By Kathryn Wright
Mom, I’m a Girl1 tells the story and lessons learned by a mother who lost her son to suicide at the age of 19. The son struggled with what is called transgenderism, though his counselors questioned that diagnosis.
Glenney and her husband have been involved in Christian ministry their entire adult lives, with him serving as pastor of various churches. It is clear that they placed a large emphasis on the Bible in their lives. Their son, Scott, attended church and Sunday school classes all the years he was growing up, even attending Christian schools until high school.
The presentation of the gospel is a mixed bag in the book. Glenney told Scott that he could be with Jesus forever if he would ask Him to be his Savior and “take away your bad things.” At a young age, Scott prayed with his mom, saying he knew that Jesus died for his sins. At that point, Glenney writes, he became a child of God, and they had complete assurance that no matter what happened, he would be with Jesus forever (pp. 15-16). Throughout the book, the author describes salvation as a “decision.” At the end of the book, even after Scott’s sexual sins, rebellion, and suicide, Glenney says she knows her son is with the Lord (p. 182). Scott said the same thing towards the end of his life. Glenney speaks of her conversion as a young girl, commenting that God gives eternal life as a free gift, if we accept that Christ died for our sins. John 3:16 caused her to believe in that promise (p. 44).
Glenney expresses her guilt because she at one time felt that perhaps she had passed this gender confusion on to her son. He asked her at a young age if she ever thought she should have been a boy (p. 38). Glenney has a section in the book describing how she was a tomboy and was not into feminine things, even becoming a weightlifter.
As Scott was entering his teen years, he told his mom that he was a girl (p. 56). His parents wanted to take him to a counselor, but he insisted it not be a Christian one. He had other mental issues as well, as he became involved in the “furry” community, assuming the personality of a female cat (p. 59).
The book tells the heartbreak of Scott’s parents trying to get him help. They prayed. They searched the Scriptures. They looked for counseling but could not find anyone who could help. Scott changed his hair, used make-up and nail polish, and began to dress in feminine clothes. His parents said they loved him, and he lived in their home until he turned 18, but they would not buy anything for him that supported such changes.
In his sophomore year in high school, he asked if he could go to the public school to be closer to his friends, but Glenney also knew it was because they had an LGBT club. Scott began changing in more and more ways, including in his beliefs (p. 75). He had his name legally changed to Sydney Royal. Then he asked his parents to refer to him as “she” and their daughter. They refused to do so (p. 80). Scott eventually started going on dates with boys. The author and her husband were at a loss as to what they should do.
In his senior year in high school, Scott began taking female hormones without their knowledge. They were still hoping that he would repent of what he was doing and that God would answer their prayers (p. 97). A counselor Scott trusted said he was “gender neutral” and not transgender, so Scott would no longer see her. Scott spoke of committing suicide and was hospitalized. The doctors blamed the parents for his mental condition because they did not fully support him (p. 112).
After high school, Scott wanted to have surgery to complete what he saw as a transition. He was going to do it in Thailand and asked his parents for money. They refused. They also told him that because of the tension in the home, he would need to move out of their home at that time. He then lived on the streets of Portland and in halfway homes. They would see him on occasion, and he kept in touch through social media.
Scott asked to borrow his parents’ van. He used it to commit suicide by breathing helium (p. 176). He was their only child.
This is a heart-wrenching story. Scott’s parents obviously loved him and would have done anything they thought would have helped him. They constantly asked how to love him without supporting his sin and mental illness. Glenney and her husband struggled with guilt over whether they did what was right in all the different situations but rested on 1 John 1:9 and that God had forgiven them when they had failed (p. 188).
Glenney states that the death of her son still brings pain. She feels sadness when her friends enjoy their grandchildren, and she knows she will never have any. Through it all, she has learned to rely on God for everything. She has turned to prayer and the Scriptures to find the spiritual strength she needs. She rests in the sovereignty of the Lord, even concerning the death of her son (p. 213). She finds great comfort knowing she will see Scott in the kingdom.
Christian parents reading this story cannot help but feel for Glenney. She does not fall into the trap of accepting the world’s standards on the issue of transgenderism. She sees it as a disorder and warns against society’s promotion of the transgender agenda (p. 244). In many cases, these children are doing it as a way to rebel against their parents (p. 149). Most people reading this would have responded in a way very similar to how Glenney and her husband dealt with their son.
It has been 13 years since Scott’s suicide. This has become an even bigger issue. Churches are facing this and will face it. Everyone reading this story should be moved to compassion for those who must face what Glenney faced. She felt the church offered her little help. If nothing else, her story should cause us to be merciful towards those involved in such a terrible situation. I recommend the book.
Kathryn Wright is the GES Missions Coordinator and does far more work than that title suggests.
1 Enumclaw, WA: Redemption Press, 2017. 246 pp. Paper, $16.99.