What does the Church teach concerning gender?
From the teachings of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and the words of His Latter-day prophets, we learn that our gender “is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.” In pre-mortal life as spirit children, either sons or daughters, we knew and worshipped God as our Eternal Father. Vital to the well-being of every soul is the knowledge that he or she is a beloved child of God, a son or a daughter of heavenly parents (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 102). Our creation as male and female children of God “was done spiritually in our premortal existence when we lived in the presence of our Father in Heaven. Our gender existed before we came to earth” (Elder Richard G Scott, “The Joy of Living the Great Plan of Happiness,” Ensign, Nov. 1996, 73).
Because of God’s love for us, He prepared a plan that included our coming to the earth, where we would receive bodies and be tested so that we could progress and become more like Him. This plan is called “the plan of salvation” (Alma 24:14), “the great plan of happiness” (Alma 42:8), and “the plan of redemption” (Alma 12:25; see also verses 26–33).The plan of salvation is the fullness of the gospel. It includes the Creation, the Fall, the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and all the laws, ordinances, and doctrines of the gospel. It provides the way for us to experience joy in mortality (see 2 Nephi 2:25) as well as the blessing of eternal life (See also 2010 Church Handbook 2 1.1.2, 1.2.1).
The crowning act of the Creation was the formation of man “in the image of the Only Begotten of the Father,” both male and female (see Moses 2:26-28, 6:9). The Fall of Adam introduced mortality into the world with its two major obstacles inhibiting our return to our Father: death and sin. Because we cannot overcome either obstacle by ourselves, Heavenly Father sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to be our Savior and Redeemer. The Savior’s atoning sacrifice made it possible for all of God’s children to overcome physical death, be resurrected, and gain immortality. The Atonement also made it possible for those who repent and follow Him to overcome spiritual death, return to God’s presence to dwell with Him, and obtain eternal life (see D&C 45:3–5 and CH2 1.1.3).
In addition to physical death, the Fall introduced other physiological maladies; sickness, disabilities, disorders, aging and so forth, hence why the Apostle Paul spoke of our being “sown in corruption” and “sown in weakness” (see 1 Corinthians 15:42). Elder Jeffrey R. Holland taught, “In striving for some peace and understanding in these difficult matters, it is crucial to remember that we are living—and chose to live—in a fallen world where for divine purposes our pursuit of godliness will be tested and tried again and again… However bewildering this all may be, these afflictions are some of the realities of mortal life, and there should be no more shame in acknowledging [these challenges] than in acknowledging a battle with high blood pressure or the sudden appearance of a malignant tumor” (“Like a Broken Vessel,” Ensign, Nov. 2013, 40).