Hi, thank you for visiting my website. My name is Dean and I currently live with my wife Gemma in the United Kingdom. Any casual observer of social trends in world politics and the media will not fail to see that following on from the gay rights movement the current push for legislation reform is in the area of 'transgender rights'. Over the last few years pressure groups have lobbied governments to remove what have been seen as unfair and restrictive definitions of gender in much the same way that they previously campaigned for the redefinition of marriage. As a Christian who looks to the Bible as God's word, the Creator's Manual for humankind I look with dismay and distress at the aggressive agenda to remove and undermine the most basic foundations of human identity.
In creating this website I run the risk of being seen as a hateful religious fundamentalist. I want to say in this introduction that I am not writing from a position of hate but of deep concern. My world view is a Biblical one - I make no apology for that and you may disagree with me passionately. I respect your right to do that. My words and thoughts on this website however also come from my own life experience. You will read in the paragraphs that follow that my own story is one of journeying from gender confusion and wanting to 'change' my gender from male to female, to one of accepting my birth gender and finding healing in my gender identity through a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. I offer this website as a resource and a signpost for others struggling as I did to find such healing for themselves.
No Mistake - Male or Female
I wrote the words below for a Christian devotional. I hope they are of help to someone visiting this website...
‘So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27 ESV)’
Perhaps the cruellest act that someone could commit against a great artist would be to deface or destroy one of his masterpieces. One of the most terrible ways to wound a loving parent would be to hurt or corrupt the child they love. We see both of those cruel intents in the heart of Satan when he came into the Garden of Eden to entice Adam and Eve to turn their backs on God. As they sinned he gained access to God’s perfect creation and began his work of spoiling and destroying all that was good.
In the second chapter of Genesis we see God establishing the beautiful creation ordinance of marriage defined by him as the union of a man and a woman. Centuries later the Apostle Paul gave us a glimpse of the mystery of that union – a picture of the love of Jesus for his bride, the church. It’s no surprise that Satan would want to defile and distort something so precious and beautiful – we see it happening in an unprecedented way in these days in which we are living.
In the verse from chapter one of Genesis at the beginning of this devotional we see God’s creation of man and woman, male and female, as the pinnacle of his creation, together beautifully reflecting his image. Again, it’s no surprise that as with his attack on marriage we are increasingly seeing Satan in his hatred of God’s image in men and women seeking to distort and confuse that image. Throughout the western world and beyond, the God given dignity and uniqueness of masculinity and femininity is being deliberately blurred to the extent that even young children are now confused in their gender identity.
God who knits us together in our mother’s womb doesn’t make a mistake when he forms us as little boys or little girls but as we have seen we have an enemy who will take any opportunity to bring confusion and distortion into our lives. He may have done that in the life of someone reading this devotional or in the life of someone you love. It can be very hard to let go of the false identity we have embraced but it’s worth it to receive the truth of who God really created us to be. I struggled with confusion and self-rejection over my own male identity until my early thirties but I speak with confidence that God through his Holy Spirit wants to heal and affirm each one of us as the men or women he created us to be so that we can truly rejoice in being his sons and daughters. He began that healing work in my life over thirty years ago and then twenty years ago introduced me to Gemma, the lovely woman who is now my wife.
Just before you begin to read my story of how I struggled with confusion over my gender perhaps I should explain briefly why I believe events in my early life, even when I was in my mother’s womb, contributed to that confusion. I make no apology for holding a view of life and the world that is based on the Bible and my faith as a Christian.
In Psalm 139 verses 13-16 of the Bible we read:
‘For you (God) formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.’ (English Standard Version)
The Bible makes it clear that as human beings we are different to all other living creatures. In Genesis 1:27 we read that:
‘God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.’ (English Standard Version)
As human beings we were created for relationship with God. We are not just flesh and blood but also have a spirit and a soul. We do not become human beings at some unknown stage of our development in our mother’s womb – we are human from the very moment of our conception when God breathes his life into that single fertilised cell and creates our human spirit. From that moment onwards he begins the marvellous work of knitting our bones and tissues around us. That statement carries tremendous implications in a world that disposes of unborn children at a whim and it actually redefines abortion as murder – an act that needs forgiveness not sweeping under some moral carpet.
If what I have just written is true, and I believe with all my heart that it is, then even as we grow in the womb, we are spiritual beings. We live in a world that has both a seen and an unseen reality and as I have already stated in the previous item, 'No Mistake - Male or Female' there is a real and tangible person described in the Bible as Satan or the Devil who seeks to continually attack and distort the image of God in every human life. He does not only start his evil work when a baby emerges from the womb – he will begin his attacks from the moment of conception. When I share insights about my own damaged roots they have come through many different encounters with God over the years, sometimes when I was alone with him, sometimes when receiving prayer ministry from other Christians but at all times through the working of his Holy Spirit.
I was the first child of my parents who were living with my Dad’s parents in a small North London terrace while saving up to buy their first home after they were married. My grandparent’s home was not a settled one. My Dad was the eldest of three sons and his brothers were still living at home so it was a cramped and not very private start to my parents married life. In addition to the cramped accommodation my Nan wasn’t particularly welcoming to my Mum and the tension over where my parents should sleep in the house eventually resulted in them having to use what was then called the front parlour as their bedroom each night. A further complication was that during the time that my mum was pregnant with me my Granddad was conducting a secret affair. I was born in the maternity ward of a local hospital and returned to the family home about 10 days after my birth. Within a few days there was a family fight as my Granddad’s adultery was exposed – my Mum fled from the house in fear carrying me to the safety of a neighbour’s home. I share these details of my parents early years because I’ve come to realise that they affected my own life – I was there. I was conceived in the midst of that tension, I was present in that violent family row. Another factor that I only became aware of many years later was that my Nan had apparently always longed for a daughter but had only given birth to sons. I believe that she would have wanted a granddaughter as her first grandchild – instead she got me, a little boy. The indication that Nan had always wanted a daughter became apparent when the first of my two sisters was born two years later. My Nan sent my Mum a card saying, ‘Congratulations, you’ve done what I never could’. It’s a sad statement that showed pain and unfulfilled longings, perhaps also jealousy of my Mum.
Returning to my story, my parents and I lived at my grandparents home until I was about nine months old when we moved about thirty miles north of London – a new start in a new house, the first time after nearly three years of marriage that my parents and now me could live as a family. It wasn’t an easy adjustment for my Mum though, particularly as she was now spending days on her own with me while my Dad was out at work. On top of that she was suffering the physical and emotional effects of an underactive thyroid for which she would eventually need surgery.
What I’ve shared above isn’t greatly different from the start in life for many others during the 1950s in Britain. What I do know is that the strife in my grandparent’s house and my Nan’s longing for a granddaughter had an effect on me both before and after I was born. What I needed as a little baby was what all children need as they come into this world – security, welcome and the unconditional love of the adults in whose care God has placed them. I do know that my parents wanted me and did not mind whether I was a boy or a girl but I also know that in the midst of the tensions between the adults in my first home my emotional needs weren’t properly met. I also believe that the pain of my Nan over my Granddad’s unfaithfulness had produced bitterness towards and a despising of men in her heart that opened a door for Satan to place a lie deep in my young and vulnerable human spirit that there was something wrong with me, particularly with my gender. The seeds of confusion in the most foundational part of my identity were sown in those early months of my pre and post-natal life.
Looking back I realise that there was both loneliness and a sense of being different in my earliest memories. As I’ve already written the initial time after we moved from my grandparents to our new home wasn’t easy for Mum. Apparently she used to cry when my Dad went to work. It’s taken a long time for me to realise that it wasn’t an easy time for me as well. The first of my two sisters was born when I was two years old. I know that was really good for my parents and for me as we were even more of a family. I have quite a few memories of those early years - of my sister and me playing out in the street, of my first not so easy day at school and the school dinners that I often struggled to eat. I also remember again a sense of unrest in me, of not belonging and how I frightened my school one day when I simply walked out and went home. I remember once when I was misbehaving and saying that I wanted to leave home that my Dad packed a bag for me and put me outside the front door. Many years later my Mum commented that I went through a time when I was rejecting my Dad – I don’t know why that was but it shows again an unsettledness in me even as a little boy. I remember when I was about five years old developing terrible stomach pain and sickness and my Dad carrying me out to ambulance before being rushed to hospital with the ambulance bells ringing to have my appendix removed – I still remember the smell of the anaesthetic mask being placed over my face before the operation. I remember waking up in an adult ward and then being transferred to a children’s hospital to convalesce. I remember the daily injections in my bottom and the child in an oxygen tent in the bed next to mine. I remember being taken to a side room to have my stitches out. Other memories I have are of staying at my other grandparent’s home with my sister for about six weeks when my Mum eventually had her thyroid removed. Before that surgery my Mum had suffered with anxiety and was seen by a psychiatrist. She once told me that on one occasion when she saw him and told him that she was feeling ok; he looked over at me and asked, ‘What about him?’ It makes me think that there was something about my behaviour that provoked that question. I remember when I was taken to hospital to have my tonsils and adenoids removed. I remember the soreness of my throat when I woke up from the surgery and the fruit jelly that we were given for our meal.
I have good and quite vivid memories of those early years but as I have already written I am aware that there was deep insecurity within me as well which I now believe through receiving prayer ministry, was rooted in the unrest of my grandparent’s home in the early months of my life and my Nan’s disappointment that her first grandchild, me, was a boy and not a girl.
From about the age of six I began to experience growing confusion over my identity. I now know that a major factor in that confusion was the preparation for and the birth of my second sister when I was seven years old. She was rightly welcomed into the family and I know that I too was glad to have a new baby sister but something was touched deep inside me that I could never have understood as a seven year old. My little sister was born into our family when things were as they should have been when I was born but weren’t. She received love from my Dad that he wasn’t able or mature enough to give me when I was born. Somehow the lie that I should have been a girl, planted in me when I was just a baby became a desire to be a girl – if I had been a girl I too would be fussed over and loved. By the time I was ten years old I remember that I used to pray to God, who I didn’t know, that he would find a little girl who wanted to be a boy and somehow change us over. My confusion and feelings of abnormality were painfully confirmed when I was molested by a man, a stranger when I was just 11 years old. I have no memories of being hugged or held by my Dad in my early childhood, the tragedy was that the man who molested me and a friend showed the physical affection I had longed for but with selfish and perverted intent. Soon after experiencing that abuse, I began cross-dressing using my first sister’s clothes and found myself locked into a fantasy world, a secret lifestyle that opened the door for darkness, fear and shame to affect every area of my life. I began to find normal relationships more and more difficult, struggling to relate to both boys and girls of my age. Although I did very well in my school-work until I was 16 years old from that time on it deteriorated rapidly as I became painfully self-conscious and fearful of my double life being found out.
Just to insert an aside at this point. When I was about 14 years old, my Nan, in whose house I had spent those first months of my life, came to visit us not long after my Granddad had died of cancer. I remember clearly one dinner time as we sat at the table after eating. The younger of my two sisters who could have been described as a bit of a tomboy was at the table along with my Mum and me. My Nan looked at my sister and me and then said ‘I think you two were the wrong way round’. She said no more but her meaning was obvious – she was saying that my sister should have been a boy and I should have been a girl. My Mum responded by saying that my sister still had her feminine ways but she made no comment on my behalf. I don’t hold resentment against my Nan who died many years ago or my Mum for not speaking up for me, but I believe it does reveal something of the negative influence my Nan had on my life at its very beginning. It’s ironic that her observation that there was something amiss in my masculinity was linked to her own inner struggles when I lived under her roof as a vulnerable baby boy.
It was when I was 16 years old that I began searching for some kind of spiritual reality. I purchased a Bible from a book shop but I was also drawn to what were really New Age books in the guise of parapsychology. When I was 18 and heading towards painful failure and under-performance in my A-Level exams a girl in the sixth form of my school, invited me and a few friends to the church she attended. It was a genuine, loving, Bible believing church and I experienced a love and acceptance there that I’d never felt before. I kept going there until I went away from home to start college in the autumn of 1975. During that lonely year in a bedsit many miles from my home I began to read the Bible intending to read from the beginning in the book of Genesis all through until the book of Revelation. I only reached as far as chapter 22 of Deuteronomy, the fifth book of the Bible. In verse five I encountered these words:
“A woman shall not wear a man's garment, nor shall a man put on a woman's cloak, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD your God. (ESV)
As I read this verse it was literally like a voice from heaven. In a moment, not only did I know that God hated cross-dressing but I also knew that he did not condone someone trying to change their gender. I stopped reading the Bible at that point but I couldn’t unlearn what had just been revealed to me nor could I say that I was ignorant of God’s view of my secret life and confused identity. I had been seeking God but didn’t really want him to tell me how I should live. In the summer of 1976 before I left home again to start at a new college in a different but still far off town I went to a baptism service at the church I had first visited a year before. I saw in the testimonies and the faces of those who were being baptised that they knew God personally and I knew that I didn’t know him. After the service the wife of the church pastor came and talked with me and asked me very directly if I would go to heaven if I died that night. I knew that I wouldn’t and when I admitted that she asked me if I would like to have that assurance through knowing Jesus. I said yes and then spent some time talking with one of the men in the church who explained how I could become a Christian. I prayed a simple prayer with him awkwardly asking Jesus to come into my life and then went home and soon after went away to college.
There was a definite change in me after that night and that prayer and my experience at my new college was different to the year before at my previous one. I began to attend a church near to my student lodgings. I was baptised there and began to grow in my relationship with God. I saw him answer simple prayers in amazing ways but sadly after an initial time of freedom from cross dressing I started again whenever I had opportunity and over the next three years of my studies I began to lose sight of God’s face and his presence in my life.
I’m amazed at God’s love and patience. Despite my continuing to do something I knew he hated, he didn’t take his hand off my life. During the spring and summer of 1979 his hand actually became very heavy upon me. I had never shared my sexual struggles with anyone – no-one knew except God and somehow my conscience had even lost its awareness of that truth, but increasingly I became aware that Jesus was telling me that I had to submit my sexual behaviour to him – to make him the true Lord of my life. After what seemed like months of struggle I finally confided in a pastor and his wife who had taken me into their hearts, the first people I had ever shared my confused identity with. They didn’t reject me or mock me, something I had lived in fear of for so long. After taking that massive step of opening up to someone else I was so overwhelmed with shame and guilt that I ran away from my lodgings for a night and a day eventually phoning the concerned pastor and his wife who encouraged me to return home and to stay with them for the night.
It’s difficult to describe the struggle of that time. In one way I had taken a big step towards freedom by sharing my sexual confusion with others, but Satan and his demons are a reality and I experienced their very real attack on me as they sought to hold me in bondage to my old way of life and its shame and guilt. I had actually obtained a job by this time after graduating from college but the spiritual oppression became so intense that I sadly fell back into both wanting and beginning again to cross dress which when eventually discovered led to the loss of my job. I suffered a breakdown resulting in my being placed under a psychiatrist for a year and having to return to my home town to live with my parents. It was a downward spiral from that time onwards. Despite being aware that God was still there reaching out to me to help me live the life he wanted for me I began to give up the struggle. I stopped going to church and found a bedsit in the next town to my parent’s home and sank into a life of unemployment and living out my old desire to dress in female clothing. In my mid twenties I was accepted on to the gender reassignment programme of a London hospital to begin treatment towards having a sex-change operation. I remember the evening when visiting my family that I told my Dad of my intention - I found out many years later that after I returned home he wept broken hearted. Even though I was so set on pursuing my confused desires and even though I had drifted so far from God the memory of what he had shown me when I first read Deuteronomy 22 verse 5 and the knowledge of how he viewed my lifestyle caused me to drop out of the gender reassignment programme almost immediately. Nevertheless I still continued my lonely twilight life, trying to live out my confused identity. By the time 1988 arrived I felt that God had finally let go of my life. It was an empty year. Twice during that year I was ill to the point where I felt real fear and terror about dying. During one of those periods of sickness I suffered terrible head pains that caused me to think that I might have a brain tumour. I was terrified at the thought of dying because I knew that I would have to face God against whom I had so greatly sinned. I still have a diary that I kept during that year and on more than one occasion I wrote, ‘My life is empty, I need God’.
During that year there had been a number of tragic accidents and disasters. One of them was the sinking of the car ferry, the Herald of Free Enterprise. Another disaster occurred on December 12th of that year – the Clapham rail disaster. I was working in a government training programme helping to train other unemployed people in basic computer skills. One young woman on the scheme was a Christian and as someone came into the room to share the news of the rail crash she spoke out loud, ‘All these disasters are a sign of Jesus coming back soon, people need to get their lives right’. Her words confirmed what I had already felt as I had heard of those disasters and were like a voice from heaven that struck me to my heart. I went into the toilet of the training premises and simply prayed, ‘God have mercy on me’.
During my years away from God, I had known only one Christian, a disabled man who had befriended me and with whom I had been on some car rallies – his hobby. He had actually died in his forties a few years earlier and I had gone to his funeral and been deeply touched by the presence of God in the funeral service and the genuine faith and assurance of his family and friends even in the midst of their grief. After hearing the words of that young woman on the day of the Clapham rail crash I went round to see his family that evening and told them that I would like to come to their church. His brother invited me to the youth meeting that Wednesday as he helped lead the group so I found myself a few days later, aged 31 years old, with a group of teenagers and was then invited to come to the church carol service the following Sunday, the 18th December. Between the Wednesday of the youth meeting and the Sunday of the carol service I went and had my hair cut and on the afternoon of the carol service before leaving my tiny bedsit, I took all the female clothing that I had accumulated and put it all in the communal rubbish bins. It was the clearest action I could take to show my desire to finally surrender to God if he would take me back.
At the carol service that night God met with me once again. The preacher at the service, the pastor of the small church, didn’t preach a typical Christmas message. He spoke about a blind beggar who spent many years sitting by the side of the road watching life go by until one day he heard Jesus passing by. He cried out to Jesus for mercy and Jesus heard him and had him brought to him and changed his life by healing his blindness. I knew that I was just like that beggar, poor and empty and as I sat weeping in my chair in the church Jesus came to me and just like the wayward son in the parable of the prodigal in Luke chapter 15, I felt the arms of the Heavenly Father embracing me after all I had done to break his heart and the hearts of my family. I experienced his love, forgiveness and acceptance that night. I remember responding to an altar call for those who wanted to give or recommit their lives to Jesus – I was the only person to go forward. As I stood at the front of the church it was as though a spotlight was shining down on me from heaven – a beam of love that washed me clean.
Despite such a powerful and definite experience of God’s love that night it was the beginning of weeks of intense struggle as dark spiritual powers fought hard to drag me back to my old life but I experienced the miracle of Jesus setting me free from the desire and compulsion of cross-dressing and a new sense of worth and identity as one of his children and also as a man. Within a year of that night I was in full time employment after so long without a job.
In my walk with God over the months that followed I often found myself clinging desperately to him yet by his grace and the love and acceptance of a caring Christian couple he enabled me to continue making progress. At a Christian conference in 1990 I hid away up in the balcony seats but I couldn’t hide from God who moved in wonderful ways in my life during those five days, setting me free from issues I hadn’t even been aware of. I tasted something precious of God’s healing heart at that conference and continued attending various events at centres run by the ministry that had organised it, each time receiving more and more healing in my life. In August 2000, I attended a week-long summer school at one of those centres where I met and enjoyed spending time with a lady called Gemma. After that week we continued our friendship by email for a year and then by occasionally meeting up and spending a day together. Gemma became my first ever girlfriend and after two years I asked her to be my wife – she said ‘Yes’ and we were married the following year in June 2003. Since then we have both completed training with the Christian ministry where we met and now serve on their prayer ministry team.
My eyes often fill with tears when I think of the love of God, my Heavenly Father - a love that has never given up on me. For a long time in my life I only ever really saw myself as worthless; to be rejected, yet he lavished his grace and mercy upon me lifting me from despair and now even allows me to play a part in seeing others restored and healed. I am still on a journey of healing, still seeing places of insecurity and pain in my heart which need to be brought into the light of God’s presence but I know that Jesus who did not let go of me when I ran from him so many years ago will carry on his work in my life.
Maybe as you have read my story you have felt the touch of God on your own heart. Your struggle may not be with confusion over your sexuality or gender but may be with other issues in your life where you feel trapped, alone and ashamed. I encourage you to find a good modern translation of the Bible and read one of the Gospels in the New Testament, perhaps the Gospel of Mark or John. I pray that as you read, you will meet the same Jesus who reached down to rescue me from hopelessness. He died for each of us on the cross, paying the price for us to know complete forgiveness and restoration – he rose again from the dead after three days and is alive today calling you by name. He wants to give you a life of hope and abundance in this earthly life and a place in heaven forever with him when you die. Call out to him – He’s only a prayer away.
God bless you.