Gender dysphoria is a psychological condition where a person experiences discomfort or distress because there’s a mismatch between their biological sex and gender identity. It’s a feeling of unease that can cause significant distress, affecting a person’s day-to-day activities. This condition is typically recognized in children when they express behavior or interests that are not typical of their biological sex.
For example, a child born a male may seek to identify as a girl and show preferences for toys, clothes, or activities typically associated with females. It’s important to note that not all children who express these interests have gender dysphoria. Some children may simply have non-typical interests others will soon grow out of them. However, if a child is consistently identifying as the opposite gender and is distressed about their biological sex, they may be experiencing gender dysphoria.
The prevalence of gender dysphoria is not entirely clear due to varying definitions and methodologies in studies. However, it is generally agreed that the condition is rare. The causes of gender dysphoria are also not fully understood. It’s believed to stem from environmental influences as exposure to such ideology through educators, their peers and or social media, coupled with natural developmental questions children often have. Please pay special attention to the messages your child is receiving.
The emphasis today on body autonomy as opposed to body integrity opens some children up to a desire to simply identify as trans as a social choice or right even when they are without homosexual tendencies. Environmental factors, such as how a child is raised or their experiences with peers, may also play a role. It’s a complex issue but evidence is showing that most children will grow out of it they are allowed to complete puberty in a natural way.
Biblical Understanding of Gender
According to the Bible, God created humans in His own image, male and female (Genesis 1:27). This binary distinction of genders is foundational in biblical anthropology. The differences between male and female are not accidental or incidental; they are a part of God’s original and ongoing intent for humanity. These differences are complementary and serve the purpose of reflecting God’s image and glory in unique ways.
For instance, in the creation account, both man and woman are given the mandate to be fruitful, multiply, and have dominion over the earth (Genesis 1:28). This indicates that both genders have equal value and dignity, and both are needed to fulfill God’s purposes. The Bible celebrates the distinctiveness of males and females, and it teaches that we should honor and affirm these differences rather than attempt to erase or confuse them.
The Bible does not directly address the issue of gender dysphoria, as the concept did not exist in biblical times. However, it does provide principles that can guide our response. First, we are called to love and show compassion to all people, including those experiencing gender dysphoria (Matthew 22:39). Second, we are called to uphold the truth of God’s design for gender. This means we should gently and respectfully help those struggling with their gender identity to align their self-perception with God’s design.
It’s important to approach this issue with a balance of grace and truth. While we affirm the biblical teaching on gender, we also need to acknowledge the real pain and struggle that those with gender dysphoria experience. We should offer support and care, not judgment or rejection. This might involve professional counseling, pastoral care, and a supportive community. Ultimately, our goal should be to point them to the hope and healing found in Christ.
Protecting Your Child from Gender Dysphoria
Promoting a healthy gender identity in your child involves affirming and nurturing their biological sex. This can be done through various ways such as encouraging gender-typical activities, fostering healthy relationships with same-sex peers, and modeling gender-appropriate behaviors. It’s also important to communicate the biblical truth about gender in age-appropriate ways. However, it’s crucial to do this in a loving and gentle manner, without forcing or coercing your child.
For example, if your son shows an interest in activities typically associated with girls, you can affirm his masculinity by introducing him to male role models or activities that he might also enjoy. Similarly, if your daughter prefers boyish activities, you can encourage her femininity by highlighting the strength and beauty of being a woman. Remember, the goal is not to restrict your child’s interests or personality, but to help them appreciate and embrace their God-given gender.
If your child shows signs of gender dysphoria, it’s important to respond with love, understanding, and patience. Don’t dismiss their feelings or experiences. Instead, open a dialogue about their feelings and reassure them of your unconditional love. Seek professional help from a Christian counselor or psychologist who can provide guidance based on biblical principles. Remember, it’s not about ‘fixing’ your child, but about helping them navigate their feelings and find their identity in Christ.
For instance, if your child expresses a desire to be the opposite gender, you might say, ‘I understand that you’re feeling this way and I love you no matter what. Let’s talk about this more and figure out how we can navigate these feelings together.’ It’s also important to involve your child in prayer and scripture reading, reminding them of God’s love and His design for them.
If your child is experiencing significant distress related to their gender identity, it may be helpful to seek professional help. Look for a Christian counselor or psychologist who respects your faith and values, and who is experienced in dealing with gender identity issues. They can provide your child with a safe space to express their feelings and can offer strategies to cope with their distress. They can also provide you with guidance on how to best support your child.
Remember, seeking professional help does not mean you are failing as a parent or that your child is broken. It simply means you are doing everything you can to support your child in their time of need. A professional can provide valuable insights and tools to help your child navigate their feelings and can work with you to develop a plan that respects your faith and your child’s wellbeing.
Navigating Difficult Conversations
Discussing gender dysphoria with your child can be a sensitive and challenging task. It’s important to approach the conversation with empathy, patience, and openness. Let your child express their feelings without interruption or judgment. Validate their emotions and reassure them of your love and support. Use age-appropriate language to explain the biblical view of gender. Encourage them to ask questions and express their doubts or fears. Remember, these conversations should be ongoing and not a one-time event.
For example, you might say, ‘I understand that you’re feeling confused about your gender. It’s okay to have these feelings and I’m here to support you. God created us male and female, and He loves us just as we are. It’s okay to enjoy activities that boys/girls typically do, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re meant to be a boy/girl. Let’s continue to explore these feelings together and pray for God’s guidance.’
When responding to your child’s questions or challenges about their gender identity, it’s important to be honest, patient, and compassionate. If you don’t know the answer to a question, it’s okay to admit it and offer to find out together. Use these conversations as opportunities to reinforce biblical truths about gender and identity. At the same time, acknowledge the complexity of their feelings and affirm their value and worth as a person created in God’s image.
For instance, if your child asks why they feel like the opposite gender, you might say, ‘It’s hard to know exactly why you’re feeling this way. It could be because of different factors, and it’s something many people struggle with. But remember, our feelings can sometimes be confusing and don’t always reflect reality. The Bible tells us that God made us male and female for a purpose, and He loves us just as we are.’
Supporting Your Child
Providing emotional support to your child is crucial as they navigate their feelings of gender dysphoria. Listen to their concerns, validate their feelings, and reassure them of your love and acceptance. Encourage them to express their feelings and fears. Be patient and understanding, even if it’s difficult for you to relate to their experience. Pray with them and for them, asking God to give them comfort, wisdom, and peace.
For example, you might say, ‘I can see that you’re really struggling with this, and I want you to know that I’m here for you. It’s okay to feel confused and upset. Let’s pray together and ask God to help us understand these feelings. Remember, no matter what, you are loved by God and by me, and nothing will ever change that.’
Spiritual guidance and prayer are essential in helping your child navigate their feelings of gender dysphoria. Encourage your child to seek God’s wisdom and peace in prayer. Read and discuss Bible passages that affirm their identity in Christ and God’s design for gender. Involve your church community in providing support and prayer. Remember, our ultimate identity is not in our gender, but in Christ. Our worth and value come from being created in God’s image and being loved by Him.
For instance, you might read passages like Psalm 139:13-14, which speaks of how God intricately and wonderfully made us. You can pray with your child, asking God to help them understand their worth and identity in Him. You might say, ‘God, we know that you made us and love us. Please help us to understand and accept the way you made us. Give us peace and wisdom as we navigate these feelings.’