with Tammy Hill
— Episode 62, November 7, 2022 —
Tammy Hill: Are you wanting to live a life with more clarity and happiness? I'm Tammy Hill, a licensed marriage and family therapist, sex therapist, professor at Brigham Young University, and most importantly, a wife, mother, and grandmother. I am also an optimist. I strive to live my life on purpose with purpose. I am here to inspire people to do the things that inspire them so that together, each of us can change our world for the better. Join me for Live Your Why Podcast. Together, we can live a life full of passion and purpose.
So, my sister is Steph Povey and just last week, she has published and put out a book about her experiences as a girl growing up in the 60s and 70s. The title of this book is “You Can't Play You're a Girl” and that is exactly how it was for Steph. Those of you who are old like me, you remember what it was like back in the 60s and 70s. The rest of you, you can maybe get a picture of what it might have felt like, but in those girls didn't have sports to participate in in school. Girls were required to wear dresses or skirts to school. Boys had a lot of physical and athletic opportunities and they could wear pants to school. Girls participated in things such as learning how to crochet. I can remember very clearly in a 5th-grade class learning how to embroider while the boys were outside doing archery, and I can remember thinking, I don't want to embroider. I want to learn how to shoot an arrow. So, it was very much traditional gender roles put into categories that culture and society has placed upon us as to what is male, masculine, and what is female or feminine. So, growing up as a young girl in this era was more difficult for Steph because she is very athletic. She is a tomboy. She liked her hair to be short. She didn't want to wear a shirt. She wanted to run around with her shirt off.
Meanwhile, I'm her sister and I grew up so excited about all of the feminine things like flowers and learning how to sew and cook even though archery looked more fun when I was in 5th grade. My natural interests are more domestic and feminine. Anyway, you might want to look into my sister's book and it's very interesting about her memoirs of being a girl growing up during this era. Her book lines up perfectly with the topic for our podcast today. Gender role dysphoria. Gender dysphoria is a term that describes a sense of unease that a person may have because of a mismatch between their biological sex and their gender identity. This sense unease or dissatisfaction can become so intense that it can lead to depression, anxiety, and maybe have other harmful impacts on this person's life.
For my sister growing up, she had a lot of sadness, unhappiness. She didn't know where she fit in. She was depressed and often times she says that she had some suicidal thoughts that were persistent. What most people do not understand is the fact that most all of our gender identity comes from social constructed norms. Boys like sports. Boys are bigger and run faster. Boys do things like fishing and hunting. Where girls like things that are more feminine. Girls like to paint. Girls like music. Girls enjoy the arts. So, when a male likes art or dancing or calligraphy he often gets labeled today anyway. He often gets labeled with a sexual orientation that is associated with that gender role. So, if a young man really enjoys dancing. Very early in life he will start getting categorized as being gay rather than just being a male who enjoys dancing. That happens for women too. Although less so than it does for men because female athletics has become part of the norm in the United States.
What happens with gender role dysphoria is that too quickly questions about sexuality can start surfacing when the focus to be on healthy human development while participating in any activity not just masculine or feminine activities. Today I'm interviewing Doctor Ty Mansfield. He's been on the program before and I so enjoy him being with me today to discuss gender role dysphoria. This is different than gender dysphoria which is a diagnosable condition found within the DSM. Gender role dysphoria is different. Listen in and learn these important differences. If you like this program, please rate and review it. The link is in the show notes.
Today, I get to talk with a wonderful friend and colleague, Ty Mansfield. He's going to tell us a little bit about what gender role dysphoria means and I'm going to have him introduce himself and tell you a little bit about himself.
Ty Mansfield: Thanks, Tammy. I'm happy to be here with you.
Tammy Hill: I'm so glad you're here. Thanks.
Ty Mansfield: So, my name is Ty Mansfield. I am a therapist. I have a full-time clinical practice here in Provo, Utah and I also teach part time at BYU in religious education and then also occasionally I supervise master students in the school of family life, marriage and family therapy master students. But the class that I primarily teach is called the eternal family, which is where we look at a lot of relationships and a theological perspective and often that intersects with questions about sexuality and gender and identity and marriage and a lot of questions that a lot of youth and other Latter-Day Saints especially in our current culture have a of questions about and that often can be even kind of distressing as they're trying to sort some of the conflicts.
Tammy Hill: And you've written several books. What are the names of your books?
Ty Mansfield: The very first book I wrote was called “In Quiet Desperation”. I was single. It was sort of the initial sort of exploration of my own spiritual journey as it intersected with questions around my own sexuality and identity experiencing same sex attraction. And then that was co-authored with a couple who kind of a two-part book, whose son had actually taken their life as a result of some of the political tensions that were happening and the distress, they felt in some of the heightened conflicts that were happening in California with what was then the night initiative or Prop 22 out of the.
Tammy Hill: Yes.
Ty Mansfield: Which preceded the later probate that most people are remembered. But then the second book I wrote was called “The Voices of Hope” which was an anthology. It was a lot of personal stories of just a number of different people that were had kind of navigated that intersection in very different ways, men, women, people that were single, people that were married, parents, even. And then most recently co-authored a book called The Power of Stillness, Mindful Living for Latter Day Saints.
Tammy Hill: I love that one.
Ty Mansfield: What does contemplative practice look like within a uniquely Latter-Day Saint tradition?
Tammy Hill: Yes, you write so beautifully. I appreciate your work so much. So, Ty, I would really appreciate it as we get talking on this podcast. I think it would be helpful for our listeners to understand some terminology around gender and so let's start with you telling us the difference between sex and gender.
Ty Mansfield: Okay, that's a great question. So, historically, people have thought, I think people typically thought of a sex and gender as synonymous terms, right? If you see gender on a driver's license form, right? I mean, we just assume sex, right? And but that started began to shift in the 1960s with a researcher named John Money who for the first time coined the term gender role, right? As it as separates from sex, right?
Tammy Hill: Okay.
Ty Mansfield: So, there you have male and females, right? In terms of differentiating sex and ultimately reproductive sex from the social roles that men and women are often prescribed, right? So, women fill in the blank and men fill in the blank, right? So, those aren't necessarily tied to sex and that would differentiate things like a sex role from a gender role, right? So, a sex role would ultimately be reproductive, right? A man cannot gestate child. So, a sex role for a woman would be to gestation or childbearing that kind of thing. Whereas a gender role tended to be things that were more socialized or socially prescribed. So, if someone has the view that men mow the lawn while women cook right? These those would be gender roles which aren't inherent to sex. And so that began sort of this differentiation began slowly but ultimately in the 70s really kind of cut on and the gender studies, right? And starting to unpack these layers of sex and gender from that which is more deterministic like sex, right?
But then there's obviously complications with that as you can have differences or disorders of sex development. But then you get into gender and aspects of gender that maybe aren't necessarily fully correlated with sex but are tied to temperament or things like that. Which is why you have some disciplines that are tend to be dominated more by women. Some professional disciplines that tend to be dominated by men. Again, isn't deterministic but there's a strong kind of correlate to on average female temperaments, male temperaments and then there are things that are purely socialized, right? Blue as a male color, pink as a female color, which right as just 100 years ago was the reverse, right? Pink was seen as masculine blue as more feminine. So, there's this kind of layered aspect of sex being more biological and anatomical to gender which is often in some ways more socialized and in some ways tied to sex but not explicitly. So, our conversation today around gender and identity, that differentiation is really key to understanding. The conversation that's happening today and being able to make sense of it.
Tammy Hill: Absolutely. So, then, tell us what is cisgender. What does that mean?
Ty Mansfield: So, cisgender, just like I have a book called “Straight” a very short history of heterosexuality, because there was no thing as a heterosexual before the late 1800s early 1900s because that concept didn't exist until we invented the concept of the homosexual.
Tammy Hill: Okay.
Ty Mansfield: Once we talk about homosexuals, now we've got to have a word for the normative, right? The heterosexual. And the same thing sort of happened with cisgender. So, as we started understanding more about gender dysphoria or at the time, I guess kind of pre the current iteration of the DSM which is the diagnostic manual of mental illnesses or ever. But it used to be called gender identity disorder. So, the difference when there's a dissonance that someone feels between their biological sex and their internal sense of gender right is what was then gender identity disorder now currently termed gender dysphoria. As we start understanding that difference, we also need a word to describe those who don't feel that dissonance. So, for somebody who their internal sense of gender is aligned with their biological sex we refer to that as cisgender.
Tammy Hill: And then transgender is when it's different.
Ty Mansfield: Yeah, so transgender as we talk about gender. So, there's a sense of gender, right? This gender dysphoria, this dissonance. We're going to talk about rural dysphoria differentiating that. But those are qualitative experiences. Right? So, in the same way that gay would be an identity construct not a we so often talk about gay as a sexual orientation. Gay is not a sexual orientation. Gay is an identity. So, someone might be predominantly same sex oriented. But that's a qualitative description of right the sex that they are exclusively or primarily quite attracted to. The identities that people build around that can then be very different, right? Some people identify as gay, some people don't, right? Some people just either don't have an identity or they might use other words or they might just describe themselves as experiencing same-sex attraction. The same thing's going to be true with gender. There are those who talk about themselves in or their experience in qualitative terms, right?
They might gender dysphoria some of whom might identify as transgender and some of whom may not use that word. I work with a lot of people some of whom are there's sort of obviously a spectrum of presentation of transition, some where there's surgical transition, sometimes social transition. There are some individuals who do not transition, but identify as transgender and then there's people obviously people who do transition tend to identify as transgender, but some of them don't. They just want to identify as the opposite sex or opposite gender. So again, there's a lot of variants in just the experience that people have and then how are they narrating that experience? How are they identifying in the way that they report because I've worked with individuals before too who do transition but they dislike the term transgender.
So, generally speaking, we've adopted this term transgender as an umbrella term for those who either experience gender dysphoria or whether that's kind of with a binary or not, right? We have a growing number of people who as gender queer or gender fluid or non-binary, right? And that's been a really distinct shift just in the last maybe 5, 10, 15 of most years, right? But that would be so that's how we would differentiate trend or what we would the quality of experience of gender dysphoria or gender role dysphoria as we'll talk about here in a minute and the identity label or umbrella of labels referred to as transgender.
Tammy Hill: Wow. So many terminologies. It's hard to know how to put a language around it that is going to be helpful and not hurtful. So maybe that's something we can learn a little bit more about as we visit with you. Are all of these diagnosable?
Ty Mansfield: Well, so it's pretty common. So, for children there's obviously there's a more of a spectrum and at some point, we're going to there has to be enough criteria for it to be threshold for a diagnosis of gender dysphoria. But it's pretty common for children to Experience questions about gender or gender atypical behaviors or to assume gender non-normative roles, cross-gender play, right? Isn't uncommon in children. There may be children who even experience distress about that. Like for example one of our children. There was a time I actually did my doctoral dissertation on transgenderism.
Tammy Hill: Okay.
Ty Mansfield: And at the time that I was working on my dissertation. Our oldest son. We had two kids at the time. Our oldest son started wanting to paint his fingernails and wanted to wear dresses and it's just like my world all of a sudden was all about transgender.
Tammy Hill: Right.
Ty Mansfield: But it was interesting, because as with a lot of things and sort of kind of conditioned to want to get trained to want to get underneath it and understand what's happening. And we would allow him. We would there was sort of this space. You want to be careful not to shame behaviors like that, but you also want to understand it and get curious about it and as much as you can and times when it's appropriate guide. And so, we would allow him but then we would ask him questions. And at the time our second is a girl. Her grandma would love to just she loved to give her pretty dresses and just would really sort of give her a lot of attention. And at one point my son said, ‘It just seems like girls are more special than boys.’
Tammy Hill: Wow.
Ty Mansfield: So, you have this little three- to four-year-old brain. That doesn't how to process everything that's going on around him. Why is she getting so much attention and he's not, right? And so, my wife and I kind of hearing that, right? Our goal wasn't to make him not, it can be very problematic because I think right now, we live in a culture where people see things like that. It's like, oh, my three-year-old is transgender. We start applying these narratives, right? These interpretive paradigms are projecting them in ways that can actually be very problematic. So, we were very careful not to do that so we didn't want to indulge it but we also didn't want to shame it so it's kind of this again this very gentle space. But our goal with him was regardless of what the future looked like because at that point we didn't know how things were going to play out. But at a minimum we wanted him to know that boys were just as special as girls.
Tammy Hill: Right.
Ty Mansfield: And in that over time as he started to kind of explore and experiment with more gender typical kinds of things, he said boy was really fun. And there were lots of things that boys could do, that girls couldn't do. And he just stopped asking to wear dresses and stopped asking to paint fingernails and things like that right? So, there's sense in which actually took me back to the original question. I started talking about it.
Tammy Hill: It's so interesting I learned so much, but my question was are all of like is transgender something that's in the DSM. Are these all diagnosable?
Ty Mansfield: Oh yes. Right. So, gender dysphoria is the DSM category.
Tammy Hill: Right.
Ty Mansfield: So, my whole point in this story was there's a threshold for that distress, the length of the distress a way that distress manifest before you could actually qualify as for a diagnosis of gender dysphoria. Does that make sense?
Tammy Hill: Yes.
Ty Mansfield: So, we didn’t diagnose him or even sought out a diagnosis. It didn't really matter to me at the time. But there has to be enough of those kinds of behaviors. Gender typical and enough distress around those behaviors in order for it to qualify as an official diagnosis.
Tammy Hill: Okay. Do you see this happening more frequently today than in the past? Is it because we know about it? Is that the reason that's more common?
Ty Mansfield: Define this.
Tammy Hill: Do we see? Do we see the diagnosis meeting the qualifications of a gender dysphoric or transgender individual? Do we see it happening more or not more? It seems like we hear about it more.
Ty Mansfield: I think well there's a couple of things that have shifted. I think I'm not sure in terms of research on kids. What we're seeing a lot more is teenagers opening up or identifying as non-binary. With biological females, there's been this real surge of women who are identifying as transgender or non-binary. And so, with kids again, I don't know but I think I haven't heard anything there. Most of the conversation, so much of the conversation right now is focusing on this concern about teenagers. And what's being referred to and these are slightly controversial terms but what are sometimes referred to as either late onset gender dysphoria or rapid onset gender dysphoria, right? So, which are going to be different, so with a lot of childhood gender dysphoria you have these kids at very young ages. So, there's a couple things happening that I think are problematic. One is rather than just kind of looking at some of these behaviors identifying them as behaviors we're now talking about transgender kids, right?
So, we're applying these narratives and applying identity constructs on very young kids for whom this is very fluid and influx. So, for example depending on the research the numbers vary a little bit but from 70% to 90% of children who experience gender dysphoria or who even qualify for a diagnosis of gender dysphoria. For 70-to-90% of those that's going to naturally resolve before puberty. So, to start talking about transgender kids when such a high number of those are not going to identify as transgender as an adult. So, that's a real problem.
Tammy Hill: Yeah, that is.
Speaker2: Because we start assuming and then you just start guiding them in that direction. The other is this conversation with teenagers, right? Where you have a growing of the sort of late onset, rapid onset generator, and again, those are the whole field, as you can imagine there's a lot of ideology and politics.
Tammy Hill: Right.
Ty Mansfield: Also, there's a lot of, there's a lot of, of challenges in even having this conversation, but those are terms that many have used. So, there is a conversation around, is that just, is it just latent, or is there something that's inducing that, where you have a thirteen-year-old or fifteen-year-old or even seventeen-year-old girl who has never talked about experiencing gender dysphoria. And then starts getting on social media and binging on TikTok and after 30 days of binging on TikTok she's now identifying as non-binary and bisexual and all these things, right? Whatever's happening there how much of that is sort of induced in that space and how much of it is just coming to light that was preexisting. There's a lot of, that's a really challenging conversation and there are people with very different opinions about it.
Tammy Hill: Absolutely. I can't imagine all the you get to hear and deal with. What do you suggest for situations like that? Because I see that happening a lot particularly among young women that all their lives have been girls feminine and now there's just this shift that is very rapid onset. As a parent, what do you do? How do you manage that?
Ty Mansfield: Well, I think the very first question is going to be relational, right? I feel like what can we do to make sure we're keeping this relationship strong because I think we want to start with the least controversial pieces first, right? And the things that are going to be important regardless of which direction this child going. So, one of those, the first of those is we want to make sure that we are keeping this relationship strong that we're in there, we're having conversations, we're sensitive and attuned to feelings, to needs to whatever this child is trying to communicate to us. And it's really focusing on strengthening that relationship or keeping the relationship strong if it's already strong
The other is going to be just looking at health broadly, right? Because there's a lot so much of what's happening is as people get online and they get in these discussion groups or they get on TikTok. There's a lot of social influence, and some that I was working with just recently, there they had a college aged daughter who had never opened up about any of the stuff until was a college on her own, a lot spending hours and hours on her phone in groups. Something that had never talked about being attractive woman, never talked about kind of gender area kind of identities or anything like that. But all of a sudden after she's depressed, she's spending a lot of time on social media, extended family or noticing that her personalities, she just seems distinctly vast different. So, there's a lot of just general health issues that are going to be the low [INAUDIBLE WORD 24:30]. How do we, we need to talk about developing a healthy relationship with social media.
Tammy Hill: Right.
Ty Mansfield: We need to talk about healthy relationship with technology period and there's a sense in which have you lost your sense of self, right. And having some open conversations that would be again important whether or not this child continue to identify as your sexual or gender diverse, right? And then out of that conversation and begin because experiences are so different, that's where you're going to start to get more of the unique components for that individual and then communicate those in a more specialized way.
Tammy Hill: I think exactly work on the relationship, strengthen it, keep it strong, and then looking for help. What good advice. I am really interested in gender role dysphoria. I think society has really just determined what is feminine, what is masculine, and so I'm concerned even in my adult children who have young children that they sometimes use language like I think he might be gay. This is a three-year-old because he would rather dance than play soccer. And I just think we need to be so careful about the language we use and helping people understand where does gender role come from even. Can you enlighten us that way?
Ty Mansfield: Yeah. So obviously we just tell you what you just said. So, you have the idea of gender roles right, that men fill in the blank, women fill in the blank.
Tammy Hill: Right.
Ty Mansfield: And to the degree that we tie a sense of gender to those roles and again for little children in that kind of developmental stage thinking is very concrete.
Tammy Hill: Yes.
Ty Mansfield: For example, I have a niece who my dad when she was very young she was probably 5 maybe 4, 5 and my dad her grandpa was wearing a pink dress shirt and she was just beside herself upset because pink was a girl color.
Tammy Hill: Interesting.
Ty Mansfield: How why is grandpa wearing a girl color and it just really was like sort of destroying her universe, her understanding of the way the universe was supposed to be. And so, what can often happen is in a child is if they have and some of this is very subjective but if this if they start thinking and connecting these ideas, I'm getting very attached to that connection, they can develop as gender role dysphoria. Where it's not so much a disconnect so gender to differentiate the two, with gender dysphoria there's a sense of maybe a biological male just feeling more feminine or feeling female and that in of itself is different. Because some individuals might identify as trans female or might identify as trans feminine, right? Which is slightly different.
So, there the dissonance is more of a body dysphoria, right? Whereas for someone with gender rule dysphoria, there's been a connection made in their mind that if they're a boy and boys don't dance or boys don't play the flute or boys don't like fill in the blank. Then there can become a connection in their mind that I must not be a boy or because I like these things that are typically attributed to the opposite sex, then there's a disidentification with the same sex. Does that make sense?
Tammy Hill: Absolutely.
Ty Mansfield: But it's tied to some of these social prescriptions. That they haven't really been able to differentiate at that point, right? In their development. Versus more of a dissonance with their body or that sense of sex gender versus.
Tammy Hill: The sense of difference.
Ty Mansfield: Yeah.
Tammy Hill: Yeah. So, how can we help our young adult children who are raising children? How can we help, what can we do to make it so that gender roles, we don't need to have so many masculine feminine gender roles on activities or colors or that type of thing?
Ty Mansfield: And I think it that comes down to parents talking about gender in more open ways and I think the church has tried to do some of this.
Tammy Hill: Yeah.
Ty Mansfield: There was a series of New Era articles that came out a few years ago where not new I think it was The Friend even I want to say. It was either New Era or The Friend. What was, but they had a kind of an article on I think it was called “Savannah Wants to Be an Engineer”, right? And there was an effort in these articles to help little girls recognize that they could want to be an engineer and that that's not necessarily in conflict with who they are as a woman. That a woman can be very capable, a very talented engineer, right? And so, there's a spectrum of things that women can do, right? Because again, we have these stereotypes and we can expand those stereotypes or kind of break out of those stereotypes ultimately, and then there was another one that was something like Jacob wants to play the flute, right?
So, you have this little boy that plays the flute and so can we can we can we talk about gender in ways that are more open that have nothing to do with an eternal doctrine of gender. But sometimes we can unwittingly say things that can foster a sense of alienation. There was a gentleman that I was actually home taught once who was a college basketball player. His wife played college basketball as well which is interesting given the context of a situation, but when their son started one two-year-old was just all about playing basketball. And their comment was he's all boy.
Tammy Hill: I can hear it, I can totally hear it, right?
Ty Mansfield: And those subtle and I mean there was certainly there was no ill intent in that statement. But it begs the question and for most people they're not noticing it but it's there. It's kind of in the air for a two-year-old who doesn't play basketball, right? Are they not all boy? Right? Or a girl who doesn't like stereotypically feminine toys or they not. We don't tend to say this as much about girls but there might be other ways in which we sort of might express some concern if there's Gender atypical interests or behaviors. So, one thing that parents can start with to your question is really being careful, conscious, and careful, right? And just sensitive that there are number of different things that boys can be interested in. There are number of different things that girls can be interested in. And how can parents’ kind of validate those things while also helping them to connect with their own sense of boyness, girlness, maleness, female.
Tammy Hill: Do you see that it is maybe perhaps more frightening for parents to see a son getting involved in more feminine activities versus a daughter getting involved with masculine activities?
Ty Mansfield: Oh, for sure.
Tammy Hill: I do too.
Ty Mansfield: Right, because I think historically, we've been, we've had a kind of a broader spectrum of what we see as appropriate behaviors for girls, right? For girls to be interested in sports or athletics, right? We might call them a tomboy but we typically don't mean that majority, right? But if a girl isn't or a boy is interested in girl thinks he's a sissy or he's gay or and so we tend to box especially with men and historically it's been interesting because historically their gender dysphoria has been more common among natal boys, natal males.
Tammy Hill: Oh really?
Ty Mansfield: And it's just been this recent history that you see this rise with females.
Tammy Hill: The girls.
Ty Mansfield: But at one point probably pre-10, 15 years ago this was still kind of when we were using the term gender identity disorder. It was something that one in, I mean the best information we the best numbers we had, right. And this is always a little tricky because sampling is tricky with a topic like this, but about one in 300, to one in 500 kids experienced or individuals experienced gender dysphoria and only about one in 20 to 30,000 of those entered the medical system right in terms of some sort of medical transition. And for females, natal females transitioning to male it was one in 50,000.
Tammy Hill: Oh wow.
Ty Mansfield: And so, you had that, but then again, we had a broader spectrum, right? So, even among in the kind of the sexual minority or LGB community, right? You have a lot of kind of more butched lesbians.
Tammy Hill: Right.
Ty Mansfield: Right. And then in the last few years, a lot of the what has been typically kind of referred to as butch lesbians were disappearing, right? Because so many of them were just then now transitioning rather than identifying as a more masculine female. So, again, there's been some shift in the culture and I think the reasoning for that was that there's there was a narrower spectrum of what has been seen as appropriate for males and males are more likely to get boxed out of what is seen as appropriate than women are, right females?
Tammy Hill: Right.
Ty Mansfield: And so, I think that's probably at least a part of it, right. And there is a sense of anxiety that parents will often feel if there's non-normative for males.
Tammy Hill: And I love for us the challenge then was for parents that you said to be cautious and to be careful to be mindful about what it is we're saying. I think having conversations like this is important for people to understand this idea and especially for young boys who like to do calligraphy or whatever if it's a feminine thing that this is not any way identifying their sexuality, right? And what ways other than podcasts or I don't see even any books on this. I know it's probably a real hot topic, but how can we help get this message out so that we get rid of all of the I hate the norms that we have in our society. I just don't think they're helpful.
Ty Mansfield: I think the more just that, General Latter-Day Saints are becoming conscious of this. I mean, I think the fact that we're having this conversation that you're even interested in these topics, right? In this podcast is a way of starting that conversation and a lot of times it just starts with that consciousness, the more we're talking about it. And even with these new era or friend articles that I mentioned started with a directive with the General Auxiliary Leaders. The General Relief Society presidency and the General Sunday School presidency wanted to have this conversation and wanted to be able to speak into these ideas that boys somehow wanting to play the flute was a non-boy or feminine activity, and the girls wanting to be an engineer was something that was to be shy away from. And to say to really speak this message and to a worldwide audience, right?
Tammy Hill: Right.
Ty Mansfield: So, I think as we as a faith community and a general just community start to become more conscious of this, I think we just keep having these conversations. And again, we'll just become increasingly sensitive to some of those things that we've just historically didn't thought we're pretty benign or didn't think of it.
Tammy Hill: Right. So, when you teach your gender class in the eternal families class, I guess I'll come around that question because you get to teach these BYU students and I love getting to teach these BYU students all about sexuality and marriage. If you had an opportunity to stand in front of one of my classes for an hour and 15 minutes and teach them whatever you felt was like the most important information for them to have in your field, what would you tell them Ty?
Ty Mansfield: I have and with my own students I do, and one of the things that I think is most important is that we live in this culture of what a lot of sociologists refer to as expressive individualism. Where we Collapse feeling and identity. And so, to be able to sort of disentangle the sense of feeling with who I am, right? And so, in the domain of sexuality to be able to say, okay, there's different qualities of attraction and attractions are just attraction. They're not defining their experiences and we don't want to shame those experiences, but the other side of it we also don't need to just indulge them either or identify with them. And be able to say there's a lot of variation in what someone might feel and there's different domains of attraction and some domains are more fluid and some more stable over time. But to differentiate that from the way we story our feelings, the way we story our sexuality and develop a sense of identity around it, I think it's important to differentiate identity from labels, where labels are words, right? That we use to describe something.
Identity is more of the narrative through which we interpret what we're experiencing and incorporate it into a sense of self and so to say to notice these attractions that I'm feeling or these internal senses of some variation right or some gender or it's waxing or waning. Because I work with a lot of individuals and when you're just getting curious about what the experience is or how that's evolved over their lifespan or change or again wax to wane. There could be a lot of variation there, and so to notice that and even just to validate the experience that you can be curious about it, you can talk about it. But that's a different question than how I incorporate that into a sense of self and a sense of my identity in which we then start incorporating phrases like be true to yourself, right? And just the idea of what it means to have a self, right? It's a very interesting conversation, right? It just almost seems sort of we use it so much that it just seems to be so kind of core to how we see the world. But there was a researcher that I had been following. He's a Yale researcher and a lot of his research has been on identity.
Tammy Hill: Right.
Ty Mansfield: And what do we, what does it mean to have a true self? And they started interviewing or he and some colleagues they did this study where they asked people to first kind of identify their social and political leanings. And then they would present a series of vignettes of conflicts that individuals had within various topics. And in those conflicts, there would typically be a conflict between like their values and their ideals, right? Their beliefs, and their feelings or emotions, right? And in one vignette, conservatives might say, oh, I think that their values represent their true self and people who are more liberal or progressive would say, I think their feelings represent their true self and in a different vignette, it would flip.
Tammy Hill: Really?
Ty Mansfield: Where progressives would say, I think their beliefs or their values represent their true self and conservatives and at the end of the study, what they found was that there was no consistency.
Tammy Hill: Wow.
Ty Mansfield: There was often a shift in terms of who was identifying what but there was no consistency. The only thing that was consistent was that what people attributed as the true self was what they saw as the good part. Which part is most consistent with what I believe is the most valuable kind of life to live? And that's a very narrative, a very social, socially conditioned ideal. Does that make sense?
Tammy Hill: Absolutely.
Ty Mansfield: Because what we see as the best kind of life to live in in contemporary western 21st century America is very different than even contemporary Hindu India, right? But it's these values and so to say you need to be true to yourself is a pretty shallow construct, right? And it doesn't really tell us very much if we don't look at these roots, these valuative components. So, to tie that into sexuality or gender, I'm feeling these things, right? I'm noticing these feelings and I want to get curious about it, right? There's a healthy way to look at those things and that's very Different then I'm now identifying with these feelings.
Tammy Hill: Right.
Ty Mansfield: And incorporating a sense of self and identity and ultimately social positioning around those things, right? So that's going to be important whether we're talking about sexuality or gender.
Tammy Hill: Absolutely.
Ty Mansfield: And that's what I would want to say. We need to disentangle experience from identity.
Tammy Hill: Disentangling experience from identity. So, what I think I heard you say then is the way to do that is to be curious about the way you're feeling and not needing to say that I'm feeling this way so I am this way. Is that right?
Ty Mansfield: right.
Tammy Hill: Okay.
Ty Mansfield: Right, I'm experiencing this attraction that means I'm gay right gay is a well a label but it's tied to an identity, which is different than just, oh I'm finding these boys or these girls attractive. Why is that, what's that about, right? Getting curious.
Tammy Hill: I'm really curious how you teach your children about their identity I think identity is at the core of the problems that we're facing I really do. And how do you teach your children their identity?
Ty Mansfield: My oldest is 11. So, they're all pretty young. We've got 11 down to three. But we do try we've tried to open this conversation about that we all have different feelings. because they'll even with the sense of if we think of shame, right? Something is universal as that. Shame really is about identity.
Tammy Hill: Right.
Ty Mansfield: Something about me is bad. It's raw. It's deficient. And so, we really try hard to help our kids especially if they've done something they've been mean or they're fighting or my son just got sent home from school Today for kicking a teacher and so we really want to talk to them about we really want and we have to be explicit and you just have to do it over and over and over again. You are a really good boy. And it's not a good thing to kick your teacher, right? And to just reinforce and really try to disentangle. Because it's so easy to go into shame and make experiences about self and whether that makes me good or whether that makes me bad or that means I'm gay or this means that. Any number things and just being able to really tease those apart and to say you are a really good boy, and sometimes really good boys or really good girls do things that we regret, right?
And it's okay to feel sad or guilty about a behavior, but that doesn't mean that you're a bad child and so just those conversations disentangling behavior or feelings from what that means about you. That conversation begins really young before we're ever talking about sexuality and gender and then once we get to those stages, we can it's just a natural outgrowth of a conversation we've been having for a really long time.
Tammy Hill: Yes. Oh wow. So good. Sometimes when I listen to people like you, I think if I could go back 35 years and start this over again. Maybe my kids would have a better shot. But anyway, Ty this is the Live Your Why podcast and I really believe if you understand your identity and understand what those feelings of who you are mean to you as far as your progression and you line up those ideas with your behavior, you're going to just be happier and live a much more peaceful life. So, I really enjoy listening to my guest's whys. So, Ty Mansfield, what would you say your why is?
Ty Mansfield: First, I love that question. I would say my why is and this might even sound cliche but I feel like my why is gone. Like I over the last, I had kind of an existential crisis in my under-grad years. And just had some very powerful experiences then with God's love. I think I believed in God's love before but I don't think it was more theological. And feeling that love and having just some really having the spirit teach me something about what it means to be a child of God in ways that were beyond just this sort of kind of shallow theology that I again it was just conceptual. But I just believe, I absolutely believe that we are children of God and that every experience we're having here on this earth is by purpose and design. It's designed to teach us Something about what it means to become godly, what it means to love each other, what it means to love period, right? To love God, to love each other, to love ourselves, and I embrace all of these experiences that we have as tutors and mentors and teachers, but it's all to the end of god's desire for us to become like him and that's why I do, what I do. Because I want that for myself and for others too.
Tammy Hill: Yeah, the love of God is at the core of who you are and what you do. Thank you for being with me today. We learned so much from you. Thanks.
Ty Mansfield: Thank you for having me. Appreciate it.
Tammy Hill: You bet. Can you see how gender role this for you can be so destructive to individuals? I believe it is so very important for us to acknowledge and remember that identifying things such as pink or blue or activities such as sports or music, identifying these or activities as either masculine or feminine is not helpful. I really encourage you and I encourage my students around the idea of being genderful. Genderful means living in a way that everyone is encouraged to develop and create within all aspects of the culture. To have freedom for one to be unique, special and valued, because what they're doing brings them joy. My sister Steph's entire childhood experience of enjoying athletics would not have created shame, depression and loneliness and that suicidal thinking had the cultural gender roles not been in place. She would have thrived in a genderful environment. Let's say instead of you can't do that you're a girl. Let's say you can do it because you're a human.
Closing: Thank you for joining me today. This is such an important topic that I'm very passionate about. I hope that you learn some things and might make some shifts in the way you reference people and the activities that they do. If you enjoy this program, I hope you'll rate and review it.