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What the Father of a Transgendered Teen Wants You to Know About the Bathroom Controversy

As the father of a 17-year-old transgendered son, I pay close attention to issues regarding the LGBTQ community. Not long ago, Kaitlin Jenner grabbed the headlines and became a rallying point for the trans community. Now once again that community grabbed headlines with Target’s decision to allow trans people to use the restroom according to their gender. This issue has blown up in social media as people on both sides of the issue weigh in. And those who oppose Target’s policy are vociferous about their concerns.

I am trying to understand exactly what the concern is. Do we really believe that a bathroom policy will encourage anyone to molest a child or assault a woman? If someone is determined to commit such an act, allowing trans people to use the restroom of their choosing will have no impact.

As a Christian, I am also interested in how the church will respond to this issue and others regarding the LGBTQ community. My heart aches for trans people because it is not an easy path to walk. Trans people are more likely to be assaulted or killed, to self-harm, or to commit suicide than the general population.

Dysphoria is a huge issue for my son. Basically, it is the disconnect between his gender and his birth-assigned sex. Using the “wrong” restroom contributes significantly to his dysphoria. It can’t be taken lightly. For my son, dysphoria has led to depression, anxiety and self-harm, so I would be remiss to diminish its impact.

My son attends church with a friend of his. Before he began attending, his friend called to ask the church their position on trans people. They simply said, “We love trans people.” This is a Bible believing, gospel-centered church, but their response got my son going to church again for the first time since he came out in a setting that we knew would be safe for him.

The first Sunday he was there, the pastor talked about brokenness and disclosed some significant areas of brokenness in his own life. It immediately put my son at ease, and he has attended either in person or online since. I think his attraction to the church has a lot to do with their desire to see all people be whole in Christ, regardless of the nature of their brokenness.

At the end of the day, a trans person is no more or less broken than anyone else. They are just broken in a particular way. It is our place as the body of believers to offer them peace and hope in Jesus Christ.

The issue isn’t a bathroom policy. It is about the need to treat people of all types with dignity and respect, the way that Jesus did. So unless someone can demonstrate concretely that people will be endangered by the policy, then we should allow trans people to use the restroom of their choosing. Do we believe Jesus would care about the policy rather than the person? I would say not.

For me, and our family, we see the importance of accepting and understanding the struggles of transgender people, and for that reason—I care more about the person than the policy.


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Toben Heim is the Business Development Manager for a new media startup called Faithplay . Over the last 25 years he has worked in a broad spectrum of ministries, both church based and parachurch and he has a desire to connect believers to the best Biblically based content available—be that through traditional publishing or to the latest in digital media distribution. His favorite role is that of Dad to two high school kids. He lives in Colorado Springs.