Is it sinful to be confused about gender?

The experience of being confused about gender, known as gender dysphoria, is not in itself sinful. That explanation may be used to justify sinful behaviors, but genuine confusion is not the same as acting in a way that is against God’s word.

Many things, including personal experience and the messages of an unbiblical society, can cause confusion. Instead of treating those experiencing this confusion as though they are willfully disobeying, we should show them compassion and be a listening ear.

We can begin by acknowledging our own confusion on many of these topics or by relating to feelings we have that we can’t control or are confused by. Ask the struggling person about their experience and how they understand it. That may create an opening for them to ask you how you resolve these tensions in your own life.

In God and the Transgender Debate, Andrew T. Walker gives a helpful way for Christians to think about this. He writes:

“It is vital to pause here to make very clear a distinction between experiencing a feeling and acting on a feeling. Come back to Eve in Eden at the start of Genesis 3. Eve was not sinning when Satan spoke to her to tempt her, when she saw the fruit’s beauty, or when she felt it was to be desired. She sinned when she went beyond observing the fruit’s beauty, followed her reason and feelings in opposition to God’s word, and took and ate it.

“In the same way, individuals who experience gender dysphoria are not sinning when such experiences occur. To feel that your body is one sex and your self is a different gender is not sinful. The Bible nowhere categorizes unwanted psychological distress as sinful in itself. This experience is a sign that all of our selves are as broken by sin as the creation around us is. The reason that any person ever experiences a physical ailment or a psychological state or perception that goes against God’s creative intentions is because creation itself is fallen. So, for example, while having cancer or depression–or experiencing gender dysphoria–is not sinful, these experiences occur because this is a world broken by sin.

“But deciding to let that feeling rule to feed that feeling so that it becomes the way you see yourself and the way you identify yourself and the way you act- is sinful, because it is deciding that your feelings will have authority over you, and will define what is right and what is wrong. It is to act in the same way Adam and Eve did in eating from the tree.” (God and the Transgender Debate, Pg. 67-68)

Talking to someone who is confused about gender is difficult.  Start by working through these questions about the complicated, confusing things you experience. Then you will be better equipped to relate to those experiencing confusion over homosexual or transgender feelings and to listen to their experiences with an open heart.