The Building Blocks of Gender Confusion

The Building Blocks of Gender Confusion – Dan Hitz

Dan Hitz is the director of Reconciliation Ministries of Michigan, Inc. and a Licensed Professional Counselor in the State of Michigan. This article is an introduction to the potential causes of gender confusion and accepting a transgender identity. As this is an extremely complex topic that cannot be fully covered within the scope of this newsletter, this article will serve as a general overview. Resources are presented at the end of this article which will provide a much more thorough exploration of gender confusion.

When God created human beings, he made them to be like himself. He created them male and female, and he blessed them and called them “human.” - Genesis 5:1b-2 NLT


As we begin our study into the potential causes of gender confusion and what may lead someone to accept a transgender identity, it is important to acknowledge that we have a Divine Creator who has a specific calling, purpose, and identity for each one of us. As Joe Dallas explains in his sermon, The Transgender Dilemma1, we need to acknowledge God’s created intent for each individual as either male or female. God knew us before we were in the womb (Jeremiah 1:5), and knit us together in the womb (Psalm 139:13) as either male or a female. Dallas says that our gender was likely one of the first things spoken about us when we made our appearance on this earth. All of us have scars on our bodies and in our hearts that bear witness to the reality that we are living in a fallen world. Everyone experiences trials and hardships that were not a part of God’s original intent for our lives. We also make decisions that are contrary to God’s created intent for us. Our feelings can lead us to do many things that can harm us, and lead us further away from God. The way back to true inner peace is to acknowledge God’s created intent for us, embrace the cross when our hearts want to do something contrary to God’s will, and live to the best of our ability according to God’s created intent – His will – for our lives. As Dallas says, “If I am one thing, but I feel like I am something else; the problem is not with what I am. The problem is with what I feel. Thereby, I am called to correct what I feel, not what I am.”1

In writing this article, it is my hope that by exploring and becoming more aware of the things that may contribute to gender confusion, we can be better equipped to respond to those who sincerely believe that they are trapped in the wrong body. We need to treat them with Christ-like compassion and grace. By identifying the causes of gender confusion, we identify the areas in our hearts where we need God’s help. We can seek His healing in those wounded areas of our hearts.

Many of the definitions used in the context of transgender issues have changed over time. I’ll list a few definitions to help this article be easier to understand. The term sex refers to a person’s physical body in terms of being male or female. Other terms for this are assigned sex and biological sex. Gender refers to the person’s emotional percept of being male or female. Thus, in today’s culture, a person’s sex may not be the same as a person’s gender. In other words, a person born with male anatomy who feels like he is trapped in the wrong body would identify his sex as male, and his gender as female. He would call himself a transwoman. A biological female who identifies as male would be called a transmale. The term transgender typically refers to a person who identifies as having a gender that differs from his or her sex. The terms gender confusion and gender dysphoria refer to the emotional distress someone has when his or her gender (the emotional perception of one’s maleness or femaleness) does not match his or her biological sex (anatomy). The terms gender confusion and gender dysphoria are used interchangeably in this article.

Aside from living in a fallen world, no one is certain what causes gender confusion. The American Psychological Association states in a recent article, “There is no single explanation for why some people are transgender. The diversity of transgender expression and experiences argues against any simple or unitary explanation. Many experts believe that biological factors such as genetic influences and prenatal hormone levels, early experiences, and experiences later in adolescence or adulthood may all contribute to the development of transgender identities.”2 The APA seems to have adopted the same “nature plus nurture”3 theory for transgender issues that they have for homosexuality. Even if scientist were to identify specific biological and genetic links to gender dysphoria, this does not mean that a person should automatically start taking steps to embrace a transman or transwoman identity. There are genetic links for such things as alcoholism and anger, yet most people would never think of encouraging someone to embrace alcoholism or anger as an identity.4 May we be those who are willing to walk alongside someone struggling with any life-defining challenge and help them embrace God’s will for their lives.

No one formula can adequately address the emotional factors that contribute to gender confusion. Everyone who struggles with gender confusion does not have the same life experiences. Needless to say, issues contributing to gender dysphoria are significant enough to cause the struggler to reject his or her birth gender. Many of the building blocks of transgender issues are similar to those of homosexuality, yet they go much deeper into the core of a struggler’s identity to fuel the desire to become another gender. Most of the time, these issues are running deep below the surface in the struggler’s heart. They may not be consciously aware of their own motivations until they begin the recovery process.

Many root issues of gender confusion are presented in testimony form in the DVD, Tranzformed: Finding Peace with your God-Given Gender, by Pure Passion Media.5 In this DVD, 16 men and women share their experiences from childhood and their journey into accepting a transgender identity. They also share their repentance, which lead to the acceptance of their true identity in Christ. Another good resource to identify causes of gender dysphoria is When Hope Seems Lost by Denise Shick6 founder of Help 4 Families. Both resources have contributed to this article


Many of those who struggle with transgender issues perceive their birth gender as less powerful and more vulnerable than the opposite gender. He or she may have been bullied and dominated by the other gender. He or she may have seen his or her parent of the same sex abused emotionally and/or physically by the other gender. A female who grows up in a family where the father is abusive and dangerous towards her and the mother, may reject her own femininity and seek to identify with the males who seem to be more powerful and less vulnerable. A boy who grows up with a domineering mother and has a female partner who is abusive, may give in to the desire to become what he perceives to be the more powerful gender. In these situations, victimization is a powerful incentive to embrace the opposite, “safer” gender.

Some struggling with gender dysphoria perceive that the other gender is celebrated much more than their own birth gender. They may have been told by their parents that they wished he or she were the opposite gender. A biological man being told by his mother and aunts that they knew he was supposed to be a girl when he was in the womb, may be brought up in a family that continues to communicate the message that he was supposed to be a girl. The message is made more powerful as broken family members continue to encourage him to embrace his female identity and may even dress him up in female clothes. He learns to embrace a female identity as a means of gaining affirmation and approval. A biological female growing up in a home where females are looked down upon while the males in the family are celebrated, may reject her femininity and embrace a male identity in an effort to gain approval.

Many struggling with transgender issues say that they have “felt different” than the others of their gender since they were a little kid. There can be many reasons for this, such as not being accepted by neighborhood kids because he or she isn’t good at, or interested in, activities usually enjoyed by other kids of his or her gender. A boy who doesn’t like sports but is skilled at dance and the arts, may be rejected by the other boys in the neighborhood. A girl who likes rough and tumble play may not get along well with the other girls in the neighborhood, but feels like she belongs with the boys. Rather than recognizing the diversity of interests that boys and girls have, this can lead to the idea that he or she is actually the opposite gender.


Some who struggle with gender dysphoria didn’t receive the nurturing that they needed from the same sex parent and have developed a deeper connection to the opposite sex parent. Simply by associating more with the opposite gender, he or she may develop similar interests and viewpoints to the opposite sex parents. If the opposite sex parent also feels disconnected from the child’s same sex parent, he or she may become enmeshed with the child in an attempt to fill up an emotional void in the parent’s own heart. This can lead the child to reject his or her birth gender and embrace the opposite gender.

A significant number of people struggling with gender dysphoria have experienced sexual abuse. Abuse breaks down sexual boundaries and confuses perceptions of sexual norms. Dr. Dan Allender, author of The Wounded Heart and Healing the Wounded Heart, notes that sexual abuse causes the victim to feel like his own body has betrayed him.7 Although the abuse may be unwanted and terrifying, the nerve endings in our private parts respond with pleasure. This often causes the victim to experience deep shame. Sometimes this causes the victim to reject her own gender in an attempt to make sense of the abuse, or protect herself from further abuse.

Denise Shick explains that sometimes emotional pain can be so extreme that a trauma victim seeks out a different identity in an attempt to leave his true identity behind.5 He may see his birth gender as a reminder of the trauma. If the trauma victim perceives that it was his gender that made him more vulnerable to the abuse, he may identify as a female in order to avoid future abuse.

Some people with gender dysphoria also suffer from mental health disorders that may be contributing to the desire to identify as another gender.6, 8 These may include depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and personality disorders. Very often, trans-affirming therapist are too quick to focus on helping the individual transition, rather than addressing the mental health issues that may be contributing to the gender dysphoria.

Teens face many challenges to their developing sexuality. Sometimes a young person may be confused if he experiences same-sex attraction and wonder if he is actually supposed to be the opposite gender. Sexual experiences and experimentation with dressing up in the opposite gender’s clothing may become enticing and may lead the person to further explore the thought of becoming the other gender altogether. When masturbation is added to the experimentation, the body releases hormones that actually encourage the behavior the person engaged in while masturbating. All of these factors can propel the teen further down the road of gender confusion.

With the acceptance of homosexuality being old news and the explosive advancement of accepting a transgender identity, many more teens are coming out as transgender than would be expected from traditional statistics. This is particularly the case for females. Researchers have identified a social contagion effect in teens and young adults whereby one person in a social group coming out as transgender prompts many more in that social group to come out as transgender.9 A substantial number of these teens have not previously expressed transgender thoughts as is the case in traditional transgender conditions. This is called rapid-onset gender dysphoria. Parents report that before their teens and young adults came out, there was a significant increase in Internet and social media use. Many of those newly identifying as transgender began following social media influencers who were documenting their own transition process. After they come out, their relationships with parents and non-LGBTQ people deteriorate, often to the point of open animosity.


Whatever the cause of gender dysphoria, multiple research studies indicate that anywhere from 70 to 80 percent of prepubescent children who identify as transgender will grow up to embrace their birth gender without counseling or direct intervention.10 This further illustrates the dangers of prescribing puberty blocking hormones to adolescents and pre-adolescents, and highlights the need to focus on the root issues of gender confusion rather than the symptoms.

Knowing some of the potential root issues contributing to gender confusion can help us know where to focus our prayer and recovery efforts. Remember, everyone is different and not everyone will fit into any specific pattern. The overcomer will have to be willing to take an honest look deep inside his or her heart, and be willing to surrender some longstanding defense mechanisms. He or she will need to acknowledge the fears and apprehensions associated with embracing his or her birth gender. It is important to embrace the small steps of change on the way to healing and celebrate the small victories throughout the journey. It is important to find a good Christian caregiver who is experienced in helping men and women explore the roots of their gender confusion, receive healing, and learn to embrace their God-given sex and gender. An experienced Christian caregiver can hear his or her heart and offer compassionate care without judgement.

Help is available…

Reconciliation Ministries

Help 4 Families

Walt Heyer Ministries

Linda Seiler


1 Dallas, Joe. (2019, March 17). The Transgender Dilemma. Sermon preached at Calvary Chapel Rialto, California. Retrieved from on 4/5/2019.

2 American Psychological Association.  Answers to Your Questions: About Transgender People, Gender Identity and Gender Expression.  Washington, DC. December, 2014.  Retrieved from on 4/5/2019.

3 American Psychological Association.  Answers to Your Questions: For a Better Understanding of Sexual Orientation and Homosexuality.  Washington, DC. 2008, p2.  Retrieved from on 1/11/2019.

4 Straight Answers: Exposing the Myths and Facts about Homosexuality, Love Won Out Series, Focus on the Family Publishing, Colorado Springs, CO. 2000, p. 10.

5 Foster, David Kyle Foster (Producer), & Sutton, Karl. (Director). (2017). Tranzformed: Finding Peace with your God-Given Gender. United States: Pure Passion Media & Mastering Life Ministries.

6 Shick, Denise. When Hope Seems Lost. Help 4 Families Press, Ashland, KY, 2011.

7 Allender, Dr. Dan. Effective Trauma Care. Allender Center training. Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois. March 14-16, 2019.

8 Heyer, Walter, Trans Life Survivors. Bowker Identifier Services, 2018.

9 Veissiere, Samuel, Ph.D. “Why Is Transgender Identity on the Rise Among Teens?” Psychology Today. Posted November 28, 2018. Retrieved from on 4/5/2019.

10 Cantor, James. “How Many Transgender Kids Grow Up to Stay Trans?” PsyPost. Posted December 30, 2017. Retrieved from on 2/24/2019.

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© 2019 Reconciliation Ministries of Michigan, Inc.  This article may be reproduced and distributed as long as no fee is charged and credit is given to Reconciliation Ministries of Michigan, Inc.

Transgender: What is it and how did we get here?

This article is a brief explanation of transgender issues and how the American culture came to a place of acceptance and promotion of transgender ideology. Future newsletters will explore the roots of gender confusion, and the healing process. This article is a very simplified summary of a very complex issue. Two excellent resources for a deeper understanding of transgender issues are God and the Transgender Debate by Andrew T. Walker, and Understanding Gender Confusion edited by Denise Shick. Both books are a major resource for this article.


As we begin this newsletter article on transgender issues, it is important to remember Christ-like compassion. It’s easy to condemn things we don’t understand… things we don’t feel comfortable with. As a conservative, it’s even easier to condemn something when there is a whole group of people who get all up in our faces about things that we don’t agree with. Such is the case with LGBTQ issues, and such is the case with transgender issues in particular. However, just as we don’t want the LGBTQ community to focus on the small percentage of self-identified Christians who are truly hateful bigots and think that they represent all Christians, we shouldn’t look at the small percentage of the LGBTQ community and think that everyone in that community are mean spirited activists. In both communities, some are. Most aren’t. Most people just want to live a peaceful life and do their own thing. As we look at this issue, it is important to remember Paul’s encouragement in Ephesians 4:15 to speak the truth in love.

Both Denise Shick, editor of Understanding Gender Confusion, and Andrew T. Walker, author of God and the Transgender Debate, do an excellent job helping us understand the emotional and spiritual pain experienced by someone who truly believes they are a man or woman trapped in the wrong body. It is indeed a traumatic and painful experience. Both authors also do an excellent job helping the reader understand the turmoil that the family of a transgender individual experiences. I’ve seen this pain often as I’ve led the Healing Hearts group for parents of LGBTQ identified individuals. The goal of Healing Hearts is to love our LGBTQ identified sons and daughters without compromising our Christian convictions. I’ve seen godly parents who dearly love their kids, grieving deeply that the son or daughter they’ve known since birth is now embracing the identity of the opposite gender. He or she may even be in the process of transitioning physically to the opposite gender, and insisting that the parents start calling him or her by a new name. Parents are teary eyed as they explain that it isn’t only the appearance of their son or daughter that is transitioning. His or her personality is also changing. The pain is very real for the family. The pain is very real for the struggler.


How did we as a culture move from a place where divorce was rare and homosexuality – let alone transgender issues – were seldom talked about? Walker explains the cultural transition in Chapter Two of his book starting with relativism. Relativism means that there is no absolute truth. What is true for you in your experiences may not be true for me in mine. Christianity declares absolute truth; however, we are living in a post-Christian society that rejects absolute truth. Without absolute truth, we lose our moral foundation and our very ability to determine what is right and what is wrong. The sexual revolution of the 1960s brought further eroding as it celebrated an “if it feels good, do it” culture. Along came the introduction of the birth control pill to further separate the idea of sexual intimacy in the context of marriage and the potential of giving birth. Homosexuality, identifying as the opposite sex, declining marriage rates, rising divorce rates, and cohabitating are all symptoms of our individualistic, Post-Christian society rejecting absolute truth. Unfortunately, we find the same attitudes and actions in the hearts of many in the church today.

Walker explains that Gnosticism, an ancient belief that the physical realm is bad and that seeking spiritual fulfillment is key to personal flourishing, is of primary importance to transgender ideology. Gnosticism, even if it isn’t specifically named, is strong in our culture today. Walker writes, “Gnosticism emphasizes that a person’s self-awareness is different than and more important than their physical body.” (p. 25) Since there is a powerful tension between our physical bodies and our spiritual selves, Gnosticism supports the idea that we can transform our bodies to, and identify with, whatever gender identity we feel we are; regardless of what our bodies and chromosomes reveal. Joe Dallas, in his 2008 article “The Transsexual Dilemma”, explains the Gnostic belief that our human imperfections are the result of an imperfect creator. Therefore it is completely up to the individual to use his own intuition to form his “true identity” and determine the proper use of his body. Dallas quoted a transgender man who came to him seeking help who fervently declared, “I know I’m a man because I feel like one!” The biology of the imperfect physical world becomes irrelevant as someone embracing Gnosticism formulates her own identity based on her own human intuition. As Walker writes, “…there are two unforgivable sins in a postmodern, post-Christianized, individualistic world. The first is to judge someone else. The second is to fail to fulfill your desires.” (p. 26) In other words, not only are you very wrong to judge me and tell me that I’m wrong; I’m very wrong if I don’t obey my intuition and embrace whomever I feel like I am, even if my own body and my own chromosomes say otherwise. Gnosticism, combined with today’s entitlement culture, is an extremely powerful force.


This may help explain how someone struggling with his or her transgender identity can come to the conclusion that he or she is in the wrong body; yet the question remains, how did transgender ideology become so engrained in the rest of our culture that does not personally embrace an LGBTQ identity? The transgender community is following many of the steps taken by the homosexual community to make transgender issues not only mainstream within the rest of society, but also celebrated and protected. LGBTQ characters are common in movies, television series, and even children’s programming. Laughable homosexual and transgendered characters were first introduced in movies and TV shows to bypass our emotional resistance. Once we were familiarized with comic characters, others were introduced to portray that LGBTQ people were the same as heterosexual people. Rarely are the negative aspects of the LGBTQ community talked about. Those embracing an LGBTQ identity are also at risk for increased substance abuse and domestic violence, and a higher than average number of co-occurring mental health disorders compared to the heterosexual community. A few of the honest characters hinted at the emotional conflict that LGBTQ people experience as they wrestled with their sexual identity; however, that identity is framed in the inaccurate context of being inborn and unchangeable. Other LGBTQ characters were introduced to teach that many in that community were suffering great emotional pain because of discrimination from conservative Christians and downright hateful bigots. Most people, especially Millennials, love to help the disempowered and marginalized. Very often LGBTQ issues are framed in the context of a culture discriminated against and in need of the support from the non-LGBTQ community. That approach has gained the LGBTQ community a lot of support.


The terms used to describe transgender issues have changed quickly in the last few years. The words widely accepted in an article written by Joe Dallas in 2008 are different from the currently accepted words used by Walker in 2017. The American Psychiatric Association changed the official diagnosis of what most of us would call transgender from Gender Identity Disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV [DSM-IV] published in 2000, to Gender Dysphoria in the DSM V published in 2013. This article presents just a few of the most important, current definitions offered by Walker. Sex, refers to the biological sex we are born with as evidenced by our chromosomes and our sexual organs. Gender and gender identity is how we internally perceive ourselves as male or female, masculine or feminine. Thus, a person’s gender identity may be different from his or her sex. Gender dysphoria means that a person experiences emotional distress due to perceived differences between his or her biological sex and his or her self-identified gender identity.

Gender dysphoria is experienced on a continuum ranging from “mild” to “severe”. As Walker points out, not everyone who experiences dysphoria will identify as transgender (p.33). Some who experienced gender dysphoria will continue to live with the identity of their biological sex. A person who is transgender will live with some identification and outward expression of his or her gender identity which is different than his or her sex. This expression may be anything from dressing in the culturally accepted dress of the perceived gender, taking hormones to bring the body closer to alignment with the perceived gender, or undergoing sexual reassignment surgery. Other expressions of a transgender identity include gender fluid, which means that the person fluctuates between male and female identities; and non-binary or agender in which the person does not identify as male or female at all. A gay or lesbian identity is a completely separate from gender identity. A person can be transgender and straight, transgender and gay, or any combination the perception of a broken heart can assume. The LGBTQ community refers to individuals whose gender identity matches his or her biological sex as cisgender.


If all of these definitions seem confusing to you, imagine the inner turmoil of a person who genuinely feels like they are trapped in the wrong body. We don’t pick our struggles and temptations. They just happen. True, sometimes we humans put ourselves in long-term situations that can lead us into long-term struggles. Sometimes, life throws us into situations that can create long-term struggles through no fault of our own. No matter what the cause of a person’s struggles, we Christians must react with the compassion of Christ and speak the truth in love to those who are struggling with their identity. Remember the words of Jesus to the Pharisees who just couldn’t wait to throw stones at the woman caught in adultery? “Let Him who is without sin cast the first stone.” And to the woman caught in adultery, “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.” (John 8) A harsh judgmental response to members of the LGBTQ community isn’t the answer. Neither is false love in the guise of full acceptance of someone’s broken identity. We must show love, and we must call to repentance. We in the church must be willing to show those who are struggling with any life dominating issue that Jesus Christ can heal their broken heart and help them live according to their true identity in Christ.


Most of us in the Christian community don’t really realize what we are asking member of the LGBTQ community to give up when we call them to repentance. Do we really realize that the LGBTQ community has likely been far more loving to them than the typical Christian? Do we realize that the person’s very livelihood may be enmeshed in LGBTQ culture and is likely very difficult to walk away from? True, the pain of change if far less than the pain of an eternity in hell, but the pain of change can be excruciating. Are we willing to be inconvenienced and imposed upon by men and women who are in deep pain and need our help? Men and women we may not fully understand? I hope so. These precious souls desperately need the redemption and transformation that Jesus has to offer. These precious souls desperately need our support. Jesus calls us, His broken vessels, to walk alongside of other broken vessels and help them transition from the LGBTQ community, into the Body of Christ.

As I was researching this topic, I ran across an article by Joe Dallas that got my attention. He talked about one of the first transgender people who came to him for help many years ago. The question she asked him pierced my heart. It is the same type of question that many in the LGBTQ community would ask each one of us. I hope her question pierces your heart too… “You’ve got some pretty clear answers, Joe. But tell me honestly: if I go home and break up with my girlfriend, then put on a skirt and try to live as a woman, leaving behind everything about my life as I know it, will the church be there for me? Will they welcome me, even though I’ll look like a man wearing a dress? Can I be honest with fellow Christians about the surgery I had? Will I really be a sister in Christ, or will I be the resident freak?”


Dallas, Joe. The Transsexual Dilemma. Christian Research Journal, volume 31, number 01, 2008.  Retrieved from on 2/27/2019.

Shick, Denise. Understanding Gender Confusion: A Faith Based Perspective, Help 4 Families Press, Ashland, KY, 2014.

Walker, Andrew T. God and the Transgender Debate: What Does the Bible Actually Say About Gender Identity? The Good Book Company. 2017.

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© 2019 Reconciliation Ministries of Michigan, Inc.  This article may be reproduced and distributed as long as no fee is charged and credit is given to Reconciliation Ministries of Michigan, Inc. 

If you or someone you care about needs help, call Reconciliation Ministries at 586.739.5114. We offer compassionate, biblical, licensed professional counseling and prayer ministry.