LDS Gender

For those seeking understanding of gender identity issues from an LDS perspective

Transsexuality is one form of intersexuality

I’ve been trying to tell people all along that transsexuality is one form of intersexuality and just found out last night that Milton Diamond agrees with me on this point:

“Actually from my own clinical experiences, my own experimental research, and from the findings of others I conclude that transsexuality is a form of intersexuality…. I believe that transsexuals are intersexed in their brains as others are or might be more obviously so in their gonads, genitals, hormonal character, receptors, enzymatic or chromosomal constitution. And it is this brain intersexuality that biases the person to assert his or her gender identity.”

Read Dr. Diamond’s full article here: http://www.hawaii.edu/PCSS…

I would also add that many self-identified transsexuals might actually have a physical intersexed condition that is not readily obvious, something that may be discovered later on or perhaps never discovered. In fact, there are cases from time to time where a person who always felt that their body didn’t match their perceived gender but who didn’t show any outward proof of a physical anomaly did find out later that they had conditions such as chromosomal variants or internal organs of those of the opposite gender, but sometimes these conditions go undetected. Read about one such example here.

UPDATE: This also concurs with what Dr. Eric Vilain has taught: “Intersex is an intermediate sexual phenotype. This means that this is a state of being in-between what’s commonly accepted as male or female at all levels; that is: an anatomical level, gonadal level, and brain level, and behavioral level.”

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13 thoughts on “Transsexuality is one form of intersexuality

  1. I just want to say how much I love this blog. I came across it in a desperate search as we have a transgender child and just this week our bishop told us we weren’t welcome to come to church with our child in a dress. He is by no means representative of our ward – most of whom support us tremendously. However, he is using his “power” as bishop to bully us and has told us everything from “God doesn’t make mistakes” to “this is Satan.” Even after seeing an endocrinologist and presenting him with medical information he told us we have to obey him because he is our bishop. I am getting ready to meet with our stake president and will be taking some of this information with us. Keep up the good and noble work.

    • Thanks for commenting, Kaydence, and I’m glad you found this to be a helpful resource. I’ve sent you an e-mail with a little more information. Hopefully your bishop will read Section 121, especially near the end where it advises against exercising unrighteous dominion.

    • Kaydence, I just saw your comment, and can’t get it off my mind. I am an active LDS High Priest and transgendered. I don’t know what it would be to have a transgendered child. I am a parent of five, including a special needs child. My heart goes out to you, including for the added and unneeded challenge you face with your bishop as you describe. I hope you will find your stake president helpful and thoughtful.
      Most local Church leaders though are not prepared to face transgender as an issue. The general Church leaders have not given much specific guidance yet. The best formal information I have found addresses the topic of same-sex attraction, and we are left to interpolate the principles found there to the transgender topic.
      One of the best of these came from last September’s Evergreen Conference in Salt Lake City. Elder James O. Mason said in essence the following as captured in the Deseret News,
      “”If we treat them (referring in this case to those with same-sex attraction, but I am using here to apply to those like me with gender identity issues too) like they made a choice, like we are waiting for them to get on with it and choose to be otherwise, we do damage,” said Elder James O. Mason, a medical doctor, emeritus general authority and a member of the Evergreen board of trustees. “We don’t know why people have this orientation or inclination. For some reason, they are just wired this way.”
      For priesthood leaders, it doesn’t matter why certain members of their congregations have same-gender attraction. What matters, Elder Mason said, “is that we are sensitive to their special needs.”
      “They need more of our love,” he said. “They need more of our acceptance. But sometimes it seems that they are getting less.”
      He outlined a scenario — “all too common,” he said — in which young men become deacons who are a little different than the other boys.
      “Perhaps they aren’t athletic, or they are interested in different things than the other boys in the deacon’s quorum,” Elder Mason said. “Instead of reaching out to the young man and trying to find ways to include him, the other deacons bully him and make him feel different and uncomfortable. Then he goes on to the teacher’s quorum, and the same thing happens. By the time they are of priest age, we’ve lost them.
      “We don’t kick them out,” Elder Mason continued. “But they feel as if they have been kicked out. They don’t feel fellowship. They don’t feel they belong. We’ve got to be more sensitive.”
      And that begins with the assumption that young people don’t choose to be same-gender attracted.
      “If we assume that people don’t choose to have same-gender attraction, we can deal with them in the same way we deal with any person who has a challenge,” said Elder Mason. “As with young men and young women who have heterosexual feelings, we can teach the young people who are same-gender attracted that it isn’t the thought that makes a person a sinner — it’s the behavior.
      “The church distinguishes between feelings or inclinations on the one hand and behavior on the other,” he continued. “The world wants to label them as gays or lesbians. And when they do, that becomes their identity, that’s who they are. As a church, we reject that. Filled with the love of the Lord, we say, ‘No, that’s not who you are. You are a son or daughter of God. That’s who you are. Let’s start there, and not worry about labels.’ ”
      I hope that this approach and shift in attitude will be helpful to you as I found it was to me.
      I have also enjoyed reading the blog Cammie’s Song (cameronsong.blogspot.com ), beautifully and lovingly written by a mother of a transgendered youth. Sadly Mom and Daughter Cammie, chose to leave the Church when they faced the difficult decision to allow Cammie to transition to live as a girl. I cannot judge them or anyone else, but I would hope there would be a way and tolerance within the restored Church for that not to be the only conclusion. You may though find much on this site that will help you develop your own perspective.
      (Sorry if this is too long!)
      Kaydence, you and your family will be in my prayers, with love and respect, Laurie.

    • Hi Kaydence, I just read your comment about what your bishop said and it brought to mind some scriptures:

      2 Nephi 26: 25-28, 30, 33

      25 Behold, doth he cry unto any, saying: Depart from me? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; but he saith: Come unto me all ye bends of the earth, buy milk and honey, without money and without price.

      26 Behold, hath he commanded any that they should depart out of the synagogues, or out of the houses of worship? Behold, I say unto you, Nay.

      27 Hath he commanded any that they should not partake of his salvation? Behold I say unto you, Nay; but he hath given it free for all men; and he hath commanded his people that they should persuade all men to repentance.

      28 Behold, hath the Lord commanded any that they should not partake of his goodness? Behold I say unto you, Nay; but all men are privileged the one like unto the other, and none are forbidden.

      30 …wherefore, the Lord God hath given a commandment that all men should have charity, which charity is clove. And except they should have charity they were nothing. Wherefore, if they should have charity they would not suffer the laborer in Zion to perish.

      33 …he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.

      3 Nephi 18: 22, 23, 28-33

      22 And behold, ye shall meet together oft; and YE SHALL NOT FORBID ANY MAN FROM COMING UNTO YOU WHEN YE SHALL MEET TOGETHER, but suffer them that they may come unto you and forbid them not;

      23 But ye shall pray for them, and SHALL NOT CAST THEM OUT; and if it so be that they come unto you oft ye shall pray for them unto the Father, in my name.

      28 And now behold, this is the commandment which I give unto you, that ye shall not suffer any one knowingly to partake of my flesh and blood unworthily…..

      29 …therefore if ye know that a man is unworthy to eat and drink of my flesh and blood ye shall forbid him.

      30 Nevertheless, YE SHALL NOT CAST HIM OUT from among you, but ye shall minister unto him and shall pray for him unto the Father, in my name….

      31 But if he repent not he shall not be numbered among my people, that he may not destroy my people, for behold I know my sheep, and they are numbered.

      32 Nevertheless, YE SHALL NOT CAST HIM OUT of your synagogues, or your places of worship, for unto such shall ye continue to minister; for ye know not but what they will return and repent, and come unto me with full purpose of heart, and I shall heal them; and ye shall be the means of bringing salvation unto them.

      33 Therefore, keep these sayings which I have commanded you that ye come not under condemnation; for wo unto him whom the Father condemneth.

      All those scriptures make it extremely clear that anyone who forbids someone to come to church for ANY reason is not working under the direction of the Spirit of the Lord. I am grateful that the Book of Mormon makes it incredibly clear that we are ALL welcome to attend church, and anyone who says otherwise is guilty of apostasy (going against the doctrine of Christ) in the worst way.

      I’m transgender (male-to-female) too, and I’m keeping these scriptures close by my side when I attend church, just in case someone wants to boot me out.

      I’ve been this way since I can remember, but I had it beaten into my mind (mostly verbally) that my transgender feelings were sinful and acting on them even more so. So, I hid it from everyone for over 24 years. My teenage years were my own personal hell where I abused myself daily, constantly contemplated cutting of my genitals, and I frequently contemplated suicide (my fear of God was the only things that kept me from that). I was so depressed and no one knew what I was going through at all–they didn’t even suspect a thing. They just knew I wasn’t happy and told me to just ‘get over it.’ Now I am married to a lovely woman and have two beautiful children. I love them so much, now I am not the only one who has to suffer from being transgender. Understanding my situation (though I told her what I understood form the start) has brought her a lot of pain and sorrow.

      Anyway, I simply recount a little of my experience to reassure you that if you are acting out of love and according to the direction of the Spirit of God in this matter you are not only sparing your child a life of literal hell and quite possible saving her life, you may also be sparing others and future generations the type of pain and sorrow my family must now endure on my part.

      You and your daughter are in my prayers : )

      -Christi

  2. I am an active LDS High Priest and have experienced gender identity dysphoria all my life. I now consider myself transgendered, in other words my gender identity is female. I have no intention of transitioning to live as a woman, but consider my mental and emotional self to be a woman.

    I have long felt, using terms I am now beginning to understand, that I have an intersexed condition, that as you state and as asserted by Dr. Diamond, I am intersexed in my brain.

    I would not be surprised to learn that I have other physical intersex conditions, that as you say have not yet been discovered.

    I have long struggled against the mental and emotional turmoil this has created for me, and long felt that I was guilty of sin for the thoughts and sometimes actions I would experience in response to my feelings.

    Over the past two years I have learned much about transexuality, and its possible causes and this has brought me real relief. I now participate in a helathy blog exchange with several other active LDS transgendered individuals, who like me are working through the issues associated with maintaining marriages (when they exist), keeping our covenants, and dealing with and mitigating the dysphoria in acceptable ways.

    There is still much I am learning and my hope is to help the uncounted many others who like I was thought I might be the only person in the Church who felt the way I felt. It is nice to know I am not alone.

    Any who are interested to follow this conversation could start at my blog: laurienmyhead.blogspot.com and follow along with those I also follow.

    Thank you for this post and the helpful link, I continue to follow and be interested in other similar discussions. My very best to you, Laurie.

    • Laurie, thanks for your two comments. I had a brief e-mail exchange with Cammie’s mom a while back and told her of a number of cases I knew of where transsexuals were accepted in their wards and she said, “Well, that may be the case but we already decided we’re not going back.”

  3. I guess in some ways I have wanted to just give up the fight. Especially after receiving an email from my old Primary President who said she and others thought we were sinning. But the ray of hope I get is from my Stake President. He has sought diligently and with prayer to truly understand our position. And he has assured us no sin is being committed and will soon make a Stake announcement to subtly correct the Bishop for his misunderstanding of the issue.

    Truthfully though, even thought I appreciate the compassionate words you shared from Elder Mason, I don’t feel like in this case, acting on “feelings” would be a sin, nor should it be viewed that way. Atty has a medical condition and all things considered, it makes sense after visiting the endocrinologist. If, at six years old, she is talking about wanting to hurt her penis so she can get it cut off, I don’t think at this stage forcing her to live as a male would be right.

    When she lived as a male, she was depressed, crying all the time, anxious, nervous, and painfully shy. When we bought her girls clothes, every behavioral problem went away.

    We have prayerfully considered all options here and for right now feel we are on the right path. At least for right now. That could change, sure, but for right now, the damage would be irreparable.

    But the bulk of the message is hopeful. At least some kind of recognition that it’s not a choice.

    My own health has been in shambles (fibromyalgia, hypothyroidism, nerve disorder) since this began. Hair falling out by the handfuls, rashes breaking out, pain and swelling in my joints… I feel like the stress of this is becoming so damaging that it’s hard to move forward. But I still feel driven to, so I will continue until it doesn’t feel right anymore. And hopefully that never happens.

    P.S. My blog is currently down until a little storm blows over… Hopefully it will be back up soon.

    • laurienmyhead on said:

      Kaydence, I am glad you found the bulk of Elder Mason’s comments hopeful. I too cringed for you at the “feelings” spot, sensing that’s where it did not apply to you.
      I thank God for your understanding stake president.
      In many ways I wish I could have had understanding and hopeful parents like you 45 years ago, I cannot imagine how much suffering I might have avoided.
      May you all continue to feel the healing and strength available through the Savior. Your friend, Laurie.

  4. No, I mean, I didn’t take it personally or anything. I just know that sometimes it gets touted that way in the church – almost to a sickening degree. “Listen, don’t feel bad about the way you are, just don’t be yourself, EVER.”

    But I do appreciate you sending me the info, because anything about increasing compassion for those we don’t understand is incredibly helpful.

    I appreciate your thoughts, prayers, and concerns. It helps so much to know we have got people praying for us.

    Also, I send you my warmest regards in relation to your own struggle. I too, think of Atty growing up in emotional misery, unable to be herself and misunderstood. Your journey is so hard and I commend you for not losing your faith in Christ. As my Stake President said “I could never do anything that Christ can’t fix.” And that has rung true with me.

    Ultimately “authority” is powerless up against the Atonement so long as we keep the covenants we have made.

    • laurienmyhead on said:

      Thank you Kaydence for you kind and compassionate words to me concerning my situation. That’s about the sweetest thing anyone has ever offered me regarding my dysphoria.
      I agree regarding the power of the Atonement, somehow the Savior knows what it feels like to be scorned like the parent of a dear transgendered child, or how painful it is to feel all wrong like those of us who battle constant dysphoria. I don’t know how he knows, but I know he knows perfectly. I love what Alma taught in Alma 7:11-12. He knows how to strengthen us and how to heal us. I have had to access his Grace (see Ether 12:27 & 37) to help me carry on and not give up. He will guide you and Atty too.
      With much love and compassion, Laurie.

  5. Hi, My name is Jay. I am the Director of the UK Intersex Association (UKIA) and I recently came across this blog whilst conducting research.

    The UK Intersex Association is a major UK charity with extensive overseas representation (termed ‘Associates’) which was founded in 2000 with the aim of furthering research and education relating to intersex conditions and to campaign for greater understanding of and legislation to protect the rights of intersex people.

    In addition to several areas under scrutiny, UKIA has embarked on a research project into the position of various faith groups, nationally and internationally, toward intersex people and the challenge that this presents to conventional perceptions of what constitutes male and female. The results will form the basis of a publication on the implications of intersex conditions to issues which currently both divide and unite society in-general and faith communities in particular.

    I lead this project, not simply due to the fact that I am the Director, but also because it is an area close to my heart. I am a Christian (baptised into the Church of England) and I was born with a physical intersex condition.

    In the course of my work I meet with many intersex people and of this number, several have had to follow a similar path to that of trans people. These are individuals who were surgically reassigned in infancy to the anatomy ‘easiest’ to surgically achieve (most often male to female) which would ensure that the child would be recognised as one part of a binary sex/gender model. Since intersex children do not get to vote for such surgery, many are raised in a gender role that conflicts with their inner sense of self. As a specialist in child mental health I am aware of the profound psychological damage that this can do to to a child.

    UKIA is totally opposed to infant surgeries to satisfy society’s need for conformity. We believe that an intersex appearance which does not pose a health threat is God given and should be regarded as such. In the course of this work we have received considerable support from trans groups such as the UK based ‘Press for Change’ and many of the members of these groups are now counted as friends. The sad reality however, is that many intersex people and the support groups they belong to are rather hostile to any link with trans people fearing that intersex would be seen as a form of transsexualism.

    Professor Milton Diamond is a staunch friend and colleague of UKIA and his rationale (based on many years research) that transsexualism is a form of neurological intersex is completely rational. Although we provide advice and promote research into anatomical intersex conditions, UKIA supports this thesis and is opposed to any attempt to create a hierarchy of intersex versus transsexualism.

    We have a website and are always pleased to hear from anyone who has a diagnosed intersex condition or suspects that they may be intersex. Any comments on this post are welcome especially any from members of the LDS who may wish to contribute to our research

    Dr. Jay Hayes-Light

    Director – UK Intersex Association

  6. Thanks for the comment. I am going to try to find a way to e-mail you directly.

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