Celebrating God’s Gender-Diverse Children

Aug 11, 2023 3:30:00 PM / by Jamie Bruesehoff


Now more than ever, people of faith need to be grounded in God’s call to love, especially when it comes to supporting transgender and gender-diverse children. We sat down with Jamie Bruesehoff, author of Raising Kids beyond the Binary, and her daughter Rebekah, who wrote the afterword, to learn more about this powerful resource.

You have collaborated on the forthcoming book, Raising Kids beyond the Binary. What prompted you to write it?

Jamie: In the process of supporting Rebekah in her transition, we found a serious lack of resources geared toward parents and communities of faith raising transgender and gender-expansive young people. Faith is too often a barrier to loving and trusting the transgender children in our midst, but it doesn’t have to be. I want parents to know they don’t have to choose between their faith and their child, and I want leaders in the church to know how to create safer and more welcoming communities for LGBTQ+ youth. In my experience, many families and faith communities want to do what’s right for these young people, but they just don’t know how. I wanted to fix that.

Rebekah: I was ten years old when I learned that many transgender and nonbinary people don’t have the kind of love, support, and acceptance I had from the very beginning. That realization is what fueled my willingness to step into public advocacy, to share my story with the world, and to help people understand kids like me. This book is a continuation of that work. I want every kid and their family to be surrounded by the affirmation, support, and resources they need to thrive, and I want every church to be equipped to advocate for and celebrate the gender-diverse people in their midst.


What did the collaboration process look like?

Rebekah: We talked a lot about what should and shouldn’t be included. My mom shares a lot of her experiences in raising and parenting me, but she makes it really clear that those are her parts of the story. My story is only mine to tell, and I share my experiences and perspectives in the afterword. It was really cool to write the afterword, knowing that Senator Sarah McBride, a transgender leader and trailblazer, wrote the foreword. I really like how the book starts and ends with trans voices. That feels right.

Jamie: Rebekah had full veto power. With her say, I would remove any story or detail. But even beyond the details of our family’s story, it was also really important that Rebekah read every single word and be able to say, “Yeah, that’s right. I agree. That’s what I want people to know.” She was a critical voice in the process. Of course, I was so anxious when she read the whole draft. I’d hear her in her room cracking up, and I’d run upstairs to see what part made her giggle. Or she’d come downstairs to my office and be like, “I can’t believe you wrote that!” I’d panic, wondering what I got wrong, but it was usually that she was surprised (in a good way) by my candor. The book is filled with grace, but it is also really frank about the ways we, often unknowingly, do harm.


It seems like you both work hard for advocacy work not to define your mother-daughter relationship or you. How do you keep a happy, thriving relationship with one another and with self amid a high profile?

Jamie: This is such a big question. As a parent, I always feel like I can do better. I worry about the impact of us doing this work so publicly when Rebekah should get to just be a teenager. But I’m also grateful for the experiences and connections it gives us. I think over time we’ve learned how to communicate needs and limits, like knowing when it’s time to take a break, whether that’s for a day, a month, or even longer. Rebekah is really active in her school community, so we spend as much time with me driving her around to activities and doing normal mother-daughter stuff as we do focused on advocacy. I think that grounds us. Actually, my favorite thing is watching her do the things she loves, whether that’s on the field hockey field or on stage in a school musical. She just comes alive.

Rebekah: Music, laughter, and nature are my go-to things for self-care. Dance parties in the kitchen, being really silly or absurd, and just taking walks with our dog are all things that help us connect to each other and to ourselves. I also really love our family beach vacations when everyone’s off from work and we can just be together. I don’t know, I think in most ways we’re pretty typical. We’re continually learning how to rest, say no to things, and prioritize each other.


Jamie, what do you most want parents to learn from your parenting and book journey?

Jamie: I want parents to know that there is so much joy, goodness, and possibility in raising these kids of ours to be the truest, most authentic, most known versions of themselves. And you don’t have to do it alone. By doing this work together, we get to expand the goodness and hope that exist in the world.  These kids make that happen and it is joy-filled.  This is making the kingdom of God a little more real, right here and right now, not just for our kids, but for everyone. Honestly, raising these kids will change us, and these kids will change the world.


Rebekah, what do you most want people to learn from your journey and the book?

Rebekah: God does not make mistakes. People say it all the time, usually as a weapon against trans and nonbinary people. But for me, it means that just like you, God created me to be me, in all my uniqueness. That’s the thing: the work we do to create a world where transgender, nonbinary, and gender-expansive young people can thrive actually helps create a world where all people can thrive, in all their uniqueness. Breaking down the boxes that society wants to shove us into is good for everyone and is good for the church. I hope people will join me in this work.


Click here to learn more about Raising Kids beyond the Binary by Jamie Bruesehoff (author), Rebekah Bruesehoff (afterword by), and Sarah McBride (foreword by). 

Jamie Bruesehoff

Written by Jamie Bruesehoff

Jamie Bruesehoff is an award-winning LGBTQ+ advocate, nationally known speaker, and mother of three, including a transgender child. Her family and work have been featured by media outlets and organizations around the world, including Disney, NPR, Good Morning America, USA Today, The Today Show, CBS News, Human Rights Campaign, The Trevor Project, and The GenderCool Project. With a master's degree from The Lutheran Theological Seminary-Gettysburg and twenty years of experience working with youth and adults in and outside of the church, she strives to create a world where LGBTQ+ young people thrive. She lives in New Jersey with her spouse and children.

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