A Message to Young Women from a Could-Have-Been Trans Man
Sometimes, my sisters would call me John.
I hated all things girly. The only Barbie I owned was Western Barbie because she wore pants and had a truck & trailer.
My most memorable Christmas gift was a .22-caliber rifle I received when I was 9, though the Green Machine, bow & arrow, jackknife, and skateboard gifted on other occasions came close in delighting my tough & tumble appetites.
Whenever cowboys were the choice of play, it would be me in the eye-liner mustache as John Wayne or Roy Rogers.
When I started Band, I chose the trumpet because, unlike flutes and clarinets, it was loud, powerful, and even came with a spit valve.
I wanted my hair short, and dresses were the bane of my existence. I loathed them, but fortunately, I loved church, so I endured, though not without some social horror for my mother that time I sat front and center on the stage at the Christmas concert, manspreading for all the church to see.
And speaking of church, if you didn’t see me in the building after the service, it was because I was outside wrestling boy after boy who would line up to challenge me, pinning them successfully to the ground – in my dress.
I hated being a girl. I thought that God surely made a mistake when he created me.
If I had been born in the last decade and not in 1975, I suspect that I would have been a welcome poster child for the transgender movement and likely enticed by the path that could have transformed me into the masculine character that my 10-year-old self was certain I should have been.
But almost 4 decades later, I thank God sincerely, that I was not born in this era, because I now heartily confess:
I love being a woman.
The intensity of the prevailing voices on the subject makes me wonder how many girls are being robbed of full womanhood and the joys it holds because they aren’t being given a chance to get there without interference. That wondering has prompted me to write.
I’m weighing in on the discussion because my heart grieves for the young women who are being encouraged to alter their bodies and persona to become pseudo-men, engaging in what will be a life-long chemical and surgical war against their chromosomal and biological realities, which, according to increasing numbers of de-transitioning testimonies, falls abysmally and harmfully short of delivering the satisfaction it promises.
So, as a big sister figure who passed bumpily, yet safely through the tumultuous waters of pre-teen confusion and gender dysphoria, I stand on the other side, attesting to the richness and satisfaction in authentic personhood that no amount of convincing imitation can provide.
Here’s what it looks like from my vantage point:
The Tomboy doesn’t need to die.
Strength and softness were designed to co-exist in both men and women. Contrary to popular misconceptions, the Bible teaches and celebrates that womanhood and manhood naturally contain the spectrum of strength and softness.
In its wisdom literature, we find a portrait of an excellent breed of woman who is kind, compassionate and culinarily competent, yet at the same time strong in mind, strong in body, effective in business, dignified, prepared and fearless. In many of the New Testament letters, we see encouragements for men to be disciplined, protective and resolved, while also affectionate, humble, gentle and nurturing.
Just because you lean closer to one end of the Strength/Softness spectrum within your sex doesn’t mean that you are the wrong one. It simply means that God has given you the emotional, mental, or physical tools to fulfill in your lifetime the things that you have been uniquely and masterfully equipped to accomplish. (Eph. 2:10) Whether you are a gentle man, or a mighty woman, those traits simply grant you entrance into arenas where you are intended to influence for grand purposes in ways that others cannot.
I’m admittedly not as soft and tender as many women, but that force of spirit has given me the fortitude to accomplish, engage, and lead in ways that my gentler peers are not outfitted for.
So, resurrect the tomboy because she’s got work to do.
Reversible decisions mean fewer regrets.
I have somewhat pronounced eyeteeth. As a preteen in braces, I wanted to draw those teeth down just a little farther, so I’d look like a vampire. Cool, right? Because obviously, that would be a look I was certain to enjoy for the rest of my life… Well, though I know it’s hard to believe, I changed my mind on that. (Phew.)
Around the same time, I lamented the monstrosities that developing breasts are to pre-teen tomboys. If the option was more popular at the time, you bet I would have perused the pamphlet on a double mastectomy. But wouldn’t you know? I changed my mind. As time went on, I went through the process that most young women would if the natural maturation process was undisturbed – abhorrence, acceptance, appreciation, and though I never could have conceived of it at the time, celebration. True story.
I can instantly conjure the serene wonder and robust sense of well-being at the tender moments when I sustained and plumped tiny, human bodies with parts of myself I had once wished to destroy. The most intimate of moments shared between mother and child were made possible for me as standard issue. What was once grotesque to me to the very core of my being, I later found glorious.
What we find valuable or fulfilling changes through the years. We define “cool” differently at 10 and 20 than we do at 40. Every one of us could point to a few examples of our own, whether it be fashion, décor, food preferences or what we want to be when we grow up. If variability in preferences through the years is a universal experience, how can we have any confidence in making an irreversible decision now that we are certain to be happy with in later decades?
The truth is that we can’t.
So don’t make an irreversible decision now that could rob you and others you may love one day, of something that is currently within your power to give. Whether chemically or surgically, don’t surrender your potential to create and sustain human life within your very body. These are precious and irreplaceable gifts. Don’t let those loud voices persuade you to surrender them so that you can be another trophy or statistic for their cause.
I know this season is confusing and frustrating – I understand. I felt that same disquiet in my own younger spirit. But as you work things out, consider giving your future self the gift of choice. I think she’ll be very grateful that you did.
We are more than our appetites.
Hunger. Thirst. Sex.
These are basic human appetites we all experience and satisfy in different manners, depending on our priorities, convictions and creeds. But they are not us. Or at least, they shouldn’t be.
To me, one of the most grievous outcomes of this current obsession with gender is that our culture has elevated one, basic, human appetite to the point where it is the primary and supreme characterization of the human being. In my opinion, that is a tragic diminution of human identity and potential.
It has created an entire population, no longer identified by nobility of character, creed, and cause, but by genitalia; actual or imagined, and the expression of it. This mindset reduces our personhood and purpose to the level of instinctive animals, living another day to merely satisfy an appetite.
Not only does that diminish the grandeur of what a unique individual can be, it also stunts our communities because it establishes as a supreme objective, the expression and satisfaction of an unsophisticated appetite which always prioritizes the Self to the neglect of the Many. Words like honour, self-restraint, and sacrifice fall from our vocabulary, though they are the very concepts that originally founded our societies. In their place, we elevate indulgence, comfort, and self-interest, though we would be hard-pressed to identify individuals in history that elevated the expression and satisfaction of sexual appetites, who contributed much of lasting value to their communities or cultures at large.
I have yet to find one individual in my lifetime who has elevated the satisfaction of their sexual self, who is enduringly satisfied or emotionally and relationally healthy. Instead, as they experience the reality of diminishing returns, prompting increased sexual prioritization, their souls grow emptier still. Perhaps you’ve started to feel it.
That’s because we were made to crave and be satisfied by so much more.
Yes, God created these appetites, the satisfaction of which are pleasures and gifts in this life. However, they are like dessert compared to the robust and nourishing feasts that must first satisfy us if we are to rightly enjoy them. To pursue and satisfy these desires alone, while neglecting the Godward pursuits and purposes designed to sustain us, is like living only on dessert – pleasurable in the moment, but soon after dissatisfying, malnourishing, and ultimately decaying.
Unless people yield to the only God who can satisfy and rescue mankind from the mess our attempted autonomy has gotten us into, they will fashion appetites that should be embellishments of life, into ideological gods they worship – idols to whom they sacrifice honour, purity, personhood, body, and in some cases, even their very offspring who will now, never be.
Enjoyed within the right parameters and proportions, appetites are delightful gifts, but they make cruel and terrible gods.
We are infinitely more likely to err than God is.
Look at your skin, or a scab if you happen to have one. We are covered by an organic fabric that grows as we grow and in most day-to-day scenarios, is miraculously capable of healing itself.
The molecules that make up our bodies at the atomic level, though sometimes hanging out by themselves, somehow bond together at the right time so that we and our world don’t dissolve into unintelligible piles of sludge.
As you read this, we are spinning at a rate of 1,600+ km/hour and are hurtling through space at 107,000 km/hour yet aren’t perpetually ill or incapacitated. As a matter of fact, we don’t even feel it because of the multiple scientific laws at play. Stop reading for a moment and marvel at the stillness.
Our planet and our person exist because of preserving scientific realities that are too complex to have simply happened. Think about it. Nothing in our world moves from a state of disorder to order if left on its own. (Think backpack, Lego® bin, bedroom, closet…) If we found 5 rocks stacked in the woods, we would consider it absurd to suggest that this happened by itself. So, an honest and logical look at the facts should lead any sincere seeker to admit that this planet and all that resides in it, have been designed on purpose.
Now, to be consistent in our thinking, considering the complexity and precision with which our world has been established and is upheld, perhaps we ought to entertain the notion that it is more probable that we are making a mistake about our biology and gender, than that God has made one. If God can wind 10 billion miles of DNA into the microscopic nuclei of our bodies, I don’t have any trouble believing that he was fully aware that Swimmer X was going to be victorious at the moment I came to be.
But if we want to sniff out a mistake, can our society, in logical good faith, embrace a gender and sexual ideology that, if adopted wholesale, would move humanity toward extinction? The surgical, chemical, and behavioral sterilization peddled by our culture’s current gender ideology flirts with decline and eradication if not for artificial intervention. On the flip side, God’s design for gender integrity and procreative sexuality results in the proliferation and flourishing of the human race.
I’m no biologist, but one of those ideologies seems more blundering than the other.
Like my parents, we allowed our girls to sort through their unique personhood while encouraging them to keep a firm grasp on the sovereignty of a good God in creation, and the wonders of authentic womanhood. That meant that frog-catching, sportiness, dirt bikes, and seasons of Under-Armour®-only wardrobes, didn’t unsettle us or them. Based on their personality and purposes, they were just finding their unique position on that Strength/Softness continuum. It turns out that they tend to the strong end, but they didn’t have to become male to be mighty, gritty, or great. Divinely designed womanhood is robust enough to encompass our variations.
As a result, we have three, mostly grown daughters who are as comfortable relishing Jane Austen romances, decorating pastries, and crooning sweet songs as they are driving rumbling trucks, winning university strength awards and traversing mountains.
They are defined by infinitely nobler things than their appetites or genitals. They are identified first by the good and benevolent God they serve and the divine image he has exquisitely displayed in them. This emboldens them in life with an insuppressible sense of purpose and anchors their identity because they know they are authentically and uniquely who they were created to be.
No loss of body parts. No diminished personhood. No nagging pangs of fraudulence. No regrets.
Where do you go from here?
If you are wrestling with uncertainty over who you are meant to be, give yourself a fighting chance of reaching adulthood physically and emotionally intact by disconnecting from the media feeds, voices and agendas that have everything to gain from altering you. Connect into a church community that affirms your divinely designed personhood and can journey with you as you fully grow into it. Be gentle and patient with your heart and your body. How you feel now won’t likely be how you’ll feel forever.
Young friend, you’ll never be who you truly are by becoming someone else. That’s a grave misunderstanding.
There’s room for you here in God’s design for womanhood.
Please don’t go.
“And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good…”
“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made…”