Lucas Kieran is an eighteen-year-old genderqueer trans person, preferring male pronouns and presentation, who was born and raised a member of the Church. He hopes to attend the University of Utah for Film/Media Arts and Psychology, after having top surgery and testosterone therapy, as well as a legal name and gender change. When he is not defending trans* and general queer rights and looking critically at Mormonism, he likes to write, play the piano, bake, collect rocks, bottlecaps, and mint tins, play Minecraft, and cuddle cats.
Growing up Mormon, we are taught that gender and sex are identical, and that this gender-sex concept is in the form of a strict binary: Male and Female.
The Family: A Proclamation to the World states that “gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.” The document’s text separates “God’s children” into “sons and daughters”, “man and woman”, “Adam and Eve”, “husband and wife”.
But, in reality, gender is not this simple. It is not a binary, a strict line dividing male and female identities. Gender is a fluid characteristic, a spectrum involving male, female, and everything in-between and outside. Sometimes people who are designated the gender “male” at birth find they prefer to present and be referred to as female, and vice versa. Sometimes people don’t identify as male or female at all, or as both, even. Next to binary identities of male or female, we have genderqueer, bigender, and agender trans*people, Native Two-Spirit people, and an entire range of identities that are not strictly male or female.
As members, this does not always occur to us very early. Often it doesn’t occur to us at all — that perhaps male and female are not our only options. The gender binary is, after all, instituted in general society as well as in our church: boys have penises, girls have vaginas. Genitals are more often than not conflated with gender as some sort of unbreakable union: your gender identity HAS to match what’s in your pants!
However, ambiguous genitalia are present in as many as one in every 1500 births, although many intersexed newborns are assigned a gender at the hands of their doctors and parents, and sometimes corrective surgery is involved.
If what is known as “biological sex” can be variant, why can’t gender identity?
The door has been opened, although it is rather monitored, to our Gay and Lesbian brothers and sisters. The conversations to “understand” what the Church refers to as “same-gender attraction” have been started.
Perhaps it is time to consider our other Queer siblings and their needs. Those who fall between and outside the binary; those who recognize that, just as gender isn’t a solid either-or binary, neither is attraction: our Bisexual, Pansexual, Asexual, and Aromantic brothers, sisters, and siblings.
In a Church that preaches acceptance and equality, we are admittedly far from it in many areas. But we have the ability to create change. The question is now: will we?