Over the last decade, there has been about a 4,000 percent increase in children declaring they are transgender. Even more alarming is the fact that the majority of this increase has been occurring among adolescent young women. Abigail Shrier has chronicled this story in her watershed book Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters (Regnery, 2020).
In my work for CBMW, I am traveling and speaking about this issue all the time. In my own experience, I can confirm that what Shrier writes about in Irreversible Damage is happening across the country, even among young women in evangelical churches. For that reason, parents and pastors often ask me for advice and resources that give practical guidance on how they can best love and care for young women who wish to “transition” themselves into a masculine identity.
I find myself sharing the same advice over and over again, so I thought it might be helpful to share here the kind of advice that I have been giving people. Just today, I received an inquiry from an evangelical pastor, and below is an edited version of what I wrote to him. I wrote this letter on the basis of some shared assumptions between me and the pastor: (1) the Bible is God’s word; (2) the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation; (3) a transgender identity represents an ungodly ideology that is incompatible with following Christ; and (4) the parents share these commitments.
I grieve to read your account of what this young woman and family are going through. I do have some resources and some brief advice.
1. If this young woman fits the profile, she probably spends a lot of time online in forums that support and encourage her transition. You need to tell her parents that these forums often radicalize children and encourage them to transition. They also turn children against their parents or anyone else who would resist their transition. The parents need to be prepared to do whatever they can to get her out of these online cesspools. These online forums are poisoning their daughter’s mind, and they must do whatever it takes to get her out of those forums. It will be hard for her to come back to reality until they help her to break down that stronghold.
2. If she fits the profile, she also likely struggles with depression and “body issues.” These problems make her ripe for manipulation by ideologues online and perhaps even at her school. People will use a child’s psychological distress against parents who don’t want their child to transition. They will say, “Would you rather have a live son or a dead daughter?” to manipulate parents into going along with the transition. The parents of this young woman need to be prepared for this manipulation and to resist it.
3. These parents need to educate themselves on what “gender-affirming care” is. There are stages to this, and there will be no shortage of folks online trying to get this young woman to transition through the stages of “gender-affirming care.” If she goes to a gender clinic, they will provide such “gender-affirming care.” This will involve:
a. Social Transition – She will start dressing and acting like a stereotypical boy. She will insist on male pronouns and perhaps wish to change her name.
b. Puberty Suppression – If she’s young enough, a gender clinic will prescribe drugs that keep her from going through puberty. This is to keep her body from going through the changes that will be more difficult to reverse through surgeries later. Activists lie to patients and tell them that “pausing” puberty is totally reversible. It’s not. It will stunt her growth. It will keep her bones from developing normally. Many of the young women who have done this have the bone strength of an elderly woman. This is really dangerous.
c. Opposite Sex Hormones – The online forums idolize testosterone as if it were a miracle drug. They call it “T.” Many of these young women are led to believe that all of their psychological distress will go away if they can just start taking testosterone to masculinize their bodies. Many of them do not realize the long term damage this does to them. If they stay on long enough, they will lose their fertility and have higher risk of cancer.
d. Sex-Change Surgery/Gender Affirmation Surgery – Some children don’t wait until they are 18 to begin undergoing surgeries to masculinize their bodies. Usually the first step is a double mastectomy (so-called “top surgery”). These procedures destroy healthy organs and rob young women of the possibility of motherhood. I’m sure I don’t need to explain how destructive these procedures are.
4. These parents need to commit themselves to doing whatever it takes to resist every stage of so-called “gender-affirming care.” They need to put themselves in between their daughter and the macabre ideologues who want to destroy their daughter’s identity, fertility, and health. Their lies are powerful, and they are seducing young girls at an alarming rate right now. These parents must get informed and resist with truth and love.
5. These parents need to introduce their daughter to the powerful testimonies of young women who have “detransitioned.” These stories aren’t Christian testimonies, but they do give insight into the futility and destruction of “gender-affirming care.” Sadly, the ranks of these young women are swelling right now, and you can see them online. Begin with the stories of Chloe Cole and Helena Kerschner. Read about them here.
a. Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra , “Transformation of a Transgender Teen” (TGC, 2022) – Have her parents read this one immediately. It will get them oriented to what they’re facing and give some hope that they can successfully intervene.
b. Sharon James, Gender Ideology: What Do Christians Need To Know? (Christian Focus, 2019) – This book is written by an evangelical Christian and is a short, practical guide for parents. I highly recommend starting with this book.
b. Abigail Shrier, Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters (Regnery, 2020) – This book is not written by a Christian. It’s written by a journalist reporting on the explosion of adolescent girls who have identified as transgender over the last ten years. This book is a must-read to understand the movement seducing their daughter.
c. Ryan Anderson, When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment (Encounter, 2019) – This book is written by a Roman Catholic, but it’s not a religious book. It explains what transgenderism is, what gender affirming care is, and how people can resist all of it. It also has a number of testimonies from “detransitioners.” Highly recommended.
If I can help with anything else, let me know. But this should get you started. For you as a pastor, I recommend that you get all of these books and read them. This transgender thing isn’t going away. I’m hearing from people more and more with stories like the one you write to me about today. These books will help you to be ready to minister to folks struggling with such issues.
Blessings to you, brother!
Denny Burk, David Closson, Colin Smothers, Male and Female He Created Them: An 8–Week Study on Gender & Sexuality (Christian Focus, 2023).
-This short book is an 8-week study designed for small groups trying to grasp what the Bible teaches about sexuality and gender identity. Its theological framework is The Nashville Statement and includes video teaching as well. It will be released early next year.
Andrew Walker, God and the Transgender Debate: What Does the Bible Actually Say about Gender Identity? (Good Book, 2022).
-This is the second edition of a book that helps Christians engage lovingly, thoughtfully and biblically with discussions on gender identity.
Alan Branch, Affirming God’s Image: Addressing the Transgender Question with Science and Scripture (Lexham, 2019).
-This book takes a fair, respectful, and factual tone in addressing this complex issue through a biblical lens. It ends with two practical chapters for families and churches about how to address this issue in a loving, Christ–honoring way.