Editor's Note: This is Part 3 in a Christian Post series on how Christians should respond to transgenderism. Part 3 will look at the testimonies of two former transgender persons in separate stories. Read Part 1 and Part 2.
KathyGrace Duncan remembers first wanting to be a boy before entering kindergarten. She would often ride her tricycle and pretend to go pick up her girlfriend. The only children in her neighborhood to play with were boys and she understood her desire to be male was not normal and worked hard to keep it a secret.
When she finally told someone about her desire, she confided in another childhood friend, a boy, and he was excited.
"That brought affirmation to me that I was making the right decision, that how I felt was right," Duncan recalled in an interview with The Christian Post.
The two friends would go roller skating in the next town over, where they would hang out as "brothers" and pick up girls.
Duncan grew up in Portland, Oregon. Her home life, she described, was "very dysfunctional." Her father was verbally and emotionally abusive toward her mother and it sent Duncan the message that "women were hated, they are weak," she said.
"I would watch my mom crumble underneath this, and she affirmed that women were weak. She acted as though she was hated," Duncan said, adding that it only further fueled her desire to not be female. She wanted to be powerful, liked, and affirmed like men were.
Because of the turmoil her mother was experiencing she could not be the mom a young girl needed, Duncan explained. As for her father, in addition to being abusive he was emotionally unavailable. Duncan was always deeply afraid of him and craved his affection, which she could never seem to get.
Between the age of 10 and 12, she was molested by her older half-brother — her mom's son from a previous marriage. But she never said anything about it for fear that her father would "pound the kid."
By the time she reached high school, she so seriously desired to be the opposite sex that she began researching options to take more drastic steps. A psychiatrist she found was willing to prescribe hormones for her but insisted that she first move out of her home upon finding out about her troubled family dynamics.
When Duncan finally told her mom that she wanted to be a boy, her mother's response was: "That's gross."
She ended up moving out of the house, began the hormone therapy, and changed her name to Keith. When she was 20, she had a mastectomy and got a job as a man.
She also started going to a local church.
But through a series of events, word got around that Duncan was really a woman and the church leadership confronted her about it. She acknowledged that it was indeed true that she was living as a man.
"Their response was, they basically said, 'We love you but we can't have you coming back here,'" she recounted.
Around that same time, she also lost her job for the same reason as her employer did not want to deal with it.
Despite such a cold answer couched in "love" from a church, Duncan said she realized when she left that their reply "wasn't the heart of the Lord." So she did not give up on God.
And, as she would discover in the years that followed, God did not give up on her.
At this point in time, she met a girl who was Christian and took Duncan to church. Duncan said she showed up on Sundays for four years. By this time, she looked so much like a man she successfully managed to conceal her true identity to both her girlfriend and everyone at church.
But the relationship ended with her girlfriend and then Duncan jumped instantly into another relationship. After some time, Duncan recognized some eerie patterns of abuse manifesting; Duncan told CP she realized she had started treating her girlfriend like her dad had treated her mom and decided to break up.
She then got more involved in church and became hungrier for God. All this time, the Lord was working on her heart.
In the church group for college-age young adults, they did a study one night of the passage in 1 Corinthians 6 where the Apostle Paul speaks about the body being the temple of the Holy Spirit.
"Something kind of struck me, and I was just like 'what have I done?'" said Duncan, who had been on hormones for several years at this point.
"If my body is a temple, I'm ruining my temple, and I don't know about this," she recounted thinking to herself.
Not long after that, the church started a teaching series on God as Father, and Duncan recalled crying the whole time during these sermons because her earthly dad was not like that. Soon thereafter, she opened up to a spiritual father figure that had come alongside her, telling him that she was, in fact, a woman living as a man.
Soon after, Duncan was confronted by the church and told the truth that she was a woman living as a man. Upon doing so, "the Holy Spirit just blew into me," Duncan said. As soon as the words exited her mouth she knew immediately what she was to do for the next two weeks. She summarily stepped down from ministry positions she had been involved in and broke up with her then girlfriend.
"All of a sudden there was this plan A and it was the only thing that I knew I wanted to go back to — being a woman. I didn't see any other option," Duncan said.
"And I have to say, to this day I'm still amazed by that. There was only a plan A and that's all I wanted." She knew she could no longer live as a man.
This time however, the response was different from the church.
She was now 30 years old. The pastor admittedly did not know what to do but agreed to walk alongside her and helped find a counselor for her.
Duncan subsequently moved to Vancouver, Washington, to be a part of a women's ministry and continued a process of discipleship. The first season of de-transition, or "walking in the truth," was rocky. Duncan experienced some severe depression, telling CP that it "had to be the Lord" that she survived.
Unlike visible figures who identify as transgender today, Duncan never identified as a "trans" person.
"I just wanted to identify as a man. I just wanted to live a normal life ... and do normal things," she said.
But as she continued to seek the Lord, He began to show her identity in Him, specifically as a woman. Little did she know how powerfully the Holy Spirit was about to move.
The Portland-area ministry she was a part of did a teaching wherein participants were challenged to ask God what title could they not call Him. For Duncan, it was "Daddy" and as she prayed she sensed that still small voice of the Lord prompting her to call Him just that.
But she could not bring herself to do it.
"Daddy" was how she addressed her earthly father and she could not bring herself to call God that. She could call God "Father," and "Dad" and other things, but for some reason "Daddy" felt "dirty" to her.
She resisted praying like that for about two weeks. But the Lord, the Hound of Heaven, she said, "was relentless."
"Honestly, it took all the courage I had," she said, adding that she was afraid that there might be a "streak" in the Lord that might really be like her abusive dad.
She went out to a graveyard where she sometimes would go to pray and, very nervously, whispered: "Daddy ..."
"And something broke inside me," Duncan said. "I bawled and bawled and bawled and bawled."
"It was deep from within. I cried so hard the next day my sides and stomach were sore, that's how hard I cried. And in that moment all this rage and anger came to the top and I pounded my fist in the grass where I was and I started yelling 'I hate you, I hate you, I hate you' ... it was pretty intense."
After this subsided, she realized that not only had she called God "Daddy" but she also told Him that she hated Him. She immediately began backtracking in her prayers, telling Jesus that indeed she did not hate Him.
"But the Lord, in his sweetness, said to me: 'I know, but you had to for a moment,'" Duncan said.
"It just helped me to understand the cross. How Jesus took all that on, for a moment, that I could be free."