I still believe biology is destiny when it comes to gender identity: that at birth our differing physical parts determine whether we are male or female. But I do not deny that for some the gender they identify with differs from the genital parts they are born with. And so I must ask myself, what could cause such gender ambivalence? And is it possible to change the gender identity they have embraced to conform to their biological parts – and be at peace?
I found it surprising when I first learned that for homosexual couples, one took on the masculine role, while the other took on the feminine. This made me wonder how a homosexual determines which role to take. I know each one of us is made up of both male and female traits. But if we are born male, the male traits dominate while the female traits recede. If we are females, the reverse is true. Without both sexes having these dominant and recessive traits, I don’t think males and females would be able to relate to one another.
So why would a boy wish to be a girl, or a girl a boy? Or why would a girl feel comfortable being a girl yet feel physically attracted to another girl? And vise versa. And why is there a conflict in some children, but not in others? I’m no expert by any stretch of the imagination, just an observant parent who believes that homosexuality is wrong based upon scripture. So using this as my standard, here are my personal thoughts on the matter, which I share with you in hopes of encouraging you to help those who struggle in this area.
For starters, let’s take a look at childhood. Many times when a child becomes gender confused, one of the siblings in the immediate family may notice questionable gender behavior of her brother, but dismiss it. Then usually that child’s friends and relatives will do likewise. Years later when this now young adult announces he is gay, these same friends and relatives will not be too surprised. For example, at my daughter’s grade school, Justin, a ten-year-old boy, very likable and quite handsome, tended to eat his lunch with all girls at one of the lunch tables while his eight-year old sister, Stephanie, cute and athletic, would be seen as the only girl sitting at an otherwise boys-only table. The school children were free to sit wherever they wished. But repeatedly Justin chose to sit with the girls and Stephanie preferred company with the boys. Surely the teachers were aware of a potential problem. One of Justin’s teachers tried to help him, but he handled it by trying to humiliate Justin to act more like a boy. He publicly mocked him in front of his peers during gym class and sports events which Justin sat out. Justin did become gay as he entered young adulthood. I have no knowledge as to his sister.
When you go shopping with a young daughter and she starts picking out more and more non-descript clothing, (non-feminine clothing), a red flag should go up. Many times we, as mothers or fathers, will scold a girl for picking inappropriate clothing as if forcing them to choose what we believe is appropriate will fix the problem. But this isn’t the root of the problem. Her choice of clothing may be showing you she doesn’t feel accepted for being the female she is; that she is beginning to feel alienated from those who’s acceptance she needs the most, and is subconsciously attributing it to her sex.
I have a subjective theory for this change in behavior: that the confusion begins with an emotional wound that comes unintentionally from one or both parents — or caregiver(s) if such is the case. But I want to be clear about one thing: Emotional wounds are unavoidable. Any one of us can take something someone says the wrong way and become hurt by it. How we handle the hurt and seek resolution and reconciliation is what matures us. Children, however, do not always handle such situations maturely. It’s the parent’s role to teach and set the example.
When a child attributes an emotional wound to his gender and hides his feelings from his parents, the wound can continue to grow as he ascribes more and more emotional pain to this cause and tries to suppress it. As he attempts to bury his negative feelings about himself, gender confusion manifests itself at a subconscious level. The child then begins to feel somewhat different from others of his sex. Then later at a critical moment when he is able to conceptualize the struggle, he may accept the resulting inner gender identity as fact over his differing biology, especially if society endorses it. Some children may increasingly role model the opposite sex rather than their own, while others may role model their own sex, but find themselves physically attracted to their same sex rather than the opposite sex upon reaching puberty. Their conflicted gender issues may be more difficult to detect.
I have often wondered through the years if perhaps the following might bear some truth: Perhaps a girl – lets call her Judy — becomes emotionally wounded by her father, (perhaps because of what she feels is his aloofness or indifference or condescension of her), but feels some love from her mother. Eventually she attributes her father’s lack of attention toward her as due to her sex. She is dismayed by how she feels about herself as a result but holds her emotions in check, not confiding in anyone. Yet she is able to embrace her female nurturing role modeled for her by her mother. However she remains distrustful of the male species, keeping them at arms length, because her emotional turmoil has not been dealt with. As she matures physically, she turns sexually toward another female – say Alice. Judy feels safer with Alice due to her fearfulness of male rejection. Perhaps Alice, on the other hand, has become emotionally wounded by her mother (perhaps because of what she feels is her aloofness or indifference or condescension of her), but feels some love from her father. She attributes her mother’s lack of attention toward her as due to her sex. So she gradually adopts her father’s male identify as her own, and allows her recessive masculine traits to usurp her lead feminine role forcing it into the background. As she matures physically, she turns sexually toward another female – say Judy – whose female traits are still dominant. Alice feels safer acting as a male with Judy because in the female role she had increasingly felt she was worth less. And thus, the same could be true for males. This is a simplistic theory. There are many other extenuating circumstances. And many times such gender wounds lead children, not into homosexuality, but heterosexual immorality. But that’s another article. There are also congenital exceptions such as rare cases when a child is born with both sets of genitalia, or accidents or medical conditions have caused the removal of obvious distinctions. This article does not speak to such cases. But when it comes to gender confusion, you get the picture. The father or mother may have said words they thought were helpful, but in fact had the opposite affect on the child. And it’s not words alone: body language, tone, and attitude also play a part. Sometimes it’s the way the father berates the mother or the way the mother belittles the father. Sometimes it’s not what is said, but what is never said, like failing to reaffirm a child who struggles with body image. Sometimes a child perceives one or both parents as treating siblings of the opposite sex more favorable than his sex. And vise-versa. And sometimes neither parent has time for the child.
What do I mean by a wound? We all know what physical wounds are. If eight-year-old Tommy is stick-fighting with eight-year-old Jake, and Tommy swings and hurts Jake’s six-year-old brother, Joey, unintentionally, but is unaware because he is so focused on his interacting with Jake, Joey may be left with a red welt on his arm and tears coming down his cheek. Depending on the relationship, Joey may think it was deliberate. And maybe it was. If it happens a second time Joey may be even more convinced, especially if Tommy who inflicted the pain and his brother Jake say nothing to alleviate his doubts. Joey may be afraid to say something to Tommy or Joey, and may conceal his emotional wounds. And so it is with gender issues.
Many times parents are in emotional pain themselves within their own adult relationships, too distracted to see the needs of their children. Many of us unknowingly allowed the estrangement of our children because we were never completely healed from our own wounds that we blamed on our parents or others. Take for example, Dan. The disconnect Dan experienced with his own father had created a disconnect with his son, John, who was now a young adult. Dan realized in time his need to be emotionally honest with his own father - even if the relationship never mended completely – if he didn’t want to see the pattern repeated in his son’s life. We need to be healed of our own pain if we don’t want to inflict pain on our offspring. That may involve taking a close inventory of how we engage with others in order to see clearly what is going on emotionally in our children’s lives. So many of us as parents have failed our children in important ways. This is why it is critical to heed God’s warning: “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger.” Unapproachable fathers are insensitive fathers. So are domineering fathers whose focus is self-centered instead of family-centered. But I believe mothers are included here also, many for not interceding on their child’s behalf. Others when they take on the dominant role within the family. What parents need to watch for is change in the child’s behavior. Has the child withdrawn, become apathetic, angry? Is the child trying too hard to please? These are telltale signs that should reach a parent’s radar screen. What’s critical is not the child’s will, but his spirit. Is it broken? Parents must take ownership for their part in the parent/child relationship.
What can parents do to prevent their children from choosing the homosexual lifestyle? If our children are still young and tender, we need to be observant of them as they interact with others. This is a part of parenting. I know of one grandparent of a four-year old boy named Brian who loved to play the game of Cooties. For three months he usually chose first the green or blue or orange body and head on his turn if given the chance, picking the pink if that was his only option. Grandma first chose the pink, and then one of the other colors. And of course she picked out the ribbon for the top of cootie’s head. But then Brian’s behavior started to change. He started to first pick the pink body and head, then fought relentlessly for the ribbon rather than the hat or rabbit ears he used to pick. Grandmother’s first reaction was to tell him he was a boy and that he should first pick one of the other colors. (Grandma’s from the old school.) She of course got nowhere with that. But she knew her daughter and her son-in-law and their tendency to put themselves first ahead of their son’s best interests. So Grandma changed her strategy knowing Brian had quite an imagination, and next asked, “Is this your sister Judy? as she pointed to the pink cutie. “No,” he replied quickly. “Oh, is this your little girlfriend?” said Grandma. “No, she’s not my girlfriend,” he answered indignantly. “This is me. I’m her.” Grandma was shocked. What was going on inside Brian’s head? Then she looked into Brian’s eyes kindly and said in a soft gentle voice, “Do you think Mommy would love you more if you were a girl? She knew immediately she was leading the witness and made up her mind not to do that again. But as soon as she said it, Brian looked up at his grandmother sadly with his big blue eyes and said meekly, “Yes.” Grandma wasn’t expecting this answer. What a heartbreaking moment. She then quickly explained that Mommy would not love him more if he were a girl because Mommy wanted a boy. She then proceeded to tell him that when we are born we come out with boy parts or girl parts. And that it is God who determines what we are to be. Brian looked up at Grandma sadly and said, “Can God take these parts out of me?” Wow, that was disheartening. “No, Brian. He wouldn’t want to. He wanted you to be a boy. And your Daddy and Mommy wanted you to be a boy. And so do Grandpa and I. We love girls too, and we have a girl, but now we are glad you were born a boy.” Grandma asked Mommy to have a talk with Brian and reaffirm her love for him. She asked her to let him hear her words of how glad she was to have a boy. Mommy didn’t think any of this mattered, but did have a nice talk with Brian. And for now that was all it took. Brian felt better about himself after that. And he no longer fought over the pink cootie.
That’s not to say that a child has no ownership in the relationship, especially as she gets older. If a girl hides the fact that something is bothering her, the parent may not know there’s a problem until it reaches a crisis. But at this stage it takes longer to resolve. Perhaps a mother – in her attempt to correct undesirable behavior in her daughter – attacks the core of the daughter’s self-image as she lashes out in anger rather than solely addressing the unacceptable behavior her daughter is displaying. The daughter may feel devastated by her mother’s words, but try not to show it. Then a similar episode may occur a few months later over the same undesirable behavior. But by now the daughter has started reacting, not to what her mother is saying about her behavior, but to what she thinks her mother is saying about her self-worth. Her mother’s repeated words only seem to reinforce what she thinks her mother really thinks of her: that she is worth less because of her sex. Such episodes repeat themselves to the point that the child becomes ever-increasingly sensitive to the message she believes is being spoken; her mother unaware her words are being interpreted in a way she never intended.
Sometimes children do not express their hurt feelings because they find the parent emotionally distant and are too fearful to approach. Mustering courage can be difficult. And even attempting such an approach may not bring the desired resolution right away, if at all. In such cases children might say something like this: “Mom, this is what I hear you saying. (Then paraphrase to your mother what you think she is saying to you.) Then say something to this effect: “When you say this, it makes me feel like I don’t matter. You don’t say these things to Tommy or Joey. And they do the same things. You say you love me as much as you love them, but I don’t feel like you do. If I were a boy, would you love me more?” There, you’ve said it. And you’ve said it in such a way that you aren’t blaming your mother. You are seeking clarification and making her aware of the emotional impact her manner of engaging with you is having on you. She may now be in shock. She may be angry that you think such things. But you have opened up your heart to let your mother back in. And even if she doesn’t take it to heart, it doesn’t mean she won’t think about it later or the next time she speaks to you.
It may be that one or both parents set no boundaries whatsoever as to what is permissible for a boy or for a girl to do. That is not to say that boys and girls can’t have common ground. Women down through the centuries have been restricted from doing normal activities. Forced to wear excessive clothing, the binding of their feet so they wouldn’t grow as big and thus restrict their movement, having to ride on a side saddle when participating in a fox hunt are just some such examples. Boys have been restricted from doing normal activities as well: some told never to cry or show much emotion, especially fear, or never to help out their mother with domestic work. Just as role reversal is an extreme, so is total separation of the sexes. Beware of such extremes. There are no hard, fast rules for male and female behavior. But we do know from scripture that boys should look and dress like boys, and girls should look and dress like girls. (Deut. 22:5) When you can’t tell that a boy is a boy or a girl is a girl, the line has been crossed.
What should parents do whose children have already endorsed the gay lifestyle? Such parents, like their child, have been dealt a wound; a huge wound that cuts like a knife. This truly is a difficult time for you. If you support your child’s decision, you condone what God does not. And although you still love your child, he must know you cannot support his lifestyle. He has become a prodigal son.
You will now go through phases:
You may feel despair. But you’ll get over it. This is now a time of reflection. You will find yourself going over your past with a fine toothcomb. “Where did I go wrong?” you will ask. “How could this happen? you will cry. While you’re at it, this would be the time to confess your sins of commission and omission. Each parent may even feel that the other spouse contributed more to their child’s choosing this alternate lifestyle. Stay with the part you played in your own unhealthy spousal relationship and reflect on how together you failed to bring up this child in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. You will start to see that many of the ways in which you engaged with this child were unhealthy. Perhaps you were too critical, too judgmental, not encouraging or building him up in a positive fashion. Perhaps he was too different from you in personality and you couldn’t understand him. This is now an opportunity for you to grow emotionally yourself. You may see the need to change the manner in which you engage not only this son or daughter but everyone else as well. Perhaps the prodigal became the scapegoat in the dysfunctional nuclear family. And the nuclear family may have continued the destructive cycle from previous generations. You have the opportunity to break this cycle. And it now begins with you. You always wanted a closer walk with God. Now you can have it. God can turn a curse into a blessing, but never if it’s built upon unbelief.
Following Phase I (for this too shall pass.), the goal now becomes how to win back the heart of the child to God. The Bible says, “The prayer of a righteous man (or woman) avails much.” To be righteous is to believe God at his word. If we are not righteous, the situation we now find ourselves in may be the catalyst to get us to that point. As we pray we can be assured that both the Holy Spirit within us is interceding on our behalf, while Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father interceding from the throne room in Heaven. Fasting to the degree we are able is also paramount. We are dealing in spiritual warfare. And although God will woo, He will never override the will of a person.
Phase III deals with opportunity. Yes, prayer is so important. But prayer alone is insufficient. We need to wait upon the Lord for opportunities to engage in honest dialogue with the child we love and lost. God works in movement that requires faith on our part. If we do not step out, in faith believing, God will not move on our behalf. Initially dialogue will not be about the lifestyle our child chose — for she will not be able to hear your words concerning it. But dialogue should be about the fractured relationship between the two or three of you. Some of us will see a miraculous transformation. Others may not live to see such a deliverance. But God is faithful. He will continue to woo our offspring, even till their dying breath.
As healing begins between parents and offspring, there may occur a loosening of the stronghold this alternative lifestyle has on this grown son or daughter. We as parents are only responsible for our attempts to rectify our part in the hurt. We must then leave the burden with Him who loves our children more than we ever could. For ultimately the grown son or daughter is responsible for the choices he or she continues to make.
These are just a few examples of how the subconscious takes on a twisted reality. But there is always hope for those who want healing and wholeness. We are to love those who are actively engaged in the homosexual lifestyle, but we can never condone the practice. Civilizations that do have always been destroyed in time. The lifestyle of the homosexual couple leads to a dead end. The physical ramification is that they can produce no offspring. But more than this, the spiritual ramification is eternal death.
Copyright © 2008 Jan True