What is the Catholic Church’s view on Transgender Issues?
Catholics are called to treat all human beings with dignity and respect. We are called to be compassionate in imitation of Jesus Christ. However, the Church maintains that people may not change what Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has referred to as “their very essence.” In a 2012 speech, Pope Benedict XVI directly addressed transgender issues by warning Catholics about “destroying the very essence of the human creature through manipulating their God-given gender to suit their sexual choices.” Pope Benedict cautioned that “when freedom to be creative becomes the freedom to create oneself, then necessarily the Maker himself is denied and ultimately man too is stripped of his dignity as a creature of God.”
Certainly, Church teaching recognizes that there can be a biological reason for gender-identity disorder. But it also acknowledges the possibility of other causes for this disorder—sociological factors and psychological factors—that can never be resolved through cross-dressing or surgical intervention.
Indeed, studies suggest that surgery for transgender people does little to resolve these psychological problems. It does little to alleviate psychological suffering or reduce the risk of suicide.
Fr. Michael Schmitz articulates the Catholic view on transgenderism in the video below. Commenting on the recent Bruce Jenner “gender reassignment” issue, Father Mike Schmitz discusses the difference between one’s perception of gender and gender reality. Gender stereotypes have altered our perception of what it means to be a man or a woman, but it is unhealthy to expect reality to conform to our perceptions. If there is someone in your life struggling with gender identity, or any other brokenness, Father Mike encourages you to be there for them. He tells us to “walk with them.”
Image Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Mike Mozart