Cruel bigotry: A new letter released by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops claims transgender identity is a “false idea.”
In a deplorable and immoral letter released by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and signed by a multitude of backward and ignorant religious conservatives, parents are urged to reject their transgender children and deny them appropriate medical treatment because “What God has created is good” and “‘God created mankind in his image; in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them’ (Gen 1:27).”
The letter, titled “Created Male and Female: An Open Letter from Religious Leaders” and dated December 15, 2017, reads:
As leaders of various communities of faith throughout the United States, many of us came together in the past to affirm our commitment to marriage as the union of one man and one woman and as the foundation of society. We reiterate that natural marriage continues to be invaluable to American society.
We come together to join our voices on a more fundamental precept of our shared existence, namely, that human beings are male or female and that the socio-cultural reality of gender cannot be separated from one’s sex as male or female.
We acknowledge and affirm that all human beings are created by God and thereby have an inherent dignity. We also believe that God created each person male or female; therefore, sexual difference is not an accident or a flaw—it is a gift from God that helps draw us closer to each other and to God. What God has created is good. “God created mankind in his image; in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (Gen 1:27).
A person’s discomfort with his or her sex, or the desire to be identified as the other sex, is a complicated reality that needs to be addressed with sensitivity and truth. Each person deserves to be heard and treated with respect; it is our responsibility to respond to their concerns with compassion, mercy and honesty. As religious leaders, we express our commitment to urge the members of our communities to also respond to those wrestling with this challenge with patience and love.
Children especially are harmed when they are told that they can “change” their sex or, further, given hormones that will affect their development and possibly render them infertile as adults. Parents deserve better guidance on these important decisions, and we urge our medical institutions to honor the basic medical principle of “first, do no harm.” Gender ideology harms individuals and societies by sowing confusion and self-doubt. The state itself has a compelling interest, therefore, in maintaining policies that uphold the scientific fact of human biology and supporting the social institutions and norms that surround it.
The movement today to enforce the false idea—that a man can be or become a woman or vice versa—is deeply troubling. It compels people to either go against reason—that is, to agree with something that is not true—or face ridicule, marginalization, and other forms of retaliation.
We desire the health and happiness of all men, women, and children. Therefore, we call for policies that uphold the truth of a person’s sexual identity as male or female, and the privacy and safety of all. We hope for renewed appreciation of the beauty of sexual difference in our culture and for authentic support of those who experience conflict with their God-given sexual identity.
Writing for ThinkProgress, Zack Ford notes:
The letter attempts to simultaneously show compassion to transgender people while simultaneously condemning them.
One section of the letter directly encourages parents to reject their transgender children, claiming that they are “harmed” when they are affirmed in their identities…
Contrary to these claims, studies have found that how parents respond to their children’s gender identities can have drastic consequences for their mental health. When families reject their children for being transgender, it can significantly increase their depression and suicidal thinking. But when families affirm their kids in their gender identities, it’s one of the strongest buffers against those consequences, allowing them to be as happy and healthy as their peers who aren’t transgender. Trans kids are not full of “confusion and self-doubt,” and treating them like they are, as these religious leaders recommend, can be remarkably damaging.
The Advocate reports on the controversial letter signatories:
The lead signature is from the Most Rev. Joseph C. Bambera, who is the Roman Catholc Bishop of Scranton, Pa., and chairman of the USCCB Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs. Other signatories include leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, North American Lutheran Church and Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (both separate from and more conservative than the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, which is LGBT-affirming), the Presbyterian Church in America (separate from and more conservative than the LGBT-friendly Presbyterian Church USA), the Church of God in Christ, and the Islamic Society of North America.
Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry, a Catholic organization that advocates for LGBT equality, issued a rebuttal to the deplorable letter issued b y the Catholic Bishops, noting:
This statement is dangerous because it distributes false information which can lead to attitudes, policies, and practices which will do physical and emotional harm to transgender people, a community already with a high risk of becoming victims of hate crimes.
The main problem with the statement is that it claims that gender is determined only by genitalia, a view which modern science and people’s experience have shown to be insufficient. Gender is also determined by other biological factors, often not immediately visible, such as hormones, genetics, brain composition, and internal self-understanding.
The statement also assumes that people are questioning their gender identities because of socio-cultural norms about gender are changing. That is false. Cultural history shows that in every society people have always existed who do not fit the male-female binary system of categorizing gender. Gender identity questions are not a modern phenomenon brought on by what some people see as a permissive culture. If anything, modern attitudes about gender are allowing people who do not fit the gender binary to live authentically and truthfully the way that God has created them.
Bottom line: Catholic Bishops and other cruel conservative religious leaders are encouraging parents to reject their transgender children, and are essentially making the absurd claim that transgender individuals do not exist.