Thoughts on the Death of the PoX
by Kris Irvin
Submitted to Affirmation following The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint’s reversal of their November 2015 policy changes that prohibited children of LGBTQ parents from being blessed and baptized and characterized members of the church entering into same-sex marriages as apostates. These changes became known within the LGBTQ Mormon community as the “exclusion policy,” “policy of exclusion,” or “PoX.” The day after the reversal of this policy was announced, Nathan Kitchen, President of Affirmation, invited anyone willing to and share their authentic feelings and all their stories of grief, anger, relief, sadness, happiness, confusion, whatever they may be that surround the rescinding this policy. “As President of Affirmation, I want to be sure Affirmation does not hide you or your stories as we move forward,” wrote Kitchen in his invitation. If you have reactions or a story to share about the reversal of the exclusion policy, please send to [email protected]. You can also read other stories and reactions to the reversal of the exclusion policy.
My name is Kris Irvin. I’m 32 years old and I am an asexual transman. I have never been physically sick because of anxiety before, but the reversal of the PoX left me ill for three days. I dreaded general conference. I felt like I had spiritual (and physical!) whiplash.
My story with the PoX is not nearly as painful as others. For me personally, I had just come out a month prior to the PoX’s release. I was so excited to come out because I finally knew the word for my gender identity and I didn’t have to feel like a freak or alone anymore.
But November 2015 saw me lying in my bathtub almost every day trying to work up the courage to end it all. The only reason I am still here is I knew that my 7-year-old son would be the one to find me. I couldn’t do that to him. That knowledge is the only reason I am still alive. No antidepressant in the world did its job, no therapist could help me, no amount of scripture studying or prayer fixed what felt like the most despicable betrayal from the Church I loved. My faith, my spiritual home, was telling me that it thought I was unnatural and disgusting and wrong. I had thought it was amazing to be able to be out and open about who I am and who God created me to be.
And then my Heavenly Parents gave this revelation to my church. What does that say about them? I was pretty sure I read, “suffer the children to come unto me,” from Christ, and I don’t recall Him adding, “unless the kid has queer parents.” The first Article of Faith states, “we believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.” I thought this meant that kids couldn’t be punished for their parents’ mistakes, but the Church’s actions with the PoX showed me otherwise.
I know the answers we hear all around us. “This church is imperfect because it is lead by imperfect men.” Tell that to the kids who killed themselves in the months following this revelation. Tell that to the adults who hurt or killed themselves, to the marriages that failed, to the children who were unable to grow up in a Church that their parents loved and wanted them to be a part of. And, “it’s God’s timing.” Well then frankly? God’s timing SUCKS.
My son Toby turned 8 three months post-PoX. I didn’t tell him about the policy because I didn’t want to color his feelings about baptism one way or the other. I wanted it to be his choice, as much as it ever is when you’re 8 years old and have grown up LDS. Because I was not transitioning on hormones, because I still appear more female than male, Toby was able to be baptized. I have felt guilty for FOUR. YEARS. because Toby was allowed to be baptized while children of parents in a same-sex marriage could not be. I was able to “sneak one by” because I appear cis/straight. But because this church meant so much to my husband and my son, I have kept as quiet as I could while being as honest as I could.
I don’t know what to do now. I am trying to be happy, and honestly, I am in some regard. I’m relieved for my gay, lesbian and bi siblings. Finally, a festering wound has been healed. But it will always have a scar–a gaping hole where we lost so many precious lights and lives. Because of a “revelation from God.”
I’m feeling a lot of things, and I believe all feelings regarding the PoX and its reversal are valid. These feelings can be very painful. Don’t make light of this and don’t pretend that things are okay now. We have a LONG way to go before things are okay. I’m still hurt and frustrated because once again, transgender, nonbinary and intersex people are left out of the Church completely. There are no guidelines for us and it seems that our spiritual home has disowned us because of who God made us to be. That doesn’t seem like the loving Heavenly Father I’ve heard about in Sunday School.
Churches should not hurt people. Not like this. This is wrong. I’m hurting and I’m mourning. And I’m very, very, very tired of hoping for change and getting tossed scraps for hanging on. In conference last weekend, someone spoke about avoiding the “cynical fringe” of the Church. I shook my head when I heard this. I have found Christ on that cynical fringe. I have seen more kindness, felt more love, learned more about the nature of God than I ever did when I was in the dead-center of the Church. God bless the cynical fringe.
As Latter-day Saints, one of the holiest things we can do is “mourn with those who mourn and comfort those who stand in need of comfort.” I am mourning. Mourn with me. Stand with me. And then help me strive to make a place for everyone to belong in this Church. We have a long way to go. Let’s get to work.
Regarding your comment about no guidelines existing for trans, intersex, and non-binary members. I don’t think that’s correct, the clearest of the three being trans members. In short, we’re mostly left alone … as long as we don’t take transition steps, SRS being the clear-cut case that would result in excommunication.
Beyond THAT, the church has always allowed for exceptions on a case-by-case basis. (The exception only being granted from the top.) I don’t have any facts to bring to bear, but I always thought the exception existed for intersex people, simply because intersex conditions as generally understood provide the visible, physical, and documented evidence the leadership needs to accept the reality of the “issue.” I believe – and the science is increasingly supporting this – that people with cross-sex identity ARE intersexual. In any event, I’ve never personally heard or read of a case where an intersex member had an issue with being granted the exception. Not that anyone informs me, of course …
I confess that I don’t understand non-binary identity. I do believe in leaving people free to live out their best lives. In the end, it is the non-binary that may provide the most difficult challenge for the church. Most intersex people have binary identities. Those members with cross-sexed identity, of course, are binary by definition. Both can be fit relatively easily into the church’s gender theology once you accept the science. Non-binary people, not so much, and maybe not until – or if – the science reaches them.
I’m glad you and your son are OK and still here!
Thoughts on the Resurrection of the PoX: You need to check with your LDS friends and ask them why the new handbook that was just updated still has this policy? Even though the LDS church said they would take it out.