KEYS: The Church and sex change

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Right now, nearly 1 and a half million Americans identify as transgender. And in Europe, countries like Spain are making it easier to transition. There, people as young as 16 can legally change their gender.

In light of growing numbers around the world, the topic of transgenderism is receiving more and more attention from politicians, psychologists and the media. The Catholic Church has also spoken out. In the document Dignitas Infinita, the Vatican clearly rejects gender reassignment.

Prefect, Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith

Regarding gender reassignment, the document reflects on the importance of accepting reality as it is. The subject is important to be seen as a whole because today, there is a tendency to want to create reality.

Several experts agree. They warn that sex change is permanent and young people, in particular, should not be allowed to make this irreversible decision.

Author, “Gender, Youth and the Church”

It is irreversible. It is irreversible and it leaves a mark. In other words, there is no turning back. That is very delicate. Young people, children, adolescents, do not have the capacity to make decisions for life. They are not in a position to make a decision that will affect the rest of their lives.
If a person who has an arm amputated for medical reasons feels this arm for months, because the nerve endings are there, imagine what happens with such radical interventions. They are violent.

When it comes to sex change, European countries were the pioneers. In the 1990s, a clinic in Amsterdam began to administer hormones to create physical changes, like a deeper voice or facial hair. But 30 years later, these drugs are still largely underresearched.

In some U.S. states like Texas and Florida, doctors are prohibited by law from administering hormone disrupting drugs. And now, some European countries are also limiting usage.

Author, “Gender, Youth and the Church”

There are some countries, like England and Holland, that have been a bit ahead on things like suspending puberty and facilitating operations for children. And now they are saying: “Attention. This is not having good results; it is not scientifically proven.” So, the fact that experiments are being carried out with minors, I believe that it is only motivated by an economic and ideological interest.

Gender Studies Professor, Univ. of Notre Dame

Particularly with the protocols for minors, which often include puberty blockade or artificially arresting puberty, there is increasing concern about effects on bone and brain development that might end up being irreversible.

The consequences of irreversible gender changes can be seen in cases like this one: an American woman who decided at 18 years old that she wanted to medically transition into a male. Years later, she regretted her choice and detransitioned. Now, she is unable to breastfeed her son.

He's so fragile. All I want to do is just give him breast milk and breast feed him. That's just what my body desperately wants to do. And I just absolutely cannot even try to.

Another problem not being adequately addressed regards distinguishing the biological sex from male and female roles, which can change over time.

Author, “Gender, Youth and the Church”

Sex can be said to be the biological characteristics of a person. Everything that touches the chromosomes, genitals, hormones, even the brain. Gender is the cultural interpretation of sex.

In today's society, a lot of fathers are taking on more of the responsibilities previously associated with mothers.

Author, “Gender, Youth and the Church”

My father has never changed a diaper and my brother has changed many more diapers than my sister-in-law, and he is not more of a man than the other. Roles change, functions change, relationships between men and women also change because gender changes, that is, cultural interpretations change, which does not mean that sex is not a fact that touches the person in every context and in every place; it is expressed in a different way.

The Catholic Church has maintained its strong position on these issues: “no” to gender ideology and sex change. Pope Francis has made this clear on many occasions, like this one, recounting the story of a father and son.

October 3, 2016

He asked his 10-year-old son: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” “A girl,” the boy said. The father realized that school text books were teaching gender. And this goes against what is natural.

The latest Vatican document, Dignitas Infinita, addresses these questions head on. But there is still a need for further studies so that young people, especially, can find clarification.

Gender Studies Professor, Univ. of Notre Dame

It is important, I think, for the Church to begin to clarify what her understanding of gender is so that we can engage meaningfully with different ideas and other perspectives within culture.

Author, “Gender, Youth and the Church”

Young people today believe that the Church's discourse on these issues is out of step with the times and some turn away because of this. They have deep support for this issue. So, For me, it is like a wake-up call to the Church, to the pastoral agents to say: we have to adapt our discourse; we have to build bridges, because young people are asking for it and because we are losing a generation.

When it comes to transgenderism, Pope Francis is consistently clear. He's even met with groups of transgenders during his weekly audiences. So for the moment at least, the Church's stance remains: reject the practice but welcome the person.


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