A Letter from a Youth Pastor to a Transgender Student

Transgender Student

Dear friend,

I am so thankful I know you. It is an honor that you would share this struggle with me. I know it was not easy, nor does sharing resolve everything. As you shared, I could not help but think of how deeply I desire to be truly known. God designed us for this—to know Him and be known by Him. He not only made us for Himself, but He also made us for community—to know others and be known by them.

My heart groans with yours to be truly known as God intended from the beginning. But my heart also groans because I know the church has not always felt like a place you could talk about this struggle. As a result, you have felt disconnected and not truly known yourself. Along the way, you have been disappointed, hurt and isolated by the actions and words of Christians. I grieve over the pain and loneliness you have experienced. Before I say anything else, I want you to know that I am here for you and I love you.

I have to admit that I have not always been careful in speaking about transgender issues. I have too easily settled for a shallow understanding of the issues. Please forgive me if I have ever done this in our conversations. I want you to know that your willingness to share with me has driven me to learn more and seek God’s wisdom. I cannot pretend that I know all the answers. Nor do I share any of this from a position of moral superiority. As you shared with me, I heard you saying that things just don’t seem as they should be. I was born one way but feel the exact opposite. My gender expression seems disconnected from my physical body. Did God make a mistake? Why do I feel this way? Does God want me to embrace these feelings? These questions—your questions—should not be dismissed but patiently and prayerfully answered. I cannot do that fully in a letter, but I hope we can still continue getting together to talk through these things.

In the meantime, I want to share a few things with you. Our world promotes a story of expressive individualism. Self-expression and self-identification are its supreme virtues. But God tells a different story. He tells a better story and holds out a better promise. In the Bible, we find that God made us in His image—we are of inestimable value. We were made by Him and for Him. He made us both male and female. We are made with this intended distinction and not as interchangeable pieces. He made us male and female to complement one another and fulfill His purpose in and through us. God calls this design very good! But why doesn’t it feel this way? In short, the answer is sin. Since our first parents’ sinful rebellion, we are broken people living according to broken desires in a broken world. And this brokenness is just as true of our relationships with God and others as it is of our relationship with ourselves.

However, I want to make something especially clear at this point. Your feeling as if your gender does not align with your biological sex is not sin. It is evidence that we live sin-stained world. What would be sin would be to reject your God-given sex and gender in favor of your own feelings. Struggling with your gender identity while trying to live in obedience to God is different than embracing a transgender identity. By embracing a transgender identity you would be choosing to define yourself by and act upon your feelings rather than God’s design. We do this same thing when we act on desires of lust, same-sex attraction, anger or lying. Regardless of how we sin, we are always rejecting God’s design and trusting in ourselves to be our own god, to determine what is right and wrong and to define ourselves according to our own liking rather than according to His image.

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Michael Guyer
Michael is the Minister to Students at Open Door Church where he has served for the last five years. He gets most excited about good coffee, enjoying friends and family, making disciples, engaging culture, and planting churches. He writes to help others delight in, declare, and display the gospel in all of life.

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