First, I should point out very clearly that although I am an active and practicing member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, this blog is not an official site of the Church. The opinions I express here are strictly my own and do not reflect the official policy or doctrine of the Church. And by all means, if you find that what I write here conflicts with the revealed word of God, believe the revealed word.
So with that said, I will introduce myself as a member of the Church who has struggled with a condition—sometimes called “Gender Identity Disorder” (GID) or “Gender Confusion” among other things—since the time I was a very little child (see My Story). People who suffer from this are sometimes called “transgendered” or “transsexual,” though use of those terms can be inconsistent, particularly with respect to whether or not they refer exclusively to people who have had so-called Sex Reassignment Surgery (SRS) (sometimes called a “sex change operation” and a host of newer, more politically-correct terms). I have not had and will not have such a surgery, and I won’t refer to myself by any of those terms because I don’t think I am so easily disposed of. Each person is a unique son or daughter of God, with unique traits, abilities, gifts, and challenges and struggles. I won’t allow my entire identity to be consumed in a particular subset of them that I happen to share with a group of people.
So what is the purpose of this blog? Well, it is first a place for me to reflect and write down my own thoughts and feelings. I have found that writing is a therapeutic process—a way to process my feelings. And if no single other person ever reads these pages, that one purpose at least will have been fulfilled. But I really do hope that somebody else sees this; somebody else who is also struggling with gender identity. I hope to reach others who share my struggles so they can share their own struggles, feelings, and insights—anonymously, if they choose—so that everybody can be enriched and uplifted.
That said, I’d like to say what this blog is not. It is not a place to attack the Church or its leadership. If that is your intent, you can find many places on the internet that will happily entertain your complaints. But this is not one of those place. In fact, one of my basic assumptions is a belief in Jesus Christ and in His restored Church. So any comments attacking the Church and its leadership will be redacted or deleted. Is this censorship? Certainly. And I reserve the right to censor to keep the conversation uplifting and on topic. Now that doesn’t mean I won’t entertain sincere questions about my faith and the Church. Those are things I am always happy to discuss. In many cases, the only difference between a question and an attack is intent, and I will do my best to sense the difference.
Another thing I won’t do here is encourage SRS. Part of my purpose is to help myself, and others who choose this path, to cope with GID without SRS. There are critics who will say that it’s not possible—that the only real, long-term method of coping with GID is to reconcile your outward appearance to your internal feelings. I can sympathize with that sentiment. I have felt that way many times, though I have never believed it in an academic sense. Indeed, one of my greatest struggles has been the internal conflict I have felt between these competing feelings. On the one hand, I have felt a tremendous, overwhelming desire to be a woman that has felt like a great weight crushing me. I have felt that the only way to be at peace and release that weight would be to somehow make myself a woman. On the other hand, I have felt the Spirit very strongly, testifying to me the truth of the Gospel, and of the principles taught by living prophets, including the Proclamation on the Family that tells me that gender is an essential part of my Eternal identity and purpose. I did not know how to reconcile them. And at times, this dichotomy was so intense, I felt as though it would destroy me and drive me to suicide. But I have learned for myself that the Gospel can prevail and bring me peace. And though I am not perfect, I am better than I was before.
So I do not agree with those who think that SRS is the only answer. In fact, that’s why I chose the title “Sweet is the Peace.” You may recognize it from the Hymn, “Sweet is the Peace The Gospel Brings.” And that is my main message—that the Gospel of Jesus Christ provides you and me a path to happiness; that the Gospel of Jesus Christ teaches me a better way than SRS (I say this recognizing that there are truly intersexed people for whom similar surgery may be appropriate, and in any case, I’m not here to judge anyone); and that He would not give us this trial without providing a means of dealing with it that is consistent with His teachings (See 1. Ne. 3:7). On the other hand, that certainly does not mean that I agree with all of the narrow gender norms dictated by society—that there is something inherently wrong with me because I’d rather read Jane Austen than watch the NFL. Indeed, in my opinion, many gender norms are merely abstractions drawn from majorities and imposed, consciously or unconsciously, on a larger population. I think the world would benefit greatly from a large helping of tolerance and understanding. In short, while I believe that SRS is contrary to God’s plan for me, so too, in my opinion, is self-righteous judgment and bigotry. I believe that I can be myself (a man with some feminine aspects to my identity) without pretending to be something I’m not (a woman).
So with that basis, I present “Sweet is the Peace,” including my story, my struggles, and the insights I have gained by dealing with this for many long years. I pray, with equal sincerity on both counts, that I will say something that may help you, and that you will say something that helps me.