20 Apr

Is It Gender Disphoria?

What do you do when your 5-year old daughter says she wants to marry one of her friends? And that friend is a girl… 

I’m going to risk parental—and my daughter’s potential—embarrassment here to share a story, because I feel God is asking me to, as this is not a topic with which I feel parents have navigation and “helps,” because no one wants to talk about it, and everyone wants to save face. Oh, your child just said that??? What in the world are you doing wrong in your parenting for that to have happened???

I know I probably will receive flack, whether actual comments or just inner resentment from some who don’t hold my belief about God’s design for biological sex and gender, but I truly believe God has given me a testimony that needs to be shared.

When Bekah came to me this morning and said that she wanted to marry her little “girl” friend—rather than the little boy she was been friends with for months, declaring that she would marry him—my heart completely sunk. Immediately, my thought was what I said before, “What have I done wrong? What do I say in this moment that will be the right thing for her to hear and understand?”

Knowing that I simply was not in the right frame of mind to say anything other than, “No, you can’t do that,”—and probably not in the nicest tone, either—I suggested we go and talk to her Daddy, because he is very level-headed about these situations and always has an amazing way of explaining things to our girls.

We walked into the bedroom, and I said, “Daddy, we need your help. Bekah said she would like to marry [this girl].” As calmly as could be, Michael began to ask her questions about why she wanted to marry her.  His main question was, “What do you think will happen if you do marry her?”

(On an honest side note, I started to think twice about my choice to have her come talk to Daddy, since for whatever reason he seemed to be perpetuating the conversation rather than helping make it go away, and it took me a few minutes to realize where he was going with it and that he had made the correct choice.)

At first, Bekah said, “I’ll become a boy.” Michael, without missing a beat, said, “Bekah, just because you marry a girl doesn’t mean you become a boy. God made you a beautiful girl, and that’s who you need to be.”

“Oh,” she said. “Ok.”

As he continued to probe her with the question, “what do you think will happen,” we started to realize that she just had a misinformed view of marriage.

Bekah’s next answers shocked me: “Well . . . We’ll get to sleepover to-gever . . . And we’ll play . . . And watch movies . . . read books to-gever . . .”

Michael went on to explain that those are all wonderful things that she can do with this gal as her friend. Bekah looked at him quizzically, and said, “Really?”

After her understanding that she would still be able to do these fun things as friends, Michael then asked if there was anything else that was influencing her decision in this marriage arrangement.

Bekah went on to say that “boys are mean . . . They kick and punch and spit . . . They are not nice.”

Somewhere in the last couple of months, our Bekah has grown up just a little and decided she doesn’t like the immaturity of boys, lol. Daddy went on to explain to her that boys do those things until they grow up, and even sometimes, if they don’t mature while growing up, that they can still do some of those things. He explained that maturity is learning what the right thing is to do and then doing it.

I then told her about my experience as a child—how I loved to hangout with the boys and play football and all other kind of boy things. Back then, I would have been labeled your typical Tom-boy (and some would probably still say that about me today). I can’t imagine what it would have been like growing up these days, but as far as I can remember, although my preference to like boy things overrode any girlie tendencies, it was never a thought in my mind that I would become or should become a boy. He made me a princess, and He made her a princess, and if I would have decided to be anything other than a princess, I would have never even met Daddy, and she would not be born.

I also told her that she may not even know the man she will marry right now. Her Daddy and I didn’t meet until we were 19 and 21. If we would have known each other before then, we may not have even chosen each other based on our immaturities, lol. Sometimes the friends you know when you are young are not the friends you know when you are older.

There were other smaller points in between our conversation, but those are the main ones. Bekah began to leave the room, and I asked her if I could have a hug. She crawled up and gave Michael and me each a hug and then we told her we loved her. She went to the door to leave, and before closing it said, “Ok, I’ve changed my mind about becoming a boy and marrying a girl.”

Is our daughter gender-confused? Was she experiencing gender dysphoria? Not at all! She simply didn’t understand the definition of marriage at her young age of 5. She loves dolls, and dresses, and all things girl. She hasn’t had a friend up to this point who has been a girl other than her sisters, who—from experience, I know—can be downright mean and nasty and unfair in their own right. All her little friends, just based on our friendships and stage of life have been boys, and so having a “girl” friend who is not her sister is a new experience for her, and she likes the attention and kindness she receives. 

But truly, all she knows at this point, is that she sees Daddy and Mommy hanging out together, having “sleepovers” in the same bed, watching things together, reading books, etc., and since she now loves doing these same things with her new “girl” friend, she believes she wants that for her forever future, not understanding at 5 years old what marriage truly is—all she knows is she doesn’t want to hangout for the rest of her life with someone who kicks, punches, and spits, lol.

We, as parents, are far too quick to shut our kids down with a quick and harsh, “No,” wanting these hard and uncomfortable topics to just “go away,” especially when it is something in these categories that could be what we think would adversely affect their future, instead of trying to make sure we understand where they are coming from and the lens from which they see the definitions of the language they are using. Our 30-year old+ mature definitions are not their 0-to-18-year old definitions, and working to get on the same page and realize what they are talking about goes a long way to them truly understanding the world and walking in the path that God has for them.

Had I just wrecked into Bekah with an—“Absolutely not! You can’t marry a girl!”—her worldview at that moment, sans Daddy-conversation digging for the truth, would have told her devastatingly, “Mommy just said I can’t have fun times with my friend. My world is ending because I can’t do the things I love to do with someone I love to do them with. Mommy doesn’t love me or want me to have fun.”

And that conversation in her head would eventually morph into what the world tells us we should do when no one understands our feelings or shames us for the way we feel like we “identify” as we are growing up. My daughter doesn’t identify as anything other than a 5-year old girl who loves dresses and dolls and that had her definitions mixed up and needed a teaching moment. And so many parents, rather than capitalizing on that teaching moment, either say, “Oh, that’s wonderful—yes, you should be that,” or “No way!” immediately shutting down the conversation and solidifying the faulty worldview in either case. I am so overly thankful for my amazing husband, who being led by the Spirit, knew exactly what to say to coach our precious girl through her thought process and into all truth. (Love you, forever, Michael Tuck!)

Now, does that mean we will never have this conversation again? Is the door completely closed for Bekah? Possibly not. But for now, GOD’S TRUTH has won out, and our girl knows that she is a beautiful princess that can have amazing friendships with other princesses, but if God ever intends for her to be married, it will be to a handsome prince. If it comes up again, we will have to remember this teaching moment and ask the Lord for wisdom on what to say based on the definitions that she has grown into in that moment in her life, whether they came from a biblical or secular influence, also asking for strength and compassion, no matter the outcome. 

Again, I know that not everyone will agree with me, even some of those who are on my friends and family list. BUT PLEASE HEAR ME WHEN I SAY, my disagreeing with you, and how I feel God has called me to raise my child, and the voice I must have to the rest of the world DOES NOT CHANGE MY LOVE FOR YOU. If God ever stopped loving me—through any choices I have made, good or bad—I wouldn’t be able to stand here redeemed by His blood as a testimony of His grace and be able to say that I LOVE YOU.

I’m expecting comments with a wide range of viewpoints, from, “You go, girl,” to “Block and Unfriend,” and everything in between, and if the latter happens, I would challenge you to reach out and let’s have a loving and mutually beneficial conversation before you hit that button, but I pray that this story helps another parent and child who may need to hear it. I will try to leave the comments open, but I just want to forewarn everyone, that if it gets too out of hand, I will either have to turn off commenting or delete the post. With all love and respect and for the glory of my God and King . . .


Kelley Tuck

“And so, since God in His mercy has given us this wonderful ministry, we never give up.” – 2 Corinthians 4:1 (NLT)