Transgenderism, especially the push to enshrine in civil law a protected status for people who consider themselves not to be a male or a female in the customary sense of those designations, has increasingly been filling our news these days. The topic is long, complex, and loaded with sensitivities.
It is indeed important to speak with sensitivity about sensitive topics in the hope of fostering greater understanding in the hearts and minds of people who are wounded over these matters. However, in recent years the cultural departure from objective reality itself, and from a healthy view of human nature, has become dramatic when it comes to the topic of transgenderism. It has reached the point where even the slightest departure from its ideology is viewed as hateful. In such a climate, one loses hope that speaking with tip-toed sensitivity on the subject is going to make any difference at all.
Therefore, fruitless sensitivity aside, the current cultural moment would greatly benefit from some clearly articulated counter-points offered from what has now become the “classical” perspective on human nature. It is the Church’s role as the guardian of the authentic understanding of human nature to speak clearly for the sake of the present generation and for the generations to come.
“Male” or “Female” is How God Wants Us to View Ourselves
The Scriptures and the Catechism of the Catholic Church are essential voices of divinely revealed truth about how we understand reality. They are very clear that humans are created male and female, and that maleness and femaleness are willed by God as good things. For us as Catholics those are binding statements of faith and truth. Unfortunately, the same statements are increasingly viewed as un-scientific in the light of all the subtle variations of biological markers that are evident when one looks hyper-closely at male and female physiology across an entire population. This leads many to conclude that doctrinal statements about “male” and “female” will, before long, be viewed as something the Church was forced to retreat from in the same way we had to let go of the Medieval idea that the earth was the center of the universe.
The subtle variations mentioned above are in the vast majority of cases just that: subtle. Which means that any claims to the effect that modern science has shown there really are not two sexes is more ideological than it is scientific. Far more iron-clad across the whole population is the simple truth that, subtle variations aside, a woman is able to be a mother and carry life inside of her, and a man is able to be a father and conceive a child inside of a woman.
If one understands that maleness and femaleness are most fundamentally about the creation of new life, then all of the subtle variations in biological markers are quickly reduced to something of minimal importance. We quickly arrive back at what the Bible has said all along: God made us male and female, and that we cannot switch our gender identities. With science being lost in an ideological fog on this point right now, it is the gift of Divine Revelation to put everything back in perspective for the good of the human race that would otherwise destroy itself in gender theory.
Men Are Men and Women Are Women.
It is true that there is a very small segment of the human population that experiences genuine sexual identity discordance that originates in biology and psychology. This is a mental condition in which a person deeply questions his or her given sexual identity. For those people, the remedies require care and compassion, rooted in a proper understanding of the situation. A proper understanding holds to the normative character of the categories of male and female that all of us do fit in to, even if imperfectly at times. For the ways in which we sometimes feel conflicted in our sexual identity, these are best explained through the ancient lenses of fallen man, sin, grace, the cross, and the resurrection with some good counseling thrown in to help. Remedies that suggest we should attempt to change our biological sex are never, ever, compatible with God’s plan for us as people and will not leave us satisfied.
Much of our world today lives totally cut off from the land, from agriculture, and from the raw forces of nature. In such a world, it is easy to begin to think that gender is fluid and that we can manipulate it, or even that we can be overly conflicted about how we understand ourselves as a man or a woman. Unfortunately, it can even become trendy or an attention seeking behavior to try and “go against the norm” by ruminating too deeply on the idea that we are really not what our bodily sexual identity shows that we are. When that happens to us, the answer is not to suddenly decide we are a different gender and seek legal protection from any attempts to be told otherwise. Instead, the answer is to take it as it is: part of the mental roller coaster of adolescent and adult life that we just weather as best we can without re-inventing reality, or worse without mutilating otherwise healthy bodily reproductive systems.
Legalized Violence Against Human Dignity
To enshrine “transgender” as a distinct biological and legal category, on the same plane with “male” and “female,” actively erases the unique roles and gifts of men and women in the world. A man with inner conflicts about his sexual identity who decides he is female, and who attempts to bend his biology around his mental self-image even to great lengths, can never truly be thought of as a woman. Insisting that family, friends, neighbors, legislators, and employers label him as a woman is a flight from his true identity and a degradation of true femininity. Viewing a man as a woman denies women their right to authentic self-expression, and their right to the safety and security of settings and circumstances that uniquely belong to women. All the converse is equally true of a woman seeking to convince herself she is a man. Rather than being left with a social situation in which we all acknowledge a “range” of gender possibilities, as the transgender movement would have everyone believe, what is actually left is generic humanity bereft of any deep and lasting identity or community.
For the vast majority of the human population that intuitively grasps the objective fact of biological, God-willed masculinity and femininity, it does violence to us to force us to construct an alternative version of reality of sexual identity. A woman who forces me to claim that she is a man attacks my dignity because she denies me my fundamental right to acknowledge what is objectively true. It also denies anyone else the ability to offer meaningful help and assistance through expert counseling and therapy, thereby thwarting the God-given desire in all of us to offer authentic, compassionate healing to those in pain. Embracing God’s plan of masculinity and femininity leads to true human communion in the bonds of objective truth. Denying God’s plan in the manner that transgender ideology does only leads to isolation in the shadow world of make-believe, and to the fracturing of the human family.
Now Is the Time to Speak Clearly
The Church needs to speak boldly right now about this before it is too late, recognizing that we are never going to win a popularity contest on this issue. We must understand the transgender movement for the grave misunderstanding of human nature that it is, and we must fight for our legal rights to point out reality to those who would deny it. We must do so as part of our God-given mission to protect people from ideas, forces, and practices that spell disaster for the human family. This is a duty that all of us should take seriously and we should make our voices known to those who hold public office. Any society that intentionally and legally denies the truth that we are created male and female has no future.