From the minute Michelle and I got married, we had godly people around us modeling marriage and family. By the time we were preparing for our first child to enter the world, we’d watched moms and dads around us closely, taken a few parenting classes, and drilled our close friends as to the “keys to successful parenting.”
But nothing really prepared me for the conversation I recently had with my kids.
My sons and I were sitting in the corner of a Dunkin’ Donuts when a young man I’d counseled in previous years came over and said hello. It took me about 30 seconds to realize whom I was speaking with. This young man was now identifying as a transgender woman. I’d heard he’d made this decision but hadn’t yet bumped into him. We chatted briefly and shortly thereafter left to get the kids to school. Once we got in the car, I hoped my kids wouldn’t press in and ask too many questions about the encounter. But of course they did. This is 2016, and my kids go to public school. We have a TV in our home, and they are generally observant teenagers. Unfortunately I hadn’t rehearsed this “lesson” in my parenting arsenal.
Talking to my kids about transgender issues wasn’t in the parenting class Michelle and I took years ago. But here’s what I said.
God Made Gender
I reminded my kids that way back in the early pages of Genesis it says that God created gender: “Male and female he created them” (Gen. 1:27). We don’t get to choose our gender. Whether one is male or female is in the creative power and wisdom of God. Someone may struggle with “feeling” male or female, but that doesn’t make him or her different than God intended.
In the beginning, God determined that two genders were the perfect expression of his image. In the man and in the woman, then, God’s image is displayed—both in the individuals themselves and in the way they relate to each other as same (human) and as distinct (gender). One isn’t better than the other, nor did God design a way for humanity to switch between the two.
We All Struggle with Identity
I want my kids to be able to adequately navigate the waters of sexual identity for themselves. This is a watershed issue in our day that isn’t going away.