A true, loving, and Catholic response to transgender ideology
FORT WORTH — The transgender culture has become so mainstream that today you can find multinational corporations using transgender individuals in advertisements for credit cards, beer, and even cough drops. Universities show their support by flying the transgender flag. Catholics should navigate this cultural zeitgeist with equal measures of truth and love, according to Mary Rice Hasson, the program director of the Catholic Women’s Forum in Washington, D.C.
The attorney, author, and speaker on women and family issues presented “The Catholic Response to Gender Ideology” to about 150 people on Sept. 8 at St. Andrew Church in Fort Worth.
She said the United States is experiencing a wave of transgender youth and young adults.
Although reliable statistics are difficult to obtain, the American Psychological Association estimates that nearly a million adolescents and adults in the U.S. identify as transgender, and the number has more than doubled in the last 10 years. The trend is likely to continue, as a 2020 Gallup poll found that 1.8 percent of Gen Z young adults describe themselves as transgender, compared to 0.2 percent of the Baby Boom generation.
The truth of science
Hasson explained that Catholics, especially parents, need to know what the Catholic Church teaches. She said, “This is a critical time because there are so many people who are hurting and who need the truth that the Church has to offer, who need the kindness and love that we as Catholics know how to give.”
According to Hasson, most of the voices in the public square promote a “happily ever after” narrative for men or women who undergo medical treatment to live as a member of the opposite sex.
She countered that there is another side to the story that often begins and ends with untold pain. Teens often struggle with questions of identity and purpose. Some media outlets, educators, and medical professionals will affirm to young people, many of whom are suffering from depression or other mental illness, that changing genders is the path to healing and peace.
Hasson said the Catholic view, to paraphrase Pope Francis, is that we need to be accompany these individuals, and never abandon them. However, accompaniment means to “love enough to tell the truth,” Hasson stated.
Gender is determined at conception, and while hormone therapy and surgery may enable a person to present themselves as the opposite gender (and will likely render them infertile), their biological sex, as defined by their role in reproduction, is “immutable. It cannot change,” said Hasson.
Hasson said that transgender activists view the body as a collection of parts, and a person may invent himself or herself, changing parts if necessary to match their self-creation.
Catholic teaching, however, is that an individual is created as a beloved son or daughter of God. “Each one of us is created in love, for love, by God who loves us for all eternity, and created us and wants us to live eternally with Him. He knows who we are because He made us. He made us male and female; He made us one for another, and from this we get families,” Hasson said.
Pope Francis and Pope Benedict XVI have compared gender transition to Adam and Eve’s rebellion in the Garden of Eden. Pope Emeritus Benedict said, “This is the era of sin against God the Creator! He’s clever! God has created man and woman; God has created the world thus … and we’re doing the opposite.”
Hasson also explained that transition surgery doesn’t heal the underlying mental anguish. She cited examples of individuals who “de-transitioned” to their original gender and others who still suffer from depression or other mental illness after the surgery.
Hasson said that an evolutionary biologist with whom she works, who is an atheist, said the idea that one can actually change one’s gender is “reality’s last stand.”
Respond in love
A key to responding in love is to “presume the best of everyone, even those who disagree strongly with the Church’s position,” said Hasson. The transgender teen or young adult, the family and friends who support their decision to undergo a gender transition, and the medical professionals all share a common goal: to alleviate suffering.
Hasson also pointed out the transgender individual is not the only one struggling. Even pro-transition advocates acknowledge that the family experiences grief and loss during the journey.
If a boy or girl finds it painful or repulsive to imagine growing up to be the person that God created them to be, listen to them to help them heal the interior wounds, she advised.
Still, affirming their desire to switch genders is medically harmful, she said. “If someone’s on a path that is harmful, we need to lovingly walk alongside but help them see a better way to go. Sometimes it doesn’t work. Sometimes people don’t want to be helped. And then our accompaniment looks different. It’s prayer….As Catholics, we need to love, but tell the truth.”
Hasson hoped the discussion enabled those who attended “to feel more equipped to help, to love, and to serve those who are in need, especially around issues involving sexuality and gender.”
Although our current culture has created a harmful path for children, Hasson is not discouraged. She said, “Our God is an awesome God. He loves each one of those kids who are in a vulnerable spot. He loves all those misguided doctors…. He relies on us to bring the good news of the Gospel: His love, His truth. Treat everyone kindly, but speak the truth and then pray hard, and God will do the rest.”
Hasson spoke the following night on the future of education to the Fort Worth Chapter of Legatus, which paid the speaker’s travel expenses. Legatus is a national membership organization of business leaders and their spouses which aims to study, live, and spread the Catholic faith in their professional and personal lives.