Scrolling X this past week, I came across a thread of quotes from a New York Times column about detransitioners. I was, to put it mildly, surprised that such seemingly honest and levelheaded content on the subject could ever have made it to the pages of the Gray Lady, who seems instead to have become utterly unquestioning of all things rainbow over the last few decades.
Doing a bit of searching, I found a Fox News story on the Times opinion piece. The Times columnist, Pamela Paul, interviewed Grace Powell, 23. At 12 or 13 years old, Powell was told that she could be a boy and that if she did not transition, she would kill herself. She began hormone therapy during her senior year of high school, then had a double mastectomy the summer before college. She said, "I wish there had been more open conversation. But I was told there was one cure and one thing to do." She is now detransitioning. But that word is such a misnomer because it glosses over the fact that what is done can never be completely undone. Body parts long since amputated and destroyed are no longer there to simply be plugged back in.
Another detransitioner who had a double mastectomy, Kasey Emerick, 23, realized that after five years of trying to live the life of a man, her mental health problems were only getting worse. Emerick said, "I realized I had lived a lie for over five years." But despite going off testosterone, her voice has been permanently changed to the deeper voice of a man.
Another detransitioner, Paul Garcia-Ryan, had surgery on his genitals. He also had severe medical complications from both the surgery and hormone medication. The columnist then noted that "doctors and medical professionals who insist on caution are often afraid to speak out and even don't feel safe." She concluded that "returning to reason would be the most humane path forward."
I stopped and said a prayer for the future of everyone in that story; God is a really big God and has the most lovely ways of bringing joy out of jumbled and hope out of hopelessness.
I do not even have to wonder, though, how many more kids out there are experiencing all kinds of stress and uncertainty and even periods of desperation in their young lives and are not even sure of who they really are. The reason I do not have to answer is because everyone who has grown up already knows that the answer is "all of them." Yet far from being a bleak truth, that is actually a beautiful truth instead on several levels. Please allow me to spell it out for every kid out there, kids whose parents and grandparents will hopefully get them word after reading this column.
First of all, you need to understand that you are a masterpiece in the making. God designed you in his own image (Genesis 1:26), and yet he spends a lifetime on each person to make them their individual best. That body that bothers you as you look at it now will grow and mature into something truly marvelous. Your voice will grow strong and certain. Your brain will start to make sense of things. Your emotions will settle down, and you will look back on your school-age years and realize that they were merely the incubation period for the amazing creature you have become.
Secondly, you should know that there are only two kinds of young people: those who are awkward and scared and no good at hiding it, and those who are awkward and scared and very good at hiding it. Every single kid on Earth is nervous and scared to some degree, fearful of doing or saying the wrong thing and convinced that they are somehow hideous. The star jock and head cheerleader at your school are no exceptions to this. So you are (are you ready for this?) absolutely normal. And this means that no one is any better than you; you are all just at slightly different levels of awkward and all heading for a much better time in adulthood.
Thirdly, you should know that you almost certainly have a superpower that you could be using for your benefit but are not doing so. Does that interest you? Good. Then pay attention. That superpower is "stepping away from the circus." Between constant social-media usage and all of the required hours around the multitudes at school, it is no wonder that kids are so nervous and jumbled all the time. But do you know who does not usually feel so jumbled? People who cut off the social media for long periods of time and go hiking instead. People who garden and hunt and fish. God put man outdoors in a garden from day one, and TikTok will never be able to duplicate the peace of mind that comes from that natural of a life.
Fourthly, you really need to know that neither taunts nor even trauma get to define you. The devil is a master at taking bad things that happen to a kid and making him or her believe the most illogical and contradictory thing, namely that they are, therefore, ruined and should go ahead and ruin themselves to not be so ruined. But the Creator of the universe has already irrevocably defined you! You are the one that he loved enough to die for (John 3:16). You are the one that he has huge plans for (Jeremiah 29:11). You are the one that he will never leave or forsake (Hebrews 13:5). You are, therefore, not what has happened to you; you are a person of unfathomable potential, and have only to fulfill it.
You got this.
Bo Wagner is pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church of Mooresboro, North Carolina, a widely traveled evangelist and the author of several books available on Amazon and at wordofhismouth.com. Email him at email@example.com.