Elder Ronald A. Rasband taught that people who experience transgender feelings “need to be encircled in the arms of their Savior and know they are loved. So often the Lord calls on us; He expects us to be His welcoming, loving arms. We need to encourage their friends to do the same” (“Jesus Christ Is the Answer” [evening with a General Authority, Feb. 8, 2019]).
Talking about feelings of gender incongruence can be difficult and confusing. Your loved one may not know how to talk to you about it. You may sometimes feel inadequate. Although you may not always know how to respond to the struggles someone else faces, you will not regret reaching out with love and understanding.
If you overreact, get angry, or say things you regret, don’t be discouraged. This may be hard for you as well. This is one moment in a lifetime of conversations you will have with your loved one. If you feel you should apologize for your actions, do it.
If you are worried or feel grief in this situation, know that you are not alone. You may worry that the future you envisioned for your family is slipping away. The process of grieving may take time. (See “Grief,” Gospel Topics, topics.ChurchofJesusChrist.org.)
Sister Bonnie H. Cordon explained: “We all want to be recognized. We want to matter, to be remembered, and to feel loved…. We can listen and love without judgment and offer hope and help with the discerning guidance of the Holy Ghost…. Whether our sheep are strong or weak, rejoicing or in anguish, we can make certain that no one walks alone (“Becoming a Shepherd,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2018, 74, 76).
Initial reactions may be difficult. Your first reaction may be anger or denial. And it’s important to have enough self-control to lay that aside and have patience and begin to talk and begin to listen and begin to try to understand better. You don’t have to resolve everything in a month, or a week, or a year.
It is always important when reaching out and ministering to acknowledge another person’s feelings and experiences. We strive to meet people with Christlike love and understanding wherever they are on the path of mortality and go from there.
It is important to understand that everyone is in a different place along the path. We need to recognize the needs of others around us. Everyone has struggles. Some have significant struggles that we don’t even know about. We are all loved by God. We need to try to see others through Christlike eyes. We shouldn’t allow judgment to dictate the way we interact with people. Life is not just about our own progression, but about helping others progress as well. We are placed where we are so that we can love and lift others.
To be a disciple of Christ means that we should help others along the path. The gospel of Jesus Christ does not marginalize people. People marginalize people. And we have to fix that. We need to be sensitive and love them and allow them the opportunity to grow and to blossom and to be their best selves. They have talents and abilities and personality that is needed in the kingdom of God. When people come to church, they ought to feel immediately embraced and loved and lifted and inspired. Then, when they walk out the door, they are better because they know the Lord loves them. And they know they have friends in their faith.
If you have family members or friends who self-identify as transgender, pray for the love of Christ as you strive to follow the example of the Savior and love them. The commandment to love one another includes those who don’t experience the world the same way we do.
As President Dallin H. Oaks taught: “In so many relationships and circumstances in life, we must live with differences. Where vital, our side of these differences should not be denied or abandoned, but as followers of Christ we should live peacefully with others who do not share our values or accept the teachings upon which they are based. The Father’s plan of salvation, which we know by prophetic revelation, places us in a mortal circumstance where we are to keep His commandments. That includes loving our neighbors of different cultures and beliefs as He has loved us. As a Book of Mormon prophet taught, we must press forward, having ‘a love of God and of all men’ (2 Nephi 31:20)” (“Loving Others and Living with Differences,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2014, 28).
Sister Jean B. Bingham shared: “One of the most significant ways we can develop and demonstrate love for our neighbor is through being generous in our thoughts and words…. Words have surprising power, both to build up and to tear down. We can all probably remember negative words that brought us low and other words spoken with love that made our spirits soar. Choosing to say only that which is positive about—and to—others lifts and strengthens those around us and helps others follow in the Savior’s way” (“I Will Bring the Light of the Gospel into My Home,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2016, 6, 7).
Sister Sharon Eubank explained that some people don’t feel accepted or acceptable:
“The New Testament shows the great efforts Jesus made to reach out to all kinds of people: lepers, tax collectors, children, Galileans, harlots, women, Pharisees, sinners, Samaritans, widows, Roman soldiers, adulterers, the ritually unclean. In almost every story, He is reaching someone who wasn’t traditionally accepted in society.
“It is an unwavering requirement of Christian disciples and Latter-day Saints to show true love to one another.” (“Christ: The Light That Shines in Darkness,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2019, 74).
If you have difficulties with any area of your life, professional counseling may help you understand and respond in healthy ways. Life’s situations often have several contributing factors and it may be difficult to view ourselves objectively. A professional counselor may be able to provide helpful insight.
When it comes to gender-related concerns, you should exercise great care in selecting a therapist who respects your values and does not seek to impose one particular outcome. Therapists should respect your right to determine your values and goals for your life.
Also see “Transgender Individuals,” General Handbook: Serving in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 38.6.23.