I was recently asked, "What do we do differently if we have a transgender client?" This is a tough question that needs to be answered because the state of our country's morals demands it. My personal answer may not sit comfortably with some, but I believe it was the answer the Lord provided me and my former nurse when He saw fit to give us the privilege of serving a very broken human being who was "in transition". I ask that as you read on, you please consider my heart and what you know of Christ's character before you form an opinion. I truly hope this, at least in some way, prepares you for the most broken clients you'll see, whether they be transgender, addicts, prostitutes, or just plain hate-filled.
"What do we do differently if we have a transgender client?"
The short answer is "You don't do anything different." I realize that's a 10-cent answer to a $2.00 question, so let me explain. Procedurally, nothing should change no matter the client, but wrapping the mind around this one is a bit more difficult for some. So, just to set the tone for how the rest of this article will go, let me start with this scripture: "But God demonstrates his great love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. -Romans 5:8" Who is "us"? It's not just you and me, Christ-following, mostly good, tithing, church-going, Bible-reading, praying people. Nope! The "us" means ALL of humanity. My point is that if He died for those who are confused about their identities, then He must love them and so should we. His love was without measure, so ours should be also. We don't have to understand, we just act in our Christlike integrity and love women where they are, no matter how they dress, how they sound, and what name they want to be called. We can wrap our minds around serving the addict, the homeless, and the prostitute. We can love them despite their outward sin. So why is it more difficult with a transgender client? I believe it's because we do not understand and feel somehow inadequate. So, while I will allow the Holy Spirit to do His job and work on your heart if this is all making your hair stand on end, I will do my job and give you a few tips that will help in a practical way in case you ever have the privilege of speaking love to a confused, lost, transgender person.
Tackling Terminology: A transgender man is a naturally born female. They may be cross-dressing, may have legally changed their name, may be taking hormones to alter voice, facial hair, and muscle construction. They may have even had top surgery (breast removal), but if they have not gone through gender reassignment surgery (sex change), they still have a uterus and are still capable of conceiving if they have sex with a natural-born male.
The Issue of Name: To truly love someone is to treat them with dignity and respect. So, if Julie asks you to call her Joe, then call her Joe. It's no different than using a nickname. However, if her name has not been legally changed, then tell Joe you will need to use the legal name that is on their ID in the chart since your forms are considered legal documents.
The Consultation: While you may be a bit more uncomfortable than usual, the education, pregnancy test, and ultrasound can all be treated exactly the same as any other client. If questions specific to a transsexual carrying a pregnancy come up, it's okay to tell them you are unsure and that it's uncharted territory for you. It is for them as well. However, do your best to gather the information they need about their pregnancy. Reaching out to your medical director with these types of things is best.
Also, keep in mind that a pregnant transgender "man" may be abortion-minded or may be excited about the possibility of being a parent. This was actually the case when we came across this situation in my center. I also happen to know a transsexual who gave birth, and while it was uncomfortable for me to watch, I have no doubt that their beautiful son was created by God and has purpose.
The Dignity Factor: One reason that is often cited by those who formerly lived an alternative lifestyle for staying in it for so long is that the LGBTQ+ movement was the only place where they received any amount of dignity, acceptance, and love. We may not condone anything about their lifestyle; some may even call it an abomination, but we do not have to agree with or even understand them in order to treat them with dignity, kindness, and respect. We must put the issue of the individual's sexual preferences aside and focus on the love the lord has for His creation as difficult as it may be.
So, let's make a choice to set our worries, judgment, and comfort aside and show this group that they matter to us, that their babies matter to us, and in turn, that they all matter to God. The only way their hearts and minds will ever begin to heal is through Christ's unconditional love shining through you and me. If He has sent them to you, then you are to plant the seed or water the seed already planted beneath the surface. We can trust Him for the rest.