Spiritual Growth and Christian Living Resources

Spring Sale! Get 50% off your PLUS subscription. Use code SPRING

A Conversation with an Atheist on Gender Dysphoria and Children

A Conversation with an Atheist on Gender Dysphoria and Children

There are two verses that come to mind when I consider the plight of young people today. Not that I’m not young, but childhood for me is far different than childhood for the current generation. Sometimes, I wonder, if I learned about sex in school would that have kept me from a subsequent porn addiction? Then again, kids are learning about sex in school, a lot, and they aren’t better off for it!

“So God created man in his own image; he created him in the image of God; he created them male and female.” (Genesis 1:27)

“For it was you who created my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will praise you because I have been remarkably and wondrously made.” (Psalm 139:13-14)

Children today are discussing sex in ways that wouldn’t have been conceived for me back in the 90s and early 2000s. Preschool-aged children are being introduced to ideas like sexual orientation, masturbation, and gender.

Little boys and girls are taught that despite how they were born (their sex), they may feel differently (their gender). Growing up, those two terms were one in the same for me. Today, society says they’re different and that children can choose what they want to be.

Needless to say, this creates confusion in the mind of an impressionable child. That confusion is what we call gender dysphoria.

This is one of the most controversial subjects today, which means Christians should undoubtedly be talking about it. That’s what I accomplish in the following conversation with fellow writer and former classmate, Richard Jennis. We’ve discussed things like marriage and shame. This time we tackle gender dysphoria, again representing different viewpoints. Richard is an atheist, liberal, and has quite a different take than me on the subject.

Here’s what was said:

A Conversation with an Atheist on Gender Dysphoria and Children

Q: How do you define sex and gender?

A: Sex is a person’s biological structure, male (XY) or female (XX). Gender is a person’s expression of masculinity, femininity, or in-between.

Do you believe in gender dysphoria? If so, what is your definition?

I do. I would describe it as the discomfort experienced by individuals existing in a body that does not match their gender identity.

Recently Florida passed a bill, which bans the classroom discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity in grades K-3rd. What’s your response to this bill?

I don’t support an outright ban on discussing these topics. Schools have a right to set their own curriculum and choose what topics to discuss with children. I have distinct memories of children at my elementary school using “gay” as an insult. If they are old enough to use it as an attack, I believe they are old enough to learn about its true meaning in healthy and respectful ways.

Why do you think many Democrats have dubbed this legislation the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, and is that accurate?

The label isn’t accurate because Republicans do not actually support banning the term. The basis for the label is that many Democrats feel that Republicans are hiding the reality that gay people exist by refusing to allow discussion of the topic among children of certain ages.

According to some sources, an estimated 40% of Generation Z identifies as LGBTQ+. Do you think this statistic in comparison with our generation and older generations is normal? What do you think contributes to the number?

That’s definitely not a normal level. I imagine that some people are convinced that they are LGBTQ because the topic is very prominent and they want to feel a part of the group. Others actually are LGBTQ.

Do you support hormone therapy and related medical procedures for children to look like the opposite sex? Why?

I support the option for children and don’t want such procedures to be banned. I do think it is important that children be fully informed of the risks and long-term effects before deciding.

Should children be learning about sex when they are in preschool and elementary school from their teachers? Why?

Preschool is too young, but definitely in elementary school. Sex ed is a standard educational topic in many elementary schools, and I remember receiving a sexual education myself before graduating elementary school. This is nothing new. Many children are near or going through puberty by the time they graduate elementary school, and some will have begun to think sexually, so it’s a relevant topic. If schools do not teach sex ed, children may discover sex from misrepresentative or dangerous sources like uninformed classmates, predatory strangers online, and pornography. Giving children information and knowledge is the best way to keep them safe from those who would use their naivety to exploit them.

Should teachers be obligated to share with parents what they are teaching children?

I think parents should be able to contact teachers and receive information regarding their children’s education.

Are children cognitively able to process the lifelong ramifications of “transitioning” at such a young age?

I think the ramifications can definitely be processed before 18, so for some older children at the very least. Children often begin to understand and express their own sense of gender by 18 to 24 months. I think if they are old enough to know their gender, they are old enough to know that it doesn’t match their body.

If society has decided that children are cognitively able to “choose” their gender and undergo medicinal procedures, why can’t children choose to identify as a different age or start consensual sexual relationships with adults? Some adults already identify as children. And as I’ve shared before, some adults are moving to destigmatize pedophilia.

I would say that children feel a sense of gender well before 18 more than they choose it. Gender identity is largely felt, and it is gender identity that determines pronouns and transitioning. Age, on the other hand, is a fixed concept, less of a spectrum. Being able to make medical decisions and participating in a sexual relationship with an adult are two very different things. There will always be varying ages at which children can legally do something. There are laws in the US against children having sex with adults. Yet children get surgery as needed without it being a taboo subject. This leads me to believe that this country has already made a distinction between medical rights and sexual exploitation.

Are you familiar with the origin story of our modern-day gender theory and how the concept was invented by likely pedophile John Money.

I wasn’t, but after reading the linked article, it is clear that John Money committed child physical and sexual abuse in his experiments. This conduct should never be tolerated or allowed. As with Margaret Sanger, who made groundbreaking contributions to birth control but had a troubling past concerning racism, we can separate disturbing views and behaviors from ideology. We can condemn people for their actions and mistreatment of others without automatically discrediting everything they believed.

There are currently no statistics to show children are less likely to commit suicide when affirmed in their transitions. This could be because transgenderism is such a modern phenomenon. If data eventually shows children are more likely to die after being affirmed or that the suicide rate remains the same, will this change how you respond to gender dysphoria?

It would cause me to want children who are transitioning to be cautioned more sternly and with that new information in mind. There are already numerous studies linking opioids to deaths and brutal withdrawal, yet there are few arguments to ban them outright. People have the right to pursue medical treatments and evaluate risk.

Do you know any gender dysphoric children?

I do not.

Do you know any gender dysphoric adults?

I know three gender dysphoric adults.

How do you relate to people with gender dysphoria? Do you affirm them in their desired identity only when with them or always?

I always refer to people by their preferred pronouns, whether I am with them or not. I do not believe or affirm that they are biologically another gender.

Why do you affirm people in their desired identity instead of who they are, scientifically speaking?

I believe that people experiencing gender dysphoria identify more with the pronoun they are using than with their biological sex. I want their pronouns to reflect how they identify. I also know that being constantly misgendered can be very hurtful to them, and don’t wish to inflict suffering.

What transition story affects you the most?

A friend from high school with whom I have recently reconnected expressed that she was happier since becoming “her true self.” I was happy she found comfort in her body, that her life improved after transitioning, and that she finally felt like her appearance matched her inner self.

Do you refer to people in the same way when they desire to be called by neopronouns (turtle/turtleself, doll/dollself, xe/xem)? Why?

I do not. I believe in the core concept that people can identify more with the opposite gender or neither gender than the gender to which they were born. I do not believe that people can be non-human.

How do you refer to people who consider themselves genderfluid? Do you accommodate their pronoun changes even when not present?

I have never met someone who exhibited changing genders. I would simply ask a genderfluid person to pick a pronoun with which they are comfortable, and then I would refer to them as that regardless of whether they were present.

If you’re willing to affirm to a man that he is a woman for fear of suicide, why not affirm a fat person in their weight identity for the same reason?

I would affirm to a man that he feels more like a woman than a man, and would gender her accordingly. I can’t deny the medical reality of someone being overweight, nor the reality that he is biologically male. I would stop bringing up that someone was fat if it were hurtful. I’m accommodating and don’t need to bring up labels that upset people, however true they may be.

If people can make demands of others under the pretense of committing suicide, what other demands can people make? Can a lover demand to stay in a relationship? Can children make demands of their parents?

I don’t believe that people leverage their own suicide so as to make demands. I believe that suicide can be the result of mistreatment and disrespect. I agree that people shouldn’t stay in relationships or give in to their children’s demands just because they fear they may commit suicide. It is more that if someone sees that they are hurting someone through their language to the point that they no longer want to live, they should rethink how they are speaking to them or perhaps avoid speaking to them at all if possible.

Are there people who regret “transitioning” to the opposite sex? What do you make of their stories?

There definitely are. I’m glad they have the chance to tell their stories. It’s important to express both sides.

Why do you think more attention is given to transition stories than detransition stories?

Transition stories feel empowering and detransition stories are an uncomfortable reality. Detransition stories also risk undermining the narrative that transitioning can only be a good thing.

Are you familiar with DeTrans Awareness Day? I wasn’t until I read about it in an article. Regarding your concern about people committing suicide, what do you make of the potential for de-transitioners committing suicide?

I am, but only because of conversations we have had. There is a risk that people will commit suicide despite transitioning. It won’t work for everyone and for some it might even make things worse. But for some, it’s literally lifesaving so it should remain an option.

We are male or female all the way down to our DNA. Women have XX chromosomes and men have XY chromosomes. Why go through surgery and hormone treatment when none of us could ever truly become the opposite sex?

Surgery and hormone treatment allow people to match their physical appearance more closely with how they have always felt and seen themselves. This congruity between self-perception and physical presentation can be a huge relief from gender dysphoria.


Sometimes I wonder, am I the one with the wrong perspective? Is my judgment clouded by antiquated ways of thinking? Are people seeing the truth and I’m just blind. Then another thought crosses my mind.

Over the years, America has continued to stray further and further away from God. He’s not in our schools, not in our homes. Less and less is He in our hearts. Are we happier because of this? Are our families more connected? Are our marriages lasting?

No. And if no is the answer, at what point do we as a society admit that something is amiss, and work to make some changes? Actual changes. Unfortunately, maybe not for a while. We seem to have an easier time pointing out the fault in others rather than ourselves.

If only we would just pause and take a moment to consider our ways, maybe we would see, we’re not as righteous as we want to believe. But alas, all will be revealed in time. Let’s just pray we are on the right side of history.

Let’s pray that the lessons of today won’t condemn our children to hellish futures.

“But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to fall away—it would be better for him if a heavy millstone were hung around his neck and he were drowned in the depths of the sea.” (Matthew 18:6)

Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/Devenorr 

aaron brown profile pic bioAaron D'Anthony Brown is a freelance writer, hip-hop dance teacher, and visual artist, living in Virginia. He currently contributes work to iBelieve, Crosswalk, and supports various clients through the platform Upwork. He's an outside-the-box thinker with a penchant for challenging the status quo. Check out his short story “Serenity.”