Families, communities, and nations can be strengthened by knowing and understanding the following statement proclaimed by prophets and apostles in “The Family: A Proclamation to the World”: “All human beings – male and female – are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual pre-mortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.”
In studying for my religion class this week, I was fascinated by the last sentence of the above paragraph. Boiled down to its essence, it means: Gender is essential for identity and purpose.
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are taught by prophets and apostles that our identity as male or female pre-dates our birth into mortality on earth. In Genesis we read that God created man – male and female. We are literal spirit sons and daughters of heavenly parents – who are glorified and perfected.
Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles stated: “Maleness and femaleness, marriage, and the bearing and nurturing of children are all essential to the great plan of happiness. Modern revelation makes clear that what we call gender was part of our existence prior to our birth. God declares that he created `male and female’ (Doctrine and Covenants 20:18; Moses 2:27; Genesis 1:27). Elder James E. Talmage explained: `The distinction between male and female is no condition peculiar to the relatively brief period of mortal life; it was an essential characteristic of our pre-existent [pre-mortal] condition’ (Millennial Star, 24 Aug. 1922, p. 539).” (Elder Dallin H. Oaks, “The Great Plan of Happiness,” Ensign, November 1993)
Sister Margaret D. Nadauld stated: “That women were born into this earth female was determined long before mortal birth, as were the divine differences of male and female. I love the clarity of the teachings of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve in the proclamation on the family, where they state, `Gender is an essential characteristic of individual pre-mortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.’ From that statement we are taught that every girl was feminine and female in spirit long before her mortal birth.” (Sister Margaret D. Nadauld, “The Joy of Womanhood,” Ensign, November 2000)
Human being are created male and female, spiritually and physically, for the very purpose of combining the two genders together in marriage between a man and a woman to create bodies for other spirit children who are waiting to come to earth.
President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “In His grand design, when God first created man, He created a duality of the sexes. The ennobling expression of that duality is found in marriage. One individual is complementary to the other. As Paul stated, `Neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord’
(1 Corinthians 11:11).
“There is no other arrangement that meets the divine purposes of the Almighty. Man and woman are His creations. Their duality is His design. Their complementary relationships and functions are fundamental to His. One is incomplete without the other.” (President Gordon B. Hinckley, “The Women in Our Lives,” Ensign, Nov. 2004)
With this understanding that gender pre-dates our birth on earth, consider the recent news article by Dr. Paul McHugh. He is University Distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Medical School and the former psychiatrist in chief at Johns Hopkins Hospital. He has been at the medical school for 40 years with 26 of those years at the hospital.
“For forty years … I’ve been studying people who claim to be transgender. Over that time, I’ve watched the phenomenon change and expand in remarkable ways…
“The champions of this meme, encouraged by their alliance with the broader LGBT movement, claim that whether you are a man or a woman, a boy or a girl, is more of a disposition or feeling about yourself than a fact of nature. And, much like any other feeling, it can change at any time, and for all sorts of reasons. Therefore, no one could predict who would swap this fact of their makeup, nor could one justifiably criticize such a decision.
“At Johns Hopkins, after pioneering sex-change surgery, we demonstrated that the practice brought no important benefits. As a result, we stopped offering that form of treatment in the 1970s. Our efforts, though, had little influence on the emergence of this new idea about sex, or upon the expansion of the number of `transgendered’ among young and old.”
Dr. McHugh said that he is trying to be like the boy in the Hans Christian Andersen tale, The Emperor’s New Clothes, who tried to convince the people that the emperor was naked. “I am trying to be the boy among the bystanders who points to what’s real. I do so not only because truth matters, but also because overlooked amid the hoopla – enhanced now by Bruce Jenner’s celebrity and Annie Leibovitz’s photograph – stand many victims. Think, for example, of the parents whom no one – not doctors, schools, nor even churches – will help to rescue their children from these strange notions of being transgendered and the problematic lives these notions herald. These youngsters now far outnumber the Bruce Jenner type of transgender. Although they may be encouraged by his public reception, these children generally come to their ideas about their sex not through erotic interests but through a variety of youthful psychosocial conflicts and concerns.
“First, though, let us address the basic assumption of the contemporary parade: the idea that exchange of one’s sex is possible. It, like the storied Emperor, is starkly, nakedly false. Transgendered men do not become women, nor do transgendered women become men. All (including Bruce Jenner) become feminized men or masculinized women, counterfeits or impersonators of the sex with which they `identify.’ In that lies their problematic future.
“When `the tumult and shouting dies,’ it proves not easy nor wise to live in a counterfeit sexual garb. The most thorough follow-up of sex-reassigned people – extending over thirty years and conducted in Sweden, where the culture is strongly supportive of the transgendered – documents their lifelong mental unrest. Ten to fifteen years after surgical reassignment, the suicide rate of those who had undergone sex-reassignment surgery rose to twenty times that of comparable peers.
“So how should we make sense of this matter today? As with any mental phenomenon, what’s crucial is noting its fundamental characteristic and then identifying the many ways in which that characteristic can manifest itself.
“The central issue with all transgender subjects is one of assumption – the assumption that one’s sexual nature is misaligned with one’s biological sex. This problematic assumption comes about in several different ways, and these distinctions in its generation determine how to manage and treat it.”
So, according to Dr. McHugh, transgenderism is a mental disease called Gender Dysphoria. “In fact, gender dysphoria – the official psychiatric term for feeling oneself to be of the opposite sex – belongs in the family of similarly disordered assumptions about the body, such as anorexia nervosa and body dysmorphic disorder. Its treatment should not be directed at the body as with surgery and hormones any more than one treats obesity-fearing anorexic patients with liposuction. The treatment should strive to correct the false, problematic nature of the assumption and to resolve the psychosocial conflicts provoking it. With youngsters, this is best done in family therapy.
“The larger issue is the meme itself. The idea that one’s sex is fluid and a matter open to choice runs unquestioned through our culture and is reflected everywhere in the media, the theater, the classroom, and in many medical clinics. It has taken on cult-like features: its own special lingo, internet chat rooms providing slick answers to new recruits, and clubs for easy access to dresses and styles supporting the sex change. It is doing much damage to families, adolescents, and children and should be confronted as an opinion without biological foundation whenever it.
“But gird your loins if you would confront this matter. Hell hath no fury like a vested interest masquerading as a moral principle.”
You can read the rest of Dr. McHugh’s article for yourself, but I included enough of it to show the value of knowing and understanding that our gender is not a fate of mortality but was determined long before we came to earth. Knowing this truth can save much pain and heartache as well as strengthen families, communities, and nations.