A version of Coyne’s class presentation was made available on Learning Suite without pictures of Coyne’s son, and it contained the following:
When discussing the need to investigate scientific evidence behind certain inclinations, Dr. Coyne cited a chart attempting to show why the gender binary is incorrect. The following picture was used in the presentation and was published in Scientific American in 2017. The diagram equates ideas such as “low sperm count” to be outside the gender binary.
Dr. Coyne also presented one study that claimed: “[t]ransgender individuals who socially transition or have gender-affirming surgeries report much less depression, anxiety, and suicide risk.” This study, conducted by Olson, is highly flawed.
The cited studies do not have control groups, and according to one of the largest and best datasets, mental health outcomes are not improved due to transition (Diaz, 2023). Another study claiming positive results from transitioning also had to be corrected after longitudinal follow-up.
These facts are not mentioned, yet they are significant as UK countries are overhauling the medical transition for youth. Also, Dr. Coyne cites data that states 1.6% of individuals are intersex. Although this figure has widely been debunked, the actual number is close to .018% of significant abnormalities that make determining sex difficult.
Later in the class, Coyne shared the experiences of transgender members of the Church. In one instance, she told a story that advocated for allowing a trans-woman (biological male) to attend Relief Society as a way to create belonging.
The petition and the Salt Lake Tribune article said that in the presentation Coyne offered a “discussion of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ policy.” Both of these did not quote the actual presentation. The only official Church position on transgender issues offered in the presentation was from Elder Oaks, stating, “The Church does not have a position on the causes of any of these susceptibilities or inclinations.” Additionally, the General Handbook states in section 38.6.23, “The Church does not take a position on the causes of people identifying as transgender.”
Further, the handbook describes, “Some children, youth, and adults are prescribed hormone therapy by a licensed medical professional to ease gender dysphoria or reduce suicidal thoughts.” This is only under the condition that they are not attempting to transition. In all instances, “Church leaders counsel against elective medical or surgical intervention” and “against social transitioning.” Such actions lead to Church restrictions, according to the handbook. These sections were not in the presentation. Therefore, stating Coyne merely cited the “handbook” or “policy” could be misleading and suggests she did not contradict the Church’s stance.
According to Jarvis, Coyne was “emphasizing [in her lecture] that [transitioning] was not disallowed, just discouraged, and that for some people, it was necessary.” This contradicts Church policy and could be considered as the promotion of transitioning.
Furthermore, Coyne advocated for creating a community of belonging by suggesting the usage of preferred pronouns, insinuating that the best way to love our LGBT brothers and sisters is to go along with their chosen gender identity, leaving no room for debate on the true definition of Christlike love.
Coyne then cites a study by Knutson et al. 2019, claiming, “Misgendering, deadnaming, invalidating, or using non-preferred pronouns associated with mental health issues.” However, what Coyne fails to mention in her slides is that transgender individuals, before transitioning, already experience much higher rates of depression and anxiety.
However, Coyne did give examples of gay Latter-day Saints who have chosen to live according to the Law of Chastity. We believe all deserve acceptance, but according to the slides obtained by the Chronicle, Coyne does not appear to think that love can be corrective rather than affirmative regarding these sensitive issues.
Additionally, when giving resources at the end, Coyne suggested two organizations alongside the Church and other resources: Encircle and Flourish Therapy. Encircle and Flourish Therapy advertise “affirming” therapy. In other words, Encircle will affirm an individual’s chosen gender identity rather than providing therapy to help the dysphoria. Flourish even advertises writing “letters for gender-affirming medical treatment” on its main page.
Finally, on Coyne’s RateMyProfessors, multiple positive and negative reviews discussed how Dr. Coyne has “inclusive lectures” and “she mixes her political ideologies with those discussed in class.” One positive review states, “Take Dr. Coyne for your eternal families credit, especially if you feel you don’t fit in the Church/BYU!”
From all the evidence we gathered, it is a reasonable assumption that Coyne mixes gender ideology themes into a class that is supposed to uphold Church doctrine and policy.
Written by: Ian Farris
Senior Contributor at The Cougar Chronicle
The Cougar Chronicle is an independent student-run newspaper and is not affiliated with Brigham Young University or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints