How Christians Can Respond When Transgender Issues Affect Your Child, Church, You

Pickup: It depends. If the entire city is overrun by frequent transgender use of bathrooms, then budget your time to discover a private place wherever you can in the city or home. You could also go into a bathroom and see that it's clear before you use the facilities. You also could stay there and try to promote love and reason within your city with the city council in order for them to hear the truth, which is an act of love.

Slattery:  Uncomfortable is different than unsafe. I wouldn't go places you feel threatened or unsafe because of bathroom policies. As the world becomes more fluid with understanding of gender and sexuality, this will probably become more of a norm in even conservative cities. I would encourage you to ask the Lord how you can be a light in your city. God has placed you there for a reason. How can God use you to love those around you? Remember how "uncomfortable" Jonah was with his commission? God can use you right where you are!​

Johnston: We understand your concerns: Allowing men who believe they are women into women's dressing rooms, showers and restrooms is a real threat to privacy and safety. We've already seen instances where perpetrators have taken advantage of such situations. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Educate yourself about the subject. Focus on the Family's six-part series of articles, "Public Restrooms—Your Privacy and Safety," goes into much more detail than we can in this short space, so we suggest that as a good place to start.
  • Plan ahead for how you will respond — and act without aggression. Since your city allows this, if you respond to a situation with anger or aggression, you may be the one in trouble with the law.
  • If you have children, stay with them as much as possible in public dressing rooms, showers and restrooms. Educate them in an age appropriate way about healthy sexuality, and equip them to respond to threatening or scary situations.

Scenario 5: I was recently called a bigot for saying transgenderism is sinful. Am I wrong? How should I respond to people who attack me for my beliefs?

Pickup: The bottom line for ALL these arguments is "born that way" theory. Don't get sidetracked by this. Since born that way is the foundation of the issue every time, one of the best things to do is to not let that person take you off track, and compassionately and truthfully tell them there is no transgender gene and other studies have not proven causality. On the other hand, depending on who you're talking to, I wouldn't necessarily focus on the sin issue. I would focus on the issue above. The truth can't be bigoted. It's just the truth.

Slattery: Transgenderism is a very complicated issue. While we need to stand on a biblical understanding of gender, we also need to be sensitive about how and when we articulate those beliefs. Two traps traditional Christians fall in that are particularly harmful in today's world: 1) We simplify the issue. Sin is just one potential aspect of gender confusion and choices. 2) We speak before we listen. We haven't earned the right to share our views until we've listened, cared and loved.

Johnston: It is not bigotry to believe that there are two sexes, male and female; that they are different from each other; that there aren't a multitude of "genders;" and that people can't change to become the opposite sex. When we are attacked for defending the truth, Jesus gives us a model for responding well. We learn to respond as He did, with grace, thoughtfulness, wisdom, courage and truth.

Rather than throwing out a simple, blanket statement such as "transgenderism is sinful," we suggest learning more about the issue so as to discuss the issue in a thoughtful, reasoned manner. Focus on the Family has dozens of resources to help Christians understand this topic; you'll find them listed at this page, "Transgender Resources."

Scenario 6: My son says he wants to wear dresses and try makeup and he's doing it often. Should I be worried?

Pickup: If a toddler is wearing your high heels for a few months, it's probably nothing to be worried about. If this kind of behavior is going on for much longer and if he appears to be assuming a lasting identity, that's evidence that for some reason he's not identifying with his biological sex, and that causes of that problem are taken into account so that this can be corrected and primarily so he can have a good feeling of experiencing how positive it feels to be in his own male body and how he can express his own version of how good it feels to be male. Usually this is done through salient relationships with primary male role models and supported by Mom. If this isn't happening over a long period of time, then cause for alarm would be obvious.

Slattery: It depends on his age and how long this has persisted. It's pretty common for preschoolers to pretend, dress up and want to identify with the most important people in their lives. If your son has sisters and is particularly close with you, this might be a normal way of trying to identify with you and probably isn't a big issue.

If the desire to wear a dress and makeup continues over time (into school age) and if you son says things about wanting to be a girl or feeling like he's a girl, that may be cause for more concern. Research shows that about 80 percent of young children with gender confusion resolve that confusion in the direction of their biological gender by adolescence.

Johnston: Possibly. We would need to know more details before giving a recommendation of any sort, such as his age and your family situation, but since this is a consistent and persistent behavior, there may be real cause for concern.

At the Focus on the Family website, you'll find a resource with guidance for dealing with your son, "Helping Children with Gender Identity Confusion." In addition, we have several Q & A's on this subject, including "Concerns About a Boy Developing Healthy Masculine Traits," "Concerned About Young Son's Masculinity," and Helping a Teen Boy Become a Man." If you have more questions, please call our counseling department at 1-855-771-HELP (4357). Be prepared to leave your contact information, and a counselor or chaplain will return your call and offer more guidance.

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