When LaVern Vivio, a commercial personality for TheBlaze TV and a longtime radio reporter, published an incredibly personal article last week admitting that, for much of her early life, she wished that she had been born a boy, she had no idea how many people would respond.
Vivio, a 52-year-old Christian, told The Church Boys podcast that she was initially hesitant to pen the op-ed in the wake of the Caitlyn Jenner — formerly known as Bruce Jenner — gender transition controversy, but felt compelled to share her experience in an effort to add her unique perspective to the discussion.
"I did not want to say anything that would do harm. I don't want to hurt people. I don't want to hurt anybody that's in his situation," she said. "We're to be Christ to this world and Christ means love. But in the same sense, as I watch what's happening to our kids, I'm mortified."
Listen to Vivio share her story below (interview starts at the 30:00 mark):
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She said that she wanted "equal time" like everyone else to make her case and to share her experience, explaining — as she did in her Blaze contribution piece — the difficulties she faced as a young person who felt more like a boy than a girl, but who says that she found her identity in Jesus Christ and came to terms with being a tomboy.
"I felt like I had to say something, because I had to at least state my case," Vivio said. "Honestly and truthfully, had I been approached whenever I was wanting to be a boy so bad, how would my life have turned out? ... I wanted to pose those questions, I wanted to do it in a respectful way, in a kind way — but in a very direct way."
Vivio, who shared in her op-ed that she once had "trouble finding comfort in what God made [her] to be," told The Church Boys how her sister gravitated toward her mother and how she gravitated toward her father as a child, learning at a young age that she was far more interested in activities that she said were more common among boys than girls.
"I just naturally kind of gravitated to the tomboy kind of way of life," she said. "Playing in the dirt, playing in the mud, just doing anything that was anti-girl."
But it wasn't only her activities. Vivio said that she always felt more comfortable spending time with men and that, over time, she diligently began to hope that puberty wouldn't come, and that she would be able to stop her eventual development into a grown woman.
"Growing up I thought ... 'Maybe God's got this whole thing mixed up,'" Vivio said. "I told my mother I was never going to grow into a woman ... I thought I could will it not to happen."
She said that she spent a lot of time in junior high and high school feeling disconnected and out of place, explaining that she was walking a difficult journey. But Vivio said that, despite her feelings, she was "never given an option to be anything but a woman," questioning whether the message being sent today that affirms gender transitions is really a viable one.
In the end, she ended up marrying her husband in her 20s and having children. And today she's completely comfortable with her tomboy inclinations, highlighting her belief that "we need tomboys [and] girly boys because that brings us all to a balance."
LaVern Vivio as a child (LaVern Vivio)
"It was a journey I needed to walk, and that is the point I was trying to make to people. It wasn't easy," Vivio said. "Could it have been easy to have just given into my male tendencies? Maybe at that moment ... but looking back at it, it was not who God made me to be."
She believes that the difficult experience made her who she is today and expressed her worries over the messages being sent to young people who now find themselves in similar situations.
"We're pulling our kids away from that and not even letting them have the journey they need to walk," she said." Sometimes life's tough, and sometime's it's tough even when you're really young."
Vivio said she wants to encourage young people to realize that God created them to be "perfect," and that it's important to find an identity in the Lord and not in fleeting recommendations from others surrounding how to handle one's identity.
"We're flawed, but we're perfect," she said, adding that she approached Jenner and others with love. "You do not gain people to Christ by anything but just loving on them ... you've got to be honest about this stuff and you've got to look back to what Christ guides us to be."
Read more about Vivio's story here.