Being transgender, also known as 'Gender Identity Disorder' and 'Gender Dysphoria' is a condition or state in which individuals are certain that they are in the wrong body; their physical sex being opposite to the gender they mentally perceive.
It is not a 'lifestyle choice', but a serious and medically proven condition. Usually the perception is present from early childhood.
Those who are transgender are normal people with the same cares, hopes, fears and aspirations as anyone else. It is the situation they find themselves in which is abnormal.
Scientific research into the phenomenon of transgenderism has led to an almost unanimous current acceptance in the medical field that it is a biological condition and certainly not a mental issue. While it is true that there is a higher incidence of mental health problems among transgendered persons, this can be explained as symptomatic of the psychological pain that goes with the condition.
Why are scientists so sure of a biological causation? Through the use of modern imaging techniques such as MRI scans, research has suggested distinct physical differences in male and female brain structures - they seem to be, as it might be put, 'wired differently'!
When such investigations have been carried out on transgender men and women, the results have shown physical brain structures identical to the self-perceived gender.
So the strong implication is that there is indeed a biological cause relating to the physical composition of the brain, which leads men and women in apparently normal bodies to be adamant that these are wrong.
It is noteworthy too, that transgender participants in the various research studies had not taken any hormones which might have affected results; the brains scanned were the unaffected ones they were born with.
The problem then, seems to lie with the extreme incompatibility between the biological gender of the brain, which contains a sane mind, and the gender of the body these inhabit.
How could such a tragic dichotomy occur? Unfortunately, as with many health issues, the cause is as yet undiscovered. However, the most commonly held theory currently is that prenatal hormone exposure is implicated. Too little or too much androgen or oestrogen in various critical stages of foetal development can lead, it is believed, to a brain and mind of one gender in a body of the other.
Whether or not the person 'should have been' male or female is irrelevant; a future man or woman's mental development has clearly now been set in motion and many would say that it’s what's on the inside that defines a person.
Jehovah God is described in Psalms 139:16 as being the One who "even saw me as an embryo; all its parts were written in your book regarding the days when they were formed." Jehovah not only knows the precise causes of the condition, but he also has the ability and desire to heal transgendered ones, at the future time when all human difficulties will be healed.
It is estimated that transgenderism occurs in 1 in every 11-30,000 of the global population. A rough 50/50 gender split occurs among those affected, with men and women equally susceptible. It is also certainly not a recent phenomenon; transgender cases have been noted from modern times down through the ages as far back as Plato in the fourth century B.C.E. Moreover it is not a condition predisposed to particular nationalities or geographic locations - it seems that every ethnic group includes transgender individuals.
Sadly, many transgender persons face ridicule and prejudice. But what is God's view of transgender people? The Bible does not mention any specific examples, but Acts 10:35 states that "in every nation the man who fears (displeasing) him and does what is right is acceptable to him." Hence, regardless of situation, all can have a good relationship with Jehovah, if they obey him. Simply being transgender does not diminish someone in God's eyes. Indeed, 1 Samuel 16:7 explains "For the way man sees is not the way God sees, because mere man sees what appears to the eyes, but Jehovah sees into the heart.”
It is of immense comfort that Jehovah cares about the individual, not the mere physical appearance. Therefore, those who suffer from being transgender can be reassured that Jehovah sees them for who they really are; a very encouraging thought.
In Deuteronomy 22:5 there was a prohibition given to the Israelites against wearing the clothing of the opposite sex. The main reason behind this command was likely to have been to safeguard against sexual immorality occurring. Jehovah was certainly aware that this might affect many transgender ones within the nation, but he was no doubt able to help these ones to cope, while the nation as a whole, including any transgendered persons, were protected morally by following Jehovah's direction.
There is also mention of physical eunuchs among the Israelites in the Bible, some of whom were possibly transgender. Due to their situation they had certain limitations imposed upon them, but Jehovah still cared deeply for such ones, cherishing their devotion to his laws. He proclaimed in Isaiah 56:5 "I will give to them in my house and within my walls a monument and a name, something better than sons and daughters. An everlasting name I will give them." Transgendered ones today can face a similar situation in the Christian congregation. Jehovah deeply appreciates the depth of their efforts to please Him despite their difficult situation, and he blesses such ones for their commitment to his righteous standards.
If you are transgender you too can make a name with Jehovah through your actions, assured that he will reward you for all your sacrifices now.
What reward can be expected? Jesus during his earthly ministry is described in Matthew 4:23 as "curing every sort of disease and every sort of infirmity among the people." “Every sort” of infirmity might well have included some transgendered persons. Isaiah 33:24 promises that in a paradise earth to come "no resident will say: 'I am sick.'" This will definitely include those who are transgender. We do not know how Jehovah will care for those with this issue, but he is described in Psalms 145:16 as the God who "satisfies the desire of every living thing." Transgender ones can be certain that along with everyone else they too will be satisfied and happy. What a wonderful hope!
What is the position on transgender ones pursuing hormone therapy or sex-reassignment surgery while associating with a congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses? Can one who is a member of the Christian congregation legitimately pursue such a course? We cannot provide comprehensive information here. Individuals seeking further information on this complex and delicate subject are invited to seek advice in the local congregation and perhaps to write respectfully to the appropriate Branch office of Jehovah's Witnesses for current information. If you are an interested one who wishes to visit a congregation and learn more about Jehovah, whether you have undergone a form of sex-reassignment or not, you are sure to find a warm welcome in your local Kingdom Hall.
In the meantime it can be a terrible struggle to cope with being transgender and the daily distress this can cause. Although you might feel as if you are the only one, in 1 Peter 5:9 we are reminded "that the same kind of sufferings are being experienced by the entire association of your brothers in the world." You are not alone!
It might be of benefit to confide in a mature or close friend in the congregation or perhaps a family member - having someone to talk to can be a huge relief.
There are also specialist clinics which deal exclusively with this issue and can help advise with ways to cope, although normally a referral from a medical health professional is required in order to access these specialist services.
Most importantly, make sure you approach Jehovah in prayer and pour out your heart about your situation. 1 Peter 5:7 urges "throw all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you." At this very moment Jehovah is eager to listen to your sincere prayers and help you by giving you the strength to endure.
If you are already one of Jehovah's Witnesses, or are studying the bible with them, or are an interested person hopefully you will find encouragement on this site.
In addition to the situation discussed above, a number of physiological conditions can give rise to a diagnosis of "intersex". It is beyond the scope of this website to go into detail about medical diagnoses. But it's hoped that the Scriptural comments, and those about the Christian Congregation, may be encouraging.
A resource for transgender Jehovah's Witnesses