‘Love Them’: Panel on Gender Confusion Urges Renewed Christian Engagement
As the battle over transgender identities and gender transition procedures for minors continues to rage across America, a panel discussion at Family Research Council’s Pray Vote Stand Summit over the weekend explored the perspectives of four individuals firmly entrenched in the conflict, including the powerful witness of a mother whose daughter now identifies as male.
Amy Atterberry, the mother of a daughter who is now 24 and identifies as a man, shared her personal testimony of what it has been like to witness the transition of her daughter.
“It was apparent from an early age that she was exceptionally intelligent,” she shared, describing how her daughter spoke her first words at five months. “My daughter was a happy child. She won a Prayer Warrior Award at Sunday School. She loved twirling around in her beautiful dresses. She laughed often, said funny things, and was full of wonderment about everything. Most of all, she was full of love, whether it be toward people or animals.”
But everything changed when Atterberry’s daughter turned 14 and announced that she was a boy.
“I had no idea that the gender identity indoctrination that had been going on in school had impacted her,” she explained. “She was visiting websites that were further indoctrinating her into what I refer to as the ‘trans cult.’ I thought she was going through a phase that would pass, as has been traditionally common with teenage girls. That didn’t happen. The next few years were extremely difficult. I tried everything I could to help her realize that she was not a boy and it wasn’t possible to change her sex.”
Atterberry went on to describe how those around her daughter only validated her new identity.
“There was no help available,” she described. “In fact, adults and authority validated her false belief that she was a boy. At age 16, my daughter ran away from home because I would not allow her to go on wrong sex hormones. However, she was able to find a pediatric endocrinologist who taught her how to inject herself with testosterone.”
Atterberry’s daughter eventually wound up in Portland, Oregon and was able to obtain government-issued identification as a male. “This is a fraudulent document,” she shared. She then described how her “physically healthy daughter underwent a double mastectomy and hysterectomy at age 17 — without my consent and without my knowledge. I found out about the mastectomy on social media, where she posted a photo of herself with bloody bandages covering where her breasts used to be.”
Atterberry continued, “As most parents would, I cried out to God and heard back via a very strong thought that said, ‘Put down the sword and pick up the pen,’ which is what I did. It was at that point that I connected with many other parents who were also going through the same thing. And I found out that this was happening to thousands of children.” She eventually joined a group of parents known as the Kelsey Coalition that advocates for and educates parents of children who identify as transgender.
Atterberry reported that her daughter has now found permanent housing and is “doing somewhat well.” At her mother’s funeral service, her daughter “sat by me and held my hand. She stood by me as I spoke about my mother. I looked past my daughter’s beard and facade, and what I saw is that she still has light in her beautiful eyes. My sweet daughter is still there. I believe in my heart and soul that my daughter will one day realize what has been done to her. I believe in miracles.”
Atterberry then shared her dream of founding a “healing retreat built for detransitioners. … The need for this is great. I envision a beautiful retreat where these young people can begin the healing process and connect with resources to help them heal. To be clear, I have no money, no business plan, and no idea how to go about building a healing haven. But what I do have is a beautiful vision [of] faith, hope, and most of all, love. Is anyone willing to help me help others?”
Brandon Showalter, a journalist and podcaster for The Christian Post, also joined the panel and gave an overview of how many gender transition procedures on minors are occurring in the U.S.
“These surgeries on young people have tripled in the last few years, over 1,200 per year,” he explained. “I crunched the numbers. If you divide 1,200 by 261, that’s annual business days. That’s 4.6 young people ages 18 and younger, being surgically mutilated and serviced to a lie per weekday.”
Showalter went on to describe how he has been inundated with stories from families whose children have been profoundly affected by gender confusion. “I have lost count how many desperate, anguished moms and dads who have reached out to The Christian Post, as I’ve been on this beat for close to seven years now,” he observed.
He further noted how he took part in a recently released documentary entitled “Dead Name.”
“It profiles three families that have been shattered,” he explained. “This will give you a taste of their anguish. I think it’s important for us as Christians to mourn with those who mourn and weep with those who weep. … This is affecting Republicans, Democrats, Christians, non-Christians, the whole spectrum. Until we get a taste of their agony, I don’t think we’re going to be able to locate the spiritual and moral resources that we need to resist this child abuse scourge, this medical scandal.”
Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey (R) took part in the panel to give a perspective on the actions he has taken in his state to curtail the practice of minors undergoing gender transition procedures.
“We promulgated an emergency rule, the first of its kind in the nation, to try to put some guardrails on [gender transition procedures for minors] and inject some sanity into this conversation and stand in the gap until our General Assembly was able to enact a statute,” he underscored. “As soon as the statute was signed into law by our governor, the ACLU sued. We went to court. And I’m proud to say Missouri is the first state in the nation to have successfully defended this statute at the trial court level and put an end to the sterilization of children.”
Bailey went on to detail a legal strategy that he advised other states to follow in combatting clinics that perform gender transition procedures on minors.
“A lawsuit and investigation are just components of a larger strategy to envelop the issue,” he explained. “Senate Bill 49, which we successfully defended at the trial court level, was the statute that our General Assembly enacted. And it provides a private cause of action, and it extends the statute of limitation for private claims up to 15 years, because a lot of times the negative health consequences aren’t fully realized until much later in life. And so having that 15-year statute of limitations is a key component. Between the investigation that we’ve launched, the litigation, and that provision, what you’re seeing is these clinics are surrendering.”
In closing, Dr. Jennifer Bauwens, a licensed therapist and clinical researcher, shared how she sees a unique opportunity in ministering to those who are confused about their gender.
“The problem of where we’re at is that we’ve … communicated that ‘love is love,’” she observed. “Love is whatever you think it should be. But love is actually a person. His name is Jesus, and he’s shown us the way to love people well … He never left people in their stuff, you know. He always reached out. He was always demonstrating his love for humanity.”
Bauwens, who serves as director of the Center for Family Studies at FRC, continued, “I think that the exciting thing about this topic is … the fact that we have a generation that is searching for love. It’s searching for identity. And here we are, this great group of people, you know, armed with the power of the Holy Spirit, armed with truth, ready to serve and ready to see a generation that is going to be touched with God and is really going to know what their true identity is. … Dry wood burns fast, and we have a lot of dry wood in our country that needs the fire of the Holy Spirit to come in.”
As for Amy Atterberry, her advice for other parents whose kids are struggling with gender identity confusion was simple and direct: “Get them away from technology. Love them. They may swear at you. They may say terrible things to you. Do not react in anger. React in love. Get them back to nature, back to God.”
Dan Hart is senior editor at The Washington Stand.