Guest Post: A Letter to President Oaks
Dear President Oaks,
My name is Kris and I am a 32 year-old lifelong member of the Church. I live in the Salt Lake Valley along with my husband of 12 years and our 10 year-old son. I am studying English Literature at BYU and hope to graduate in a year or so. I am also transgender.
I’ve known I was trans for as long as I can remember. It was my deepest, darkest secret for most of my life. I felt so ashamed and irreparably broken. I felt that there was no way God could love me. I didn’t even know that there was a word for people like me until I was 28 years-old. When I found out that there are other trans people in the world, I felt such relief. I no longer felt alone and gross and awful. I tried for 25 years to cure myself of being trans, but the only thing that has alleviated some of the depression and pain I’ve felt has been to be open about being transgender.
I would like to remain a member of the Church. It is my spiritual home. But talks like the one you gave in our recent General Conference only serve to alienate me and those like me from our spiritual haven. Elder Ballard once said that there is room for LGBTQ+ people in the Church. But your talk makes me wonder if that’s really true. Is there room for me? Or should I just give up and move on with my life?
Your talk completely erased intersex people—those who are born with ambiguous genitalia—from the picture. Statistics show that at least 2% of the world’s population is intersex. Do intersex people have a place in the Church? If not, why? And if intersex people DO have a place in the Church, what about those whose chromosomes don’t match their gender, like someone who has XXY chromosomes?
You once said that more study was needed in regards to transgender members. I would be happy to put you in touch with other trans Church members or send you resources that could help you with your research, both from a religious and from a scientific perspective. I know many, including myself, who have chosen NOT to transition genders. We struggle with depression, anxiety, and gender dysphoria. I also know many trans people who have transitioned and are much healthier and happier for doing so, regardless of losing their membership in the Church. In my personal case, I have chosen not to transition because my husband is against it. That was an excruciatingly hard decision to make. Despite not transitioning, I would still like to have a double mastectomy. I feel that I can handle being trans if I don’t have to deal with breasts. Not only do they cause mental pain, but they also cause physical pain. I have had competent medical professionals recommend a breast reduction or mastectomy, yet because I am transgender, my bishop says that such a surgery will be cause for church discipline. I don’t understand: at what point does my breast size nullify my membership in the Church?
These things I do know: that my bishop is fantastic and has been a wonderful support to my family as we’ve navigated the last few years. I also know that no matter what happens, my belief in God can’t be taken away from me, even if my membership in the Church is. I know that I want to raise my son in the Church, even if I strongly disagree with the Policy of Exclusion, which makes LGBTQ+ people feel like they are worth less than their cisgender, heterosexual counterparts (and it doesn’t feel like Christ would approve of anything that excludes children from the gospel.)
President Oaks, it seems like you strongly dislike or even hate transgender people. I’m truly sorry if that is the case. I have met some of the most spiritual people I know on the fringes of the Church. It hurts to see them wounded by sentiments like your Conference talk. Regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation, we are ALL children of God.
Thank you for your time.
Kris is an asexual, non-transitioning transguy who lives in Utah. They are studying English Literature and Editing at BYU. Kris is married and has a brilliant 10 year-old son. You can follow their shenanigans on Twitter @krisis86 and on their blog, http://transmormonrising.wordpress.com