Standing Against Transgender Ideology: Defending Human Dignity
“Man too has a nature that he must respect and that he cannot manipulate at will.”
― Pope Francis, Laudato Si
Something extremely interesting is happening with regard to gender ideology right now.
In the United States, we are seeing several states passing bans on such things as puberty blockers or body-mutilating surgery for children. However, these efforts have been met with ferocious denunciations by LGBT activists, the federal government, and major medical organizations.
President Biden has condemned such common-sense laws as “immoral,” decrying the “hysterical” and “prejudiced” politicians passing those laws. In recent remarks, he called such laws “hateful,” stating they are “targeting transgender children, terrifying families, and criminalizing doctors.” The Biden administration has also pushed nationwide regulations forcing schools and universities to allow “transgender” children to compete in sports and to use bathrooms and locker room facilities according to their self-identified gender.
Meanwhile, at a recent meeting the American Medical Association passed a resolution strongly supporting “gender affirming care” for children. The resolution was supported by a conglomeration of major U.S. medical organizations, including The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the American Urological Association, among several others.
Numerous recent reports have confirmed that many hospitals and clinics in the United States are offering even the most extreme transgender procedures, including powerful puberty blocking drugs and body-mutilating surgeries, to teenagers, some as young as thirteen.
Europe Does a Rapid U-turn
However, if one takes a glance across the Atlantic Ocean, things look startlingly different.
Just days ago, the UK’s publicly funded National Health Service announced that “outside of a research setting,” it was banning almost all uses of puberty blockers for children and adolescents. This comes after the UK announced last year that it was shutting down the scandal-ridden Tavistock Clinic, which was for years the country’s primary transgender clinic.
The closing of the Tavistock Clinic came after the release of whistleblower testimony and a commission report showing that workers at the clinic routinely prescribed powerful drugs or surgeries after only the most cursory examinations of troubled children. The shift in perspective began in 2018, when a report was released showing that there had been a staggering 4,000% increase in children and teens identifying as “transgender” in just a few short years, many of those seeking “treatment” at the Tavistock clinic. That report set off major alarm bells.
Many other countries and U.S. states are reporting similar phenomenon. A 2021 survey of one school district found that one in ten teens identified as “gender-diverse.” While LGBT activists are working overtime to ensure that no one is allowed to question why so many children are suddenly uncomfortable with their bodies, European regulators and politicians are clearly realizing that things have moved much too far, much too fast.
As The Atlantic reports, at least five Western European countries have banned or restricted drugs and surgeries for children and teens suffering from gender dysphoria in recent months and years, pointing out that these interventions lack supporting evidence. This includes the UK, Norway, Finland, Sweden, and France.
The UK’s decision came after the country’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) performed an analysis of the various “treatments” being offered to children for gender dysphoria. They found that the evidence in support of these interventions had “very low” certainty. A Swedish committee that convened to answer the same question concluded: “The identified scientific basis regarding hormone treatment of children and adolescents with gender dysphoria is limited and it is not possible to draw any conclusions with moderate or high reliability. For most outcomes examined in this report, the evidence is insufficient, and conclusions cannot be drawn.”
As Leor Sapir explains over at City Journal, the approach gaining the upper hand in Europe is worlds apart from the dominant “affirmation-only” practice in the United States. “In effect,” Sapir says about the U.S. approach, “once a child declares that he is trans, the role of doctors is to ‘affirm’ that declaration medically. Parents are to consent to treatments or get out of the way. Mental-health professionals are there only to help the child cope with the stress that comes from being in a minority.”
However, what the European change in direction—fueled by rigorous analyses performed on the totality of the scientific literature on the question—shows is that the claims of U.S. activists and medical associations that various radical interventions are “safe” and “effective” is politically-motivated nonsense.
Bishops Vote to Strengthen Regulations
Unsurprisingly, of course, the Catholic Church has long been one of the primary organizations sounding the alarm about the rapid advance of transgender ideology, which clearly violates the most basic principles of a sound anthropology. The radical, evidence-less, inhumane claims of the radical transgender activists simply do not withstand the scrutiny of the rich, collected wisdom of the Church on the question of human nature and gender.
In Catholic teaching, when discussing the creation of the human person, there are two things to be remembered: the composite unity of body and soul by which a person exists, and, secondly, that an individual’s act of being in the body / soul unity is as male or female.
As the Catechism affirms,
The unity of soul and body is so profound that one has to consider the soul to be the “form” of the body: i.e., it is because of its spiritual soul that the body made of matter becomes a living, human body; spirit and matter, in man, are not two natures united, but rather their union forms a single nature (no. 365).
Man and woman have been created, which is to say, willed by God: on the one hand, in perfect equality as human persons; on the other, in their respective beings as man and woman. “Being man” or “being woman” is a reality which is good and willed by God: man and woman possess an inalienable dignity which comes to them immediately from God their Creator (no. 369).
Hence, the creation of the human person, as a unity of body and soul and the place of sexual identity in this unity, is the first critical factor for evaluating the question of caring for and treating persons suffering with gender dysphoria.
In the United States, Catholic hospitals are governed by the Ethical and Religious Directives (ERDs), a document that outlines a Catholic vision for health care. While the U.S. bishops have long been clear that “transgender” drugs and procedures have no place in a Catholic hospital, the ERDs have little to say on the matter.
As Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville, Texas, chair of the Committee on Doctrine, recently explained, the ERDs were originally drafted in 1994. “At that time, it was not envisioned that it might be necessary to include specific guidance concerning radical modifications to the human body, such as are widely advocated in practice today for the treatment of those suffering from gender dysphoria,” Bishop Flores said, according to the Catholic News Agency.
Given this, the U.S. bishops recently voted in a unanimous vote to revise the ERDs to address the problem of “gender transition” interventions in detail. The bishops gave us something of a preview of what these updates will likely involve this past March when they released a “doctrinal note” clarifying that under no circumstances must “gender transition” procedures be performed at Catholic hospitals.
“The body is not an object, a mere tool at the disposal of the soul, one that each person may dispose of according to his or her own will, but it is a constitutive part of the human subject, a gift to be received, respected, and cared for as something intrinsic to the person,” the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Doctrine wrote in that note. “As the range of what we can do expands, we must ask what we should or should not do. An indispensable criterion in making such determinations is the fundamental order of the created world. Our use of technology must respect that order.”
The bishops were clear in that note that gender “transition” procedures fail to meet that criterion. “Catholic health care services must not perform interventions, whether surgical or chemical, that aim to transform the sexual characteristics of a human body into those of the opposite sex or take part in the development of such procedures,” they stated clearly.
Opposing the Trans Madness is Love
Tearful LGBT activists routinely claim that transgender drugs and procedures are “evidence-based” and perfectly “safe,” and that if children don’t receive them, they will surely become so catastrophically depressed that they will kill themselves.
However, it is encouraging that more and more people, including otherwise strongly socially liberal individuals, are waking up to the fact that the claim that drugs that interfere with some of the most profound biological functions of the human body are “safe” is utterly preposterous. Then, of course, there is the diabolical madness of removing healthy body parts that play a key role in a normal, healthy life, all because a pubescent adolescent is feeling uncomfortable in his or her newly maturing body.
What has become increasingly obvious is that concerted, vocal, vigorous opposition to the transgender ideology is absolutely necessary in order to protect untold numbers of children from lifelong harms.
To my mind, there is something uniquely diabolical about the consistency of the LGBT line that transgender children will surely kill themselves if they do not get puberty blockers or surgeries. As anyone who knows the first thing about suicide prevention knows, even talking about suicide in the presence of the vulnerable can produce suicidal ideation and potentially lead them to kill themselves. I have little doubt that the widespread practice of insisting that teens suffering from gender dysphoria will surely kill themselves has normalized suicide as a response to being “refused” dangerous treatments, pushing young people to consider taking that drastic step.
What the U.S. Bishops, and Catholic teaching in general, emphasizes is the critical importance of pursuing treatment options that take seriously the suffering of those experiencing gender dysphoria, while respecting the integrity of the human person and the inherent nature of reality. As the bishops wrote in their doctrinal note, Catholic hospitals “must employ all appropriate resources to mitigate the suffering of those who struggle with gender incongruence, but the means used must respect the fundamental order of the human body. Only by using morally appropriate means do healthcare providers show full respect for the dignity of each human person.”
What has become obvious at this point is that for radical LGBT activists, so-called “trans” children are simply pawns in their effort to change society to conform to their perverse vision. The best research has consistently shown that the overwhelming majority of children suffering from gender dysphoria will outgrow their dysphoria if left alone. It is on account of this research that world-renowned clinician and researcher Kenneth Zucker has staked his career on speaking up in support of a “wait and see” approach to transgenderism.
Clearly, on this issue the world is once again in need of the accumulated, deeply-thought-through, and divinely-inspired wisdom of the Catholic Church. Thank God that the U.S. bishops are speaking out on this critical issue. Pray that Catholics and people of goodwill will rally together to oppose these forces that are preying on our children.
Did you find this useful?
Father Shenan J. Boquet was ordained in 1993 and is a priest of the Houma-Thibodaux Roman Catholic Diocese in Louisiana, his home state, where he served before joining HLI as its President in August 2011. Father Boquet earned a BA from Saint Joseph Seminary College, a Master of Divinity (MDiv) from Notre Dame Seminary Graduate School of Theology, a Certification Program in Health Care Ethics from the National Catholic Bioethics Center, and a Master of Science in Bioethics (MSBe) from the University of Mary in Bismarck. In 2018, Father Boquet was awarded an honorary visiting professorship by the Benedict XVI Catholic University in Trujillo, Peru. He is available for interviews and bookings on behalf of HLI by emailing email@example.com.