A biologically normal person who experiences transgender feelings is not the opposite gender trapped in the wrong body, but a person who is experiencing mental and emotional confusion (I’ve written some on gender issues here and here). They need therapy, not gender reassignment surgery. But what about a person who was born genetically male (Y chromosome), but with malformed or ambiguous genitalia?
There have been many cases where doctors and parents made the decision to surgically alter their genitals to appear female and then raise the child as a girl. But the child is a male, biologically, and the male hormones make them feel and act like a boy despite being told they are a girl and raised as a girl. Later in life, they discover their past. Now, as an adult, though they look like a girl, they want to be what they feel like and truly are: a man. They want to dress as a man and act like a man, and even undergo surgery to physically alter their genitals to look like a man again.
Question #1: If you were their pastor and they came to you seeking godly advice, what would you tell them?
Question #2a: If you approve of letting this biological male (but woman by all external appearances) undergo surgery and alter his external appearance to match his true male gender, would you also approve of him subsequently marrying a woman in your church? If yes, would you approve of that same marriage if he had not undergone the physical changes and still looked like a woman? If not, why not?
Let’s take this a step further. Let’s say this person was currently married to a man when he came to you for advice. He married a man when he thought he was a woman. By all appearances, their marriage was a normal marriage between a man and a woman. Now that he (and you) knows he is truly a man, what do you do with the relationship?
Question #3: If he wants out of it, do you allow them to divorce? Or conversely, if he wants to stay in the relationship, do you require that they legally divorce and separate on the grounds that they are living in a homosexual relationship?
Question #4: If you think they are living in a homosexual relationship and need to end the relationship, why do you think this? What makes a sexual relationship homosexual? Is it genes, genitals, or both?
If it’s genes that defines homosexuality, then they are clearly engaging in a homosexual relationship since they both have the Y chromosome.
Or, is homosexuality defined by sameness of genitals (and how one uses them)? Given this criterion, since one man has a penis and one has a vagina, and since they are using their opposite genitals to engage in normal sexual intercourse, then they are not engaging in homosex. But if you are inclined to conclude that their relationship is not of the homosexual kind on the grounds that they have distinct genitals and are using them in a heterosexual way (even though one of their parts was surgically altered to do so), wouldn’t that line of reasoning also require you to consider a sexual relationship between a transsexual woman (born a man, but as an adult he underwent surgery to look like a woman) and a biological male to be moral as well? After all, they also have opposing genitals and are using them in a way consistent with normal sexual intercourse. But I think most Christians would consider this second relationship to be a homosexual relationship and require that they divorce.
Question #5: So what’s the difference between the two?
Maybe what defines homosexuality is more than genes and genitals. Perhaps it also involves knowledge and intention. In the case of the man whose body was changed without his knowledge, we do not fault him for his past decisions to marry a man and engage in sexual intercourse with that man (although some would fault him if he remains married to him and continues to engage in sexual behavior after coming to the knowledge of his true biological identity). In the case of the transsexual who altered his body as an adult, we do fault him for his decision to marry a man and engage in sexual intercourse with that man because he knew that he was actually a man.
What is your take on all of this? As the pastor, how would you advise this man?