Today’s Patheos piece serves two purposes. One, it’s an open letter to Pope Francis because I have written him several times in private now. He is a good and humble man who takes open praise and also open critique well. Two, I have reached a huge roadblock in my ability to advocate for Neurodiverse and LGBTQ+ lives within and even outside the Catholic Church. I believe it’s mostly due to our current political climate. At this point in time, I am now left with just a few channels to advocate: through my Patheos column, advocacy videos, and other publications.
Dearest Pope Francis,
I don’t even know where to begin. Let me start by saying that I love you, and I know you couldn’t be in a more difficult position. When you give warning that you may need to retire because of your health, I know that mental health must be part of it. I watched you courageously restrict the Latin Rite Mass, not because it isn’t beautiful, which it is. You had to restrict it because parts (not all) of the Latin Rite Mass became dangerous places full of hatred, and some have turned into doors for political right-winged fascism. I will list the traits of fascism at the bottom again for those who need a refresher because I believe that certain states in our country are just steps away from becoming neo-fascist states.
Coming from very conservative religious circles all of my life and feeling dutifully obligated to always vote and act in certain ways, I just submitted and went along as a “Good Christian/Catholic faithful woman.” As I have expressed to you before, I am a Catholic mother of four young adult children and a wife of 28 years. I am also an Academic Language Therapist (type of Educational Therapist) with specialized credentialing in Autism, Cognition, Dyslexia, and LGBTQIA+ Inclusion in Healthcare. I will also finish a Catholic lay ministry certification through my local Archdiocese in May. I earned the LGBTQIA+ credentialing over the last year after my eyes were painfully opened to the fact that acceptance and affirmation of LGBTQIA+ people and their families is a matter of life and death, especially youth. I had to admit and apologize for being wrong as a practitioner and as a parent.
Every major medical association in the world supports gender-affirming care and affirmation of all LGBTQIA+ people and came to this medical consensus between the years of 2017-2019. I wouldn’t have believed this truth until I witnessed first-hand accounts as a practitioner, as a pending lay minister, and as a parent.
I am now going to speak specifically of trans kids in Texas and in Florida because Catholic governors, Gov. Greg Abbott and Gov. Ron DeSantis, are trying to appease a powerful minority right-winged base by politically targeting transgender children and their families. I wouldn’t make this sort of allegation unless I had not witnessed good loving families of transgender children creating emergency exit plans out of Texas to safer ground because of anti-LGBTQ laws. Nor would I speak up at this level unless the news hadn’t already covered it.
The way the Catholic Church fights for the unborn should be the same way they fight for lives like this trans child, her family, and other families like theirs. The Catholic Church teaches that all life is equally-sacred from conception to natural death, no exceptions. Thankfully, I think at least some of the Church is waking up to the violence against transgender people and against trans children, not just in the Catholic world, but in other Christian traditions and even in other religious traditions. Parents of LBGTQIA+ children shouldn’t have to leave their families, churches, communities, and their home states because parts of the right wing want to invoke terror on those children and their families who have biological and psychological variances in gender and sexuality, just as there are neurodiversities in other minority populations, such as those with Autism.
Back to transgender youth, please note that it is rare for a doctor of gender-affirming care to prescribe anything permanent to a child under the age of 18, and even then, prescriptions are made with great caution. The medical consensus doesn’t typically advise anything permanent under the age of 18. Most children under 18 are given reversible puberty blockers or reversible hormone replacement therapies in the adolescents years and only if it’s needed to salvage the mental health and lives of transgender youth. These treatments have been proven to save lives. Yet, still, this is only the family’s business while the governors of both Texas and Florida attempt to deny life-saving medical care and terrorize families for following their doctors’ orders and the medical consensus. Please watch this video about this transgender child and her mother in Texas who have now fled for their lives to another state.
What amazes me is that I will show certain conservatives (not all) this and give life and death scenarios, yet they still judge. Even moreso terrifying, some even want trans children and their loving parents dead while calling themselves “Followers of Christ” and “Pro-Life.” This Texas Christian mom, who gave me permission to share this video, has received death threats for going public with the truth of being “Trans in Texas.”
This is part of many reasons why I stay Catholic, to defend families like this from within the Church and outside the Church. I believe that when the Catholic Church is safe for families like this, society will be safer. Some trads/Catholic Right are more concerned about “defending the teachings of the Church” than whether children like this live or die and are allowed to grow up safe from within their families, churches, and communities. Some of the right-wing calls themselves “pro-life” as they concurrently do everything they can to shove God and the Church out of these families’ lives, destroy them, and push them into the hands of Religious trauma recovery where I serve very part-time. Also, the rate of of the LBGTQIA+ experience is 3 to 6 times higher in families who have children with other neurodiversity such as Autism. Yet again, many in the right-wing don’t want to hear such science.
As I told my local Archbishop, I refuse to allow the Catholic Right to push out my family and families like ours. Serving in disability advocacy gave me the skills to fulfill the calling of my ministry work, being a pro-life advocate for disabled, Neurodiverse, and LBGTQIA+ children and their families in Churches, Schools, and society. Following science means that trans youth and young adults are all fully-included and can have access to life-giving gender-affirming care supported by every major medical association in the world. If we don’t follow science, trans children and LGBTQIA+ people and their families will continue to have lasting psychological damage and/or die. Please spend a week with me in Religious Trauma recovery to see this truth first-hand.
Pope Francis, please ask Catholic Gov. Greg Abbott and Catholic Gov. Ron DeSantis to stop politically targeting transgender children and their families in Texas and in Florida as you have faithfully asked the Catholic Church to do so. Research shows that access to gender-affirming care can save the mental health and lives of trans youth. This is not about sexual activity, but it’s about the Sanctity to Life and Human Dignity which are core Catholic Teachings. Restricting gender-affirming care and targeting their families, as these two governors are doing, would be no different than restricting insulin for a child with diabetes and targeting their families for seeking science-based medical care.
Papa Frasensco, Please speak with Catholic Governors Greg Abbott and Ron Desantis to protect who Jesus calls, “The Least of These.”
Pending Traits of Fascism
I believe that the current legislative actions of some far-right Republican politicians (not all) are now falling in alignment with fascism, especially in Texas and Florida. According to Encyclopedia Britannica and The Washington Monthly, I close with these primary traits of fascism once again. We are just steps away if not already in a fascist state, at least in Texas.
- sources and capitalizes on economic woes and anxieties
- shifts political blame on to scapegoat groups like minority groups, such as, Democrats, immigrants, and other groups while taking away blame from where it belongs, on the leadership
- propagates extreme nationalism going hand-in-hand with racism and militarism
- a melding of church and state when there should be a separation
- subjugation of women and sexism
- a disdain for human rights except those of the elite, especially a disdain for those who identify as LGBTQIA+
- obsession with crime and punishment
- identification of enemies as a unifying cause for political action
- disdain for intellectualism, science, history, and the arts
- control of different types of media, including books
- rampant cronyism and government corruption
- attempt to control elections, like through voter suppression