Jehovah’s Witnesses advocate that a transgender christian must live as the gender manifest by their genitalia at birth, and that to do otherwise is an offense against Jehovah. I’ve discussed this from various standpoints here, but today I want to consider one empirical argument against my living as a transgender woman presented by the brothers I spoke with, namely, that somewhere, someone supposedly knew of another transgender (MTF) person who after studying the scriptures ultimately determined that despite whatever they themselves had felt, “Jehovah had made them male” and so they concluded that is the way they needed to try to live to the best of their ability.
It’s impossible to verify such a colloquial story being passed on. However, assuming it’s essentially true in the details, and that this person came to such a determination honestly for themselves, then I wish them every success, and I expect that as long as they are sure of the decision in their own mind, they will be successful.
The reason this is no argument for transgender people in general is that it’s in no way a given that we could all possibly reach that same conclusion. Science is coming to understand that, whatever the causes, transgender individuals are born that way, and like so many other birth conditions, it manifests itself across a wide spectrum. I for one in all honesty could never conclude that Jehovah made me a male. On the contrary, what I can understand in line with Bible truth is that Jehovah allowed me, and others like me, to be born neither fully male nor fully female, but a mix of both.* I expect that many persons like myself would feel similarly. While this was clearly not Jehovah’s intention for mankind according to the scriptures, because of Adam and Eve’s sin, things have been allowed to go awry in many, many ways, and we are left to deal with the consequences. Naturally, even faithful Christians are not immune, and we must in good conscience contend with whatever “hand we have been dealt” to the best of our ability while maintaining integrity to our God.
The good news is that scripturally, it actually is quite clear what I, as a Christian transgender person, absolutely need to do: love Jehovah, with my whole mind and strength, and my neighbor as myself; excercise faith in his son, Jesus Christ; to speak truth; to abstain from blood, fornication, violence and other practices Jehovah hates; to do my best to help others in need, and to keep myself without spot from the world. (Matt 22:37-39; John 3:36; Eph 4:25; Acts 15:28-29; James 1:27)
To go beyond these Biblical requirements is to impose burdens that Jehovah clearly did not intend (Acts 15:28). For anyone to simply conclude that my femaleness is irrelevant (even though it is clear that the inner person and not the outer flesh is what matters most to Jehovah; 1 Sam 16:7; 1 Pet 3:4; John 6:63) and living in accord with it must therefore be a blemish of “worldly desire” and a practice that Jehovah hates, is not merely a matter of opinion, but utterly inappropriate. Pointing to a single statute in the law given to Moses pertaining to expectations of “able-bodied men” and “women” as justification for such a viewpoint (Deut 22:5) does not hold up to scriptural scrutiny. That law was done away with for a purpose; it was a perfect law which imperfect people could never fully live up to, a tutor leading to Christ (Gal 3:19-25); therefore it did not even attempt to address Jehovah’s view of someone born partially male and partially female, which situation was never meant to exist, but does. I can find nothing whatsoever in the law of the Christ, nor in the whole of scripture, that negates the absolute legitimacy of anything I have outlined here.
Finally, as Christians, we know society is not our measuring stick — this world accepts, even promotes, many things in opposition to Jehovah — but it remains a consideration, for where something is not defiled in itself, yet has the potential to stumble others, we as Christians must in good conscience take that into consideration as well (Ro 1:13-15). Fifty years ago, even if it might have been healthy, mentally and otherwise, for a transgender person like myself to free themselves from the burden of having to constantly hide their true inner identity, society as a whole would have had a problem with it. Today, while there are certainly places that remains true, the cultural shift is undeniable. By and large, the majority of people today are much more likely to be stumbled by a stubborn refusal to accept what society now does, namely, the legitimacy of a transgender person’s identity. If that refusal really were in line with Jehovah’s thinking as outlined in the scriptures, the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses would remain justified in their stand, but I cannot see how that is the case.
In short, it seems clear to me that the earthly organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses’ present viewpoint and treatment of transgender persons presents a huge man-made burden that may ultimately prove insurmountable for the transgender Christian. It certainly has been so in my case, leading to my being cut off from all association with the congregation, which in itself presents a significant added burden. All of this presents a needless stumbling block for the transgender person, their family, and others. I believe any clear-thinking person open to an honest consideration of all the available evidence, scriptural and otherwise, would have to arrive at the same conclusions. It’s not my intention to cause dissent, however, it is my fervent hope that this might eventually reach the ear of some in the organization who are in a position to give the matter much-needed prayerful attention.
*(People classify gender at birth based on the organs that developed in the womb. Looking at it that way, I’m really not asking anyone to judge differently in my case — I’m simply pointing out that they ought to consider ALL of the organs. While my reproductive system came out essentially male at birth, my brain — a vital organ that cannot be ignored — absolutely came out female. There were other physical characteristics pointing to this mixed state as well, especially during and after puberty, but to me nothing trumps the significance of the mind itself, which in my case knew it was female from as early an age as I can remember.)