The April 2006 General Conference was a tremendous experience for me. One of the things that’s been difficult for me is I feel like GID is not addressed head-on in the Church much. It’s like same-gender attraction gets all the attention (and to be fair, it’s much more common, as far as I can tell). But in April 2006 conference, “gender identity” was specifically spoken of twice, in two separate talks. What was amazing was this was at a time when I was having a hard time with this very subject—feeling like I didn’t have any guidance. I know that many of the principles that people speak of with respect to same-gender attraction are just as applicable to me, but I just felt like a non-entity. So it was a real boost for me just to hear somebody mention it.
One of the talks was Elder Holland’s “Broken Things to Mend.” To the extent that I can identify a turning point, where I finally felt like I was starting to get a grasp of things, it was when I heard this talk. It touched me deeply, and while it didn’t give me the answers I sorely wanted, it did help me realize that I don’t need to know the answers; at least not now. I can move forward and deal with things without understanding why I have these feelings, or what they mean. I’ll write more about this talk later. I have a lot to say about it. It told me exactly what I needed to do.
I actually don’t remember which other talk mentioned GID specifically. I just remember that there was another, because I was astonished to hear it twice in the same conference, after not seeing, hearing, or reading anything specifically mentioning in the entire body of Church proceedings I had seen before. It was a testimony to me that God loves me, that He knows who I am, and that he really does care about my struggle.
There was one other talk that really touched me in the April 2006 Conference. It was Elder (now President) Eyring’s talk “As a Child.” I have read and listened to this talk literally hundreds of time. I think I am starting to understand it. While Elder Holland told me what I needed to do, Elder Eyring told me how I needed to do it. These two talks together represented a major turning point for my progress. Again, I have a lot to say about this talk. I’ll have to save it for a later time.
But let me summarize one of the important lessons I learned from these two talks. I do not need to understand the root cause of my GID feelings. I want to very much, and I hope that someday I will. But I don’t need to. It’s not a prerequisite for me to find the peace of the Gospel. What I needed to do was to have a change of heart. I struggled with this concept more than I should have. But let me tell you why. I was afraid to admit that I needed a change of heart, because that seemed to imply to me that the GID was somehow my fault. If I needed a change of heart, it must be because I did something wrong that caused me to feel this way. That’s ridiculous of course, because I was already feeling this when I was four or five years old, and I certainly wasn’t committing any sins then. So I had to get past that fear. And when I did, I realized that I really did need a change of heart. We all do. Whether the GID was my fault or not, I needed a mighty change of heart so that I could be more Christ like. So I started to pray for it. I started to pray very specifically for a mighty change of heart. And I tried to do the things that Elder Eyring and Elder Holland spoke of in their talks. Prayer, fasting, meditation, studying, serving others. All these things were not ends unto themselves, but things that made my heart more pliable, so that God could remake it in His own image.
Now, I won’t pretend that I’m magically perfect, or that it’s all peachy now and that I go through life never thinking about gender. That would be a crass lie. But I will say that I am much better than I have been in the past. I have found a measure of peace, and even to some degree, a tenuous balance. I know it can last if I continue seeking the Lord, and a mighty change of heart, that I may be more like Him.