← Back to Prince’s Research Excerpts: Gay Rights & Mormonism Index

Prince Research Excerpts on Gay Rights & Mormonism – “41 – Transgender”

Below you will find Prince’s research excerpts titled, “41 – Transgender.” You can view other topics here.

Search the content below for specific dates, names, and keywords using the keyboard shortcut Command + F on a Mac or Control + F on Windows.

41 – Transgender
Wood: The very first question was by a bishop who said he had had a husband
and wife, where the husband was going through a gender transition and
was taking hormones and was wearing dresses to church. He wanted to
know what the Brethren thought of that. I thought Elder [Neil] Andersen’s
initial response was really good. He just said, “This is complicated,
brethren. These are complicated issues that we are dealing with. We
really haven’t visited that one a lot. It hasn’t been something that we have
really spent a lot of time talking about, so I’m not really that prepared to
give a lot of information about it. I don’t know.”

(Walter Wood, January 27, 2016)

Rich: This issue of transsexuals—there is this case of a man who is now a
woman, who has had the surgery. He wants to join the Church and they
are having trouble deciding, “Should we bring him into the Church or not?”
They were afraid that if he gets into the ward he is going to have a terribly
bad experience, just starting with the restrooms. Can he go to Relief
Society, or can he not go to Relief Society? Bob Rees got in the middle of
this one. He said, “Rich, what do you think?” I said, “Well, the best thing
to do is say, ‘Dallin, who is the spokesperson on this? Who can give this
stake president some guidance?’” I still have a voice message from Dallin
saying, “Hi, Rich. Brother Rich, this is a very interesting question. I have
to tell you that right at this time we don’t know enough about this to have
an opinion. We have no one to go to. There is no one who can speak to
this issue. We rely on local inspiration to resolve this.” So I told Bob, “You
decide with that stake president what you want to do. But have that poor
person warned that the culture is going to struggle. If they can do that, we
would love to have them, because if people learn to love this person, they
will not think about restrooms anymore. This person can change that
congregation. We would like to see them in the Church; they will just have
some bad experiences from time to time, but maybe they are called to
bless all of us by going through this.”
But anyway, that’s the point, that I can still say things like that, but it’s a
very different kind of response I’m getting to things. Don’t you find that

Greg: I do. I don’t say this to brag, but I am one of the few people in this church

who has ever witnessed a temple wedding of a gay couple.

Jan: A man and a woman?

Greg: It was a transsexual. It was when I was an Elders Quorum president, in
about 1980. A woman converted to the Church, and it turned out that she
had had transsexual surgery before her conversion. A guy moved into the
ward, they fell in love, got married, and invited us to the temple for the
wedding. Your initial thought would be, “I guess the Church just didn’t
know.” But the bishop showed me all the correspondence with Salt Lake
saying, “Just to be clear, this is exactly what is going on here.” Salt Lake
responded, “That’s OK. We’ll have Hugh Pinnock come back and perform
the ceremony.”
Jan: That’s interesting!
Rich: That sort of an “Opps!” “Joseph Smith ordained a black guy. Actually, he
did.” “OK, now how do we deal with that?” “Well, we have to change
directions because we’re not ready for all blacks in the Church to be

Greg: As a case study, think of the conundrum it presents to them. If they try to
say, “Well, it wasn’t really a gay marriage,” then they are legitimizing
transsexual surgery.

Rich: Yes. I think that leaves them with, “We don’t know how to respond to


Greg: And that’s where they ought to be. They ought to just step back and say,
in humility, “There are a lot of things we don’t understand, but the one
thing we do understand is that we’re not here to kill each other.”
Rich: Yes. I was glad about what Dallin said, because then I just said to Bob,
“You guys move ahead and do what you think is best. But the most
important thing is to love this woman and help her see that she may be a
witness to something changing in the Church. It doesn’t mean everybody
is going to see it, but somebody needs to be there to be her ally.” She
can’t do it alone.
(Richard Ferré, March 29, 2015)

Wendy: A friend of ours, Augustus, is a trans-boy who comes to church with us.
He is nineteen and had a really bad suicide attempt in October at BYU.
Now he is here at home, going to ASU in the middle of transitioning. His
family sucks on this. His bishop and stake president were sitting in that
training meeting where questions were specifically asked about trans. “Do
we let them attend Relief Society? Do we let them attend Priesthood
Meeting? Do we let them wear the clothes they want to wear?” The
answer back was, “Absolutely not!”


Gus’s bishop called him in last night and said, “I’ve gotten some
clarification on these issues. I need to talk to you.” Gus put that up on
Facebook, and Tom texted him and said, “Don’t go alone.” So Gus texted
Tom the address of his bishop’s house, and Tom was waiting outside
when Gus was leaving the interview with his bishop. Tom watched Gus
walk into the street and just crumble. He just fell down to the ground in
grief, sobbing. Tom went, picked him up out of the gutter, and they went
up to the house of this friend who is in the stake presidency, who is hugely
affirming and wonderful. They talked with Gus for a while and then gave
him a priesthood blessing that Tom said was really powerful, very
affirming of who Gus was, and that God loves him exactly how he is. He
ended up feeling a lot better afterwards. But on the way to that house,
Gus told Tom that he hasn’t felt this bad since his suicide attempt in
October. If Tom had not been there, Gus could have been suicide #35
last night.

Greg: Did anybody record the session with Andersen and Clayton?
Wendy: I don’t know, but we went out to eat afterwards with Walt Wood, our good
friend who was at the meeting, and he told us pretty much question-for-
question what was said. I can put you in touch with Walt if you want to
talk to him about that meeting.

Greg: I would.
Wendy: That meeting was on Saturday night, and Gus’s meeting was three days
later. That’s what it looks like when the leaders take those messages
back to the kids. Gus attends Elders Quorum with Tom, and it’s been safe
so far. The people in our ward have treated him great. But he passes
pretty well as a boy, so maybe people don’t know. All that kid wants is to
go to church. He wants a calling. He wants to be part of the Church. He
says, “Why can’t I go?” I think Tom saved his life last night.

Greg: This issue is splitting the Church, in addition to splitting families internally

and splitting families away from the Church.

Wendy: Gus’s family is awful. They told him they would rather have a dead
daughter than a living son, and if he doesn’t have a current temple
recommend he will be written out of their will and will get nothing when
they die. They are awful, and Gus is living with them because he can’t
afford to live away. So he spends a lot of time at our house.

(Wendy Montgomery, January 27, 2016)

Pappas: I have a godson—he used to be my goddaughter—and he has now
transitioned. That, in and of itself, was a journey for all of us, and certainly
for him. But even as a person in his life, and even as somebody who is so
involved in the movement, it was a journey.

Prince: Did you see Obama’s statement on that today, where he condemned

reparative therapy?

Pappas: I didn’t. I’ve been tied up in meetings all day.

So I was at his house the other day. I have a house that he is renting from
me. He told me that he is involved in the transgender community and
serves on the board of T of Utah. He told me there are no transgender
people that he knows, except one, that are homeowners. They can’t get a
home, they can’t qualify, they don’t fall within the certain parameters. So
he is wondering if there might be an opportunity down the road where this
house becomes a lease-to-buy kind of thing.

(Stephanie Pappas, April 9, 2015)

Schow: One of the fascinating comments that was made at the end of this
workshop the other day was by a woman who said—and by the way, I had
not recognized her as anything but a woman during the workshop, a
somewhat masculine woman but a woman, nevertheless—she said, “I
want to say to you that I find all of this comical if you were looking at it
from my perspective. I am a woman who was originally a man married to
a woman. Then, because of my transgender situation, I am now a woman
married to the same woman. You should see what has happened to me in
the meantime, in terms of the way I am treated by my LDS family and my
LDS culture. I have become a hiss and a byword. And yet, I am still
having sex with the same person that I always did. So if you look at it
from that perspective, maybe it’s not such a big deal if you are having sex
with the same sex or the opposite sex.” I thought it was an interesting
(Ron Schow, March 18, 2013)

Steele: Our child—our daughter—came out to us in January of 2008. It was quite
an adjustment for us. A couple of years later, upon continuing reflection
on it, she determined that she was actually transgender. So she is now a
transgender male. That precipitated another change in our approach.
But we are quite happy together. It took us some effort, but we came to
the conclusion that we needed to respond in love, and not have a child


separated from us because of this. That came through personal
consideration and what we consider to be revelation. Then we were
happy to see, a short time after our decision, that the Church adopted a
kinder and somewhat more reasoned perspective on LGBT.
The efforts with marriage equality pretty much passed us by. I know there
were some groups in Utah that were asked to participate in phone banks
and other things, but that wasn’t the case in our stake. We just read
newspaper things on it and read the Church’s opinion on it, and that sort
of thing, but weren’t involved in it at all. This was a few months after our
child had come out, and for me, at the time, I still saw a difference
between the concept of how you treated LGBT people, and specific
marriage rights. It took me a lot longer to change my opinion there.
Prince: When you say that the Church softened its overall perspective on LGBT

issues, did you see that there was a softening on transgender?

Steele: Not specifically on transgender. That’s such a relatively small subgroup
that it probably hits the radar much less often. They haven’t had to
address it as much, and I haven’t seen them pay much attention to it. In
my opinion they still seem not to know what to do about it. When they
face somebody transgender who has gone through surgery, they just don’t
know what to do with a person like that.

(Mark Steele, January 14, 2015)

When we had five children—our twins were just one year old—Dallas, out of the blue,
said that she experienced gender dysphoria. At that point, I had no idea what gender
dysphoria was. I was like, “Whatever.” She said to me, “Don’t tell anybody. This is not
something that I want anybody to know.” She was raised in Utah, and she really
believed that going on a mission would fix it, or getting married would fix it—would just
make this go away. Or, if she read her scriptures hard enough. She just thought it was
this evil thing. But these things didn’t fix the problem. When we left Utah for graduate
school in Cincinnati, that was when she realized that there was more acceptance of
people who were different. She was in music, so she was surrounded by people who
experienced life differently and weren’t ashamed of—or shamed for—how they were
experiencing life.…
But she was sure that the church was going to fix it, because it was a sin, and the
church promised—she really believed that if she proved to God that she was righteous
enough, that this would be taken away from her. She just kept thinking that, and that
was why she didn’t tell me. She was attending the temple weekly. She was reading her
scriptures every night. We’d listen to General Conference, and we would read the
conference talks throughout the year. We were doing everything as exactly right as we
could, according to church standards. But it didn’t matter. She couldn’t get rid of this,

no matter how hard she tried. We tried LDS counseling, and they told her it was
something she had to put on the altar. She said, “I’m putting it on the altar, but it’s not
going away.”
[Prince] Was the counseling through LDS Family Services, or from a bishop?
[Heaton] We did go through LDS Family Services, and they referred us to an LDS
bishop who specialized in sex addiction. It was treated, basically, as a sexual
addiction—that Dallas wanting to present as female was just an addiction that she had
to give up.…
So we started researching. We researched in the church. We memorized the
Proclamation on the Family. We started going to the temple more. We read every
conference talk. But we also researched the scientific side of it. Dallas took a class on
gender, and I read the book. We started trying to understand how it fit, but the gospel
didn’t have any answers. There were no answers for us. The Plan of Salvation worked
so well for me, until suddenly it just didn’t. It didn’t work anymore. How did our family fit
in? People, including our bishop, would say it’s like somebody who lost the use of their
legs or is terminally ill. “You just have to hope that during the resurrection it will all be
made whole.” But Dallas’s hope was that she would be made whole as a woman, not
as a man. But the church promised her that she would be a man, and that she would
want that. But that’s a hard hope to hold onto if it’s not what you want.…
It was probably about a year ago that she decided—she had been suicidal, off and on,
just hopeless. Let me go back a little bit. About three years ago, when we read Boyd
Packer’s talk that “God would never do this.” It was at that point that Dallas said, “I
haven’t chosen this! This is not a choice. I am fighting against it, and instead of getting
hope and peace form the gospel, it is causing me despair.” It was through that that we
decided that we were not feeling fulfilled at church, and we decided to step away. The
stake presidents, the bishops, the professional counselors weren’t giving us answers.…
But why would a God who knew that there were all these people struggling with it, not
have the church be on the forefront with some of those answers? When we were
looking for peace and help, why weren’t we finding that in the church? I just felt like we
were abandoned. And we didn’t fit. The Plan of Salvation works for most people and
makes sense—until it doesn’t. It just doesn’t work if you are transgender or if you are
attracted to somebody and you want to have a family with somebody, but the church
doesn’t accept your vision of what a beautiful family is.…
There are so many biological proofs that this isn’t a sinful behavior, to feel this way.
The church has opened up with the Mormon and Gay website. They have lessened
their stronghold conviction that it is sinful to feel that, but there are no answers. How do
people that feel this survive in the church? How do you put on the altar something that
is your identity? The church that teaches that our minds and our souls are what are
eternal, and that our bodies will be made perfect to fit our minds and our souls; a person
who is transgender feels that that their mind and their soul is the thing that is correct,

and their body is what is maimed. But the church is teaching the opposite, that your
body is what is going to be your eternal projection. There is just no place. They are
now saying that you can be a member and feel these things, but you can’t actually have
hope. “Your hope needs to align with our hope.” I just don’t think it works like that.…
To see Dallas transition and to become this person that is bright—it’s kind of like she
has come into focus. She has been brilliant, but there has been this wall. Seeing her
transition has been amazing, to see the transformation in how she is at peace with
herself. She has become a better parent. She could not love because she couldn’t love
herself. As she has been able to accept herself, she has found peace. Her
grandmother, who is still very active in the church, said, “I see a difference, a physical
light.” That is ironic, because the church would argue that her light, the light of Christ,
has been snuffed out by her transitioning. But it has been the opposite. I’ve been
thankful for the journey.
(Emily Heaton, October 16, 2017)