Imagine having to grow up in today’s world as your body goes through that very natural and God-ordained transformation from being that of child, to being that of an adult. Puberty has become so complex because the questions “What’s happening to me??” and “Where should this all end if I’m to be likeable, loveable, and happy?/” are increasingly answered by cultural voices which set standards that are completely unreasonable, idol-inducing, and destructive. Add to that peer influence by equally-confused kids trying to navigate the same things, and it seems even more difficult. And then there are the new gender-choice options which promise some kind of deliverance from the pressure along with personal wholeness. . . and wow. . . so hard.

At our annual CPYU Symposium on Traditional Biblical Sexuality in a Changing Youth Culture (join us this November!), we work hard to figure out how to help kids, youth workers, and families guide and respond to these things with the kind of biblical faithfulness that speaks to the confusion and will lead to human freedom and flourishing. One of the questions we address is how to best have conversations with kids who are confused.

I recently ran across a piece in Salvo Magazine (worth a subscription!) written by Dr. Bruce Woodall, a family physician, about a conversation he had with a confused young middle-school student names Jessica who was asking these questions, thinking she might actually be a boy. In the article, “The 15-Minute Transgender Consult,” Woodall recounts the conversation and by doing so offers up a good model of how to communicate on these sensitive and tender matters with the kind of grace and truth our kids deserve.

Woodall writes, “Jessica was one of my patients on a busy day in the clinic. Self-conscious about her weight and the fashion limitations of her socioeconomic class, Jessica clearly fell somewhere among the vulnerable lower rung of the junior-high-school cultural food chain. As her single and disabled custodial grandmother spoke, Jessica sat motionless, arms crossed, staring furiously at the floor. From a previous visit I had discerned that in the gray zone of adolescence, her emotional maturity lagged toward the child end of the spectrum, a place I wish young patients like her could be left in peace, unmolested, to naturally mature at a slower pace than some of their peers. But seeing her adult woman’s body and the smartphone clutched in her hand, I knew that simply wasn’t an option for her.

“Doc,” her grandmother began, “there’s some crazy things going around with these kids. Jessica is saying she might be a boy. That’s just plain nuts! She had her first period over a year ago! Can you talk to her?”

I said nothing, giving Jessica room to respond. She remained silent as I noted the new and unflattering straight bob cut, loose sports jersey, and boy’s gym shorts she was now wearing.

As the silence grew uncomfortable, I spoke. “Jessica, I’d really like to know what you are feeling. Your grandma just told me you think you might be a boy. Do you feel like you are a boy?” . . . You can read the rest of the article here.

Editor’s Note – You can learn more about our upcoming Symposium on Traditional Biblical Sexuality in a Changing YouthCulture and register here.

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