“And So He Left”: One Family’s Struggle with Gender Dysphoria
- The Good Book Company TheGoodBook.com
- 2017 30 Aug
My husband and I had been married for 15 years and had three children, and were actively involved in the ministry of our local church. We were just another one of those “keen Christian couples” that are the heart of church life.
You can imagine my shock when my husband told me that he felt he needed to cross dress. It was a bolt out of the blue. We talked about it over a period of a few weeks and then the discussion was left.
But a year later, having not discussed anything in any more detail, my husband announced that he was seeking counselling for his cross-dressing desires. It soon became evident that the counselling was not about helping him leave his desires behind, but about exploring his gender identity.
Unknown to me he had already talked to colleagues at work and had received significant support. We spent the next year talking through the issues, trying to find some common ground and having some relationship counselling together. But as we progressed through that year it became more and more clear that there was no common ground. As a Christian, I couldn’t endorse his choices. I believe the Bible when it says that God created us male and female (Genesis 1 v 27), and that that is expressed in the marriage union of one man to one woman. I thought my husband did too. But the agony of knowing the consequences of holding to these convictions for me and for us as a family was immense. Ultimately, it was me who said I couldn’t live with my husband if he insisted on identifying as a woman. And so he left.
The impact on our children has been greater than I could ever have imagined. I have questioned myself so often as to whether I made the correct choice—perhaps I will always wonder. It is very easy to find yourself contorting your mind to try and make sense of the situation.
Do I believe that gender reassignment surgery actually changes what God has created? If not, then can I continue to live with my husband despite him identifying as a woman? But if it does, and yet I also believe same-sex relationships are not right before God, then what would continuing this relationship do as a witness to those around me?
Maybe you’re reading this and it sounds like my husband is the victim here. But in the end, the level of deceit that my husband had shown and the fact that he was unwilling to “forsake all others” and in particular his desire for a female identity, led me to the point of saying that I could not continue in the marriage. It has been an agonising road to travel. Although my husband hasn’t physically died, the man I was married to has.
Society shouts at us that everyone should be “true to themselves” regardless of the impact on anyone else. We are told that our happiness is the most important thing. But I don’t see that in Scripture. I see the command to be “true to” God our creator, and that is to take up our cross each day (Luke 9 v 23).
I lost the man I thought I had married, and it’s like a bereavement, but without a funeral. He still exists, but no longer dresses, speaks or looks like he once did. Grief is a process that you never get over, but this particular grief is compounded by the fact that it feels unacceptable to grieve publicly. It becomes less painful with time, but there are daily reminders for our whole family of how life was and is not now.
The children are acutely conscious of how people react when their friends find out. When faced with “but at least you’ve still got two parents,” their only reply is “yes, but I don’t know who one of them is.” And my girls are left wondering who will give them away at their own weddings.
Many of these scenarios are not unique to families who have faced gender dysphoria—each family is different and approaches things differently. There is currently very little support available to children or adults who are processing a parent or a spouse who is transitioning.
My church family have been an exception to that and I have found them to be incredibly supportive despite this being completely new territory for them. I am thankful to God each day for the church family he has planted me in, and for the fact that at no point in these last five years have I doubted Gods sovereignty. I’ve told him how unfair it feels, and that I never wanted to be a single mum, but I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is in control and nothing has taken him by surprise.
God and The Transgender Debate is a short book, written to help Christians engage lovingly, thoughtfully and faithfully with one of the greatest cultural discussions of our day. Originally published on TheGoodBook.com. Used with permission.
Image courtesy: ©Thinkstock/Delpixart
Publication date: August 31, 2017