies and kids; that learning to be gentle with something so small, and protective of its needs is a beautiful expression of who men are called to be by their Creator God. He can be told about how God loves physical beauty and filled men with holy inspiration and talent in the Old Testament so that they could make tapestries, sculptures, and art that pleased Him in His tabernacle where He came to dwell with His people out of love. That adolescent girl can be surrounded by other believing women who understand how awkward a developing body with its hormone and figure changes can be. She can be loved through the discomfort, while also being encouraged to know that each of these changes is a preparation for and a sign of God’s beautiful design for the life-giving, nurturing, and soul-shaping calling of women. Even for a girl who may, whether due to singleness or infertility, never have biological children, her changing body is a sign of the growth of a female mind (which is visibly different in its development from a male mind!) and soul into an adult woman, a complete Image bearer in and of herself, whose chief end with all her fellow human beings is to “glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” This diversity of male and female with the broad range of how each of us lives out our lives is beautiful and good; it is the opportunity for harmony rather than a rigid one-tone drumbeat where any difference is dissonance.

Given the beauty of what God has designed as opposed to the rigidity of gender ideology, I object to the countless articles and books that claim to deal with transgender issues from a Christian perspective while operating within the confines of false gender assumptions. The works of one author, Preston Sprinkle, are especially attractive since Sprinkle writes with a tender heart toward people experiencing gender dysphoria. He cares for them deeply. However, in the help he offers Christians, he explains and engages the language of gender ideology as though it describes reality. Carla, at best this approach muddies what is actually very clear theologically and biologically. But worse, it leads people into affirming ideas and ideologies that are extremely harmful.

Accepting the premises and vocabulary of transactivism and gender radicalism cedes vital ground for truth on which we must firmly stand. While it is always helpful to understand what people mean in our culture when they speak about “the gender spectrum” or when they discuss their“gender not matching their sex,” I do not think it is helpful for Christians to adopt and use this language when we respond. We cannot arrive at true conclusions if all our premises are false. Instead, we must lovingly restate the truth of the biblically established binaries: God is Creator, distinct from and master over His creation; and God’s creation of all flesh entailed the distinctly different and complementary gender binary of male and female.

How does this apply to your dear Emily? It means that you and Brent, as her loving parents, can rest in the knowledge that God knit Emily together in your womb carefully and with intent, your beloved little girl. He created her in His image, female, with all the inherent identity, potential, and purpose that entails. As you and Brent stand on that truth, it will not shift under your feet. Scripture shows this to us very clearly. I hope this helps settle your hearts and minds before the Lord.

The other fear you shared, Carla, was for Emily’s safety. You told me what Emily’s counselor at school warned you about: If you and your husband don’t affirm her sense that she is a boy, she might suffer from depression, self-harm or even suicide. I have heard this claim so often, and it’s terrifying. As I told you, I read that article from your friend about the family that was raising their daughter as a boy. I wanted to know more, so I bought and read a book the mother wrote about their experiences. She spoke of this fear. In her research about transgender issues she became alarmed as she read article after article that warned about the high rates of depression, anxiety, bullying, self-harm, and suicide in people who identify as transgender. What parents would not want to save their child from such suffering? Yet, what proof is there that affirming young people in their new, chosen gender actually saves them from suffering? Does it really help?

As I shared with you during our visit, Carla, there is ample evidence that the reverse is true: “affirmative care” (as it is labeled by gender clinics and activists) can lead to grave and permanent damage for those who receive it. For a long time, I thought transgenderism didn’t demand my immediate attention, even though I vaguely knew that there were theological and practical issues to be considered. I had higher priorities. But, then my friend Nancy sent me an article about Scott Newgent, a biological female who underwent every procedure available to transition to being a man. She is now dedicated to warning others that the medical services provided in order to help people transition are extremely damaging. In fact, they nearly cost Scott her life. She hopes to stop the medicalization of kids who experience gender confusion.

I remembered Scott’s article when Kelly had a friend in high school who began to identify as a boy. Other students also identified at some point on the “gender spectrum.” But Kelly was concerned about Sammy, with whom she was very close.

Kelly began asking me questions about whether it was okay to call Sammy “they” and “them” instead of “she” and “her.” I read up on Scott Newgent’s claims about transgender care. What I found horrified me. Obviously, each person experiencing gender confusion is an individual, and parts of each story and experience will be unique. But, as you know from what Emily wanted and as I know from my research, certain “transition” stages tend to happen in a particular order. First comes social transition: name and pronoun changes, style of dress, and accessories to appear more masculine or feminine. Next, if a person is young enough, doctors prescribe puberty blockers. This is described as a “hold button” to allow kids to pause in their development while deciding whether they want to pursue “transition.” Next come cross-sex hormones with different effects, based on one’s desired gender appearance. Next is “top surgery”―either mastectomy for females or breast implants for males. Last of all, and most rare, is “bottom surgery”―the inversion of the penis in order to create a false vagina, or the harvesting of tissue from arms (most often) in order to build a false phallus.

Kelly’s concern for Sammy started with social transition and while I was familiarizing myself with what that meant, Sammy began to talk excitedly about the new prescription for testosterone she had received. As we tried to wrap our heads around what testosterone would do to her, she informed Kelly and their group of friends that her parents were considering allowing her to get “top surgery” before she turned 18 because she wanted to start college looking “as much like a man as possible” in order to avoid the embarrassment she felt when people “misgendered” her. Every step of the way, Kelly felt the tension between wanting to be a good friend to Sammy (which, in her mind, included speaking the truth to her in love) and fearing that she might offend Sammy and lose her friendship if she didn’t cheer Sammy on in everything she was doing. Kelly also felt the added pressure of peers, most of whom wholeheartedly approved of what Sammy was doing, as well as several teachers who asked their students to refer to Sammy by her new male pronouns and made it clear that a lack of affirmation would be considered bullying.

However, Kelly and I had studied every step of the procedures Sammy was pursuing, and we were convinced that Sammy had not been given complete information about the process on which she was embarking. For instance, when Sammy socially transitioned, she also began to wear a breast binder in school. One day in PE, Kelly saw Sammy stumble on the track because she couldn’t take a deep enough breath, due to the tight chest binder. Sammy had been warned that this might happen, but she was taken by surprise by the skin chafing and irritation she experienced. She did not want to stop wearing the binder, but she did begin to think about having her breasts removed, something that had been discussed with her by the “gender therapist” she was seeing with her parents. When Sammy started taking synthetic testosterone, or “T” as she called it, she was euphoric. Her voice began to deepen and a peach fuzz of dark hair appeared on her upper lip. When Kelly asked her if she was nervous to put something like that in her body, Sammy was almost bemused. “It’s totally safe, Kell! I know tons of guys on T online and they love it.” (She meant girls who identified as male.) “Plus, I got the prescription from a clinic. They said if I had any problems with it, I could stop taking it and the effects would wear off over time. Like, even if I want my higher voice back, there are exercises I can do. But that’s not going to happen. If anything, this is saving me. If I had to live hiding my true self, I could have gotten suicidal.” Since Sammy had experienced deep depression earlier and now seemed quite happy, Kelly didn’t know what else to say.

But you and Brent were right to fear that this “transition” process is not neutral and safe. They do incredible damage to healthy bodies and minds. As Emily’s school counselor did with you, many transactivists will adamantly tell parents and the public that each of these treatments should be administered and affirmed even for children, since withholding them might cause harm to the dysphoric individual—harm that could be anything from additional mental distress up to and very likely including suicide. Carla, it’s true that suicide rates among people suffering from gender dysphoria are extremely high when compared to the general population. However, the data are extremely unreliable when it comes to showing that gender transition therapies do anything to alleviate suicidal ideation. The longest-term study available regarding suicidal behavior for people who had undergone “sex reassignment surgery” is out of Sweden and it indicated that its participants had “considerably higher risks” for suicidal behavior and additional psychiatric issues than the general population. Another study, which eventually assisted in the shut-down of the gender clinic in the UK out of which it came, showed that the administration of puberty blockers to tween and teen girls had no positive impact on their gender dysphoria. Yet Kelly and I discovered, as we watched Sammy’s experiences, that many harmful practices were being offered to children in the name of “gender affirmation”—sometimes without their parent's knowledge.

Some people laugh when I tell them that during this time I took several “Am I trans?” quizzes online. Kelly thought it was hysterical (“Oh my gosh, mom! YOU DID NOT!”) until she saw the results I got. As I took the tests, I tried to think about how I felt as a young teen when my body began changing (you know how tall I am—it was beyond awkward!) and I answered as best I could with memories of myself at that time. Carla, every single one of the quizzes encouraged me to think I was either non-binary or trans, and pushed me toward resources that almost immediately mentioned social transition, puberty blockers, and hormones as “options” to me as I pursued my “true identity”! They also asked whether my family was “safe,” and gave me options to speak privately to “gender counselors.” Several sites opened with instructions on how to quickly close my browser and clear my search history to hide from others what I was reading. Can you imagine how easy it is for girls like Emily and Sammy, or boys who are struggling with confusion, to get swept into an echo chamber where they’re encouraged in all aspects of their confusion, and where anyone who might try to help them discern what is real from deception is labeled as “unsafe”?

Nothing suggested by these “experts” is safe. Puberty blockers can result in: bone density loss; permanent negative effects on pituitary function; atrophy of reproductive organs (which may lead to infertility); and adverse effects on neurological development. They are also prescribed off-label for this kind of use. In addition, blocking puberty prevents the very process that naturally helps resolve gender dysphoria in the vast majority of youth. Studies I read showed that anywhere from 70% (conservatively) to 90% of the time, gender confusion resolves itself through puberty. Conversely, nearly 100% of children put on puberty blockers persist in their dysphoria and pursue further transition. It’s as though the very “help” offered by gender activists cements the problem instead.

I mentioned to you when we were together, that Sammy had started on testosterone just before she turned 17. This is common for “female to male transition” and is administered at very high doses. Many who start on these hormone therapies describe feelings of euphoria and lessening of depression. This seemed to be the case for Sammy. Not only was she ecstatic over her deepening voice: she loved to see hair begin to grow on her upper lip, her chest, and her legs. But the desired bodily changes are accompanied by dangerous effects. There is an increased risk of heart attack in women, as well as emotional effects like aggression and loss of empathy. Testosterone causes vocal cords to thicken, which can cause physical problems in women who tend to have more slender necks that cannot always accommodate the change comfortably. Most disturbing to me were the effects of testosterone on female reproductive organs. A uterus deprived of estrogen and awash in testosterone begins to atrophy, which can lead to severe pain and other serious health problems including infertility. Once this happens, a hysterectomy will be required.

Chest binding can cause structural damage to delicate and sensitive breast tissue. And, just as puberty blockers cement children into their sense of dysphoria within their healthy bodies, chest binding has been described as a “gateway” to top surgery, which I mentioned in Sammy’s case.

Carla, you met me soon after my mom passed away, and you heard me describe how awful it was for her to have a mastectomy, due to metastatic breast cancer. You can understand how hard it is for me when people speak so lightly of “top surgery.” It’s not like getting a great set of false teeth. It is a horrific mutilation of a young woman’s healthy breasts. Emily told you that some acquaintances as young as 15 had been given double mastectomies. I’ve read that the surgery has been done on girls as young as 13. This devastates me. One Los Angeles surgeon, speaking to a room full of healthcare professionals, stated that if a girl who had “top surgery” had regrets, it was no big deal. “If you want breasts at a later point in your life,” he said, “ you can go and get them.” Carla, this practice enrages me. It denigrates the value of our bodies, while wildly underestimating the miraculous and intentional design of what they were created to do. In an interview with Abigail Shrier, who wrote the book Irreversible Damage, a prominent plastic surgeon said that removing delicately designed breasts with milk glands, ducts and nuanced construction and replacing them with fake breasts would be like him doing surgery on a brown-eyed patient who wanted blue eyes. He said he could certainly gouge the real, brown eyes out and replace them with fake blue eyes, but no one on earth would think he had done anything right or good.

This same horror and sorrow apply to “bottom surgeries” performed to create penis-like or vagina-like constructions out of harvested healthy flesh. This is brutal mutilation. The negative health implications of these surgeries is mind-boggling. Scott Newgent described the ramifications of her pursuit in transitioning from female to male. She’s had over seven surgeries as well as sepsis, constant debilitating pain (at points causing her to pass out) due to multiple kinds of complications, close to 20 rounds of various kinds of antibiotics due to ongoing infections, overwhelming medical expenses, and serious breakdown of many aspects of her life.

Men who want to be women fare no better. In an attempt to transition fully from male to female, Jazz Jennings (a young man featured in a children’s book and “reality” show about his life), underwent a surgery called vaginoplasty. At age 11, Jazz started puberty blockers. So his surgery was complicated by the fact that his genitals had not been allowed to grow at a normal rate. Therefore, when surgeons attempted to invert his penis to create a “neovagina,” his mutilated genitalia split back open. Jazz has since had three corrective surgeries. Part of the procedure included harvesting part of his stomach lining to make up for the lack of genital skin due to the early use of puberty blockers.

Carla, when you explained Emily’s conviction she was a boy, I had all of these things sitting in the back of mind. This is what informed how emphatic I was when you asked me, “Sarah, what if we’re wrong? What if everything we’ve done to protect her actually hurts her?” The reason I answered with such fervor and certainty was because, when we look at this issue searching for truth rather than affirmation, it is extremely clear that you and Brent have chosen the wise, loving, and difficult road of standing firm for Emily against all that is in this ideology seeking to harm her.

You are not deceived. Your sweet daughter is. Though she accused you of endangering her, you are really protecting her. Your church friend who advised you to be an “ally” with Emily was trying to help, I’m sure. But she, like so many, has been deceived by the propaganda about gender that our culture is pushing on everyone all the time! I confess that I find it hard to appreciate her remarks, since they were unsettling for you and Brent. She could have supported you in your strength and wisdom. Please forgive me for reacting harshly about her when you told me about the lunch the two of you had. I do not agree with the articles she gave you, nor with her opinion that affirming Emily would not conflict with your Christian faith. However, It is never right for us to be reactionary, or to speak rashly about issues that are so sensitive. Every person, including those with whom we disagree and those who already bear the scars of having pursued gender transition, is made in the image of our beloved and Holy God. Every person is therefore valuable and deserving of care and concern.

At the same time, Carla, I do not think that your reaction to Emily’s gender confusion and your discovery that she was being coached in taking on a male identity at school without your knowledge was wrong. While assuring Emily of your love for her, you took immediate and urgent action—because an issue like this demands an immediate and urgent response. Going to the school to meet with her counselor was the right thing to do. Emily needed to see that you respectfully heard this counselor make her case, even though you adamantly disagreed with it. And I do not think that pulling Emily from enrollment at the school after that meeting was rash. The school betrayed the trust that you had put in them as parents, believing that they were partnering with you to educate your daughter about true things. Parents are increasingly realizing that many of our educational institutions no longer view themselves as partners with parents. Many teachers and administrators believe that they should determine whether a parent has a right to authority in their own child’s life.

I pray that the Lord will clearly lead you as you seek another context for her education. I’m so thankful that she’s happy for now with the home curriculum and co-op time that was available to you through the families in your church who do much of their schooling together. I pray that your membership in the church and your long-term relationships with families there will continue to bless you. I think it’s wonderful that you’re encouraging her to pursue her love for game development and soccer. And I’m also very encouraged to know that you were able to ask some of the people you trust in your community, and whom Emily loves, to pull her in close, love her unconditionally, speak the truth in love, and encourage her in the gifts and hobbies she loves so much. There is so much beautiful diversity available to us in the way we live out our God-given roles.

I’m so glad that you decided to continue addressing Emily by her given name and proper pronouns. Scripture is so clear that we are to speak the truth in love and, as you and I have discussed so many times, it is also impossible to speak in a truly loving way if we do not tell the truth. Using Emily’s name and referring correctly to her as a female tells her that you love the true, whole, embodied reality of who she is. She may be trying to reject the female aspects of herself, but your truthful and persistent acknowledgment of her whole being is incredibly important for her. To refer to her using “he/him” pronouns would add to the confusion she is already feeling, and while “they/them” pronouns may seem harmless, they’re still a tool you would be using to mask the important reality of who she was created to be. You are creating an environment that will allow Emily to come to a place where her heart and mind are at rest in her good and healthy body. To call Emily by anything other than words that speak truth is to deceive her about herself, about what is real. Consistent truth lays a foundation upon which she can continue to rely, even while she feels shaken to her very core. I’m so glad you told me that although she was very upset at first when you made changes you thought were wise (changes she fought), she has begun to settle a bit and to open up to you about everything that led up to this crisis. She has begun to understand that although you haven’t done everything she demanded of you, you are safe and you faithfully love her. It brings to mind Proverbs 27:6, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.” The lies of radical gender theory promised Emily everything she wanted: escape from all her problems. But instead, they harmed her heart and mind, and could have begun to harm her body as well. You are speaking truth to her with the faithful love of parents, a picture of her faithful Father in heaven. Sometimes truth hurts us because it seems to keep us from what we want. But ultimately, it gives us what is better and leads us to what we truly need: an identity grounded safely and securely in the person of our Lord and Savior who is also the Creator of all that was made – including us!

Oh, my friend. I know you feel that you’re stumbling along, confused and frightened half the time, as you seek to do what is best for your precious daughter. I wish there were a step-by-step manual, too! “Follow these 10 easy steps for success!” But that isn’t how this works, is it? And, somehow, the Lord intends that for our good. I hope that this letter hasn’t overwhelmed you, but has encouraged and built you up in the wise and loving instincts you have had as you and Brent seek a way forward to help Emily reach a place where her heart, mind, and body all seem integrated into who God created her to be.

Of course, you haven’t done it perfectly. Who could? But you have thrown yourselves before the Lord in prayer. You are seeking the wisdom of your pastors and elders as well as believing friends. You’re finding experts who have dared to speak and research outside of the approved gender narrative, and you have loved your daughter with fierce, unconditional love. This is all we can do as parents, and I thank God that He walks with us and that His promises are true: He will take all things, even this, and work them together for the good of those who love Him. I am honored to pray for you and to have been trusted enough that you could lay your heart bare to me.

Please send my love to Brent and all the kids. Give Emily a special hug from me.

Much love,


For more helpful resources such as this one, please go to truthXchange.