Your child comes home from school one day, and you ask how the day went. However, you weren’t expecting a discussion about gender myths. You learn that one of her classmates is not Andy anymore but wants to be called Andrea. He is now a “she.” At least, that’s what your child says everyone else at school is required to play along with. Andy has become gender dysphoric and has switched his gender identity.
Welcome to the brave new world of transgenderism. (This word with –ism on the end is “politically incorrect,” but it is factually correct. It’s an ideology.) How in the world do you handle such a topic with your child? How do you answer their questions? And how much do you really know about gender identity, gender dysphoria, and all the gender myths? In some ways, the transgenderism trend can be difficult to get a handle on. In other ways, not so much.
It can be complicated because it’s something we could never have imagined otherwise reasonable people would ever take seriously. Yet many people do. The issue is further complicated by a tsunami-like cultural force telling us that anyone who does not accept that boys can become girls and vice-versa with total affirmation is a bigot.
But if we look past these cultural and political forces, the issue is a little easier to understand. Simply put, transgenderism is a belief system, an ideology, with no basis in objective science. Even the American Psychiatric Association explains on its website that “transgender is a non-medical term.” It does not describe an actual medical or physiological condition. Instead, it is deemed a psychological, social, and even ideological identity. When discussing this issue, parents can trust that science and reason can help kids see through the confusion.
Gender Myths: A Myth Like No Other
Children understand the basic science of sex without much trouble. It is one of the most universal and objective facts that humanity (and most of the animal and plant kingdom) is created male and female. There is no third option. God created humanity male and female to reveal his divine image in the world. Science knows of no other models of humanity. That penises and vaginas correspond with XY and XX chromosomes that exist in every bit of DNA in our bodies is one of the most basic, uncontested facts of nature.
Yes, there are intersex people, those born with ambiguous genitals or some chromosomal abnormality. But even the Intersex Society of North America holds that intersex is not a different kind of sex or gender. It is merely an unfortunate malformed body. The bare fact of transgenderism is that it does not exist physically in the body. It is not the “way someone is.” It is in one’s subjective self-conception.
Healthy Bodies, Confused Minds
So why do some children and adults report confusion about their sex or gender? Why does Andy want to be Andrea? Science doesn’t really know.
Leading scholars and clinicians in the Netherlands — writing in one of the leading textbooks about treating gender dysphoria — explained that “no unequivocal etiology [root cause] factor determining atypical gender development has been found to date.” In other words: We’re just not sure what causes it.
With no medical basis for gender confusion, the condition exists largely in an individual’s mind. It doesn’t physically exist in one’s body. Certainly, it isn’t the “way someone actually is.” It must be understood that most kids who believe they are the opposite sex come to align with their natural sex or gender by the time they reach puberty. It is well documented in the scientific literature that only 2 to 27 percent of gender dysphoric kids stick with their belief that they are of the other sex or gender. Something cannot be a “thing” if it is usually temporary.
Too Early a Transition
These two facts — that gender confusion has no medical basis and that it’s almost always temporary — are the primary reasons that leading clinicians say that parents and other authorities in the child’s life should not allow or support the switching of a gender dysphoric child’s name, clothes, room décor, and other identifiers to those of the opposite sex.
Certainly, these professionals see any hormonal or body changes as irresponsible but psychologically and physiologically harmful. Supporting the child’s desire to transition to a different gender identity makes it terribly difficult to move back in identity to their natal sex/gender when they realize they actually are what they were born as.
This means parents and grandparents who have moral problems facilitating such changes are supported by science and the most knowledgeable clinicians in the field.
Social Influences and Gender Identity
Parents should also be aware of the social influences behind gender confusion in young people. Researchers at Brown University’s School of Public Health discovered that social and peer influences are often a dramatically strong driver in young peoples’ announcement that they are “transgender.” This phenomenon is referred to clinically as “rapid-onset gender dysphoria,” where teenagers are announcing they are transgender seemingly out of nowhere. These authors explain large numbers of parents are reporting that their child’s “onset of gender dysphoria seemed to occur in the context of belonging to a peer group where one, multiple, or even all of the friends have become … transgender-identified during the same timeframe.” In other words, a great many of these children are influenced more by friends than anything in nature.
Launch Into the Teen Years will get you and your teen talking.....
Science and God’s Design Agree
Being “transgender” is at odds with science and God’s design. This is simply because the study of science is the careful study of how God’s creation works. Male and female are not what we feel we are, but what we actually are. Every cell in our bodies is marked as either male or female, and our bodies do not lie.
Scripture Truth: Genesis 1:26-27 speaks of this with crystal clarity.
The God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness…
So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created him: male and female he created them.
Somehow, in a mysterious and wonderful way, it is the human male and female — and only the human male and female, in body, mind, and spirit — that are the image and likeness of God in the world. In fact, think about that.
When God first tells us about male and female on the very first page of scripture, He does so by telling us they are His unique image and likeness. It is the first thing God says about male and female.
Satan hates God and His image with his whole being. Thus, he hates what it means to be male and female because of what it represents. He is and will do everything he can do to confuse our understanding of this divine image. He is sowing confusion in the minds of our children and community leaders. Every Christian leader and parent must understand this with great seriousness.
Responding to the Big Myths About Gender Identity
Countering Satan’s transgender agenda starts with a basic understanding and response to the two main gender myths surrounding transgenderism. These are:
Gender Identity Myth #1: “Some people are simply born in the wrong body.”
Response: They are not. Our bodies do not tell us lies about who we are. There is simply no scientific development that tells us being transgender is naturally occurring. It is not the way someone is, or merely a different kind of person. But according to the way gender theory has evolved, there is nothing anyone can say about the transgender-identified person’s belief about themselves. We must all accept what they believe they are. This is the only area of life where we are all being required to totally agree with and affirm someone’s self-conception.
Gender Identity Myth #2: “Transgender children must be supported in their change or they will commit suicide.”
Response: There are two great falsehoods here.
First, as we have seen, many of the best mainstream clinicians and researchers on this topic absolutely do not encourage parents, teachers, and playmates to go along with a child changing their sex identity before puberty.
Second, there is absolutely no evidence that failing to go along with a child’s gender dysphoria causes them to want to take their lives. Such research does not exist. But it is widely claimed. In fact, the research noted above from Brown University documents how youth and trans advocates are actually “using a suicide narrative to manipulate parents and doctors into supporting and providing transition services.”
There is no legitimate mental health protocol that tells patients with gender dysphoria that their mental well-being is subject to everyone affirming them.
Overly simplistic (and manipulative) explanations of suicide are something wise clinicians see through. Unfortunately, research published in 2020 shows that gender dysphoric patients who have undergone medical treatment and surgery still have disturbingly high suicide rates. And this research was conducted in some of the most trans-affirming cultures on earth. A lack of support does not cause suicide in gender dysphoric youth and adults.
Responding to the Gender Dysphoric Person in Love and Compassion
We must recognize that some people struggle with their gender identity, not because they want to start a cultural revolution or resist God’s design. For the most part, they truly suffer great psychological pain. Such suffering should receive our compassion and kindness. We should meet and comfort such people.
Yes, we must stand absolutely true on the issue that God has created us as male and female. We must not let ideological pressure intimidate or bully us into believing these gender myths. But we must always treat the hurting person with grace and teach our children to do so. We must graciously and compassionately help them realize what God the Father lovingly and carefully created them to be, that their mind will not be healed by changing their names, dress, or the cutting and changing of their bodies.
We also strongly recommend that parents seek counseling services for such children by consulting a Christian licensed mental health professional with experience working with such children and their families. For more help with the topic of transgenderism, gender myths, gender identity, and gender dysphoria, go to Transgender Resources.
You can encourage families with questions to seek counseling services for children. Consult a Christian licensed mental health professional who has experience treating this condition. Focus on the Family can give you a free consult with one of our licensed professional counselors. Call 855-771-4357 (weekdays between 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mountain time) or go to FocusOnTheFamily.com/counseling.