No. One’s sense of gender is not something that is chosen (see the later question, “What are some possible causes of gender dysphoria?”). Our sense of gender begins to take shape in early childhood. Although science does not support that one’s sense of gender is purely biological—rather, that there are biological, psychological, social and even spiritual variables contributing to development of gender identity—it also does not support that there is conscious “choice” in the matter. Gender is influenced by a variety of factors that typically develop in an unconscious, unchosen way.
While unchosen feelings are not a sin—and, therefore we are not accountable for these feelings—Elder Dallin H. Oaks has shared some additional insights regarding agency and what we can and, therefore, are responsible to choose. While it was shared in a different context, the principles can apply to many different life experiences. He wrote:
Some kinds of feelings seem to be inborn. Others are traceable to mortal experiences. Still other feelings seem to be acquired from a complex interaction of ‘nature and nurture.’ All of us have some feelings we did not choose, but the gospel of Jesus Christ teaches us that we still have the power to resist and reform our feelings (as needed) and to assure that they do not lead us to entertain inappropriate thoughts or to engage in sinful behavior.
Different persons have different physical characteristics and different susceptibilities to the various physical and emotional pressures we may encounter in our childhood and adult environments. We did not choose these personal susceptibilities either, but we do choose and will be accountable for the attitudes, priorities, behavior, and ‘lifestyle’ we engraft upon them.
Essential to our doctrinal position on these matters is the difference between our freedom and our agency. Our freedom can be limited by various conditions of mortality, but God’s gift of agency cannot be limited by outside forces, because it is the basis for our accountability to him…
Just as some people have different feelings than others, some people seem to be unusually susceptible to particular actions, reactions, or addictions. Perhaps such susceptibilities are inborn or acquired without personal choice or fault, like the unnamed ailment the Apostle Paul called ‘a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure’ (2 Cor. 12:7)…
But regardless of our different susceptibilities or vulnerabilities, which represent only variations on our mortal freedom (in mortality we are only ‘free according to the flesh’ [2 Ne. 2:27]), we remain responsible for the exercise of our agency in the thoughts we entertain and the behavior we choose. I discussed this contrast in a talk I gave at Brigham Young University several years ago:
“Most of us are born with [or develop] thorns in the flesh, some more visible, some more serious than others. We all seem to have susceptibilities to one disorder or another, but whatever our susceptibilities, we have the will and the power to control our thoughts and our actions. This must be so. God has said that he holds us accountable for what we do and what we think, so our thoughts and actions must be controllable by our agency. Once we have reached the age or condition of accountability, the claim ‘I was born that way’ does not excuse actions or thoughts that fail to conform to the commandments of God. We need to learn how to live so that a weakness that is mortal will not prevent us from achieving the goal that is eternal.
“God has promised that he will consecrate our afflictions for our gain (see 2 Ne. 2:2). The efforts we expend in overcoming any inherited [or developed] weakness build a spiritual strength that will serve us throughout eternity. Thus, when Paul prayed thrice that his ‘thorn in the flesh’ would depart from him, the Lord replied, ‘My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Obedient, Paul concluded:
“‘Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
“‘Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong’ (2 Cor. 12:9–10)….
“Beware the argument that because a person has strong drives toward a particular act, he has no power of choice and therefore no responsibility for his actions. This contention runs counter to the most fundamental premises of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
“Satan would like us to believe that we are not responsible in this life. That is the result he tried to achieve by his contest in the pre-existence. A person who insists that he is not responsible for the exercise of his free agency because he was ‘born that way’ is trying to ignore the outcome of the War in Heaven. We are responsible, and if we argue otherwise, our efforts become part of the propaganda effort of the Adversary…
“There is much we do not know about the extent of freedom we have in view of the various thorns in the flesh that afflict us in mortality. But this much we do know; we all have our free agency and God holds us accountable for the way we use it in thought and deed. That is fundamental.” (“Same-Gender Attraction,” Ensign, October 1995).
Those with gender dysphoria are responsible to choose actions that bring them closer to Christ. Those actions are not always clearly defined and different individuals may find different actions are necessary, but every action should be taken after counseling with the Lord in prayer. While gender dysphoria is not a choice, our agency always allows us to take actions aligned with the will of our Heavenly Father.