A supportive parent writes about God’s gift of a gender-nonconforming child

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

“Made by God in Rainbow Hues: On Raising a Gender Nonconforming Child”
Ellen Painter Dollar, who writes a blog for the Progressive Christian Channel on Patheos, recently talked about a special shirt her son chose for school the day before. “My son has a number of clothing items that are meant for girls,” writes Painter,  “and this shirt, with a big, shiny, spangly musical note on the chest, is one of his favorites. But he told me he picked the shirt on purpose for this particular day. There was going to be a new student joining his class for the first time yesterday, and he wanted the new student to understand from the get go what kind of kid he is.”  Painter goes on to say, “In the lingo that I am rapidly learning, my son is the kind of kid who can be labeled ‘gender nonconforming’ or  ‘gender variable.’ ”  Read why she wishes no label were necessary at all— and how accepting, loving, and encouraging the boy’s family and extended family, his friends and their parents, and his church and minister are toward him.  But at the same time, many other Christians are among those who are most unaccepting and critical of gender- nonconforming children (and adults).

Related. You might also want to read this Religion News Service (RNS) report about  H. Adam Ackley, a professor of systematic theology who has just been dismissed from an evangelical university because he has come out as transgender.  He had taught at the school for 15 years (including serving for part of that time as chair of the theology and philosophy department) as Heather Ann Clements.  You can watch Adam’s coming-out sermon to his local church, embedded in the RNS website, or you can watch it directly on YouTube, under the title, “Come as You Are: God’s Good News for All People.”  You can also see his slide show, “Christian and Transgender,” with text and photos telling his life story, and watch a brief television interview with him, conducted by KABC in Los Angeles.

Letha Dawson Scanzoni
Letha Dawson Scanzoni (1935-2024) was an independent scholar, writer, and editor, and the author or coauthor of nine books. In 1978, she and Virginia Ramey Mollenkott wrote Is the Homosexual My Neighbor?, one of the earliest books urging evangelical Christians to rethink their views on homosexuality (updated edition, 1994, HarperOne). More recently, Letha coauthored (with social psychologist David G. Myers) What God Has Joined Together: The Christian Case for Gay Marriage (HarperOne, 2005 and 2006). Another of Letha’s most well-known books is All We’re Meant to Be: Biblical Feminism for Today, coauthored with Nancy A. Hardesty (Word Books, 1974; revised edition, Abingdon, 1986; updated and expanded edition, Eerdmans, 1992). Letha served as editor of Christian Feminism Today in both its former print edition (EEWC Update) and its website for 19 years until her retirement in December 2013.