Catholic Teaching on Gender Dysphoria

Catholic Teaching on Transgender(Gender Dysphoria)

Moira McQueen, LLB, MDiv, PhD

Recently there seems to be an increase in numbers of children and adults presenting themselves as wishing to be members of the opposite sex. These people are said to be experiencing “gender dysphoria,” and society mostly uses the word “transgender” to refer to them. This means they are experiencing a strong desire to be a person of the opposite gender, and they act as if they already are, or express the desire to do so: they wear the clothing of the opposite gender, they want to be called by a chosen name and to be part of the activities of the opposite gender, at least as far as possible. It is important to note that some children express these desires in an ongoing way as young as four or five.

If they are not allowed to act as they desire, it can cause anxiety and an overall sense of “not fitting in,” from their youngest days. It would perhaps be more accurate to say that they could experience heightened anxiety and insecurity, since it seems to be statistically evident that anxiety and other serious psychological conditions persist, unfortunately, throughout their lives.

Gender dysphoria, formerly known as Gender Identity Disorder, differs from intersex questions since there are no physiological abnormalities or anomalies, yet the person is convinced that he/she is, despite bodily evidence, a member of the opposite sex. It is crucial to remember that the cause of this condition is as yet unknown: that it is psychological or psychiatric in origin and not physiological. Discussions and questions about possible treatments or managing the condition are at best theoretical. We must be prudent in our assessments as how best to handle these situations, recognizing that what adults may think is the best way, may over the long term be wrong. Yet something has to be done where children are concerned, and school boards, for example, are wrestling with this.

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