We get so many iterations of this question at 412teens: "How should I treat someone who is [fill in the blank]?" The question I always want to answer back with is, "What makes you think you should treat them any differently than anyone else?" The Bible is incredibly clear about how we should treat others. We should be loving, kind, caring, compassionate, honest, and full of grace. (See Colossians 3:12-13; 1 John 4:16; Ephesians 4:29-32.)
Jesus made a pretty big deal about how, after loving God, we need to love our neighbors, which basically means ALL other people (Matthew 22:36-40). Jesus never said we should hate anyone—for any reason. The apostle Paul speaks of the power of love in 1 Corinthians 13, declaring that no matter much "good" he may do, if he doesn't do it in love, there's no point in doing it at all. Followers of Christ are called to LOVE—not to hate or be quick to judge (Matthew 7:1-5; Romans 2:1-3).
Now, the Bible nowhere explicitly mentions transgenderism or describes anyone as having transgender feelings. But the Bible has much to say about human sexuality. A biblical gender identity would be defined as "cisgender," which means identifying as the physical gender you were born with: male or female (Genesis 1:27). The concept of non-physical gender identities, gender fluidity, changing one's gender medically, etc. is not something the Bible addresses.
That said, the point of this post is not to address whether transgenderism is biblically right or wrong. If you struggle with transgenderism or gender identity, that is something we would love to talk to you about. However, if you are a cisgender, heterosexual human being who professes to be a Christian, then the following advice is for you.
"So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him." —1 John 4:16
If you have a relationship with an existing friend/family member who identifies as transgender or any other range of gender identity, this is our advice: LOVE THEM.
Be a loving friend. Be a loving sister or brother, cousin, child, niece or nephew. Love them unconditionally, showing them that your love is not dependent upon their sexuality. Extend grace, mercy, and compassion to a human being who is just as hurt by sin as you are. Ask them what they need from you—and truly listen. If you can meet those needs both physically and morally, then do so. If you can't, then simply acknowledge how they feel.
Unconditional love does not mean that you approve of every single thing a person does. Unconditional love means you grant love no matter what they choose—regardless of whether you agree or not.
Encourage them (1 Thessalonians 5:11). Protect them; don't let them be bullied (John 15:13). Stick with them in friendship (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).
While being transgender is not biblical, that's really not the issue to deal with when it comes to your friendship. They may be giving in to a sinful deception, but they are likely drowning in a misunderstanding of their own self-worth. Helping them with the bigger problem of recognizing their intrinsic value in God's eyes is the #1 priority as you support your friend or family member. If they later come to a conviction about their transgenderism, then be there to lovingly walk them through that too.
Let them know that there's nothing they can do to make God love them more or less. God will always love them the same as the moment they took their first breath—no matter what (Romans 8:37-39). THESE are the things they need to know right now, and you can do so by allowing God's love to shine through YOU (Luke 11:33). One day, you may be presented with an opportunity to share your faith with them, and that could be life-changing conversation.
If you don't know anyone who identifies as transgender or non-cis, then don't allow yourself to speculate how you should feel. What's the point of building up an opinion or bias based on speculation about a hypothetical encounter with a hypothetical person? The truth is that every person who identifies as transgender (or otherwise non-cis) has an extremely complex story that could blow up your every pre-conceived expectation or perception.
Pray that God will give you an opportunity to show His love to the LGBTQ+ community in the future. No one is beyond the hope of God's love. Romans 5:8 says, "But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." That's the same for you; that's the same for those who identify as non-cisgender.
When it comes to what a Christian should "do" about someone who identifies as transgender, our most Christlike action is to show love and compassion to a fellow human being who has been deeply hurt.
If you have a relationship with an existing friend/family member who identifies as transgender or any other range of gender identity, LOVE THEM. Show them your love is not dependent upon their sexuality. Extend grace, mercy, and compassion to a human being who is just as hurt by sin as you are. Ask what their needs are and do your best to meet those needs if you can. (See Colossians 3:12-13; 1 John 4:16; Ephesians 4:29-32.) If you don't personally know anyone who identifies as transgender or non-cis, then pray that God will give you an opportunity to show His love to this community in the future. Followers of Christ are called to LOVE—not to hate (Matthew 7:1-5; Romans 2:1-3).
Cat is the web producer and editor of 412teens.org. She loves audiobooks, feeding the people she cares about, and using Christmas lights to illuminate a room. When Catiana is not writing, cooking, or drawing, she enjoys spending time with her two teenage kids, five socially-awkward cats, and her amazing friend-amily.