Reprinted here with permission and with only minor editing is a post by James Hopkins from a discussion on the TGIMormons Yahoo Group. It should be strictly noted that this is only to be taken as one person’s view but they come from a background of lifelong faithfulness to the Church and the Gospel of Jesus Christ combined with an extensive medical background:
James was responding to the following question from a new group member:
“I was looking around for anything having to do with the Mormon view of trans people and stumbled across this group and figured I’d vent/ask for advice if that’s okay.
What do you say to a die-hard Mormon that will maybe make them understand to some extent? I’m kind of disappointed (though not in the least bit surprised) at how they’ve taken things, I’m hoping to maybe be able to get them to budge to some extent. Is there anything that could be argued doctrinally?”
And here is James’ response:
In the TGImormon files, the first two pdf files are, I think, exceptional summaries of the scientific thought about transsexualism. Seeing that transsexual phenomena have been at least in part reproduced in the laboratory and observed in the wild among fish and birds, I think, is an impressive introduction to the idea that environmental hormone disruptors and other things like mutagens, random mutations, maternal stress, and stress to the maternal child bond could be potential causes for changing brain sex in humans as well as animals.
From a doctrinal point of view, I think the idea of a female spirit latching onto a person with a female brain that just happen to have a male body seems at least plausible.
Looking at persons with intersex issues, when an infant is identified as being intersex or has ambiguous genitalia, doctors now are expected wait until the child tells his or her parents what sex he or she THINKS he or she is. Only when the child is able to willingly give consent without force or intimidation to any procedures or treatments to enhance conformity to his or her self-perceived sexual identity can any such procedures or treatments be carried out. The UN even has a mandate to this effect that doctors should not do any procedures to solidify one’s sexual identity based on anything but the child’s self-perception of their sex. Chromosomes don’t matter, external or internal genitalia don’t matter, the presence of testicular tissue or ovarian tissue doesn’t matter–only brain sex as determined by what THE CHILD says matters.
The articles on new scanning techniques that show physical manifestations of brain sex are interesting but will never replace the child’s self-perception of their sex as the major factor that determines ultimate patient satisfaction in procedures used to solidify the congruence of brain sex and one’s physical appearance.
Seeing the transsexual phenomenon as a physical condition with many potential causes that are similar to the intersex condition I think is a way to break the ice with those that doubt the reality of transsexualism and leads the way to their understanding how to approach the problem as a healer rather than as a moral critic.
Both male and female spirits clearly enter the bodies of intersex babies and children in a way that may have nothing to do with their chromosomes or apparent genitalia. Why can’t the same thing be happening to transsexuals? And shouldn’t the approach of letting the child say what sex he or she is be used to determine brain sex and very possibly spirit sex and be regarded as the most reliable and safest why to guide the alignment of the sex of the spirit and mind to the body or the physical appearance of the body?
I would also remind your parents that according to LDS doctrine only spirits that supported Christ in the war in heaven against Satan were given the privilege of coming to earth to receive bodies. We are all spirit children of our Father in Heaven and are all highly valued veterans of the war in heaven on the side of Christ. Agreeing to come to earth at a time when pollutions and chaos would be rampant must have been daunting to all of us. I think it took unusual courage for spirits coming to earth at this time in history to actually agree to come and face these challenges. I think our Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ our elder brother and Savior have a particular love for spirits that agreed to come at this time and place in history to face these tremendous challenges.
I think that you and I and the others [in this group that face these] issues are special people facing a special challenge as special children of our Heavenly Father. We need to be patient with our critics. We need to love those that persecute and revile us while at the same time protecting ourselves emotionally and physically from undue criticism, pain, or injury. The love of our parents and siblings in or out of the church is important to us as well of the love of spouses and children when such relationships exist.
The ultimate goal should, I think, be to find a clear path toward establishing a family, by first figuring out exactly what you are, what you want to be and what you can be, finding an appropriate occupation with which you can support yourself, and think about finding an appropriate spouse or partner in forming a family either by adoption or by using the equipment you have–your choice–no one else–not parents, not doctors, not bishops or stake presidents, not social workers–only you can decide this.
LDS doctrine approves only of marriage between members of the opposite sex. Gender is important and that is why it needs to be figured out correctly as soon as possible in one’s life. If you are female and have legally become female and you self-identify yourself as female then that’s the gender you should be considered by your loved ones. If you had ambiguous genitalia, the UN would unequivocally defend your right to say what you are and that that determination should be used to change birth certificates and guide medical and surgical treatment for you. Transsexuals don’t have that support yet, but it is slowly coming. You need to become accepted for what you really are–and it is helpful if your legal designation matches what you really are, not only to keep you from getting arrested when you use the ladies room but also to clarify what you are on your birth certificate and on the records of the church. Only then can your eternal blessings be aligned as they should be as either a male or a female.
Why be abused and ridiculed and forced into a male role when assuming your right to function as the female you are is what ought to be done? In the LDS Proclamation on the Family gender is identified as being critical in God’s eternal plan of happiness. I think you would agree fully with the idea that getting your gender straight is critical to your happiness now and, if you believe in a hereafter, in the hereafter, too. Do you want to be a daughter, a sister, a mother, and a grandmother or a son, a brother, a father, and a grandfather? What are you REALLY? That is the question you have faced and answered. Your parents are going to need to face and answer that question for themselves as well.
Thanks, Jim. When I asked James for his medical credentials he responded with the following:
I am a retired/disabled board certified general surgeon currently working as a research assistant and analyst in the Division of Cardiovascular Genetics in the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Utah. I majored in chemistry at UCLA as an undergraduate and got my medical degree from the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine in 1975. I did a flexible Surgery internship at St. Vincent’s Hospital in the Greenwich Village section of New York City from July 1975 to June 1976. I served as Chief of Surgery at Tooele Valley Regional Medical Center in Tooele, UT. I have also taught anatomy, physiology, chemistry, microbiology, and health care administration, quality assurance, and outcomes research at two local career colleges.