You’re the Bishop #4 (Poll)

guest Mormon 115 Comments

OK, Bishop Bill here again with a really difficult situation.

http://img.metro.co.uk/i/pix/2008/01/TruckerFree_450x300.jpgOne Sunday you notice the missionaries have brought a woman they have been teaching.  You notice right away that she looks very masculine.  The missionaries ask to meet with you during the week and tell you that the woman they brought to church is a transsexual, born a man but now living as a woman.  She has not had any operations but is taking hormones. They say that they cannot baptize her without first presidency approval, and that their mission president is handling the situation. You breathe a sigh a relief that you don’t have to get involved with that.

After a few weeks, you get a few comments from the Sisters in the ward that they feel uncomfortable with this woman attending relief society and using the ladies restroom.

[poll ID = “142”]

How would your answer change if it was a man (who use to be a woman) and all the questions above were changed for that situation (e.g. he attends priesthood meeting and uses the men’s restroom)?  Discuss.

Comments

comments

Comments 115

  1. The answer is not that hard. The question is simply regarding the “few comments” the bishop is getting that some of the women feel uncomfortable with her attending Relief Society or using the ladies restroom. If that is really the extent of the conflict, then this is simply not a major problem at all. Since the question didn’t get into a discussion of more serious possible conflict consequences, I won’t go there either. As a bishop, I would simply talk with those sisters who feel uncomfortable and find out what makes them feel uncomfortable, and the very simple WWJD question. Get them to see the human soul behind the facade they don’t like.

  2. If this is a non-member, it seems that as bishop you’d have little to say. There might reasonably be a conversation with the missionaries or the mission president about the likely outcome of the permission sought from the First Presidency, and if it were me, I would seek counsel about how to deal with the matter (particularly of where this person should attend — RS or PH) from the stake president and mission president.

  3. Like Dan, I might have a chat with the sisters or RS presidency about the importance of acceptance and charity, showing it as an opportunity to express Christlike love. Because, really, they are dealing with another person, not some ill-conceived creature.

    As for the bathrooms, from what I’ve seen during ward cleaning duties, most church bathrooms seem to be vastly more private than standard public restrooms. Unless there’s some kind of inappropriate behavior that hasn’t been mentioned, I think it should be an exercise in tolerance.

  4. So far we have two answers. One “it’s not hard at all” and another “I’d ask somebody else”. Even WWJD do isn’t simple in this case. Love it. I have no answers.

  5. Extraordinary circumstances sometimes require extraordinary give and take. I don’t think it’s too unreasonable to ask this person to use the unisex bathroom. There was a guy in my workplace who changed his gender and he/now she did not mind using the unisex bathroom in order to help put others at ease. But seeking counseling with others and prayer definitely would not hurt.

  6. I actually do think that the answer in this case is generally very simple, with a few highly complex caveats. First the simple answer: The Church is going to maintain it’s position that gender is an essential part of our pre-mortal, mortal, and post mortal identity. I would have no expectation that they will allow this person to be baptized while pretending to another gender than the one they were born as (I will address the caveat to this later). In such a case, were I the Bishop, I would request that this individual not cross-dress while at Church, use the corresponding bathroom, and to attend the appropriate meetings. While I don’t believe we should allows bend to what makes timid folks “comfortable”, I do sympathize with the fact that, particularly in this Church culture, the women would feel cheapened by having to embrace into their sisterhood, one who theologically could not be a “sister”. Secondly, I can appreciate the general ward discomfort with the notion of a man (regardless of their gender struggles), insisting on using the same restroom as their wives and daughters. This really isn’t all that complex.

    Difficult case: I will go ahead and express my prejudice by saying that I personally have little sympathy for gender identity crises in most/many cases. I have moral reservations against gender reassignment procedures, etc, though I struggle with the ethics behind the moral agency here, and ultimately fall on the side of respecting their rights to both alter their bodies and present themselves socially as a different sex. I believe however that there is also some responsibility required by those who adopt such a lifestyle, to disclose their sex and gender history in relevant circumstances, such as in dating, adoption, applying for a teaching position, etc.

    The complexity arises of the recognition that there are circumstances that are clearly beyond a persons control, as opposed to those cases where choice and control are debatable. Hermaphrodite’s come to mind here. I am no expert, and have little experience with the subject beyond these types of conversations, though I recognize that these cases do exist. How are they to be handled? I don’t have an adequate response here. I also think that this condition can represent a major stick in the spokes of the PoF. Another quick example, though I believe these cases to be on the far end of extreme, was a program I watched on TV. It was a documentary on a “lesbian” woman who had committed suicide in Canada, because she felt like an outsider due to her sexuality. It turns out that she was neither a lesbian, nor a woman. When she was born, there was some complication with the doctor who severely, destroyed the babies penis, by accident in the birthing process. Feeling uncertain about how to handle the situation, the family contacted a doctor who performed a sex change operation on the baby, thereafter to be raised as a girl. I see situations like this, as another example where an otherwise “cut-and-dried” situation can be seriously complex. And again, I don’t know how to handle these situations, but would be willing to rethink the hard and fast rule that I would feel comfortable applying in most cases.

  7. besides restrooms with wheel chair access, I’ve never before seen a Unisex Bathroom in a lds church, that is pretty progressive must be a new policy.

    Personally I would explain the situation to the individual, and ask if they had any suggestions, i’m sure they’ve experienced all sorts of prejudice before.

  8. I have never seen a unisex bathroom in an LDS church. I’ve been in 8 or so wards.

    Cowboy says “I will go ahead and express my prejudice by saying that I personally have little sympathy for gender identity crises in most/many cases.”

    Well, it’s clear that you’ve never dealt with their feelings. I’m sure if you had, you would have loads of sympathy. These people aren’t just playing around!!

    The program you saw about the doctor accidentally mutilating the baby was about a horrific, barbaric procedure called CIRCUMCISION. Not a birth accident. There are several cases of botched circumcisions leading to the boy being raised as a girl, not just this one.

  9. First, unless the handbook has changed since I last viewed it approximately four years ago, the missionaries (or their mission president?) are incorrect. First Presidency approval is involved where the person has already received gender reassignment surgery, not while they are considering it or preparing for it. I can understand the mission president seeking guidance from HQ, but this individual is not yet in the “FP approval required” category.

    Second, if women are “commenting” about this person attending Relief Society or using the women’s restroom, can you even imagine the “comments” which would ensue from men, if she is expected to attend Priesthood meeting and/or use the men’s restroom? I would expect much worse from the men, than from the women, sadly, just as a matter of culture. If local authorities truly can’t handle her attending Relief Society, it would be better for all concerned that she not attend the P/RS hour meetings at all.

    Third, while the Proclamation Against Certain Families does claim that “gender” (a misuse of the word) is eternal, the biological sex (what they really meant) of an individual is questionable in more cases than we commonly expect. At this point, we have little information on this person’s particular circumstances. Many doctors have simply declared the sex of such individuals, sometimes with disastrous results.

    Finally, bbell, would you please explain on what basis you would “run a background check?” What leads you to pick this person out, among the 300,000 or so who are baptized in the LDS church each year, for a background check? Do you have credible evidence to suggest that transsexuals are inherently dishonest or predatory? In responding, please consider the fact that one of the most predatory criminals in U.S. history, Ted Bundy (a heterosexual and gender-conforming male, by all accounts), was baptized into the LDS church without any sort of “background check,” while attending the University of Utah.

  10. Just to be clear, the unisex restroom is the wheelchair accessible restroom. In the US these restrooms are required by law.

  11. re #12- in our ward building (stake centre), the are 2 wheelchair access toilets that also double as changing rooms for after baptisms – one in the men`s toilet and one in the women`s, so that doesn`t really help in this situation.

  12. The church’s doctrines have no room for intersexed people or people with gender dysmorphia. (And I doubt how much room the members’ hearts, in general, have for them either.) The kindest response to the woman in this case might be to ask her not to come to church anymore. She’d probably be happier that way.

  13. The kindest response to the woman in this case might be to ask her not to come to church anymore. She’d probably be happier that way.

    Sad, but true.

  14. I would keep it as simple as possible.

    The person presenting themselves as a woman should go to RS and use the woman’s restroom. Vice versa for a woman presenting herself as a man.

    Those who complain and feel uncomfortable about it can be talked to individually to see why they are uncomfortable and be asked what they would feel more comfortable with.

    People and circumstances are different. It is not a doctrine of exclusion. If there is no harm or danger, why make it an issue?

  15. #14 and #15: How can you tell someone they’d be happier being excluded?

    I don’t understand that line of thinking.

    If that person is speaking out against gender issues and causing issues in classrooms…that is different. If they are just there…why not let them come and learn?

    Just having a person not allowed to be in our midst because we’re uncomfortable around them…hmmm, that doesn’t sound right.

    What if we have a man in our ward who is over 400 lbs? I just think he’d be happier not coming to church and having to listen to the Word of Wisdom and feel guilty and awkward. I better just tell him not to come to our church anymore.

    Is that right?

  16. I have never seen a unisex restroom in any chapel I’ve been in, either.
    I’m quite an open-minded person, and I realize the Church restrooms are quite private. I also HATE to hurt people’s feelings. But I must admit that I feel uncomfortable with someone possessing a penis being in the same restroom with my teenage daughters.
    I was unable to vote on this one.

  17. Heber,

    #14 and #15: How can you tell someone they’d be happier being excluded?

    She’ll certainly be excluded if she does go to church. The church’s doctrines exclude her, and probably the attitudes of most members will exclude her as well. She will never be accepted for who she is in a Mormon congregation. She can’t even use the restroom without people questioning her identity, for crying out loud. If she stops going to church, OTOH, the church and the people there no longer have the ability to exclude her. They’ll be irrelevant to her.

  18. I am unaware of any proscription beyond purpose of the meeting for a man to attend Relief Society. The sisters’ discomfort in the classroom is probably cultural.

    As for the bathroom, I would rather he use the men’s room. The sisters’ sense of privacy is paramount to his wannabe status. Besides, a little Chanel No. 5 just might help mask some bathroom odors.

  19. @14&15&20

    She’d be happier if she didn’t attend and apologies for the brainio:
    I think the both of you need to seriously think about what the church means to you and how crappy you would feel hearing your own ignorant responses directed at you. People in the church, especially those who have been born and bred in the culture often use stupid responses to make themselves feel superior without having to delve into issue more deeply,carefully and prayerfully to make everyone not only more educated, but inclusive.

  20. #19: She’ll certainly be excluded if she does go to church. The church’s doctrines exclude her, and probably the attitudes of most members will exclude her as well.

    What if the 1st Presidency approves the baptism? That would remove the church’s position on exclusion,and then would require ward members embrace and count the individual as one to be looked after and cared for.

    Of course, the bathroom issue is the thing that is most uncomfortable. It would be most easily fixed if the individual would agree it makes others uncomfortable and avoid the lady’s room. But wouldn’t that also be uncomfortable to explain to my boys why a man is dressed as a lady entering the men’s room? I think so (but maybe the lesser of the two uncomfortables).

    At some point, although things are uncomfortable, the ward members should find a best solution. I still say, keep it simple and tell my daughters not to go in there when the transgendered person is there.

  21. @14,&15&20

    I think what you guys are really saying when you state that she would be happier if she didn’t come is that really you would be happier if she didn’t come because then you don’t have to look or deal with her/him as a real person, with real feelings and problems and just like everyone else looking to be accepted for who they are, not what they are not

  22. Amazed:

    “Well, it’s clear that you’ve never dealt with their feelings. I’m sure if you had, you would have loads of sympathy. These people aren’t just playing around!!”

    You know, in most cases I’m just not seeing it. I can accept that nuance, even the baby mutilated during circumcision, enough to sympathize. Even so, I’m having a hard time understanding this in the context of what should a Mormon Bishop do. To be clear, I believe transgendered individuals should not be thrown out of commercial establishments, or evicted from their homes, etc. But should a Bishop allow a male, to attend relief society in the guise of a woman? Should this person be added to the visiting teaching list, or be asked to attend homemaking? I’m not a big fan of when the Church attempts to impose it’s moral perspective on society via the legislative process. At the same time, I really have no objection to their maintaining a specific code for internal purposes. I have no problem with homosexuals personally, but I understand the Church taking an institutional position on the matter. At the same time, a homosexual may attend Church, participate, and provided they are not practicing homosexual, they may even hold callings etc. They would not be allowed however to engage in any type of homsexual displays, at least not overtly. They would be (and I have seen this) be discouraged from bringing a partner with them to Church, or in way conducting themselves in such a manner that could be construed as advocacy. I suppose the same could be said for the transgendered. If they attended Church in their natural sex (I know, not the most PC descriptor, but I’m at a loss) and attended the proper quorumn, auxilary, society, etc, including their use of restrooms, then I think there would be little reason for a Bishop to address this. If however a man is allowed to attende Church dressed as a woman, and permitted to attend and participate in Relief Society, that would be akin to the Church accepting their new sex. This poses a major conflict with LDS doctrine. You could debate the appropriateness/correctness of the Church’s doctrine, but not the doctrine itself. So I just can’t see how this would ever be allowed.

  23. What if the 1st Presidency approves the baptism? That would remove the church’s position on exclusion,and then would require ward members embrace and count the individual as one to be looked after and cared for.

    Heber,
    Will the church approve her temple attendance? Her temple marriage to a man? Even her getting married to a man outside the temple? Or will it treat her differently from other women for as long as she remains in the church?

  24. Tough poll. I know what my position is, and while it might be the norm on this blog, I don’t expect that would be the norm across most wards. While I can concede that some members would be uncomfortable, that’s life. This world has all sorts of twists and turns and it doesn’t hurt for some of us to have our comfrot zones tested from time to time. It is a test of compassion, charity and our ability to suspend judgement.

    As for baptism, that is a way ahead for this investigator and may not be on the radar just yet anyhow. But giving her an opportunity to establish a relationship with God is surely what we should be about? What comes of that is between her and God and the church hierarchy. But as a person, she wants to pursue study into the gospel. That should be open to anyone, regardless of whether we agree with their life choices.

    As for the bathroom issue, if there is a unisex then that is the best option. Though like a couple of you I’ve never seen one. Must be that difference between us Aussies and most of you guys over there.

  25. Cowboy, I think that is a very reasonable approach and appropriate stance to take.

    Hopefully the person wanting to come to church would be reasonable as well, and understand your point. It is about seeking spiritual guidance…not proving equal rights or transgender agendas.

    Best case scenario I think would be to ask the individual to understand the church doctrine and stance as described in the Proclamation to the World. Then, if they will dress as the gender they naturally are, they are welcome to participate in classes they should be in.

    If the person refuses (saying they are really a woman spirit stuck in a man body or something like that), then at least get them to agree on avoiding the lady’s room since they have a man’s body.

    However, you can’t check the anatomy. If the person refuses to cooperate, then they can be invited to leave.

    In other words, work with the person and try to find reasonable grounds that make sense, and give the opportunities to stay and worship, and work with the members to be sensitive to individual situations…

    Not just tell them they’d be happier leaving…bu-bye.

  26. While I think a general attitude of tolerance and acceptance is good, I do wonder how far this goes. Ultimately a person should have the right to self-expression, so long as said expression does not infringe upon someone elses rights. Generally I’m okay with this, particularly as a legal right. Does acceptance require however that we must always embrace every aspect of diversity? I have already noted that there are some instances surrounding transgenderedness where the issue is very complex. Barring the unique circumstances such as hermaphrodites or mutilated babies, should religions be expected to embrace all diversity? More to the point, I can accept the rights of a transgendered to live as they choose, hold a job with the expectation of equal treatment (I’d make some exceptions here, but not much), and to otherwise seek out their own course of happiness in life. In that way I can be accepting. At the same time, I would never be so tolerant or accepting of their gender reassignment so as to be willing to date one. Or to hold any other similar type of intimate relationship. I could always love and respect my brothers, but I doubt I could ever, even out of respect, consider them my sisters. So for those who would, I would ask – would you be willing to do any of these things? Perhaps some argument could be made for the siblings. If your brother had always behaved as a female, perhaps you could sympathize with their choice to conduct themselves as such. In which case I would ask, could any of you love this person, complete with sexual attraction, knowing that they are technically of your same sex? If not, then what is the benchmark of acceptance, and why then should the relief society be expected to honor them as a sister?

  27. I think what you guys are really saying when you state that she would be happier if she didn’t come is that really you would be happier if she didn’t come because then you don’t have to look or deal with her/him as a real person, with real feelings and problems and just like everyone else looking to be accepted for who they are, not what they are not

    Dblock,

    I don’t have to look at or deal with anybody at church, because I don’t go. I’m just being realistic. I would tell this hypothetical transgendered woman exactly what I told a real one who asked me about it once: imo she would never be accepted for who she is in the LDS church. LDS doctrine has no place for people like her. She would not be treated like other women at church. Attending would often be a painful experience for her. If she wanted my advice, I would advise her not to attend any church that would treat her that way. If she wanted help, I would try to help her find a church that would accept her and treat her kindly.

  28. Heber,

    So basically what you’d tell her is, “You may think you’re a woman, but you’re a man and that’s how we’re going to treat you.” And you think that’s better than telling her that she’d probably be happier attending some other church?

  29. #18:
    But I must admit that I feel uncomfortable with someone possessing a penis being in the same restroom with my teenage daughters.

    #23:
    I still say, keep it simple and tell my daughters not to go in there when the transgendered person is there.

    Did it ever occur to you, BiV and Heber, that you likely have nothing to fear from a penis that’s being flooded with female hormones? You both seem to be operating on the assumption that this person is a predator–an assumption that is unwarranted, bigotted, and ultimately disgusting.

  30. While I would be comfortable being in the bathroom with this person, I am not sure what I would say to my young daughters. They’re children. They notice things. They’re verbal. I could imagine a few years ago being at church and having one of them innocently whisper in the way children do (LOUDLY) “Why is that man wearing a dress, Mommy?” Of course, this kind of thing happens in all contexts so I expect transgendered individuals are used to this sort of thing.
    What I struggle with is what to tell my children about issues such as this that I myself am conflicted about. I think I know what the “doctrine” is, but my biases tend toward left of center.

  31. I would pick the second option and schedule a ward screening of the lovely Felicity Huffman in the 2005 film Transamerica:

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0407265/

    The discomfort is largely a function of lack of awareness of what it means to be transexual, so some education would seem to be in order.

  32. #32 Nick: It DID occur to me. That’s why I feel very conflicted about it all. But I’m still having those knee-jerk reactions. I appreciate this post for making us think about our prejudices and face them head-on. There’s something about a penis that is very scary, no matter how liberal a feminist I style myself.

  33. I was comment #2. My reason for seeking additional counsel is driven by my own lack of understanding or experience. The comments have been helpful to me.

    My other reason for seeking counsel of the SP and MP is that as bishop I would need to be careful to speak for the church, not just for myself, and need to represent the church’s view accurately. And as some have said, this case is not directly addressed in the GHI.

    That said, I agree that we should greet all members and non-members to church with love. That said, our members are as imperfect as anyone, so it is no surprise that they, when confronted with something new and unknown, might respond poorly compared with if they had more experience.

    The advice to seek the visitor’s input on the restroom issue is interesting. My stake center has a separate unisex bathroom which would allow for that solution, but not all buildings in our stake do.

    I struggle to get my head around whether this person should attend RS or PH, and cannot rationalize in my own mind where a comfortable or correct (those two are likely not the same) answer is, but in so saying I admit my own ignorance.

  34. I think the missionaries should talk openly and frankly about the Family Proclamation, and ask this person how he/she feels about the church’s stance on gender. Does this person feel association with the church is harmonious with his/her transgendered status?

  35. Hmmm. As an outsider, I do see Kuri’s point. Are you willing to start something your theology won’t allow you to finish? Do you expect the transgendered individual to give up the process of changing? If not, do you think the person is better off coming into your church and then falling away than not coming in at all?

  36. I’d really have to take kuri or Henry’s position in this one. Or at the very least, inform her of what she’s getting into and see if she really wants to go through that. Commenter Dblock seems to have this opinion that kuri and Henry have the positions they do because they are faithful members who want to maintain a comfortable status quo and cannot do that with this individual.

    I don’t think Dblock realizes that, on the other hand, these guys are instead people who know — albeit through different circumstances — about being estranged from and by that status quo. If it can happen for mere diversity of thought, I cringe at what it could do with a more noted difference. (subnote to FireTag re 40, it’s not so much, for me, about starting something the theology won’t allow to finish…it’s more about the most expectable social consequences. If word is already getting around now about discomfort, then that’s a bad sign.)

    Now, if I were idealistic and hopeful for the church and its members, I would say she should keep going to RS and the women’s restroom.

    This does raise some points though…it’s interesting to see where people fall here.

    The question is *gender* and *sex*. What determines what and what is more primary? A lot of people here seem to be looking at sex (the hardware), and making their decision based on that. Is to be male to have a penis or be born with a penis, or to have XY, or whatever?

    I think, instead, that gender is about the mind and brain. This individual is female despite the hardware. I actually saw a piece relating this to eternal gender. Our souls/intelligences are eternal, right? But our bodies are subject to the fall. So then, wouldn’t this allow for the possibility that a soul could be mismatched to a body. The ultimate takeaway is that we should be basing our evaluation by the soul/mind.

  37. I’m guessing it would be better if the person in this hypothetical case were prettier than the illustration in the OP. What if she passed easily as female? Would her body parts be anybody’s business? (You’d be surprised how many transgendered people do, both pre-op and post-op.) What restroom would you want an intersex person with ambiguous genitalia to use? Would the bishop need to do a visual inspection before he decided this?

    Search for images of Amanda Simpson, an official in the Department of Commerce who was appointed by the Obama Administration. Would the credibly feminine Ms. Simpson receive the same treatment at church as the person whose picture appears in the OP?

    The comments on this thread are reason no. 6,201 why I don’t go to church anymore. Seriously.

  38. Hmmm….definitely one case I’ve not come across.

    My first thoughts are that the first presidency wont accept a sex change operation, or anything similar to it like hormones only as above, so then this ‘she’ is still a ‘he’ for us. Therefore my thoughts would be to ask her not to attend RS or use the ladies, plus she still has her/his appendages so she/he really shouldn’t use the Ladies at all imho. Then I’d just delay/procrastinate things by claiming that there needs to be an answer first from the 1st presidency etc etc….

    Since she wont accept going to priesthood, and would probably be offended if I ask her to, I’d talk to the missionaries to take her home after sunday school.

    So I couldn’t vote for any of the three above. My vote: tell the missionaries to just take her home after Sunday school.

  39. kuri,

    #19,

    The church’s doctrines exclude her, and probably the attitudes of most members will exclude her as well. She will never be accepted for who she is in a Mormon congregation.

    On the second point, you are correct, sadly Mormons will not accept someone who wants to believe in Christ. But on the first point, you need to back that up with the actual “church doctrine” against a transsexual. I’ve heard on several occasions from our prophets that the church and the gospel is open to ALL. I didn’t hear a caveat that certain types of people were not welcome. Hell, even with the racist priesthood ban on blacks, the church still baptized blacks and welcomed them into the church. Why not this? If a person, regardless of circumstance, believes in his/her heart of hearts that they believe in Christ, who are you to exclude them from fellowship? It speaks more about the second part of your point than the first.

  40. Heber,

    #28,

    Then, if they will dress as the gender they naturally are, they are welcome to participate in classes they should be in.

    What does that mean? Nature changes dude. I’m not going to be one to judge the souls of men whatever the physical limitations are, because that is not my right. I’ll let God deal with the question of what gender this individual or that individual really “naturally” is.

  41. Cowboy,

    Imagine if God thought that way about his creations. If we are trying to emulate God, and be more like Him, then the answer to your questions are resoundingly yes. We should show love for all humans because all humans are children of God, regardless of circumstance. Love the soul dude, not the physical limitations/changes.

  42. This man should be able to attend sacrament meeting, but if he can’t go to Priesthood and to the men’s restroom — then the Bishop needs to ask him to just attend sacrament meeting until he can sort out his gender identity issues.
    The sisters in Ward are not in the wrong for feeling uncomfortable about this man being in the restroom with them.
    We believe gender is an eternal characteristic, and that is why I think this is something this man would need to come to grips with if he was really interested in the Church.

  43. I think this will be a non issue. I can’t imagine this individual coming back for a second visit to our church. They would probably be more comfortable finding Christ somewhere else if people in this ward are so unwelcoming. People can tell when they aren’t wanted. As for the bathroom issue every ladies room bathroom has a stall door, unless he is peeking or something, who cares? (If you are worried, don’t let your kids go alone, in our ward house their is a registered sex offender who attends at the same time and I tell my kids they can’t go alone and have told them who the sex offender is and had them look at a picture of him on the internet. I don’t doubt they are working on recovery, but if not I’m not risking my child being sexually assaulted)

    If we didn’t let sinners in the door, they’d be no one there. We all have different issues and hopefully can be welcoming to all.

    Also, I’m all for background checks on everyone working with youth. I also think it should be done on missionaries (maybe it already is).

  44. “If we didn’t let sinners in the door, they’d be no one there.”

    By all means, let him in the door — but why should a man go to Relief Society and the woman’s restroom? Just cause he feels like it? I’m sorry this man has gender issues, but that’s something the Bishop can help him work thru, not something he should accomidate while allowing him to attend meetings and restrooms with the Sisters in the Ward.

  45. Justin- I think most people would agree with you. It is more of a non-issue with me. I agree that the bishop would have numerous issues to work out with the guy.

    I have a friend who was RS President and a guy kept coming to RS w/ his wife, people didn’t mind while he was investigating, but after he was baptized they didn’t like it. I can’t remember if she or the Bishop had to tell him he had to go to priesthood, he complied but said the lessons were better in RS.

  46. Dan, if your going to reply, then reply in context. I did not suggest that God does not love this person in an agape fashion (I know, agape references are a bit evangelical). Nor do I suggest that as a society we ought to treat the transgendered any less. What I am intending to distinguish is a difference between social/legal acceptance and personal acceptance. The transgendered should expect the full entitlement of rights and priveliges afforded under the law, with some exception (again the dating & teaching, etc, disclosures). Doees that mean that I should personally regard a specific person as a woman, who in fact biologically is not? I understand the argument of gender being more psychological than physiological, but who is the authority we can all appeal to. It is one thing to be respectful and socially accepting of a person, and quite another to be completely embraceful of their lifestyle. If you truly accept their gender reassignment as being natural, then would you have any objection to being intimately involved with one in a husband/wife context, consisting of both romantic and erotic love. This is the same issue with the relief society. It is one thing for Church members to be loving in a general we-are-all-children-of-God kind of way. It is completely another for them to be institutionally accepting of someone who’s lifestyle is in direct conflict with core doctrine, by allowing them to participate in quorumns, auxilaries, and societies, which they doctrinally cannot belong to. I would just argue, that if you would not be willing to offer a man the full consideration of being a woman, then perhaps the Church ought to be granted the same privilige.

    AndrewS: As for mismatched souls and bodies in the pre-existence, I find the bizzare juxtaposition of LDS theology (pre-existence) coupled with an outright rejection of LDS doctrine (The Family: A Proclomation to the World) a bit lacking.

  47. Dan,

    In Mormon doctrine, gender/sex is eternal and unchanging. The church teaches that people are either male or female, and that the sex they are at birth is the way they always have been and will be forevermore. There’s no place in that doctrine for ambiguity or “switching,” so there’s no place in the church for people who are both/neither male and/or female or for people whose bodies don’t match their minds. They cannot exist, according to the church’s teachings.

    So sure, the church will accept a transgendered woman, but only on the church’s terms, i.e., not as a woman, but as a “confused” man. If a transgendered woman wants to attend church on those terms, that would be her choice. I wouldn’t “exclude” her, but I certainly wouldn’t advise her to seek out that kind of pain.

  48. Andrew S:

    I think the notion of gender being in the mind rather than the body is a potential step forward toward the truth, but then I come from a denomination that doesn’t have the concept of God’s sond and daughters necessarily being limited to human beings, like most non-Mormon Christians. Personally, I even go beyond my denomination and suspect that my spirit is a collective property of a vast number of copies and variants of my body — some of which ARE transgendered, or ARE gay or ARE married to a nonmenmber, ad infinitum

    While this is an extreme example, it isn’t just idealism versus expected social outcome. The ideals of the theology themselves, as expressed in the Proclamation on the Family, require a certain up-front honesty to the woman. IMO.

    This is a little more than a minor issue in the woman’s life.

  49. Cowboy,

    What I am intending to distinguish is a difference between social/legal acceptance and personal acceptance.

    What acceptance? The human being or the transsexuality? No one is saying that you must embrace transsexuality. No one is saying you must accept it. See past that to the human being inside and show love for that human being. If you turn him away, then I believe you are failing to follow Jesus’ counsel.

    Doees that mean that I should personally regard a specific person as a woman, who in fact biologically is not?

    Technically and biologically, gender is actually changed. The person was a man and now is a woman.

  50. Kuri,

    #55,

    Can you direct me to where it talks specifically about transsexuality within “Mormon Doctrine” (whatever that phrase happens to be, as there is no established, written doctrine of the Mormons). I’m aware that a bishop may choose to start a disciplinary council for a member who performs a sex change, according to the handbook of instructions. But beyond that, I don’t see anywhere where such individuals are excluded from membership in our congregations.

  51. So then Dan, if gender changes technically and biologically, and acceptance is of Jesus, would you be willing to consider an intimate romantic relationship with someone who has undergone such a change? Are you that accepting?

  52. Cowboy,

    I didn’t know that was one of the requirements of showing Christ-like love to someone, that I must consider an intimate romantic relationship with that person. Surely you don’t put the same test to a homosexual. Must I consider an intimate romantic relationship with a homosexual in order to be accepting of that homosexual person?

  53. Bishop Bill here with what I did. When I had a similar situation, I was lucky to have one of the newer church buildings that has the unisex bathroom (I think it is called a wheelchair accessible restroom by the church). So the easy answer was I asked this person to use that restroom while in the building. The person understood completely, and was very understanding. I did not put that in the pole, as many building do not have the unisex bathroom.

    I also contacted my SP, and was pleasantly surprised at his answer. He said to make this person feel welcome at all times. He did not go into details about which meeting he/she should attend, just make them feel welcome. I continued to let this person attend the meeting they felt most comfortable in.

  54. Re #54 (kuri)– The LDS position isn’t self-consistent. The Church encourages the parents of children born with ambiguous genitalia to choose a gender assignment for the child in infancy and perform surgery to make the child’s appearance match the sex chosen by the parents. Whatever choice the parents make for the child becomes that person’s immutable, eternal gender in the eyes of the Church.

    This practice is now thought by many to be medically unethical– the arbitrarily assigned sex is often at odds with the child’s innate gender identity (which only becomes apparent as the child matures), and the surgery often mutilates the child’s anatomy to the point that they as an adult cannot experience sexual (genital) stimulation.

    Basically, the Church is against the dignity of self-determination, not medical intervention per se.

  55. I definitely feel this is a tough one. The theological implications of sex-change operations are kind of beside the point here. On the one hand, if you have a child of God seeking redemption, you’ve got to welcome him/her (even if you’re not sure which). On the other, you’re the the bishop and you have to maintain and protect the flock, and church policy in the past certainly gives precedent for protecting people with prejudices. It seems like most people here would love to throw it in the face of the congregation and give them a good learning experience, but that may not be appropriate.

    I suspect transgendered (or “transgendering” in this case) people are no more dangerous statistically than normal men, but even if such a person were more dangerous, it’s not clear whether she’d be more dangerous in the men’s or the women’s restroom.

    If the transgendered person intends to keep coming, which I think is unlikely, I think the bishop has to invite her into his office and get to know her. Presumably, knowing the ward and knowing the individual should open the bishop to inspiration on what to do next. If you’re the bishop, and a member complains about somebody shooting up in the restroom, it makes a big difference whether the person doing heroin, insulin, or buprenorphine (to manage opiate withdrawal symptoms).

    Fortunately, our building has a unisex restroom.

  56. Dan:

    Were not talking about “Christ-like love” here, as ambiguous as that is in this context. I guess it depends your individual view of Christ. If you are talking about him in the context of Mormonism, I find it unlikely that he would allow a man into Relief Society. Who knows? If your again talking about that general Christ-like love extended to all of Gods children, then you are correct, it seems unlikely that a willingness to date such a person would be required. From your comments however, I gather that what you are suggesting is that a transgendered person ought to be able to attend Relief Society, because that is the Christ-like thing to do. You furthermore have seemed to suggest that society is displaying ignorance when they, on a personal level, cannot come to see the transgendered as a natural member of their desired sex. This is what the Relief Society and Bishop are being asked to do in your comments. So I thought I would see if you could do the same, because I know I couldn’t. You have not answered the question, so I will assume that you would probably be unwilling to do that. Frankly, I think it is asking too much of the Church in this case.

  57. Dan,
    As someone once said, trying to determine what is and isn’t “Mormon doctrine” is like nailing jello to a wall. I’m not going there. The church teaches that sex/gender is eternal. As you said, it teaches that people may be excommunicated for undergoing sex reassignment surgery. If you think that despite those teachings, a transgendered woman would be fully welcomed as a female member of the church, allowed to attend the temple as a woman, allowed to marry a man in the temple, and otherwise treated just like any other female member, I really don’t know what to say to you.

  58. …if gender changes technically and biologically, and acceptance is of Jesus, would you be willing to consider an intimate romantic relationship with someone who has undergone such a change? Are you that accepting?

    Cowboy,

    Is my willingness to consider a sexual relationship (even a purely hypothetical one) with a woman a criterion for her attendance at Relief Society? If so, about 75 percent of my ward’s Relief Society just got disqualified.

  59. Kuri:

    Touche!

    Perhaps a better way to frame my question would be this. If you were dating someone and seeking to pursue the relationship towards either sexual intimacy or marriage, as result of which they confided to you that they had undergond gender reassignment surgery, would you still pursue the relationship? Would this new information be a deal breaker, or would you (Dan, Kuri, whoever…) be able to look past it and still regard this person with the same kind of love and intimacy you felt when you believed they were born as their current sex?

  60. Cowboy,
    That’s a difficult question. It might well be a deal-breaker, but it wouldn’t necessarily automatically be one. So I think the only possible answer is “It would depend.”

  61. Cowboy–“So then Dan, if gender changes technically and biologically, and acceptance is of Jesus, would you be willing to consider an intimate romantic relationship with someone who has undergone such a change?”

    It is interesting to note that in the link to the photos of transgendered women that MoHoHawaii posted above, one of the women is shown with her female partner.

    What a complex issue this is. While sticking with church doctrine (whatever that is) and church policies may make the issue easy for some it doesn’t insure the best (or even a good) outcome. The advice of the stake president to do whatever makes the person welcome was outstanding. I don’t know how many stake presidents that would have been so thoughtful.

    In this situation what makes a man a woman? The feelings? The clothing? The operation? Beyond me. Fascinating post. One of the most interesting in a long time, in my mind.

  62. I go into the women’s restrooms at church each week at the end of the day to make sure that all the toilets are flushed and don’t see why it would be so awkward to accommodate the needs of a transgendered individual there. All of the toilets have full stalls built around them. I’ve seen public restrooms that have signs that say an opposite gender attendant may accompany a physically disabled person into the restroom, so the need for a person of the opposite gender to enter a restroom from time to time exists.

    Are there really that many privacy needs for the bathroom space that is outside of the stall? Why should the general ward membership be aware that the individual still has a penis? That seems like a personal detail that only the missionaries and the Bishop need to know. (And some people would debate that need). I don’t think I would be uncomfortable with a male-appearing transgendered person passing me in the men’s room. I’m aware from college (and news reports of certain Senators) that restrooms serve as meeting places for those seeking sexual encounters, but I don’t think people are going to investigate the LDS church for the purpose of atypical activities that can occur in a restroom.

    I only see a slippery slope argument about people who are very early in their move to transgender where they take on a female personality and nickname, but maintain a generally male appearance. Their close friends began to identify them as a female, but people who have no idea who they are may suspect that they are just acting out in some way. What would Bishop Bill do for someone in that setting that wished to avoid use of the men’s room? Well, obviously the answer is the “unisex” restroom. I don’t like that name, btw. On my mission in Japan we saw true Unisex restrooms from time to time. A restroom that has a sign for female/male is not really a Unisex restroom. A private or family-friendly restroom would be a more fitting description. I wouldn’t call it the bisexual restroom.

  63. Cowboy,

    You furthermore have seemed to suggest that society is displaying ignorance when they, on a personal level, cannot come to see the transgendered as a natural member of their desired sex.

    Forgive me if you got that impression because that’s not the way I see it. I don’t ask people to view a transgendered person as any other person. That is impossible by the very nature of their transgendered state. I ask that people step out of their comfort zone and view others as God views them or as God would want us to view them. Thus I ask where we are told to shun those who are transgendered.

  64. kuri,

    If you think that despite those teachings, a transgendered woman would be fully welcomed as a female member of the church, allowed to attend the temple as a woman, allowed to marry a man in the temple, and otherwise treated just like any other female member, I really don’t know what to say to you.

    Did I say any of those? You don’t have to be a temple attendee, or to be married in the temple in order to be a regular member.

  65. Cowboy,

    Would this new information be a deal breaker, or would you (Dan, Kuri, whoever…) be able to look past it and still regard this person with the same kind of love and intimacy you felt when you believed they were born as their current sex?

    You must not have seen “The Crying Game.” 🙂 I think you might be enlightened somewhat about how you react by just such a revelation if you saw it.

  66. “I ask that people step out of their comfort zone and view others as God views them or as God would want us to view them.”

    In all seriousness, how does God view them? Do we really have concensus on God? I think most of us agree that God loves everyone, but I don’t think we can truly invoke the ambiguity of deity to settle this debate without an appeal to a specific theology. I have no problem with some level of acceptance, and nor would I suggest that they ought to be shunned. But asking someone not to attend Relief Society because they technically are not a woman, is a far cry from shunning.

  67. Did I say any of those? You don’t have to be a temple attendee, or to be married in the temple in order to be a regular member.

    No, but you do have to have that opportunity at least hypothetically available. You can’t be permanently excluded based on what you are. That makes you a sort of second-class member. Or would you argue that black Mormons before 1978 were “fully accepted as regular members”?

  68. This one is real simple and should’nt take much thought. God, and his Chruch, are conditional. If you live the Celestial Law, you receive Celestial Glory; If, you live the Telestial Law, you receive Telestial Glory. If you are worthy, you can pay your tithing. If you are worthy, you can be baptized. If you are worthy, you can receive the Priesthood. If you are Male you can receive the Priesthood. If you are worthly, you can partake of the sacrament. If you are worthy, you can attend the Temple. IF….Then…ELSE; in other words, we are a conditional organization.

    With this in mind, if you ARE NOT a freak you can attend church. Gender is an essential part of our Father’s Plan and if you can’t understand this then find a new church to attend.

  69. Cowboy,
    Did you look at the gallery MoHoHawaii linked to? Would you tell those people that they should attend Priesthood Meeting rather than Relief Society?

  70. I have to agree with Kuri here. The trans person should save themselves a lot of pain and just not go. The LDS church/culture is not designed to handle this situation.

  71. A central question here is, does a church have a right to be bigoted? If you see the church as the One True Church of Christ, then it’s a harder question. But if you see the church as a human organization, that is largely a gender-related beliefs and lifestyle club, then there is something to be said for the right of that organization to choose its members according to compatibility of belief and lifestyle.

    The Quakers (at least in the old days) maintained that the health of the community depends on compatibility. Some Intentional Communities (communes, co-housing, eco-villages) are now exploring the idea that diversity at all costs may be over-rated. Does a social group have a right to choose compatible people with similar beliefs with whom to assemble?

    The law has a responsibility for protecting all people, and in that great tug-of-war between personal freedom and the good of the community, the law of the land ought to push personal freedom to its absolute maximum and only draw the line where it is obvious that one person’s freedom is stepping on the toes of another’s.

    But private clubs and churches? I don’t know. I loathe polygamy, but I think it should be legal, and I certainly think that churches ought to be able to practice it. Should a polygamous church fellowship with someone who insists on being monogamous? Should the two struggle to accept each other in their own circle, or should they “accept” each other from a distance?

    Should a group of five racist men be allowed to meet in a private house and talk about white supremacy? Where do you draw the line? When they commit a hate crime? When they become the third largest religion in the world, but they still don’t commit any hate crimes? Should they still be allowed to assemble and spew intolerant ideologies? Should they be allowed to exclude people from membership?

    Again, if we’re talking about the True Church of Christ, then it’s a much tougher issue. I’d have to vote for changing the theology itself to be more welcoming of a transgendered person.

    But as a private club? I have no idea where you draw the line, but it seems that there is something to be said for a church’s right to define its own morality and boundaries, no matter what is politically correct. If it falls too far behind the dominant culture’s views, then it will naturally cease to exist.

  72. Ken S–“This one is real simple and shouldn’t take much thought….If you are Male you can receive the Priesthood.”

    I would refer you to #61—“The Church encourages the parents of children born with ambiguous genitalia to choose a gender assignment for the child in infancy and perform surgery to make the child’s appearance match the sex chosen by the parents. Whatever choice the parents make for the child becomes that person’s immutable, eternal gender in the eyes of the Church.

    This practice is now thought by many to be medically unethical– the arbitrarily assigned sex is often at odds with the child’s innate gender identity (which only becomes apparent as the child matures), and the surgery often mutilates the child’s anatomy to the point that they as an adult cannot experience sexual (genital) stimulation.”

    Intersex people can have both genitalia, meaning that their biological sex cannot be classified as male or female. Who gets ordained now, Ken?

    I’ve been asking members for years to apply the vaunted Family Proclamation to intersex people. Usually the question goes unanswered.

  73. Holden,

    Again, real simple and clearly defined in the Proclamation on the Family “gender is essential part….”. If you are Male you can receive the Priesthood; and, if you are not (female or undefined) then you cannot. It is simple. These issues can and will be worked out in the hereafter by an Omnificent Father. For now, we must go by what we know.

  74. Kuri,

    This is a no brainer. When you are conducting an interview for a Priesthood ordination, as a Bishop, and you are unsure if the candidate is Male then ASK (I would ask the person presented in the picture above). If they tell you they are Male and answer every other question denoting they are worthy, then give them the Priesthood. If you suspect they had a gender change, then ASK. If they did, don’t give them the Priesthood. If they lie, then it is tantamount to telling a lie to God and they will pay the consequences of their decision. If they are unsure about their identity, then don’t give them the Priesthood. Again, if they lie, they will be accountable before God. If you don’t suspect anything and they are not male and they receive the Priesthood, then it will come to light sometime if the future and it can be dealt with then – either in this life or in the next. Real simple folks.

  75. Kuri (#77):

    I did look at the links. I think we need to establish some context in order to try and evaluate this. The first question, that no one has really asked, is why is our hypothetical transgendered person attending a Mormon church in the first place? According to the scenario they are considered an investigator of the missionaries, but have our Elders even had this discussion yet. Can we assume that this person is already well aware of the Church’s position on gender/biological sex? If not, then I might suggest that the Elders need to revisit those “testify with boldness” talks in the missionary guide. A second two part question would be about First Presidency ruling’s. I would generally expect the Church leaders to take the obvious position for someone who is considering, but has yet to undergo gender reassignment surgery. As for someone who has already had such a procedure performed, I could guess how the Church would respond, but I’m not totally certain that I would be correct:

    a) For a person who has not yet had surgery, but is considering – is there any precedent or expectation that the First Presidency would approve this person for baptism knowing that they may undergo a sex change? Continuing, would the Church then honor this persons new sex?

    b) For a person who has already undergone a sex-change – How has the First Presidency ruled in such cases? Have they allowed the person to be baptized? If so, do they recognize the person according to their new sex, or must they re-adopt their “natural” sex? Are there any special provisions for such a person, ineligibility for the Priesthood, etc.

    *For clarity, I am assuming that the individual in these questions was neither a hermaphrodite, nor deformed in any other way – botched circumcision, etc.*

    Now in response to your question, but bear in mind that I am speaking from the perspective of a Church official. In other words, how should a Bishop respond. Many of these comments do not reflect my personal feelings, as if it were me I’d probablly give the same advice you have recommended, find another Church.

    For person in scenario a), I would not allow them to participate in Relief Society. I would also request that they refrain from cross-dressing and using the ladies restroom while at Church. I would also pull the missionaries aside and help them to try and tactfully explain the situation to their investigator. ie, if their investigator pursues gender re-assignment they will be inelligible for baptism. I would also point out that inspite of the surgery, they still cannot be baptized while presenting themselves as a woman, cross-dressing, etc. If on the other hand they are willing to repent, they may attend in the full spirit of repentance, ie, turning away from the sin. If they needed help with that I would offer Church assistance and LDS professional counselling services.

    In scenario b) I can only speculate. I could be surprised, but I doubt that the First Presidency would be willing to compromise the doctrine, so my guess is that the person would be required to reverse the change as much as is both physically and financially possible. If the person insisted on maintaining their new identity, I would be surprised if leaders allowed them to be baptized, or to participate in the Relief Society. If a person in this situation was willing to return to their natural sex, as much as is reasonably possible, I would still imagine some unusual restrictions. I could see Church leaders suggesting something like mortal inelligibility from the Priesthood, as well as restrictions on callings to anything above the menial, with a promise that if they remain faithfull from this point forward, through the atonement they can expect to realize the full promises of exaltation in the Celestial Kingdom.

    There is my very long answer to your simple question.

  76. Ken S.:

    Doesn’t your simplicity sort of prove Kuri’s point that if a transgendered person isn’t a TBM to begin with, maybe that person might find it difficult to bother to seek a testimony in the first place?

  77. I guess I don’t really have a reasonable response to this one but everytime I see that picture up there I can’t help thinking “It puts the lotion on it’s skin”

  78. Firetag:

    As a transgender, they most likely don’t want anything to do with the LDS Church and probably never will. On the other hand, in the parable of the wheat and the tares they will either repent and become part of the fold, or they will be sifted out. The Gospel is not for everyone.

  79. I wonder how many of the tares think they’re wheat? I know from the NT that a lot of goats think they’re sheep. So, to completely scramble my scriptural metaphors, I’ll simply ask myself, “Is it I?”

    It’s always spiritually healthy to ask that question, IMO.

  80. Re #80 (Holden Caulfield)– Hey, Holden, you’re right. All I hear is the sound of crickets chirping.

    Re #84 (Cowboy), you wrote:

    I am assuming that the individual in these questions was neither a hermaphrodite, nor deformed in any other way – botched circumcision, etc.

    Are you hinting that it might be okay to perform gender reassignment surgery on a male infant who lost his penis due to a botched circumcision?

  81. a) For a person who has not yet had surgery, but is considering – is there any precedent or expectation that the First Presidency would approve this person for baptism knowing that they may undergo a sex change? Continuing, would the Church then honor this persons new sex?

    At least in one case out of Brazil before 1982. I don’t know if there were more.

  82. MoHoHawaii:

    No I’m not suggesting that at all. What I am suggesting is that these cases make the LDS position very unstable from a baptismal worthiness perspective. So my opinions as to how I would expect, and think, a Bishop should act would not be applicable in these scenarios. I think that any decision to (re)assign the sex in these cases should be the sole prerogative of the person in question. I can appreciate the quandary parents find themselves in, but still question even their right to make such a decision.

    Stephen Marsh:

    Regarding this person in Brazil, what was the outcome? Were they required to adopt their prior sex, or were they “allowed” to maintain their new sex/gender identity?

  83. Ken S–“Again, real simple and clearly defined in the Proclamation on the Family “gender is essential part….”. If you are Male you can receive the Priesthood; and, if you are not (female or undefined) then you cannot.”

    You won’t find “undefined” in the Proclamation. According to the document, the “essential” gender is premortal, mortal and eternal and it is one or the other.

  84. Kuri/Holden:

    I’m sorry I’m not being clear; to me it is real simple.

    If you are born with Male genitalia and only Male genitalia and have no reservations about the fact that you are Male, then you are Male. This represents almost all beings that identify themselves as Male. Along these lines, this is an eternal identification – you were Male before you were born, are Male here on earth and will be Male in the eternities. The exact same thing can be said for Females.

    There is a class of people that are born with both parts; or they are born with parts that would identify them as Male or Female and are confused their identity. This is the confused crowd. I don’t understand it and I don’t think they should be mocked or mistreated. Again, an Omnificent Father will work this out in the hereafter.

  85. What if a member of the “confused crowd,” somebody with ambiguous genitalia, considers himself male? Should he get the priesthood? What if he was brought up as a male and everybody else considers him male too? Are they wrong and he shouldn’t get the priesthood?

  86. Kuri,

    Ambiguous genitalia is a very rare condition (1 in 100,000) and is thus something that could and should be dealt with by a member of the First Presidency. Revelation from this source could determine the Eternal Identity of a soul, which would answer all of the above questions. If it is determined by this source that the individual is Male, then the Priesthood could be administered.

  87. Ambiguous genitalia is a very rare condition (1 in 100,000)

    True, but if the church has 13 or 14 million members, that would mean about 130 or 140 have that condition.

    and is thus something that could and should be dealt with by a member of the First Presidency. Revelation from this source could determine the Eternal Identity of a soul, which would answer all of the above questions. If it is determined by this source that the individual is Male, then the Priesthood could be administered.

    So the First Presidency, rather than the individual in question, should decide what sex somebody with ambiguous genitalia is?

  88. Kuru,

    Gender is not a choice, but an eternal identity. Those who are confused or unclear about thier identity should seek help from our creator who gave them life. Since he is not here on Earth, the next best thing is one of his Prophets.

    It would take fasting and prayer from all involved and given the eternal implications would require the assistance of the First Presidency.

  89. Stephen:

    That is very interesting, is this documented in some place that I could read about it?

    Ken:

    Does the First Presidency welecome the oppurtunity to make these kinds of decision? Perhaps I’m wrong, but my guess is that if someone came to the First Presidency asking for the “Lords guidance” on this type of issue, the FP would steer clear of making a declaration. Instead I think they would wish the person well, and stress the need for the person to seek the Lord’s will personally. Then they might give them a good-luck blessing. This would first allow the FP to appear wise in their shepherding, and it would also prevent any type of future Church embarrasment from an unsatisfying FP declaration.

  90. Seems that pubs here in south australia have a similar problem with the ‘transgendered’ :

    [http://www.news.com.au/national/cross-dressers-banned-from-bar/story-e6frfkvr-1225837838486]

    Note that “Transgender patrons told to use disabled toilet” hmmmmm….

    Re: “So the First Presidency, rather than the individual in question, should decide what sex somebody with ambiguous genitalia is?” …the idea is that God would revel the gender of that spirit (the gender they had in the preexistence) to the prophet so its actually not the first presidency nor the person who decides.

  91. …the idea is that God would revel the gender of that spirit (the gender they had in the preexistence) to the prophet so its actually not the first presidency nor the person who decides.

    So the person has no right to say “I am a man” or “I am a woman.” Somebody else will decide that for them.

  92. I don’t believe for a second that the First Presidency, the prophet or our ward’s sunday school president would tell anyone what sex they are. The most the president of the church would say is this is difficult, pray and may God go with you.

  93. Well, we see that the person is actually interested in the church. Talk to the sisters to see what their problems are. If they can’t resolve those conflicts then show them to see the investigator in heavenly fathers eyes. But continue to teach about about who we are as SONS/ Daughters of heavenly father and every soul has a purpose on earth. If the investigator doesn’t like what we believe she should go in the Drop file of the missionaries. Those that do not progress in the gospel are wasting the missionaries time and effort in teaching people who do want to change and learn about the restoration in the latter days and who we are as children of god. But everyone deserves a chance to hear the gospel no matter what they are or do!!!

  94. Kuri, etal

    It is not a choice. The objective is and should be to identify the eternal gender so progression can take place. I would hope anyone with a vested interest would try and help the soul find thier eternal identity.

  95. Bishop… is that you??

    There is a transexual in my ward. I think he leaves after sacrament meeting but I know he meets with the Bishop on occasion and has been taking the missionary discussions. He is dressed to the 9’s in womens clothing, carrys a purse, and uses the womens restroom. Not sure if he is planning to get baptised, but I am always happy to see him at Church. I just see him as a confused individual (weather or not the end result is a man or a woman) who is looking for happiness in the right place. Hopefully we can all keep our judgements to ourselves. I think compaining to the Bishop about this person using the womens restroom is silly and juvenile.

  96. “I think compaining to the Bishop about this person using the womens restroom is silly and juvenile.”

    I see it as a very natural complaint on the other hand, so there we have it.

  97. When a whole race of people were not allowed to have the priesthood, the policy was not to try to teach them at all. We were instructed, as missionaries, should we accidentally knock on a door and an “unacceptable” person answered, we should say, “We’re looking for a Johnson family – do they live around here?”

    Unacceptable to me as a missionary – still unacceptable now. I would counsel this potential woman that there are plenty of more inclusive churches to join. There is no “One true church.”

  98. I agree with Chuck. I think there are more people going to be able to return to God than the 0.1% of the world population who are active LDS. This necessarily implies that there are in all likelihood going to be MANY more people who made it back to God who were NOT LDS in this life than who were LDS.

    Therefore, for this person, I would recommend that they continue looking for a personal relationship with God and Christ. I would also be realistic and suggest that they are going to find many problems in the LDS Church given their situation every single day for the rest of their lives (both doctrinal and social). It might make a lot of sense for them to develop their relationship with God in a more accepting denomination, as there are many out there.

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