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In the Mississippi Bible Belt, a Family Wrestles with Raising Trans Kids in the Mormon Church

Author: Molly Minta

Originally published by The 19thMississippi’s ban on gender-affirming care for minors has made the Baumans fearful of Jack’s future health, safety and well-being.Marie and Brian moved their family from Utah to Mississippi in 2017 to be in a place where God needed them as a new congregation was forming. (Eric Shelton/Mississippi Today)from those friends, there was a discussion between congregants at her new church that triggered Aria. She recalled it was “about how awful everything was because the world was getting more progressive and queer people were becoming more acceptable.” 11 years old, Jack is one of a few thousand transgender or gender-nonconforming children in Mississippi growing up in a time when state lawmakers are increasingly hostile to their existence. (Eric Shelton/Mississippi Today)

In the classroom that Sunday in February, as another mom helped Marie set up folding chairs in preparation for the music lesson, they talked about HB 1125 and how it could affect Jack. Marie holds onto the belief that Mormonism, which prohibits women from serving in ecclesiastical roles, could become accepting of her children, but sometimes she’s uncertain. (Eric Shelton/Mississippi Today)After Aria came out to Sabrina in 2020, Sabrina suggested they wear matching dresses to church. (Eric Shelton/Mississippi Today)At school, Jack was sometimes called by the name Marie and Brian gave him, sometimes by the one he chose. The routine he has adopted — switching between pronouns — was growing uncomfortable, he said. (Eric Shelton/Mississippi Today)If Aria can’t be part of the church, Marie said she understands. (Eric Shelton/Mississippi Today)

If Aria can’t be part of the church, Marie said she understands. Mormons are more conservative, and she said that often, the church’s culture is misunderstood as a substitute for doctrine.

“I may have issues with church policy but that doesn’t change my faith in the doctrine,” Marie said. “I don’t want to be doing mental gymnastics, and I hope that’s not what I’m doing. I do make a distinction between the church as an institution and the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

As for Jack, Marie said she and her husband haven’t told him about the bill yet, to avoid causing undue anxiety or make him feel like a path forward is foreclosed as long as they live in Mississippi.

As Marie talked, Jack and his siblings passed around a piece of paper, playing a game in which each person contributes a sentence to a short story. Jack handed the final result — a story about an animal that is ostracized by its family but ultimately finds a way to survive. Was it about them?

Jack grinned. “Maybe.”

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Original Article on The Advocate
Author: Molly Minta

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