When Your Adult Child Identifies as Transgender: Part 2

The parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15 tends to land differently depending on your life stage. As a little girl sitting in Sunday school, you may have missed the main point, but you’ve never forgotten the part about the pigs. As a teen, your youth pastor may have drawn more attention to the misery the son experienced than the mercy he received in the end. 

As an adult digging into this passage during your personal devotional time or within the context of a group study, perhaps you’ve looked at it through a different lens. You may have asked questions like, “What does this parable illustrate about the character of God?” or “What does it reveal about man?” Answers to those questions make it clear how far humans will flee from God, how unworthy we are of His forgiveness, and how overwhelmingly merciful the Father is to welcome sinners home with joy and unrestrained reconciliation. 

But the story takes on additional depth when you’re thrown into the middle of a similar situation. When you’re no longer merely studying a collection of unnamed characters, every scene feels personal, and every truth becomes essential for survival. 

Three Revive Our Hearts Ambassadors—‟Denise,” “Sharon,” and “Tanya”—never expected to live out this parable as parents. Last week on the blog, they shared anonymously about their adult prodigal children who have chosen to abandon their faith and embrace a transgender lifestyle. Their stories are not yet over; each mom still lives in daily dependence on the Lord, as she awaits the moment when she can finally echo the father’s cry in Luke 15:23–24: 

“Let’s celebrate with a feast, because this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!”

Until that homecoming, as these three moms seek the Lord in the midst of their grief and anger, disappointment and fear, God continues to teach them more about His mercy, His love, and His unending hope. In the midst of heartache and loss, the Lord is strengthening their faith and proving the sufficiency of His grace. Here is the second part of their interview. 

Q: How has this experience impacted your faith?

Denise: At first I was angry and disappointed that God would allow this to happen to our family. We have served the Lord full-time our whole life. It seemed cruel. But as time has gone on, this situation has been used by God to draw me closer to Himself and to make me more humble and gentle with others. He has tenderized my heart to hurting people. He has also used it to enable me to see the needs and to reach out to groups of people I might have ignored in the past, especially since I want others to reach out to my child. 

Through this experience, I have learned what it is to have a child break my heart and to long for them to return, and I believe I understand the heart of God better. I grieve the heart of God anytime I disobey Him or walk away from Him. He truly does not want anyone to be condemned or to perish, and it must break His heart to see people go astray. 

Sharon: This experience has taught me that biblical doctrine matters. God’s divine design is at the center of the gospel. This has taught me to notice others who are struggling with the same sin and view them with compassion and mercy. This has taught me that while my daughter’s sin is abundant, God’s grace is bigger than my daughter’s sin. His grace is infinite, limitless, and sufficient. This has taught me that no matter what my physical eyes see, God wants me to follow Him by faith and not by sight. My Shepherd’s voice is louder and more precious than everything else. 

Q: What truth from God’s Word have you clung to?

Denise: I have clung to the truth that God hears and answers prayer. No matter how bad things look, God is able to change a heart of stone. He can do the impossible. Nothing is beyond His power. I also cling to the fact that God loves my daughter more than I do. He is always good and kind and just. I can trust that He will do what is right in her life. 

Tanya: God is the only one who can redeem a person and change a heart that is wicked. We are born into sin and are dead—it is only by God’s grace and mercy that He draws us to Himself. He breathes life into our dead bones and removes our heart of stone. He makes it a heart of flesh and redeems us.

Sharon: I cling to Psalm 56:3, 9–11: 

When I am afraid,
I will trust in you. 

This I know: God is for me.
In God, whose word I praise,
in the Lord, whose word I praise,
in God I trust; I will not be afraid.
What can mere humans do to me?

Q: When the situation doesn’t appear to be improving, where do you find hope?

Denise: I have to relinquish my daughter to God daily. As I pray for her and others, I acknowledge that only He can change her heart. I am begging Him to do that and trusting in His wisdom that He will do that in His perfect timing. In Scripture, I am commanded not to worry but to cast my cares on Him with thanksgiving. This situation should not cause me to disobey that command. I do fail sometimes and have days of anguish, but with people praying for me, this has been my main focus. 

God’s promises are so amazing and they don’t change under the worst of circumstances, so I study His promises. I also study some of the prayers of the psalmists to find words to pray. But I place my hope squarely on God and His goodness. 

Tanya: My hope is found in Christ alone! I have to consume my mind with His Word daily—every minute and second of every day. I must constantly saturate my mind with His Word.

Sharon: I find hope in the Bible, in biblically sound praise music, in my local church, in serving others, in godly friends, and in my mom—a woman of prayer who loves Jesus and cries with me.

Q: What are some of the prayers you are praying for your daughter or son?

Denise: I used to pray for my daughter to accept her gender, but now I usually just pray for her heart to be tender to God and His word. This is a physical outgrowth of a spiritual problem, so the root is her denial of God and His Word. She has told me that some churches have said God accepts trans people, but interestingly enough, she has never been involved in any church since this decision. I think she knows the Bible too well to believe that God is okay with this lifestyle. 

  • I pray that God would have mercy on my daughter and call her to Himself. 
  • I pray that He will accomplish His will in her life, to interrupt her plans with His, and do His will in her. 
  • I pray that she will not damage her body any further. 
  • I pray that God would place godly people in her path that would influence her. 
  • I pray that the songs and verses she memorized in her youth will be used to convict her.
  • I pray that she will see the true love Jesus has for her and that it will woo her to Him. 

A friend sent me this prayer for my daughter; sometimes when I have no words, I just pray it:

Lord, we are desperate for You. We are tired and weary, and we are oh so weak. We commit our fears and our prodigals to You. Only You can redeem them. We ask that You call them back to Yourself. Cause them to remember what they were taught in our homes. Make them remember You. Help them, Father, to stop what they are thinking and doing that is contrary to Your truth. Help us to love them as You love us. Please help, Lord. Hear us in our distress. You are our only hope and peace. Move and change hearts for Your glory. We need You now. We love You and in Your Word we trust. 

Sharon: I pray Jeremiah 31:3, 

The Lord appeared to him from far away.
I have loved you with an everlasting love;
therefore, I have continued to extend faithful love to you. 

Tanya: I pray: 

Oh Lord, may You continue to have grace and mercy upon him. May You draw him to Yourself. Whatever You have to do, Lord, bring him to You—You know this is a challenging prayer as a mother to pray for her son. Only You can save his soul. He knows Your Word, and I know it does not come back void, so may You bring Your Word that speaks truth back to his mind so loudly that he cannot function. Close all doors that draw him further away from You. Oh, Father, may You have Your way and do a mighty work in his life.

Q: If you could pray for a mom in a similar situation to yours, what would you pray?

Denise: I would pray that. . .

  • She would cling tightly to Jesus. 
  • I’d pray for her to get to know His character and His promises to know how trustworthy He is.
  • I would pray that she not give in to the temptation to worry about things she cannot change but to trust her Father’s sovereign hand. 
  • I would pray that God would raise up friends to uphold her, pray for her, and encourage her.
  • I would ask God to give her the strength to continue to pray and believe He will answer—no matter how bad things look.

Tanya: I’d pray:

Father, may we remember that our children do not belong to us. We have been given stewardship over them, and I ask that we continue to look to You. Show us how we can bring You glory and honor through this pain. Help us continue to seek Your Word for truth, comfort, and peace as we pray for Your grace and mercy upon our children. Give us eyes to see them as You see them: in need of a Savior and a Redeemer.

Sharon: I would pray Psalm 56

Q: Is there anything else you would like to say to the mom of an adult prodigal? 

Tanya: As hard as this is, we must leave our children in His hands. There are choices that we all make, and there are good and bad consequences that will follow. Anything that is against God is a sin. There is no sin that is greater than another sin. Remember that you were once lost and God had to draw you to Himself.

Denise: Let this pain draw you near to the Lord, not farther from Him. He will carry you through even this dark hour and bring you out of this trial more like Him. It is amazing that God can use something our child is doing wrong to work good in our lives but He does. We might not see it this side of heaven, but Romans 8:28 will always be true: “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” 

Sharon: Jesus is far more precious than our prodigal sons and daughters. That is a hard truth to write. I am still seeking Him on a daily, moment by moment basis, so that He—not my prodigal daughter—would be the love of my life. This is a sanctification process that happens day by day.

My advice is to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind. Study the attributes of God—this has helped me tremendously to learn who He is, especially that He is eternal, infinite, and good. All His attributes are limitless; they never change and are altogether good. This journey might be a long one of suffering, but it will have an end. 

If a loved one in your life struggles with gender dysphoria, you may be encouraged to read the story of Laura Perry Smalts, a friend of the ministry who lived for nearly a decade as a transgender “man” named Jake, but later trusted Christ to heal her heart—and her body and physical desires. You can find Laura’s book, Transgender to Transformed, in the Revive Our Hearts store alongside other titles related to gender identity and sexuality

About the Author

Katie Laitkep

Katie Laitkep

Katie Laitkep was working as a hospital teacher when God called her to join Revive Our Hearts as a staff writer. She serves remotely from Houston, Texas, where God sustains her through saltwater beaches, Scripture, and her local church. Katie's … read more …

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