I have mentioned several times how I have pleaded with the Lord for answers. I have wanted to know WHY I had these feelings and WHAT I’m supposed to do with them. I have wondered why I feel this seemingly irrational but overwhelming desire to be a female. I wanted desperately to understand, because I hoped that if I understood, I could deal with my feelings better.
I have also mentioned some of my progress. First, I had to realize that my salvation did not lie in understanding my condition, but rather in trusting the Lord. I mentioned that after I did my best to turn my heart to God and trust in Him, to start walking His paths, I learned of some constructive things that helped me to cope. I mentioned that as I progressed, I realized that the most important thing I could do was to “take His yoke upon me,” which I believe means to take up His yoke of serving others. As I have tried to do this, I have found that His yoke is indeed easy and light. It has not taken away the feelings, but I have been able to cope with them, and even come to the point of realizing that they are not all bad or evil, as long as I understand some boundaries.
But in all of this, I have never received an answer to my original question of WHY. I still wanted to know. I still hoped to eventually receive an answer, though I finally learned to trust in the Lord’s timing instead of my own.
I am overjoyed to report that it has come. It started last Thursday in an interview with a Priesthood leader. He recommend a topic of study in the scriptures. As I have said, I made a commitment about a year and a half ago (maybe a little more) to study the scriptures for at least 30 minutes every day, without fail. I have not missed a day since then, or skimped on the 30 minutes. This has been a tremendous period of growth for me, and after my Priesthood leader recommended this topic, I have focused intensely on it. I found the Spirit poured out upon me as I studied this topic, and finally, in the last two days, the Spirit enlightened my mind with some very strong impressions about why I have these feelings, where they come from, and even how they fit into my Eternal identity and purpose. The answer I received made perfect sense to me, and I have felt a great sense of peace about my situation.
I hasten to point out that I received no promise of the Spirit that the condition would be removed. Indeed, after what I have learned, I do not think it can or should be. It is a part of me that is as integral with my identity as any other. To be stripped of these feeling would be to be altered into a different person altogether, and not for the better.
So here’s where I explain what the Spirit has taught me, right? Except I’m not going to, for a few reasons. First and foremost, I do not speak for the Church, and this would be speculative at best as doctrine. I would not want others to misconstrue my personal revelation as some kind of official Church policy statement. It’s not, so I won’t even make it. I hasten to add that the answer I received is entirely consistent with the doctrines of the Church. It does not require me to reject any teachings of the prophets or to ignore any revealed scriptures. It simply interprets doctrines in ways that are appropriate to personal revelation. In other words, unless you are somebody in my family or within the jurisdiction of my Church calling (which is unlikely), I cannot receive revelation for you. So coming from me, this would be false doctrine to you.
Second, I don’t think it would do anybody any good for me to explain it. One of my purposes in writing this blog was that I hoped that someday some other member of the Church—or even some other devout Christian committed to a Gospel-centered path—facing this same difficulty would read it and be a mutual support. I don’t know if that has happened. I have received searches for things like “Mormon GID” and some variations, but nobody seemed to stay long, and nobody made any comments. Anyway, I’m still hoping that somebody who is similarly situated might see this , and perhaps even be looking for his or her own answers. If so, it would be of little value for me to write it here. If I had read this in a book five years ago, or if somebody had just explained it to me, it would not have been a very satisfying answer, because I wouldn’t have really understood it. But now that the Spirit has taught me and instructed me after a course of daily, uninterrupted scripture study for many months and several days of focused study on this topic, it has entered into my heart and into my spirit. I have felt the influence of the Holy Ghost guiding my study and leading me to the answer, and I have felt that experience described by Joseph Smith of having “pure intelligence” poured into my mind. I have felt light and knowledge fill my soul, and it has brought me great peace. If you need this answer yourself, my poorly-worded explanation would most likely serve only to confuse you and be a barrier to you having this experience yourself.
Third, if you have this same issue, I can’t guarantee that this is actually the answer for you. The Lord may have an entirely different answer for you that is correct for your situation. Again, I don’t receive revelation for you, so even though I have received a witness of the Spirit that this answer is correct as it applies to me, it may be thoroughly useless (or even worse, misleading) for you.
What I will say is that if you are facing GID; if you feel this terrible dichotomy in your soul that threatens to tear you apart; if you feel on the brink of utter ruin because you have these strong, irrefutable yearnings that feel so right in some way, and yet prompt you to want to do that which you know cannot be right; if you feel dark and hopeless and helpless and useless; if you feel benighted and even suicidal; if you feel any of that, my heart aches for you, because I have been there many, many, many times. I have felt all that and more, until I finally put my trust in Christ and had faith that all would be well. I focused on getting through the day, and sometimes just getting through the moment when I would tremble as I was overwhelmed with my feelings of wanting so much to be a female and trying to reconcile that with who I am and what I know. I anticipate that I will probably have more moments of difficulty and trembling. But the darkness has been dispelled. The Spirit has enlightened my mind, and I can and will survive. I have been blessed now with a yearning for higher things, and have been promised of the Spirit that all will be well. I still focus on getting through the day, or the moment, but I now have so much more a sense of PURPOSE than I did before. I know what I strive for.
Although I won’t lay out what the Spirit has taught me about my condition, just in case that searching soul ever does come along, asking “Why do I want to be a female (or, I suppose, a male, as the case may be)? How does this fit within the Gospel of Jesus Christ”—if you ever show up, I do have these insights to offer:
- Focus on service. The Lord is very generous in teaching those who are doing His work (His yoke truly is easy, and His burden truly is light).
- Study the Scriptures daily. I can recognize the voice of the Lord because I receive revelation daily as I study the Scriptures and the Spirit enlightens my mind about what I am studying. This particular answer came as an inspiration directly related to a scriptural passage I was studying at the time. I have had about a year and a half of uninterrupted daily study. I’m not saying it will take that long for you, or that it will happen after that long. The Lord has His own time. But I do not think I could have received this answer without that daily commitment to put the effort in on my part.
- Make sure first that you have a testimony of the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ and of continuing revelation. Without that, I would have given up a long time ago. Decide this wholly separate and apart from any questions of gender identity. Take up the challenge in Moroni 10:3 — 5 and read Elder Holland’s marvelous talk “Broken Things to Mend.” This testimony is the foundation on which all else must be built, and the lens that must be used to focus every answer. Otherwise, it is far too easy to heed the myriad voices telling you that your only option is adopting the other gender in your public persona.
- Keep yourself anchored in the Gospel. There are some things that need to be accepted as absolutes. For example, I have seen SRS/sex change operations/GRS/whatever you want to call it, referred to only once in a General Conference (and I wish I could find it—if you know where it is, please let me know). President Packer (I think) included it in a laundry list of “serious transgressions” that usually require a Church court or disciplinary council. Agree with yourself and with the Lord up front that it’s not appropriate. That way, if you receive a prompting that you need to go out and have a vaginoplasty, you know that’s not coming from the Spirit of God, because an Apostle of the Lord has said unequivocally that it is a serious transgression. And if you have done item 3 above, you know that when an Apostle speaks under the inspiration of the Spirit, he speaks the mind and will of the Lord (D&C 1: 38).
- Keep an open mind. Some of my answers surprised me as they came partially over time, and I didn’t quite see how they fit in with things until it all came together in the last couple of days. Keeping an open mind while firmly grounded in the Gospel also helps you to not judge others while still choosing and advocating appropriate behavior.
- Don’t be afraid to seek help from your Bishop or other Priesthood leader when appropriate. I have counseled with at least three different Bishops about my issues, and all have been loving, helpful and supportive. It was a Priesthood interview that led me to my answer, even though the interview was for an unrelated purpose, and in fact, as far as I know, this man is not even aware of my issue. But he was inspired because he was acting in his Priesthood capacity, and i was blessed for it.
- Finally, when you’re ready to really look for the answer, I was led to it by a focused study of Abraham 4:18, and the topics of Order, Attributes of the Holy Ghost, Agency and Intelligence. Those may lead you to an answer too if you’re ready (or they may not—for all I know, studying shew bread could be the key to your revelation).
So that’s it. I have received my answer. I still plan to continue writing this blog and sharing my experiences (and I suppose that my regular readership will still consist entirely of CP as far as I can tell—thanks for chiming in, bud). My journey is by no means over. I really feel like it’s just beginning in many ways. I feel like before I was just casting about in the dark, though I see now that as I sincerely tried to commit myself to the Lord, He has led me gently in the general direction I needed to be heading. And I certainly think that the Spirit has things to teach me yet on this topic. So I will continue learning throughout my life.
[Update: (Feb. 12, 2009—I have found the talk I was referring to above. It is not a Conference talk after all, and it was not Pres. Packer. It was an article in the Sept. 1990 Ensign by Elder Ballard. I believe the principle remains true—a person who is not intersexed who receives SRS denies himself or herself the opportunity to receive promised Priesthood blessings).