"My son wears princess dresses," A Christian mom on raising her gender nonconforming child

It's rare to hear stories of Christian families accepting their LGBT kids. It could be because Christian families are typically less accepting of queer children or perhaps they just don't get the same platforms to share their stories. I've heard hundreds of stories from LGBT people of their parent's less-than-Christlike responses to their gender and sexual identities. That's why when I hear of parents fully affirming and loving their children just as they are, I'm overcome with joy.

I met Lisa two years ago at the first Reformation Project.  She came as an ally wanting to learn more about the LGBT community. In the last few years I've seen Lisa post things on social media platforms about her kids, as any parent with young kids typically do. I quickly noticed that Lisa and her husband raise their children unconventionally -- at least to most Christian standards.
Wyatt

Eliel: When did Wyatt first begin to explore his gender/gender expression? How old is he now?

Lisa: My husband Tim and I started noticing that he was exploring gender expression when he was around three years old. He really loved it when I painted my toenails and wanted to join in. So I’d paint his nails and his brother Eli’s. He’s 4 now, turning 5 in April. We have intentionally encouraged the boys to explore who they are without regard for traditional gender roles. For Wyatt’s 4th birthday, he asked for a princess dress, a tea set, and boxing gloves. We have a picture of him using all three at once! He loves having a tea party and pretending to be a fairy godmother (tiara, wand, and all). It’s a typical weekend morning for him to wear his princess dress with a ninja mask, wearing a doll in his kid-sized Ergo Baby Carrier, and making tea for everyone -- with a sword stuck in the back of his shirt.

Eliel: What was you and your husband's initial reactions to it?

Lisa: Neither of us batted an eye.  I tease sometimes that I hope one of my boys turns out to be gay because it will increase my street cred as a liberal, hippie mom. But I suppose there is fear about how the world is currently set up to make life difficult for those who are queer. We just do the most we can to make Wyatt and Eli feel that whoever they are, whoever they love, they are beautifully and wonderfully made in our eyes and in the eyes of God.

Eliel: Has he ever experienced any kind of bullying for his choices in games or clothing?

Lisa: I wouldn’t say there’s been any “bullying,” but there have been some comments. In preschool last year there was a pirate dress in the dress-up area. One day Tim picked him up from school and the teacher seemed embarrassed that she had let Wyatt wear the dress. He shouted at Tim, “I’m a PRINCESS!!” and the teacher quickly jumped in to say, “You’re a PIRATE.” Tim then said, “He’s a pirate princess!” I suppose he’s young enough where bullying hasn’t really happened but I do fear for the time when it might.

Eliel: What do you have to say to those who say allowing Wyatt to express himself this way will cause him to be Gay or Trans?

Lisa: To those people, I would say A) No such thing as a parent making their child queer. B) If he is gay, bi, queer, trans, so what! We will be glad and proud that we have provided him a childhood where he knows that whoever he discovers himself to be and whomever he chooses to love doesn’t matter. Or if he’s straight and 1cisgender that’s fine too. We will have provided him a childhood where he knows that everyone is a child of God and it will have taught him acceptance for all.

Eliel: How do you reconcile this scripturally?

Lisa: We are a Christian family and we deliberately challenge traditional gender roles. I’ve always known in my heart that the loving, grace-giving God with whom I have a relationship loves LGBTQ+ people as fully and completely as cisgender, heterosexual people. Scripture does say we are all “fearfully and wonderfully made” in His eyes (Ps. 139:14). Through my own personal investigation and my work with The Reformation Project, I have full confidence that the Biblical passages typically used to condemn same-sex relationships are not referring to the consensual, loving, same-sex relationships that we understand in our modern context.

Eliel: What do you wish other Christian parents knew about LGBT & gender nonconforming children?

Lisa: Gay, straight, cis, trans, it doesn’t matter. Our children are a gift, and we should be teaching them to love. The greatest commandment (Mark 12:31). Love others, love themselves, and love the world around them.

 

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