I have a number of friends who deal with same sex attraction and who also speak about gender confusion in their childhood or youth. Recently, when I asked one out of the blue, he said, “Oh, yes, I was not sure I was a boy when I was young. I was always sneaking into my mother’s closet to try on her clothes.” Wanting to be the other gender. Desiring the same gender. This is a common connection noted by many today.
In the mind of secular conservative writers who wish to put the brakes on trans, this is a useful feature to bring up. Trans is just an earlier stage of immutable homosexuality. The course then seems pretty clear in their mind. If children have a sense that they belong in the other body, just leave them alone to grow up and become gay. Abigail Shrier, in her helpful book, Irreversible Damage argues this. Psychiatrist Sephen B. Levine also speaks this way (in his foreword to Evans and Evans, Gender Dysphoria). One could cite other examples of this kind of thinking.
This line of thought affirming the immutability and inevitability of same-sex attraction yields some bizarre outcomes. For parents who really dislike the idea of having a homosexual child, having the child live as the opposite gender solves the problem. Sometimes advisors actually tell parents: Let your teen live as the opposite sex. “At least he’s not gay.” As if this prejudice gives some kind of comfort.
Another strange result—guess which of the world’s cities is now doing the most Trans surgeries? Tehran. Not what one would expect. Why is this so? Because Iranians will do anything—ANYTHING—to not be gay. Body damage included.
The secular argument will eventually fail. Any position that takes up the current social sensibilities: “homosexuality is an immutable part of someone but trans in children is not” will eventually fall to the trans-activists, who will argue: “You are doing to us what you did to them!” And they have a strong argument there. This part of Shrier’s argument against child transitioning will seem hopelessly out of date in just a few years.
The trans-gay link should not escape us as Christians–it does show an important point. One can evolve into the other because both gender issues are a matter of relationship, that is, a matter of what gender is and is for. Another way to see this principle is noting how most common problems in marriage are also problems of gender.
So, yes, a man’s thwarted or destroyed aspiration for manhood will easily become, through puberty, sexualized into a quest for manhood in the other partner. This is the most common kind of same-sex attraction in men: the desire to be a man becomes a desire for a man. If that first desire is already visibly disordered in childhood, and unaddressed, same-sex attraction is not an unexpected result.
In thinking about these issues, the Christian starts with the Biblical position and does not let it go: Nothing in us is immutable that goes against God’s will for us. This is born out in the experience of a person who changes course and believes in JC. “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation” (2Co 5:17). This means that early attention to the morality of our genders is good and no outcome is inevitable.
Well reasoned and articulated as usual, Sam.
Sam, thank you for being a voice for clarity by pointing out that many persons who have experienced same-sex attraction also have experienced gender confusion. I was one of those persons. I’ve learned from my own life and knowing others that sexual brokenness is a range from mild or occasional same-sex attraction to major dissociation, a good term for transgender feelings. During young adulthood, I lived homosexually and took on a gay identity. I, too, experienced transgender feelings from early years and believe dynamics in my family, and my childish interpretation of those dynamics, set me up for confusion. I see my same-sex attraction as a drive to repair the confusion in my soul. With the help of Living Waters as the catalyst and skillful, change-allowing therapy, slowly over time, the transgender feelings evaporated and are not a problem. I needed to grow as a man; to grapple with underlying issues, including unmet developmental needs, wounds, pain, insecurities, resentments, sin patterns and distorted thinking in my life; and, thus, to increase my capacity for healthy relating. During this process I became grounded in my physical maleness and invested in healthy relationships. My well-being improved significantly as I learned to trust my therapist and others in the church, discover and embrace my natural masculinity, experience truth and grace, understand God’s design for us as male and female, and appreciate natural femininity in women. Same-sex attraction has become less and less for me over the years. Perseverance and hope in Jesus Christ have been key, for the spiritual warfare is real (1 Peter 5:8). I am grateful that my therapist and compassionate, truthful persons in my church – especially those in Living Waters circles and pastors – have held out hope for me, related to me and supported me on my sanctification/transformation path. I know for a fact that homosexuality and transgender feelings are changeable.