True Unity of a Human Person Defies All “Gender” Ideology
The Many Dangers of “Gender” Ideology
“Gender” ideology is sweeping across Western societies with relentless, hostile force. It is invading educational and health institutions beginning in the early life of students. And its ideologues are using the law to deny parental rights. Therefore, it is important to clarify and challenge the most basic assumptions of this diabolic ideology.
First of all, we call “ideology” a system of ideas that pretends to be a correct view of social problems and their solutions. This false view is clothed in such clever language that it can deceive those inattentive to the basis of its allegations. It is used as a weapon by political and cultural elites to impose their way of thinking on the rest of society, and, ultimately, to dominate them.1 The most capable vehicle to accomplish this goal is education, with health, the media, and not a few politicians as their allies.
In the case of “gender” ideology, its danger is pervasive, because this system of thought deconstructs the correct view of the human person. In other words, “gender” ideology is based on a false anthropology (study or view of the human person). This false anthropology is the basis a false ethic, false human “rights” campaigns, and attacks on marriage and the family.
The view an individual or society has of the human person determines its morality, social norms and even laws. Moral norms guide human behavior towards what the person believes constitutes his or her happiness. But real happiness depends on what is truly good for the human person. Therefore, for religious people, anthropology and the dignity of the human person are based on the love of God.2
The basic anthropological tenet of “gender” ideology is that the human body is irrelevant to the human person. Its adherents think that the inner self can decide as a act of sheer will what to do with their bodies. Even worse than that, they believe they can define what their bodies should be and the way they can freely behave without limits.3
The Soul Defines the Body
Classical philosophy and teaching define the human person as a substantial unity of body and soul. Notice that we use the term “substantial” and not “essential.” The word “substantial” or “substance” refers to what a being is in itself without its accidental characteristics; whereas the word “essential” or “essence” judges as it is apprehended by the human intellect, by abstracting it from its accidental characteristics.4 The human soul has been defined by classical philosophy and even by the Church herself as the “substantial form” of the human body. This means that the soul is a spiritual vital principle that informs a body, thus making it precisely what it is: a human body, the body of a human person.5
It is crucial we correctly understand the meaning of the substantial formation of the body. The soul is the vital distinguishing factor comprising the whole body. In turn, the soul vitalizes or acts upon every part of the body. The whole soul, is present in and throughout the whole body. But it acts differently in each part of the body, according to its proper function.6
Some philosophers wrongly associated the soul with the mind or a part of the brain. This gave rise to the false and useless dichotomy of the so-called “mind-body” problem. This false “problem” has been haunting modern thought for the last four centuries.7 It has created a false dualism that has given rise, among other errors, to “gender” ideology discarding the human body as morally irrelevant.
The fact that the body is morally relevant should dispel any accusation of biologism (reduction of the human person to mere biology) leveled against those of us who believe in the classical and Catholic definition of the human person. Those who believe in abortion, contraception, destructive embryo research, and the LGTB ideology fall into biologism. If the body is irrelevant to the decisions the inner self, the soul, then the body will be treated as a kind of biological machine to be manipulated or even changed according to the subjective whims of the person.
Biological Identity Informs the Person
Taking the body seriously as an integral dimension of the human person is not only realistic, but leads to its respect and sound medicine. Let us make this point more precise. If the human body is indeed a substantial (not an accidental) dimension of the human person, then it follows, as we pointed out before, that the body has moral relevance.
It also follows that the body has a hermeneutical importance. Hermeneutics refers, among other things, to the science of interpreting or uncovering the true meaning of the profound realities that transcend the use of empirical sciences. We are talking about the soul, the human person, the personal meaning of the body, the meaning of human existence and personal relationships, and so on. The human body is the first message nature gives to the human person about himself or herself. The ways our bodies are constituted, as men or women, and their functions, are not irrelevant. They are in fact a message to all of us about the way we should behave and flourish as human beings, as families and as societies.
The body has intrinsic dignity or value because of its substantial unity with a spiritual and immortal soul. As such it must be respected from the first moment of its existence at conception till its natural death. It is the body of a person, and not simply a bundle of tissues, organs, and bones. It is united to a soul with the inherent capacities of intellect and will. In more personalistic terms, we would say that the soul has an inherent capacity to know and to love. In other words, the human person a substantial composite of body and soul, but even more, a “being-in-relation.” In fact, some philosophers have gone so far as to say a person is relation.8
This being-in-relation that the human person is includes the body. In other words, if the body is an inherent to a person, and if the person is a being-in-relation, then it follows that the human person expresses himself or herself through the body. The inherent capacity to know, love and relate is also inherent in the body. The personal meaning of the body not only means that the human body is substantially united to its human soul. It also means the body has the capacity to express and communicate love and knowledge, to relate to others. Truly, spiritual and moral human life is always expressed through the body. The essence of spiritual and moral human life does not consist in a flight from the body. This means that the body truly expresses, through its actions, the love of God and neighbor that is in the soul.
This last point leads us to the following important concept: the primacy of the soul over the body, of the spiritual over the material. But far from this primacy being a disdain of the body, it is true appreciation of the body. The submission of the body to the soul, or the “dominion” of the soul over the body is for the benefit of the body. This dominion is not a despotic dominion but a pedagogic dominion. In other words, the soul, with its spiritual faculties of intellect and will, gently guides the body so that it may act in a truly human and personal fashion, in a way that corresponds to his or her intrinsic dignity. Discipline of the body—through prayer, fasting, contemplation, chastity, sobriety—is not intended as punishment, but as protection from harm. Discipline guides it in the expression of love, which is the gift of self to others in humble service. As Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI once said, “matter needs the spirit to be truly itself.”
Now if the body is the physical expression of the person, then it follows that bodily constitution also reveals who the human person is in himself or herself. Nature has provided us with only two physical modalities of the human person: male and female. Therefore, it follows that the human person in himself or herself is either man or woman. One cannot be anything else without denying substantial unity of the person as body and soul.
Homosexuality & Transgender Arguments Do Not Follow
This means that the term “homosexual person” or “transgender person” is an anthropological impossibility. There are no “homosexual” or “transgender” persons. At this point an important clarification is absolutely needed. We are NOT saying that these people are not persons. Of course they are! What we are saying is that there are persons, some men, some women, who happen to feel attracted to members of their same sex. But feeling is not the same thing as being. They still are and will forever be men and women at the core of their being. Nothing can change that, no matter what surgical operations, mutilations, or chemical substances to which they subject themselves. Maleness and femaleness are inscribed in the DNA, in the genes: XX for females, XY for males. Nothing can change that.9
Men and women who suffer from homosexual or transgender feelings have exactly the same dignity as the rest of us. In theological terms they, like us, are created in the image and likeness of God. Thus they deserve our respect, love and acceptance, and not simply our tolerance. (“Tolerance” is really a minimalistic concept, it conveys the idea that you simply put up with the existence of people different from you.) This love and acceptance does not mean accepting their ideology or immoral conduct, which would harm them, not help them.
So if there are no “homosexual” persons, then it follows there can be no homosexual “marriage.” It is completely nonsensical to call something “marriage” when the supposed members do not exist! There can only be true and natural marriages between members of the opposite sex: men and women. “Natural” here means what corresponds to the nature of the human person, as already explained.
The complementarity between a man and a woman is of such profundity that it merits a whole and separate treatment, beyond the scope of this essay. Suffice it to say that this complementarity does not exist; in fact, it cannot exist, between two persons of the same sex.
People attracted to persons of their same sex or who even those who claim they are “trapped in the wrong body” deserve and need our help and respectful compassion. That help does not equate with the false and dangerous “help” the LGBT lobby proposes. What they really need is acceptance, then the truth, always expressed in love, about their true identities as persons and the loving and moral plan of God for them. Then they might need an authentic (and again loving) pastoral help, and psychiatric or psychological treatment, of which nobody should be ashamed.3 We all have issues, and he (or she) who thinks “has it all together” or is “better” than anyone else is a liar and an arrogant fool.
In this context, it is important to indicate how the “gender” ideologues are using children who suffer from gender dysphoria (GD) to advance their agenda. GD refers to the incongruence a person feels between his interiorly perceived sex and his actual biological sex. Instead of offering them the real help they need, these “gender” ideologues are affirming children in dangerous plight.3
This is a false and dangerous affirmation. Less than 1%, a tiny minority of minors or pre-teens, suffer from GD. Next, 80-90% of them overcome GD once they complete adolescence without any special intervention. Last, those who persist to become “transgender” adults go on to live a life of surgical mutilations and dangerous hormonal “treatments,” as well troubled relationships. It is no surprise that in Sweden, a very LGBT accepting country, the “transgender” population suicide rate is 20 times higher than the general population!3
“Gender” sex “education” is also destroying the moral and psychological integrity of children and denigrating the role and authority of parents as primary educators of their children. The “gender” ideologues are using education, in conjunction with health institutions and certain pediatricians, to indoctrinate children in this perverse and self-destructive ideology. And all with the help of corrupt politicians and supranational entities, like the UN and IPPF.
We must do all we can to inform people, especially parents, about the aberrant ideology of those who want to impose the “gender” agenda on the rest of us, especially on children, the future generation. Otherwise, the Western world and the Judeo-Christian civilization it has built will eventually collapse and lie in ruins.
The Denial of the Existence of a Spiritual and Immortal Soul
Some people deny the soul’s existence and claim it’s a purely religious concept. This is false. If you read pagan philosophers Plato or Aristotle, for example, who lived about three centuries before Christ, you will see even they were convinced of the existence of an immortal soul. Not only that: they believed in God, the soul, and the cardinal moral virtues of prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance, just to name a few spiritual and moral tenets that are not exclusive to Christianity, Judaism or the Bible.
Therefore whenever someone argues in favor of moral values, even if that person makes no mention of religion, he or she is immediately accused of “trying to impose personal and religious beliefs on the rest of us.” Sometimes the accusation is even more ridiculous: “This person is violating the separation between Church and State.” If pagans believed these concepts, they are not exclusive to the Catholic or even faith. All societies on earth, from the most primal to the most elite, instinctively know that this world is not the end, that there is a God.
As an example, witness the classical argument in favor of the existence of the soul. Humans are capable of conceiving in their minds perfect concepts, e.g. a perfect circle. But perfect circles do not exist in physical reality. If a person is only composed of his body, how is it possible that he is able to conceive such a virtual concept? But our spiritual half, acting by means of our brains, is able to produce in us such a concept. Ideas such as this one are elicited in the mind. In other words, the concept of a perfect circle stems from the soul, not the body.
Now, as the soul is spiritual, so also is it indestructible. Since it is not material but eternal, it is not subject to decay. It is immortal. Furthermore, it is inherently free, since being spiritual precludes limitations imposed by material objects. This freedom is not absolute—the body might impose certain limitations. For example, some might suffer from severe learning disabilities. Nevertheless, the inherent capacity for intellectual and volitional functions is there, and it would be put into action if such limitations could be overcome.
We must not confuse potential function with inherent capacity. The latter refers to the substantial nature of the human person, which does not change and is present in every member of the human family. The former refers to the actual possibilities of individual persons, which vary one to another. But these actual possibilities in no way deny their humanity or their personhood.
Moral Implications of the Soul’s Existence
Each member of humanity is a human being. It does not make logical or anthropological sense to claim that some humans are not persons. And it follows that every human person in his whole being is endowed with an intrinsic and absolute dignity, value or worth.
Otherwise framed, everyone is valuable and worthy of respect simply because he or she is a person, and not because of social status, race, place of residence (inside or outside the womb) or the amount of money had in the bank. That this dignity is absolute means that it is cannot ever be forfeited, neither by sickness, poverty, lack of employment, etc. Under adverse conditions, a person might experience a certain loss of self-worth. But these temporary feelings in no way deny the objective fact of his or her dignity.
When we speak of the inherent and absolute dignity of the human person, we are referring to the ontological dignity, not to the moral dignity. The former refers to the dignity inherent in being; the latter to the dignity (or lack thereof) of actions. Ontological dignity is a given and is never lost; moral dignity has to be earned or it could be lost. Hitler and Mother Teresa had the same ontological dignity; they did not have the same moral dignity.
Denial of the Unity of the Human Person
Some few deny the substantial unity of the human person as a composite of body and soul. Even many “gender” ideologues and the pro-aborts themselves seem to presuppose some sort of soul “inside” the human body. (Yet one must ask, how do they define a “person” anyway?)
The classical argument for human unity presupposes that even in the simplest acts a person performs, such as typing an essay by means of a computer while the brain, hands, sense of sight, etc., are functioning, are acting in perfect unity and harmony. This unity of operation points to the unity of body and soul, since, as we have already pointed out, the soul infuses action into different parts and organs of the body, here in a simultaneous and harmonic way. Thus unity of operation is the best explanation of the body-soul unity. You cannot go on claiming that you believe in holistic medicine, integral sexual “education” and such, while at the same time denying the unity of body and soul. The burden of proof is a very heavy one and is on the one who denies it.
“Gender” ideology is wrong from its most basic assumption: the denial of the moral dimension and relevance of the body. This sad ideology wreaks horrific effects, especially on vulnerable children. “Gender” ideologues try to force their case and media, some politicians, the UN, IPPF, the rest of the sex “education” and abortion pushers, some lay leaders, and even occasional theologians applaud them. But this approval as a sign of “compassion” or “inclusiveness” and “acceptance” is dangerous.
True love is never divorced from truth. Both are one and the same in God, in His divine essence. We must, all of us, begin to tell the truth in love, humility and respect (see Peter 3:15).
 See, as examples, Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), no. 2425.
 See CCC 1700.
 American College of Pediatricians, Gender Dysphoria in Children. Updated November 2018.
 See, for example, St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Part I, Question 86, Article 1. Although, instead of “essence,” St. Thomas calls it “intelligible species,” see the explanation provided in Frederick Copleston, SJ, A History of Philosophy. Book One. Vols. I-111, page 391.
 See, for example, ibid. Part I, Question 76, Articles 1, 6, and 8. See also CCC 365.
 See, for example, ibid. Part I, Questions 78-81.
 See, for example, “Descartes – Dualism,” Wikipedia. Consulted on December 21, 2017.
 See, for example, Summa Theologica, Part I, Question 29, Article 4. Here Aquinas is applying this definition strictly to God as a Trinity of Divine Persons, and not to human persons. Nevertheless, because human persons are created in the Image of God, we can extend, in a certain sense, this definition to human personas as well, always taking into consideration, of course, the infinite distance between God and man.
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Adolfo is the Director of Education for Hispanic Outreach for Human Life International and of HLI's Hispanic outreach arm Vida Humana Internacional. He has a Masters in Theology from St. Vincent de Paul Regional (Major) Seminary and a License in Moral Theology from the Alphonsian Academy in Rome.
Adolfo has traveled frequently to VHI’s affiliates in Latin America to give talks, training sessions, and media interviews. He has authored and co-authored books, articles, reports, and a pro-life training course for Hispanics in the U.S. Adolfo has also participated in the production of two TV pro-life series in Spanish, which have been aired through EWTN en Español.