An Open Letter to Christians from the Parents of a Transgender Child







Those are just some of the words I’ve heard used to describe my nine-year-old daughter and others like her. As her family, we’ve had our share of run-ins with those who disagree with us since her social transition five years ago. Some of the gentler conversations stemmed from a lack of understanding about what it meant to be transgender and how a young child could understand themselves in those terms. I welcomed those discussions because they were usually coming from a desire to be educated. I still enjoy having them as often as I can. However, my husband and I have had other conversations filled with intrusive questions filled with implications about my husband’s role in the family, why I wasn’t stepping up and “being the parent”, and if there was a history of sexual abuse. Without exception, those conversations came from people who called themselves Christians.

There’s been a lot of recent media attention on transgender individuals and I’ve seen some very ugly comments, many from those who quoted God’s love out of one side of their mouth while spewing hate out of the other. I realize that not all Christians use the Bible as a weapon against those most in need of love or use their faith as an excuse for hatred and bigotry. Our family has a very supportive group of believers who love us and interact with us on a near daily basis. I know some of them are supportive of LGBTQ issues but I suspect others are not. However, they’re so busy loving us and being our friends that it’s never come up.

First, to my affirming Christian friends and those who are like-minded, thank you. To be honest, before you came into our lives, we were quite content to keep most Christians far away from our family. But, here you are with your love, acceptance, and kindness, and you’ve made us reconsider that maybe all Christians aren’t out to wound our family and cast judgment on our decisions. I have a huge favor to ask of you. Please, speak louder. I appreciate that you believe in a New Testament God who loves over an Old Testament God who judges. I see that you place high value on the verses that talk about feeding and clothing the least of these. We had become accustomed to buffet-style Christians who would take small helpings of specific references from Deuteronomy to force feed us their interpretation of the Bible.

My young daughter already distrusts anyone who identifies as a Christian because she’s discovered on Google that Pope Francis compared trans folks to nuclear weapons. She’s already been approached by children at school whose parents have said that she’s wrong for being who she is because God doesn’t make mistakes. She’s seen the billboards against marriage equality and she’s read about the bills that would force her into a men’s room if she needs to use the bathroom.

My daughter is wary because she expects you to say hurtful things. When we visited your church, I heard a message about pruning unfruitful branches, but she heard that she was the branch because that’s what she’s come to expect. She needs your supportive voice to be louder than the competing voices of judgment and hate. So, please, speak up. Her risk for suicide is so much higher than the general population because of who she is and she could use all the love and support that you can show her.

To Christians who say they love others but refuse to use a transgender individual’s new name and affirmed pronoun, who say that God doesn’t make mistakes in regard to my daughter’s gender, who use the Bible as a weapon, I have this to say. I don’t hear you anymore; I stopped listening and you’re wasting your time. When you started by calling my child, and those like her, disgusting and perverted, I left the conversation. When you said that you loved all people, but called them trannies, I took note. When you told me that you loved my child, but disagreed with the choices my husband and I made to keep her alive, I cut you out of my life. When you started quoting scriptures at me, I tuned you out. I deleted your comments from my page. I skipped your blog post. I moved to the next article. I stopped listening because I’d heard it all before. Your message wasn’t new. It didn’t convince me of anything before, and it’s not going to convince me of anything now except that I want nothing to do with you or your brand of religion.

To Christians who don’t allow LGBTQ youth to participate in your church programs because of who they are, what message are you giving them about God’s love? It’s been a long time since I’ve called myself a Christian and my memory of scripture is admittedly dimmer than it used to be, but I’m pretty sure Jesus encouraged others to suffer the little children to come to Him. Some children are trying to get access to God’s love and you are denying them the opportunity.

When the AIDS epidemic first came onto the scene in the early 80s, you had an opportunity to extend love and support to a community that was frightened and alone. Instead of showing God’s love, you proclaimed God’s judgment. When the LGBTQ community was hungry and naked, you did not feed them, and you did not clothe them. And now, when the trans community has jumped into the headlines, you scream Bible versus at my family, you accuse us of child abuse, you tell us not to heed the advice of medical professionals, and you are quite clear that we aren’t welcome in your community.

If this is how you show God’s love, then you’re doing it wrong.

I can’t tell you if I will ever return to the church or if my daughter will ever attempt to have a relationship with God. While I realize that God is not the same as the church or a particular group of believers, I’m trying to figure out if I believe in God or if it’s just a habit from my childhood. But, I do know one thing. It’s won’t be a group of scripture screamers that will convince me to change. It won’t be the group that professes love with their mouths while their hearts are filled with judgment. It won’t be those who proclaim to love the LGBTQ community but disagree with their choices.

Maybe someday I will find my way back to God though today that seems unlikely. But, let me say this to Christians everywhere. If you truly hope to show the LGBTQ community that God is love, then take a tip from the believers in my life.

They are so busy loving us that it seems they’ve forgotten to judge us.





24 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Christians from the Parents of a Transgender Child

  1. Dawn

    I am so proud of you and love you!

    I wish I were as eloquent as you are on this subject! Thank you for sharing your wisdom, experience, strength and hope!

  2. Lori

    Bravo for addressing the issue in such a classy, intelligent way! A lot of the problem, I think, is that most people, Christian or otherwise, don’t truly understand the reality of life for transgendered people, (or gay, or depressed, or ADHD, or anything not the “norm”), and are very quick to cast judgement where they shouldn’t. I’m sorry you’ve had such an awful time with Christians, (but not totally surprised, especially if you live in a radical, right-wing, Repubilcan area of the country), but their behavior should not reflect on Jesus or His teachings. Jesus was all about love and acceptance of everyone, and not judging others, nor casting stones. He loves people whomever they are, and we as Christians should do likewise. I applaud your courage and love for your daughter in supporting her realize her true identity, and pray that over time, as people begin to understand more about gender issues, they will become more tolerant and loving of others. We need more education about this in the public schools as well as in society. I also pray that you find your way back to the Lord, and allow Him to comfort and guide you as you and your family travel your challenging path. xxx

    1. Melissa McLaren Post author

      Thank you so much, Lori. I’m quick to point out how judgmental I feel many Christians are, and it’s really made me stop and evaluate how quickly I judge others. It’s always the easy thing to do. While I don’t identify as a Christian anymore, I have tried to take the message of love that Jesus spoke of so often and apply it to my own speech. I fail miserably a lot of the time. Thank you so much for being the type of believer who embraces that message of love. I feel like it applies beyond the borders of Christianity and I truly appreciate your comments.

  3. emmbeedee

    Thank you for this post. I am the mom of a 26 year old transgender son. I knew him as my daughter up until a few months ago. I love him with all of my heart and soul, but I am so afraid for his future. The place that I should be able to turn to for comfort, my faith, has not been very welcoming. If people who are supposed to follow the tenet “What would Jesus Do?” DON’T, what hope do we have?

    1. Melissa McLaren Post author

      Thank you for accepting your son. How wonderful that he can be his true self now and has you to support and love him.

  4. Marcy

    Well done. My MtF daughter is transitioning and has had some negative response but mostly supportive. I am proud of my family, even the “older generation” even my Mother the retired pastor, showering her with love and acceptance. This is what role modeling love and acceptance looks like. Thank you for your post, I shared it on my timeline and also on my transgender daughters group. Join us if you like at uberpocky on FB.

    1. Melissa McLaren Post author

      Thank you so much for sharing this post on your timeline! I’m always amazed and honored when people feel led to do that. I’m thrilled that your daughter has so much support. We’ve been really fortunate that most of our family and friends have been accepting too. It’s always fun to see what I call the super secret Ninja parent groups on FB. We are a well connected web of parents. 🙂

  5. emmbeedee

    It’s me again! I’d like your permission to send this post to a State Senator who criticized a LBGTQ Pride parade held Sunday. He stated that the fact that the parade was held on a Sunday was truly one of the most offensive displays against Christians anywhere in the state and that Sunday was chosen specifically to intimidate those who believe in God. Another one of those buffet-style Christians, I suppose. Wonder if he protests all-you-can-eat Sunday buffets. Gluttony is a sin after all.

    1. Melissa McLaren Post author

      Please feel free to send it. The Huffington Post has it running right now too so don’t feel like you can’t share it. Thank you so much for your support. I’m honored that you would feel like sharing this. Melissa

  6. Paul

    I’ll begin by stating that I am a card-carrying Roman Catholic. I will continue by apologising for all the wrongs that the leaders of my church have done to LGBTQ folks over the 20 centuries since Jesus left us to run the show. There is simply no excuse, so I will offer none; it is indefensible, so I will not try to defend it.

    You are completely correct to state that Jesus’ mission was to spread the love of God, to clothe the naked, to visit the prisoner (even the ones who have done truly horrible things), to feed the hungry, to be company to the lonely. He told us how his followers would be recognised: by their love for one another.

    John the Evangelist (the one whose name is on John’s Gospel) wrote in his first letter: (1 Jn 4:19-5:4) “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar”.

    You are right to call out these liars on their lies.

    My apologies for plugging my blog here, but I spoke out on exactly the issue you raise in your post here and here.

    You have thrown down the gauntlet to Christians to speak louder and I will pick it up. I will speak louder, and I thank God for the people you have found who do not lie about loving God and loving neighbour.

    1. Melissa McLaren Post author

      Thank you so much for sharing. Please don’t feel the need to apologize. I’m in the process of adding affirming sites to my resources page so I will add your posts.

  7. Paul

    (me again, sorry).

    In the most succinct way I can put it: God doesn’t make mistakes. God makes transgender people. Therefore, transgender people are not mistakes.

    We all began in God’s imagination, which just goes to prove that he is far more imaginative than we are. To claim that God’s creation is hated by God is to insult the Creator.

    Matthew 18:6: “If anyone causes one of these little ones–those who believe in me–to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”

    I’m stopping now, before I rupture something.

    Much love to you and your family.


  8. Sheogorath

    Agree with Paul; God doesn’t make mistakes and he made your child perfectly. What those so-called ‘Christians’ don’t realise is that nature has some input, and so that’s when mistakes occur such as a girl being born in a male body. If you want you and your family to know what God really thinks about people like your daughter, may I suggest the Unitarian Church? As a gay man, I never felt welcome as a Christian until I went there.

  9. Sheogorath

    May I add one more thing? God doesn’t make mistakes, people make mistakes when they look between a baby’s thighs and make assumptions based on what they see.

  10. Jules Vilmur

    Thank you so much for sharing this. As someone raised in Fundamentalist Christianity who became the mother of a brave and beautiful T-girl, it hits especially close to home. I have had many of the same arguments and wanted to say many of the same things. In speaking for your own family, you have given voice to many more.

  11. Elizabeth

    I’ve been reading your blog for a while…but I’m one of those folks who is almost always a lurker. This post, however, I read very closely, because that’s what I tend to do with posts about religion. I’m not Christian. But I did recently graduate from seminary and I am in the process of becoming an ordained minister. I am so sorry that church, and Christianity in particular, has left such a negative taste in the mouths of you and your daughter. What I wish every young person knew, but specifically young trans* persons because of the heightened risks they face just living their lives, is how much the world/humanity/God (for those who believe in God) loves and should love them. Not for anything they’ve done, or not done. Not because your daughter is special and unique (though I’m certain you feel she is…you should, you’re her mom), but simply because she is not only our future, but our present. She and her brother and the rest of their generation will work toward a world that loves more fully. She and other trans* children who assert their whole selves so early in life are telling us that they have the power to move mountains, to love radically, and to care deeply for humanity. From this religious professional, thank you for raising your children to love themselves deeply!

    1. Melissa McLaren Post author

      Thank you so much for this comment. I absolutely agree that this generation will love more fully. I’m already seeing it.

  12. Casey R.

    May I quote this letter in my senior thesis?
    I am doing my highschool senior thesis on how the church should minister to the transgender/genderqueer community, and this is a fantastic example of how ineffective hate can be to show the love of God.

    1. Melissa McLaren Post author

      Yes, feel free to use it. You might take a look at Nadia Bolzano-Weber for good examples of that. She’s a Lutheran pastor.


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