So, with all that preamble, here's a short, partial version of my own identity journey.
Generally speaking I have a poor recollection of my childhood, but there are some portions that really stand out. When I was about five or six I started to grasp the concept of boys and girls. As the realization set in, I became very upset that I was a girl. I remember crying and praying with every fibre of my being, "Why God did you make me a girl?" "I should have been a boy." I totally, 100% felt I had the wrong body. I didn't feel like a girl at all and I was upset and confused by it. It was a very painful and upsetting.
Over the next few years, I continued to hate "being a girl", and from time to time had some negative thoughts about it, but for the most part I enjoyed my childhood. I made big truck box forts but never touched a doll. I cooked, sewed, and cleaned, all the chores any boy or girl should learn to do (certainly my husband and his two brothers learnt all these too!). I'd wear dresses my mom made but played barefoot in the mud. But my saving grace, I would spend hours in the woods, we had 5 wooded acres with water springs and beautiful flowers. I loved nature and it was so healing. I grew closer and closer to God through the Bible and nature, and thought less and less about my body or my gender.
As I grew up, I found I could make friends with just about anyone; old or young, boy or girl, hell's angel bikers or church members. I knew how boys thought and fit in with them very well, rough and tumble, no problem. But I could get along with girls too. People were people. In my mind I didn't fit any box so why should I box up anyone else?
As I went through puberty I trusted God to get me through the mixed emotions and He did. I knew no matter what life threw at me, even genetics, God could get me through. My faith kept me looking to Jesus rather than myself or my identity. I learned that, while life circumstances can be hard or painful, and my body may not be what I want, I could choose to enjoy life. (By the way that's CBT in a nutshell, but I didn't know that!) As a teen I realized, maybe it wasn’t so bad that I was kind of half boy half girl. Maybe this was a blessing.
I’m thankful I grew up processing my gender issues by myself. I’m really glad I didn’t live in a world that pushed people into boxes (because my parents protected me from that). I feel like as much as we're trying to be neutral or helpful, these days we are stressing out kids more with all the "education" on this topic. Kids don't need a science lesson to discover who they are. Give them a safe place to grow up and they will figure it out on their own. Key is a safe place, and that's pretty rare, but that's another story.
I want to pause here. There are all kinds of factors that can influence what gender is. There’s chromosomes, physical appearance, and stuff we don’t have a full understanding of. Did you know you can have the physical appearance of one gender yet the DNA of another? YES, it's possible and more common than you might think. In fact, 1 in 1000 babies are born intersex.1 Add to that XXY chromosomes to chimera’s to Androgen insensitivity syndrome, and you can see, sometimes it’s just not black-and-white as far as male vs female. And while there may be people out there who are afraid of that thought because of their religious beliefs it is not too hard for God to figure out.
God isn’t scared when a person feels like they don’t fit into one gender role or has the wrong body compared to their chromosomes. In fact, Jesus said in heaven we will "be like the angels"... gender neutral. Wrap your mind around that! Gender doesn't have to define who you are at all. Wow!
Ok, back to my story. The end result... I am a happily married Christian to a wonderful husband. I am comfortable with who I am, and not interested in my identity any longer. Labels simply don't matter to me anymore. I check yes for a girl in some surveys and sometimes I check “I prefer not to share” but I no longer struggle over who I am or my body. I suppose 'non-binary' is the best label if I am forced to pick one. I honestly this is because of my strong connection to God who accepts me for who I am. This is how I can be LGBTQ+ friendly and a Christian, both as a person and as a counsellor. They are not in opposition to each other.2
Anyway I hope my story might touch someone to see themselves or others in a new way. I think we hear about identity struggles, those in turmoil about their bodies or gender or identity, and I wanted to share it doesn’t always have to be that way.
By the way I still love trucks, mud, and hate dolls.
From my heart,
2. More info for Christians and gender from a Christian Doctor, two very good videos on the subject:
Oh here's a footnote for PARENTS!
It is really important part to be comfortable with your kids as they are. My parents never made it a big issue that I was a tomboy, that’s what they called it back then. They didn’t try to talk me out of it, they didn’t look worried or concerned, it was just part of their kid, part of who I was, and they were OK with that. My parents concerns were more along the lines of was I kind, honest, doing my chores, learning at school, finding friends, enjoying church, and so on.