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Focus on the Family Broadcast

How Jesus Redeemed My Gender Confusion

How Jesus Redeemed My Gender Confusion

Linda Seiler shares her remarkable story of growing up desperately wanting to be a boy. She describes her 20-year struggle with gender confusion and same-sex attractions, which were not resolved after her conversion to Christianity. After confessing her secret to a college pastor who exemplified God’s compassion and grace, Linda spent the next 11 years seeking healing and restoration of her true identity as a woman. An identity that she whole-heartedly embraces today!
Original Air Date: September 18, 2023

Preview:

Dr. Linda Seiler: And I rejected my own mother, despite her best efforts to mother me. She loves me, she did her best. But I rejected her growing up. I looked at her and I thought, you know what? You’re emotional. You’re weak. You’re not strong like dad. And I just thought, I want nothing to do with the world of woman.

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John Fuller: Mm-hmm. Well, today we’re featuring a fascinating story of gender confusion and ultimately of redemption. This is Focus on the Family and your host is Focus President and author Jim Daly. I’m John Fuller.

Jim Daly: Our guest is Dr. Linda Seiler, and she has great insights into LGBT issues because this is a path that she has walked herself. And that brings such credibility to her message. Linda is the executive Director of ReStory Ministries which helps churches address these issues. And she’s also a missionary to college campuses, training student leaders to apply God’s truth to current cultural matters. And boy, we need that right now, don’t we?

Oh, we do. Scripture has to be applied to all these different felt needs. Uh, it’s so crucial. Uh, it is a challenge to present biblical guidance in a loving manner, especially in topics like gender confusion and homosexuality. Here now is Linda Seiler speaking at Trinity Community Church in Hockessin, Delaware.

And by the way, if you have children nearby, uh, this is one of those programs you might want to use earbuds on or listen to later through our Focus on the Family App.

Linda: From my earliest memory, I wanted to be a little boy instead of a little girl. Very boyish. I don’t have a single memory of being okay in a female body. I felt like I was a little boy trapped in a girl body, and I needed to change. I remember praying and asking God if he would turn me into a boy before I got out of bed that morning to go to school. Um, obviously that didn’t happen.

And I got out of bed a disappointed little girl, which affected my view of God, affected my view of myself. Um, that was the consuming, driving desire of my life. It was the center of my life as we’re talking about Jesus should be the center. Well, this was the center. It was an obsession for my life. My parents thought I was just a tomboy.

A lot of girls like to grow up and climb trees and not play with barbies and makeup and all of that stuff, uh, which was true of my sister. She wanted to be inside with makeup and barbies and all that. Nancy’s three years older than I am, and she was just a normal little girl. But me? I wanted to be outside playing with the boys. Nancy would be imitating mom, putting makeup on and playing with dolls.

And I’m outside pretending to mow the lawn like dad or in the mirror pretending to shave like dad. I just desperately wanted to be in that world of man. And I rejected my own mother, despite her best efforts to mother me. She loves me. She did her best. But I rejected her growing up. And I didn’t know, but that left a vacuum in my heart for female love, feminine love, that I didn’t receive it the way God designed it through my natural mother.

And so that vacuum in my heart wanted to be filled ’cause God designs it to be filled. We all need a mommy. We all need a daddy. We need that same sex parent to invite us into the world of the sex that God made us. And so as I got into junior high, I’m, or I’m sorry, grade school, early grade school, I’m very boyish. And um, around fourth grade, I was pushed into the boy’s restroom and I saw this wall of urinals.

And I was like, what, what is that? (laughs). I didn’t know there was a way the other half lived. You know what I’m saying? And so I was like, oh, that is so strange. But that urinal became a, a symbol of that forbidden world that I desperately wanted to be a part of. I so wanted to be a man. And so I knew like something about that wasn’t right, but, and I couldn’t tell anybody. ‘Cause I’m, I’m growing up in the 1980s when all this is going on. And nobody was talking about these things back then, not the way we talk about it today.

And so I knew to kind of keep these things to myself. Um, around the same time, I was around nine years old, I heard about these things. Back then we called it “sex change” operations that today they’re calling it “gender affirmation” surgery. Um, sidebar, you can’t become the opposite sex. Like, God designed you. He, your, your gender isn’t “assigned” at birth. It is actually designed by your Creator who knit you together in your mother’s womb.

And so that is set from conception. You are either XX a female or XY chromosomes male. And that will not change. Even if you rearrange the skin on your body to try to look like the opposite sex, you don’t actually become the opposite sex. Somebody asked me the other day, can, can somebody transition and then like have a reproductive capacity as the opposite sex? No, you can’t. You become a sterile human being when you remove your reproductive organs and things like that.

So anyway, I didn’t know that as a nine year old. I thought you could literally go to a hospital one day as Linda, have a sex change operation, come out the next day as David as you live happily ever after. I, I just literally thought that’s how it went down as a nine year old. And so I was like, that is my plan. As soon as I’m old enough, sign me up. I am gonna get me a sex change operation and turn into David and live happily ever after.

So I’ve got my little plan and as I’m moving into junior high and my body began showing signs of maturation, and around that time I discovered, to my surprise, that I was attracted to women instead of men. Now, I didn’t choose that. I didn’t want that. And I felt helpless to change it. And back then there was no safe zone at my school. There was no LGBT community or club. There was no one to talk to about these things. It was an isolating experience. If you ever came out to somebody in that culture, at that day and time, you would be ostracized. You would be absolutely rejected. Those of you that are older in the room, you know what I’m talking about. So I had no one to talk to ’cause we didn’t talk about these things at home and nobody was talking about ’em in culture.

And so I thought, man, I just gotta figure this stuff out on my own. So I’m trying to make sense of my reality in my head. And I’m like, well, wait a minute, if I really am a man trapped in a female body, then… and I’m attracted to women, that just makes me a straight male. So I should be attracted to women. So I just need to hold out, have the operation, and my whole life will make sense. So that was my plan and I was sticking to it.

I get into late junior high and I’m thinking through the ramifications of like this decision and how would I eventually tell my family? What would my parents think? What would my sister think? What would the neighbors, what would my grandparents think? And I’m just, I’m horrified thinking through how am I going to tell people my deepest darkest secret? ‘Cause you can’t just leave the house one day and come back the next day as David. And like nobody knows. At some point they’re gonna know.

And I didn’t know how to tell them. And I didn’t have any friends at that time really, to speak of, because I didn’t feel like I fit in with the girls. I wasn’t officially a guy. I just felt like this kind of third androgynous in between didn’t fit in anywhere. Awkward. Uncomfortable in my body. Kind of the stereotypical experience of most teenagers, right? But I really felt isolated and didn’t fit in.

And so I thought to myself, you know, I think I have two options. I can either have the, uh, run away, never see my family again, just run away, have the operation live happily ever after as David. And then I just never have to tell my family. Or option B, don’t have the surgery, but know that it will consign me to a life of suicidal despair and depression because I’ll be stuck in this body the rest of my life. And I was already unhappy and suicidal.

And I remember the day I was walking down the hall in junior high, and I consciously chose option B because I thought, you know, this is just what you have to do to survive. And quite frankly, I was afraid that if I ran away and I never saw my family again, and I had no friends, I’d live the rest of my life alone even though I got to be David, it just wouldn’t be worth it.

And so I knew my family loved me and I wanted to keep them. So I decided I’ll do option B. I’ll do whatever I have to do to try to fit in and play the part so no one will ever know my deep dark secret. But as my sexual drives and desires kicked in those drives and desires got confused with that unmet need for maternal love. And it felt like I had been born gay and I was attracted to the same sex. There’s no science out there that says you’re born gay, there’s a gay gene, any of that, it’s not out there.

But I, that was my experience. My subjective experience was I felt I was born that way. I never felt an attraction to a man. Didn’t even know what that felt like. So here I am experiencing these desires that are becoming increasingly more difficult to resist. But I didn’t wanna act on them lest anybody know my deep dark secret. Now around the same time, as a junior in high school, a friend invited me to a Youth for Christ outreach. And I heard the gospel for the first time.

Nobody needed to tell me I was a sinner, that I deserved judgment for my sin, separated from God forever in, in hell for eternity. Nobody had to tell me that. I was walking in guilt, shame, and condemnation because I had gotten exposed through some friends to pornography at age nine, 10ish, around that age. And I had these sexual addictions going on behind closed doors.

And I felt so guilty and enslaved to those things. And I knew it was wrong, but I couldn’t get free. And so I hear the gospel for the first time. You can see in the next picture, I actually got saved, started getting to know some Christian friends in a youth group. And I thought that that night when I received Christ, that all this stuff would go away, I’d wake up the next morning, no longer attracted to women or wanting to be a man because if anyone’s in Christ, the old is gone. The new has come, you know? Right?

So I wake up the next morning equally attracted to women and desiring to be a man. And I thought, “Oh no.” Now I’m in a real catch 22. Because not only were we not talking about these things in the world, in general, we especially weren’t talking about it in youth group in the church. You know what I’m saying?

So I was really isolated and alone, and I thought, I get, I just gotta figure out how to try to pass and fit in so no one will ever know my deep dark secret. Now, I really did have a genuine conversion experience. I did meet the Lord, started to grow in him. When I got to the University of Illinois, I got involved in a college campus ministry and started reading the Bible for myself, started getting discipled. I was growing in my faith. I was learning how to share my faith with others. So I really was growing in the Lord and wanted to know him. And yet I was living a double life. Nobody knew what was going on behind closed doors with the sexual addictions and all the things that that entails.

And I was becoming deeply attracted to a lot of the women in the campus ministry. The more, more emotionally close I got to women, the more I would struggle with sexual attractions. And it was miserable. Nobody knew what was going on. And so I was at a conference and I heard a speaker talking about if you’re in habitual, repetitive, unrepentant sin and you can’t get free, the answer is James 5:16, “Confess your sins one to another and pray for each other so that you may be healed.”

I didn’t hear anything else the speaker said that day. I just knew that unless I took what was in the dark and exposed it into the light of Christ with a trusted leader, I would never get free. And I did discover the truth that when you take what’s in the dark and bring it into the light, it breaks the power of the enemy to energize that sin in your life.

John: You’re listening to Linda Seiler on Focus on the Family, and she has a book that provides a much more comprehensive look into this issue. It’s called Trans-Formation, and we have it. And we’ll send it to you when you make a donation of any amount to the ministry today. We’ll also include a free audio download of the entire presentation by Linda, including extra content.

Donate and request those resources at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast or call 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY. That’s 800-232-6459. Let’s return now to more from Linda Seiler.

Linda: So I talked to my campus pastor, and I’m cringing inwardly. I’m waiting for him to like rebuke me, expose my sin to the group, kick me out of the community for being such a wretched sinner. And so when I told him my deepest darkest secret that I had never told any human being, he looked me straight in the eyes and he said, “Linda, thank you for sharing that with me. I know that took a lot of courage and I want you to know that doesn’t change our opinion of you. We love you. We see the hand of God on your life, and we’re gonna get you the help that you need.”

That was not the response I was expecting from my campus p… [pastor]. My brain is like, tilt, tilt, tilt does not compute. That wasn’t supposed to happen. I’m walking away from that conversation and I’m praying in my heart and I’m like, “What was that Lord?” And I sense the Lord speak to my heart. “What you just saw was a picture of my heart and how I feel about you. I love you. I’m sad that you’re hurting, and I wanna get you the help that you need.”

Now, I’m so glad my campus pastor didn’t respond the way some of the body of Christ are responding today. We are in a dilemma today because culture has so shifted. Back in 1994, nobody was endorsing celibate gay Christianity and saying, you can be gay. Just don’t act on it, but take it as your identity and all of that. And we feel like in our culture today that if we love people, we have to affirm them. Love is not equal to affirmation. Jesus loves us, but he doesn’t affirm every desire and decision that we make. Right? The scriptures tell us to speak the truth in love.

And sometimes the truth is hard for us to hear. Sometimes the Holy Spirit comes and he convicts us of sin, of righteousness and of judgment. But he does it in such a way that it doesn’t destroy us, it doesn’t condemn us. It convicts us and draws us closer into God’s presence.

Audience: Amen.

Linda: And that’s how God wants to use us as agents of healing, agents of salt, agents of light in the world today, where we speak the truth with compassion without compromising the message of the gospel. And here’s what the Word says, “Neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who have sex with men,” a clear reference to homosexual behavior. There’s also a reference to females sleeping with other females in Romans chapter one, “Nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor slanderers, swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”

And then one of my favorite verses in the Bible. “And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” Now, here’s the interesting thing. When we approach the topic of LGBTQ as the Body of Christ today, we are kind of brainwashed into thinking, well, there’s, there’s all the sin that most of us deal with, and then there’s LGBTQ over here, and it’s a different category.

And so we need to treat that person differently, that sin differently, that category, whatever, because it’s not like everything else. But that’s not the way the Bible shares it. We see in the context of all sorts of sin and brokenness. We all break in different ways, right? Some of you guys may not have dealt with gender dysphoria and same sex attractions like I did. But some of you may struggle with greed or sexual immorality. Maybe you’re addicted to pornography and you’re, you’re a male who’s attracted to women.

Maybe you deal with overeating. Maybe you deal with, uh, a gossip and, and a and a tongue that slanders other people. But do you know what? We can all be transformed no matter what sin we’re tempted by. Temptation doesn’t define us. We all have different temptations, but that’s not your identity. Just ’cause you feel a certain desire for something that doesn’t mean anything about who you are. It just means you’re human and you’re fallen.

We live in a fallen world. And scripture puts all of these things together in one list and says, some of you may break this way. Some of you may break that way, but such were some of you. In the same way that any of us can get set free from any of the sins in this list, we can be set free even from those who have the desire to sleep with people of the same sex.

Our desires, our fallen, deceitful desires do not define us. But there’s a lie going around in our culture today. Here’s what scripture says. Ephesians 4:22, “You were taught with regard to your former way of life to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires.” I had deceitful desires. The desires were very real, but they were deceiving me. They were lying to me to convince me it is better to be a man than it is to be a woman. And that was corrupting my thinking and corrupting my sexuality. Why? Because where spirit, soul, and body, they’re all connected. So whatever you think on in your mind, your will, your emotions is going to affect even your physical body and your drives and your desires.

Let me give you an example. If a little girl is sexually molested by a man, she could be five years old and she could say, you know what? Men are not safe. I will never be vulnerable with a man again. Only women are safe. That is lodged in her mind as a five-year-old due to trauma in her life. When she grows up and becomes a teenager and her sexual drives and desires kick in, she still has that trauma and that thought in her mind, men are not safe. Why in the world then would she ever wanna be vulnerable in a sexual way with a man if men are not safe? It will affect what we call her psychosexual development. Because your spirit, your soul, and your body are all connected. You can’t separate them out indiscriminately.

Likewise, a little boy who grows up and he is, um, doesn’t fit the masculine stereotype, but his dad does. His dad is just the ultra John Wayne lumberjack kind of type, right? And he, and he doesn’t seem to connect in an emotionally meaningful way with his father the way that God designed. And the father doesn’t know what to do with him. ‘Cause he’s used to with his other sons, he can go in the backyard, toss a football, baseball, whatever, and they really connect. But with this son, he doesn’t know what to do even though he loves him and he’s doing his best to be a good father to him. But he doesn’t know how to connect with him in a meaningful way. And that little boy can feel abandoned in his emotions. And he can feel like I don’t bond with dad the way my brothers bond with dad. There must be something wrong with my masculinity and I’m not fully man.

And it can leave a void in his heart for masculine love to connect emotionally with a man the way he didn’t connect with his own dad. And that can lead to attractions to other men to try to meet that need subconsciously in a way that didn’t get met as a little boy. It’s not something he chooses. It’s not something that he just goes out and says, I’m gonna rebel today and go sleep with somebody of the same sex. It’s something that develops over time because we are spirit, soul, and body. And you can’t disconnect the three.

Now, those are just a few examples. There’s no formula that says, “If you have these situations in your life, you will for sure develop same sex attractions or gender confusion.” There’s no formula. But there are some commonalities in the ways that we see the enemy come in and derail people’s sexuality.

So I had this stuff going on in my own life. And scripture says I am to put off the old self, not embrace the old self and label myself by it and say, “Well, I’m a transgender Christian,” or whatever it might be. No, I put off the old self and I am made new in the attitude of my mind. I renew my soul. I renew my mind with the Word of God. I renew my mind by being around the body of Christ and receiving emotional healing for the ways that I was wounded as a child.

And I in the context of the body of Christ, I can receive redemptive relationships that heal the hurts of the past. And so we renew us ourselves in the attitude of our mind, receive emotional healing, healing of the mind, healing of the soul. I received inner healing prayer, as well, where God himself came in and spoke things to my spirit that resolved lifetimes of lies in my life.

For example, there was one lie I believed that it was, it was superior to be a man than a woman. And, and I, I didn’t know why I had this lie. And I found out later in life that my mom had never told anybody, but she wanted to give my dad a son. Had never verbalized it. So I didn’t know she felt that way. We found it later on in a pregnancy journal that she had, uh, for my older sister, that she wanted to give my dad a son. She had forgotten she ever felt that way.

And it had never been verbalized. But somehow my spirit picked up on that and knew that… I was the second child. She only wanted two kids. I was the only shot at giving my dad a son ’cause Nancy was a girl. And somehow my, I believed deep down that, and the Holy Spirit revealed this to us, that unless I were a boy, I wouldn’t be really loved, but I couldn’t be that boy because, uh, God created me to be a girl.

And it was just like this catch 22. And I was just feeling rejection in my spirit, even though my mom never verbalized it to me. Somehow my spirit was just sensitive and picked up on it. And so in my head, I was very confused when this came up in inner healing prayer. And, and my counselor was like, “Let’s just forgive your mom for wanting a son.” And I was like, “But she never verbalized it to me. And I know she loves me. I, I don’t think she’s ever rejected. I’d rejected her.” You know? But I thought, you know, it’s not gonna hurt anything just to release forgiveness towards my mom.

So I said, “Mom, you know, if there’s anything in your heart that you wanted a son, I forgive you. I I’m not gonna hold that against you in the least.” And then my prayer counselor said, “All right, now let’s ask Jesus what he has to say about the lie that it’s better to be a boy than a girl.”

And this is what the Lord spoke to my heart. He said, they may have wanted a son, but I have veto power. And you have full permission to be the woman I created you to be. And you know what? Those words of healing went deep into my soul. That was September 26th, 2005. I have not had a compelling desire to be a man from that day because the God of the universe spoke his truth directly into my being. And I was able to soak up that truth and the identity. My heavenly Father told me who I am, different than what this world was lying to me and my deceitful desires.

So we are made new in the attitude of our minds, and we put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. So God began to, um, uh, renew my mind and transform my life so much so that you can see in this first picture on the left, I was just this androgynous, sporty kind of female and comfortable in my own body.

And he began to renew me on the inside. And it even spilled out into the outside where you can see in the next picture. There’s a year apart between these pictures where I went from being this androgynous uncomfortable in my body to now I wanna embrace who God’s created me to be as a woman. Now, mind you, the process of discipleship is messy and it takes a long time.

I went through what the Bible calls discipleship. Progressive sanctification that takes place over time. That each day I walk with Jesus, I walk further and further away from my past and the old self as I put that off, and I’m made new in my mind, in the Word, in the context of community, and I step into the new self of who God created me to be.

And so he’s still working on me. Each day I walk with him I become more and more confident in the woman he’s created me to be. I’m experiencing even greater attractions to men today than I did even just 10 years ago. Praise the living God. It’s fun to be in the game. (laughs).

Audience: (laughs).

Linda: And help a sister out if you know any man that’s radical for Jesus in middle age.

Audience: (laughs).

Linda: So. Um, the one thing I wanna say about sexual addictions, uh, and attractions, transgender desires, all this stuff I’m talking about today is that at their root, it’s not a sexual issue. It manifests sexually because we’re spirit, soul, and body, and they’re all intertwined. But at their root, those things result from wounds of rejection and lies that become embedded in the soul.

John: What tremendous insights from Dr. Linda Seiler on Focus on the Family, and uh, again, our thanks to Trinity Community Church in Hockessin, Delaware for allowing us to share this powerful message today.

Jim: Linda’s story is so timely, and I hope you will share it far and wide. Help us spread the word that God can heal people from same-sex attractions and gender confusion. It’s not set in stone. And I should point out that although Linda’s healing sounded like it happened quickly, she’s summarizing years of walking with God through that process of progressive sanctification.

Every person’s story is unique, and that’s why we encourage people to find a good Christian counselor to guide them in turning over their struggles to the Lord. The bottom line is we believe that 1 Corinthians 6:9 is still true today. We were all lost in some tempting, sinful activity, but we were washed and sanctified by Jesus.

And now we find our identity in him, not our old self labels. We all remain in a process of change on this side of heaven. That’s why we shared Linda’s story. To remind you that God can change hearts and lives.

And if you want to follow up on this content, I’d highly recommend Linda’s book called Trans-Formation. It’s a much deeper dive into this topic, tackling questions like, why are teenagers adopting LGBT identities at such a high rate? And how do we navigate conversations with loved ones who struggle with these issues?

Get a copy of Trans-Formation by Linda Seiler from us here at Focus on the Family as you support our efforts to help all families thrive in Christ. And we’d be happy to send the book to you for a donation of any amount.

And you can contribute when you call 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY. 800-232-6459. Or donate online and request your copy of that book, Trans-Formation, at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. And this reminder that when you request the book from us will include a free audio download of Linda’s entire presentation with extra content.

If this program brought up some issues that you’d like to think through and talk with somebody about, please call and request a free one-time consultation with one of our caring Christian counselors.

Next time a youth ministry leader shares what he’s learned about grandparenting teenagers.

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