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Of course, on You Tube and other websites there are other stories, many tragic, of transgender Mormons who have not had such supportive experiences.

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Churches, he explains, “have to become familiar and go through a learning process.” Ultimately, he is optimistic about how these conversations can develop, and encourages people “to quell their fears of difference and embrace the unfamiliar and trust that if they are doing this in the context of church and God that it will lead ultimately to transforming everyone.” Some of the challenges that religious groups face include fostering welcoming and safe spaces, by, for example, learning the basic etiquette of talking to transgender people.The LDS church’s attention to social and ecclesiastical barriers for transgender people, however meager to date, also portends a potential change in its teachings on sex and gender essentialism.Transgender issues pose a significant theological challenge for Mormonism because of the official belief that: “Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.” Basically, Mormon teaching suggests that male and female identity is not just bodily but is an identity that applies to the soul both before it is born and in the next life after death.The concern for an “elective” operation may reflect an acceptance of surgery in some circumstances, such as for intersex children or adults.However, anyone considering surgery is warned that it may result in formal church discipline.

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