A mother said, “I have a transgender son who came out to us about a year ago. I hate having to fear what retaliation [from church leaders] I might have for supporting him …
I think we as members need that assurance that we can indeed have our own opinions, support our children, and still follow our beliefs.” This question concerns transgender, and I think we need to acknowledge that while we have been acquainted with lesbians and homosexuals for some time, being acquainted with the unique problems of a transgender situation is something we have not had so much experience with, and we have some unfinished business in teaching on that. A leader of a church that is famously conservative on gender and sexuality issues expressed some reservations about current teachings on transgender issues, anticipating that more experience might lead to changes.
The concern for an “elective” operation may reflect an acceptance of surgery in some circumstances, such as for intersex children or adults.
However, anyone considering surgery is warned that it may result in formal church discipline.
Many within the transgender community are optimistic about this attention and see it as an opportunity to share experiences that religious leaders like Oaks claim to be looking to learn more about.
There is no policy on transitioning in ways that don’t involve surgery, such as hormone therapies, “cross dressing,” or other means of living out one’s gender.
Numerous independent organizations and online forums for dealing with faith and trans issues have emerged in the past few decades, while other more traditional gay and lesbian faith organizations have increasingly taken steps to support transgendered members.
Some churches are already far along in these conversations.
Here and elsewhere, rather than retrenching, the church is showing subtle signs of evolving some of its paradigms on gender and sexual identity.
This recognition may reflect the broader context of a sudden focus on trans issues in popular culture.