Sibling Dilemma


#1

I've been lurking around the forums for a while now -- it's a great place -- but I haven't until recently found the need to register.

Well now I could really use some advice.

Earlier this evening my sister sat the family down in the living room and said she had something important to share with us. I thought maybe she was going to say that she was a lesbian, but she said that she is transgender. That she feels like she is really a man and she wants us to know that because she loves us and wants us to be a part of her life.

I don't really know what to do. On the one hand, she's my sister -- or I guess my brother now. And we were really close growing up, considering we're only a year apart. So of course I love her and I want the best for her. I just don't really know what to do.

Our dad didn't say much of anything, and you can tell he's been thinking on this all evening. My mom started crying and gave Stephanie (er, Eric, as he'd prefer to be called) a big hug.

I mean, I don't know too much about what the Church has to say on this matter -- it's not something that really comes up too often -- but he said that the Church says that taking hormones and getting surgery like he wants to do is a mortal sin. And I don't want him to sin, of course. I also don't want him to suffer, and he says he's been in a lot of pain a long time because of this.

I don't really understand her/his feelings or thoughts, but brother or sister she's still my sibling and I want to help her in what's clearly a difficult time.

So... what's the proper Catholic thing to do here? Any advice would definitely be welcome.


#2

Dear Tom,

We all hope we never have to face issues like this in our own families and it must be a shock for you all. I can believe your sister has been through a lot before coming to this moment. I will pray for you all. I guess there's no escape from the fact that you and your family will be feeling confused and saddened for various reasons following your sister's announcement, but at least I can pray for you all

The following Vatican statement may be illuminating.
In 2000, the Holy See took the official position that transsexualism is a form of mental illness and that transsexual people remain the same sex they were born with. However, the Vatican stated that "[a transgender] procedure could be morally acceptable in certain extreme cases if a medical probability exists that it will "cure" the patient's internal turmoil." [7]

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_rights_in_Vatican_City

[

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

216 “God’s truth is his wisdom, which commands the whole created order and governs the world. God, who alone made heaven and earth, can alone impart true knowledge of every created thing in relation to himself.”

And we know that as part of his creation, he made two genders in his own image, man and woman. The Catechism:

369 “Man and woman have been created, which is to say, willed by God: on the one hand, in perfect equality as human persons; on the other, in their respective beings as man and woman. “Being man” or “being woman” is a reality which is good and willed by God: man and woman possess an inalienable dignity which comes to them immediately from God their Creator. Man and woman are both with one and the same dignity “in the image of God”. In their “being-man” and “being-woman”, they reflect the Creator’s wisdom and goodness.”

If one, despite feelings to the contrary, accepts his gender out of faith and love for God and His ultimate wisdom, then there is certain to be much grace and healing for that individual.

my-bankruptcy-help.com/?b=LGBT_rights_in_Vatican_Citycatechismoncall.wordpress.com/2008/11/19/a-catholic-look-at-the-transgender-issue/]("http://catechismoncall.wordpress.com/2008/11/19/a-catholic-look-at-the-transgender-issue/")


#3

As the pp shows, the CC doesn't seem to have a cut and dried opinion on this. No one really knows why some people feel misplaced in their bodies like that. But they really do feel that way, and there is some evidence that there may be a physical reason for it. I think the lack of understanding is why the CC has been pretty restrained about it.

Maybe if you tell your sibling about this is would make him feel better? A lot of posters here will probably be unsympathetic, and I would totally understand that someone in that position would want nothing to do with the Church and those kinds of people. But if you know a sensitive priest it might be good for you, or your sibling, to talk to him.

I tend to think that gender surgery is kind of brutal, and I wonder whether it would be better to not have it and instead come to terms with having a body/mind experience that doesn't really fall into any of the usual categories. Unfortunately people don't seem to accept that, they want to pin people down as men or women, abs I think that contributes to people wanting to get gender reassignment surgery. Alas people in the Church seem to be as bad or worse about this. I'm sure many people who find themselves in this situation feel they can't win in their congregation and so just leave.


#4

[quote="Trishie, post:2, topic:224330"]
Dear Tom,

We all hope we never have to face issues like this in our own families and it must be a shock for you all. I can believe your sister has been through a lot before coming to this moment. I will pray for you all. I guess there's no escape from the fact that you and your family will be feeling confused and saddened for various reasons following your sister's announcement, but at least I can pray for you all

The following Vatican statement may be illuminating.
In 2000, the Holy See took the official position that transsexualism is a form of mental illness and that transsexual people remain the same sex they were born with. However, the Vatican stated that "[a transgender] procedure could be morally acceptable in certain extreme cases if a medical probability exists that it will "cure" the patient's internal turmoil." [7]

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_rights_in_Vatican_City

[

my-bankruptcy-help.com/?b=LGBT_rights_in_Vatican_City]("http://catechismoncall.wordpress.com/2008/11/19/a-catholic-look-at-the-transgender-issue/")

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

216 “God’s truth is his wisdom, which commands the whole created order and governs the world. God, who alone made heaven and earth, can alone impart true knowledge of every created thing in relation to himself.”

And we know that as part of his creation, he made two genders in his own image, man and woman. The Catechism:

369 “Man and woman have been created, which is to say, willed by God: on the one hand, in perfect equality as human persons; on the other, in their respective beings as man and woman. “Being man” or “being woman” is a reality which is good and willed by God: man and woman possess an inalienable dignity which comes to them immediately from God their Creator. Man and woman are both with one and the same dignity “in the image of God”. In their “being-man” and “being-woman”, they reflect the Creator’s wisdom and goodness.”

If one, despite feelings to the contrary, accepts his gender out of faith and love for God and His ultimate wisdom, then there is certain to be much grace and healing for that individual.

catechismoncall.wordpress.com/2008/11/19/a-catholic-look-at-the-transgender-issue/

This is the problem with Wikipedia.
Go to the source that Wiki cites. That quote is not from the Vatican--it is a journalist's summary with no link to the official source.

Also--the second link merely cites the Wiki article.

Your other sources are blogs. The good and true information is in the Catechism. I'm not condemning your effort, but I am cautioning against taking as "gospel" ANYTHING Wikipedia claims.

[/quote]


#5

I haven't had a need to research this, but I have heard than many "transgender" people who have the surgery find that they have mutilated themselves and STILL aren't happy....it doesn't fix the problem like they believe it will. Has your sister had really good therapy about this? If I were the parent of a mixed-up person like this, I would pay for a therapist who would figure out what is really going on, underneath all of society's messages that tell a person "you are in the wrong body."

If your sister is determined to go through with this, I don't know if there is much you can do but love her and pray for her. What a shock this must be for your parents! And you.

:(


#6

Some people accept their body and accept their feelings and live that way. That would be spiritually okay--although your sibling would be sinning if engaged in a sexual relationship with someone to whom s/he is not married.

I suggest, be polite--call him by the name and the pronoun he prefers--but if asked your opinion on the matter, tell the truth, but tell it with love. It is not loving to lie to spare feelings while contributing to the destruction of the soul.

It can be done. One doesn't need to be sanctimonious--just lovingly honest. I have had family members caught in the homosexual lifestyle with whom I have expressed these things, and our relationship was stronger because of my honesty and conviction. She, and her former partner eventually converted to Catholicism and now live as sisters. In fact, the former partner is my daughter's Godmother.


#7

[quote="TomFischer, post:1, topic:224330"]
I've been lurking around the forums for a while now -- it's a great place -- but I haven't until recently found the need to register.

Well now I could really use some advice.

Earlier this evening my sister sat the family down in the living room and said she had something important to share with us. I thought maybe she was going to say that she was a lesbian, but she said that she is transgender. That she feels like she is really a man and she wants us to know that because she loves us and wants us to be a part of her life.

I don't really know what to do. On the one hand, she's my sister -- or I guess my brother now. And we were really close growing up, considering we're only a year apart. So of course I love her and I want the best for her. I just don't really know what to do.

Our dad didn't say much of anything, and you can tell he's been thinking on this all evening. My mom started crying and gave Stephanie (er, Eric, as he'd prefer to be called) a big hug.

I mean, I don't know too much about what the Church has to say on this matter -- it's not something that really comes up too often -- but he said that the Church says that taking hormones and getting surgery like he wants to do is a mortal sin. And I don't want him to sin, of course. I also don't want him to suffer, and he says he's been in a lot of pain a long time because of this.

I don't really understand her/his feelings or thoughts, but brother or sister she's still my sibling and I want to help her in what's clearly a difficult time.

So... what's the proper Catholic thing to do here? Any advice would definitely be welcome.

[/quote]

If this is a legit post... seek the advice of a good Catholic Priest.


#8

scborromeo.org/ccc/p1s2c1p6.htm

III. "MALE AND FEMALE HE CREATED THEM"

Equality and difference willed by God

369 Man and woman have been created, which is to say, willed by God: on the one hand, in perfect equality as human persons; on the other, in their respective beings as man and woman. "Being man" or "being woman" is a reality which is good and willed by God: man and woman possess an inalienable dignity which comes to them immediately from God their Creator.240 Man and woman are both with one and the same dignity "in the image of God". In their "being-man" and "being-woman", they reflect the Creator's wisdom and goodness.

"Each for the other" - "A unity in two"

371 God created man and woman together and willed each for the other. The Word of God gives us to understand this through various features of the sacred text. "It is not good that the man should be alone. I will make him a helper fit for him."242 None of the animals can be man's partner.243 The woman God "fashions" from the man's rib and brings to him elicits on the man's part a cry of wonder, an exclamation of love and communion: "This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh."244 Man discovers woman as another "I", sharing the same humanity.

372 Man and woman were made "for each other" - not that God left them half-made and incomplete: he created them to be a communion of persons, in which each can be "helpmate" to the other, for they are equal as persons ("bone of my bones. . .") and complementary as masculine and feminine. In marriage God unites them in such a way that, by forming "one flesh",245 they can transmit human life: "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth."246 By transmitting human life to their descendants, man and woman as spouses and parents cooperate in a unique way in the Creator's work.247


#9

Tom, I'm sorry for the delay in giving you source material. After nearly an hour of searching through inadequate links, I have a link to December 22, 2008, to the Roman curia gathered in the Sala Clementina.

vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/speeches/2008/december/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_20081222_curia-romana_en.html

Following is the relevant part of the Pope's address. I include it all as you may be too weary to plough through the entire speech to find the relevant section.

**"Since faith in the Creator is an essential part of the Christian creed, the Church cannot and must not limit herself to passing on to the faithful the message of salvation alone. She has a responsibility towards creation, and must also publicly assert this responsibility...

If the Church speaks of the nature of the human being as man and woman, and demands that this order of creation be respected, this is not some antiquated metaphysics. What is involved here is faith in the Creator and a readiness to listen to the “language” of creation. To disregard this would be the self-destruction of man himself, and hence the destruction of God’s own work.

What is often expressed and understood by the term “gender” ultimately ends up being man’s attempt at self-emancipation from creation and the Creator. Man wants to be his own master, and alone – always and exclusively – to determine everything that concerns him. Yet in this way he lives in opposition to the truth, in opposition to the Creator Spirit.

Rain forests deserve indeed to be protected, but no less so does man, as a creature having an innate “message” which does not contradict our freedom, but is instead its very premise.

The great scholastic theologians described marriage, understood as the life-long bond between a man and a woman, as a sacrament of creation, which the Creator himself instituted and which Christ – without modifying the “message” of creation – then made part of the history of his covenant with humanity.

An integral part of the Church proclamation must be a witness to the Creator Spirit present in nature as a whole, and, in a special way, in the human person, created in God’s image.

From this perspective, we should go back to the Encyclical Humanae Vitae: the intention of Pope Paul VI was to defend love against sex as a consumer good, the future against the exclusive claims of the present, and human nature against its manipulation.**."

This doesn't address your personal dilemma and the suggestion that you seek the advice of your priest is a wise one.

You are all in my prayers


#10

I'm sorry you're having to go through this. :( My brother's gay, and although it's not quite the same issue I know how difficult and uncomfortable having someone with a sexual disorder in the family can be. We're still not really sure how to handle it, though thankfully he is single right now because is far too absorbed in video gaming to even bother looking for a boyfriend.

One thing I feel like I should mention is that your sister will always be your sister and will always be a woman, and I don't think it's a good idea to enable her by refering to her as a "he" or the new male name she's picked out. The more people give into the demands of transexuals to accept a change than can never take place, the harder it makes it for people to fight for God's truth in the matter. And, the truth is that transexuals will always be the same gender they were born and that their internal conflict stems from a psychological disorder and needs to be addressed as such. It is not a case of a man being born in a woman's body as they want us to believe - it's a case of a woman being born with a difficult mental struggle who needs love and support to cope with it in a way that doesn't go against God. As another poster pointed out, many transexuals are disapointed when their surgery and crossdressing don't ease their difficult struggle. I'll try to find the news article I saw about it recently.

Hopefully you two can work something out where you make sure she knows she is still 100% loved by you and that you want to be in her life as you have always been, but that you can't support her efforts to try and be a man. I don't know how many resources there are out there for Christians coping with transexual family members because this is an issue that has only recently existed in the open, but hopefully you can find some.


#11

I have responded to other threads in this forum which addressed this topic. I have had to deal with this dilema on a personal basis. I consider myself to be a good Catholic. I was raised in a conservative Catlholic family. When I first was faced with the realization that my feelings of being a girl were at odds with my physical gender I was afraid to expess my feelings. By the time I was in high school the situation was causing me to suffer depression and anxiety. As mentioned in at least one reply here, I did try to accept my physical sex but that led to deeper depression and anxiety. As a last resort on my parents’ part, they consented to me at least being evaluated by a gender counselor. I have detailed the personal inner turmoil that was involved in ultimately deciding to transition and undergo hormone therapy and corrective surgery to affirm my physical sex to be in agreement with my mental gender. I did have mixed feelings to submitting to surgery, but for me the result was an improved quality of life and an ability to live as a much more caring and charitable person. I had believed decisions such as mine were matters of personal conscience and in that sense seen as acceptable, although later rulings by the Church hierarchy have disagreed with that. My parents, though at first against my transition, became accepting and supportive. I have two older brothers who in varying degrees were at first vehemently unaccepting. Over the course of my transition which began in 2003 and finalized in 2006, my parents and my brothers came to accept me as a daughter and a sister and our family relationship became stronger and happier based on me being a happier and fulfilled person.


#12

[quote="Theresa_Frances, post:11, topic:224330"]
I have responded to other threads in this forum which addressed this topic. I have had to deal with this dilema on a personal basis. I consider myself to be a good Catholic. I was raised in a conservative Catlholic family. When I first was faced with the realization that my feelings of being a girl were at odds with my physical gender I was afraid to expess my feelings. By the time I was in high school the situation was causing me to suffer depression and anxiety. As mentioned in at least one reply here, I did try to accept my physical sex but that led to deeper depression and anxiety. As a last resort on my parents' part, they consented to me at least being evaluated by a gender counselor. I have detailed the personal inner turmoil that was involved in ultimately deciding to transition and undergo hormone therapy and corrective surgery to affirm my physical sex to be in agreement with my mental gender. I did have mixed feelings to submitting to surgery, but for me the result was an improved quality of life and an ability to live as a much more caring and charitable person. I had believed decisions such as mine were matters of personal conscience and in that sense seen as acceptable, although later rulings by the Church hierarchy have disagreed with that. My parents, though at first against my transition, became accepting and supportive. I have two older brothers who in varying degrees were at first vehemently unaccepting. Over the course of my transition which began in 2003 and finalized in 2006, my parents and my brothers came to accept me as a daughter and a sister and our family relationship became stronger and happier based on me being a happier and fulfilled person.

[/quote]

I'm sorry--this is an incredibly personal question, and I'll understand if you don't want to answer, but since you have shared your experience, I think it fair to ask. When you made the decision to transition, did you decide also to live celibate for the rest of your life?


#13

[quote="st_felicity, post:12, topic:224330"]
I'm sorry--this is an incredibly personal question, and I'll understand if you don't want to answer, but since you have shared your experience, I think it fair to ask. When you made the decision to transition, did you decide also to live celibate for the rest of your life?

[/quote]

To be perfectly honest, relationships were not my main consideration when I transitioned. I was 19 at that time and hadn't been involved in any relationships mostly because my feelings were incongruous with my body. My immediate need was to physically be able to live as the individual I was internally. To answer your question though, I didn't make a conscious decison at that time to be celibate. However, in eventually living as a young woman, I made it a point in social situations to live by the moral values my parents had taught me.


#14

After I had posted, I re-read your original post and realized that…from this portion:

I have a follow-up question…

So, in looking at those two statements, ie. your understanding of Church teaching, and the moral values your parents taught you (which I read elsewhere includes conservative Catholic values), have you since come to a realization about some of the perhaps unintended consequences that effect how you must conduct yourself as a faithful Catholic resulting from your decision to surgically/hormonally alter the body you were born with?


#15

[quote="st_felicity, post:14, topic:224330"]
After I had posted, I re-read your original post and realized that...from this portion:

I have a follow-up question...
So, in looking at those two statements, ie. your understanding of Church teaching, and the moral values your parents taught you (which I read elsewhere includes conservative Catholic values), have you since come to a realization about some of the perhaps unintended consequences that effect how you must conduct yourself as a faithful Catholic resulting from your decision to surgically/hormonally alter the body you were born with?

[/quote]

My parents became aware of my issues when I was 17. For more than a year and a half I struggled with trying to accept the physical aspects of my body. I understand it seems selfish and crass to some that a person would make the choices I did. I wish I could make you understand that those choices were not made without considerable difficulty while trying to reconcile my feelings with my faith. When I started hormone therapy my pastor was of the belief that situations such as mine were dealt with as a pastoral decision, but he was reluctant to give his consent although he did not tell me not to procede. I lived as a girl for three years before having, what I consider to be, corrective surgery to bring congruity to my physical and mental gender. The drastic improvment in my overall quality of life during those three years indicated to me and my family that it was the correct decision in my case. I don't feel it is a cure all for everyone who experiences one type or another of gender related questions, but for me I was essentially able to seemlessly transition to living and functioning in society as a woman. I know many in these forums believe a person is the sex they are born. My experience is that gender, apart from physical sex classification, is an entirely separate entity. My experience of my gender had always been female. Once I was free to function in society and socialize as a woman I had the attractions and feelings of most young women. In light of my situation, yes I did and do have knowledge of the consequences. In any situation, I would want to live a wholesome and chaste life style, and maintained that while I was dating. There have been cases where women in my situation were permitted to marry in the church. I understand that has changed now, but in light of the scientific findings that indicate how strong the inner snese of gender is, I don't understand why more consideration is not given to a person in my situation. My faith, and family are as strong as the feelings that tell me I am a woman. I could not give up any of those aspects and still feel I am a whole person. I don't feel I have offended God. In many ways I feel I am able to be a better person than I was when I was consumed by my own misery and selfishness. I really am not a person to challenge authority and to disregard rules. My dad, surprisigly, was the first person in my family to become supportive. Without going into a long dissertation on how conservative he is, the fact that he became supportive and accepting of me is an indication that people can realize how strong the need to be myself was that I would make a decision so seemimgly out of keeping with the way most would think I would act.


#16

[quote="Theresa_Frances, post:15, topic:224330"]
My experience is that gender, apart from physical sex classification, is an entirely separate entity. My experience of my gender had always been female. Once I was free to function in society and socialize as a woman I had the attractions and feelings of most young women.

[/quote]

Don't take this wrong, I mean no offense, but I'm not convinced that there is a "typical female" experience--in an individual. What I mean is that individually, we experience life differently--it is all relative to our personal perception. I can understand feeling that your feelings of self-identification align with what is described as stereotypically female, but I think it is a tad sexist to assume that there is such a thing as "the female experience."

For example--I am female, and I have always identified as such, but I have many traits that may be viewed as "stereotypically male." For example--I am assertive, confident, assume roles of authority, athletic, not squeamish, cerebral....those are not "typical female" traits, but I am very much a woman--not because I act a certain way or look a certain way, or like certain things--I just AM--the anatomy says so, and I accept it.

Because of that, it seems to me that what is labeled as "transgender" feelings has to lie somewhere other than what "cultures" label as female or male traits. It seems to me it is a dissatisfaction with societies' acceptance of the differences among people rather than a dissatisfaction with self. And if it is a dissatisfaction with self resulting from an individual's perception of themselves, then wouldn't that be rather a mental disorder (though certainly may be a disorder caused by brain chemistry)...

Thus, treating the "problem" by giving in to the delusion--even if it gives comfort--seems contrary to promoting health, both mental and physical.

In light of my situation, yes I did and do have knowledge of the consequences. In any situation, I would want to live a wholesome and chaste life style, and maintained that while I was dating. There have been cases where women in my situation were permitted to marry in the church. I understand that has changed now, but in light of the scientific findings that indicate how strong the inner snese of gender is, I don't understand why more consideration is not given to a person in my situation. My faith, and family are as strong as the feelings that tell me I am a woman. I could not give up any of those aspects and still feel I am a whole person. I don't feel I have offended God. In many ways I feel I am able to be a better person than I was when I was consumed by my own misery and selfishness. I really am not a person to challenge authority and to disregard rules. My dad, surprisigly, was the first person in my family to become supportive. Without going into a long dissertation on how conservative he is, the fact that he became supportive and accepting of me is an indication that people can realize how strong the need to be myself was that I would make a decision so seemimgly out of keeping with the way most would think I would act.

People who alter their bodies in permanent ways often later decide based on further learnng or personal reflection that the choice was not made with full consent or understanding of the eternal consequences. Of course, God knows that about the individual and the culpability for error is mitigated due to God's mercy and justice. However, It seems that you (personally) leave the door open for a relationship with a man. Please consider the eternal consequences of such a choice. God does not make mistakes, but he does call some individuals to bear very challenging crosses. And He made you with male chromosomes and a male body--you can change the body, but the chromosomes do not change. My personal belief is that it can be moral to live as a woman (although it seems that it would be presenting a falsehood in some ways, which could be morally questionable), but to have a romantic/sexual relationship with a man would be totally contrary to the natural law--and justifying it convicts God of a mistake in matching gender to body.

JPII homilies on the Theology of the Body are very instructive on the role of sex and gender and our relationship with God. I recommend them greatly.

ewtn.com/library/papaldoc/jp2tbind.htm


#17

[quote="st_felicity, post:16, topic:224330"]
Don't take this wrong, I mean no offense, but I'm not convinced that there is a "typical female" experience--in an individual. What I mean is that individually, we experience life differently--it is all relative to our personal perception. I can understand feeling that your feelings of self-identification align with what is described as stereotypically female, but I think it is a tad sexist to assume that there is such a thing as "the female experience."

*I think you have misunderstood what I was trying to say or perhaps I didn't make it as clear as I should have. I wasn't implying that there is a "typical female" experience. What I was trying to say is that apart from physical anatomy there is something in me that makes me feel that I am not what my anatomy indicated I was. I understand there is a wide range of behaviors. My undergraduate degree is in Psychology, so I am aware of what you are saying, but just by observation that would be aparaent. I don't think a person needs a degree in psychology to understand that. I agree that there is no stereotypical female experience. I cannot say that what I feel is what every woman feels. I just know what I feel. By "experience" I was just trying to say that in my existence, as I experieced life, there was something inside me saying that I was not what my anatomy was indicating I was. I wasn't like the other individuals (other boys, my brothers, cousins etc.) who had the same anatomy. Before I was even aware of anatomical differences, something inside me told me I was like my mom not my dad, and like my girl cousins, not my brothers.*For example--I am female, and I have always identified as such, but I have many traits that may be viewed as "stereotypically male." For example--I am assertive, confident, assume roles of authority, athletic, not squeamish, cerebral....those are not "typical female" traits, but I am very much a woman--not because I act a certain way or look a certain way, or like certain things--I just AM--the anatomy says so, and I accept it.

Where you say "I just AM" a woman, I feel that way myself, I just feel that I am, based only on that's how I feel. However, you say your anatomy says so so you accept it. In my case my anatomy did not, but somewhere inside me, separate from my anatomy, something was telling me that I am a woman. That realization was there from my earliest memories. What I would like to ask you though is that if ,feeling as you do that you are a woman, if you happenned to have found yourself growing up having male anatomy and being considered male, would you have been able accept that and been able to function emotionally and socially as a male? To me there seems to be a distinction apart from anatomy that determines the individuals self concept of gender. Where I said, "I had the attractions and feelings of most young women", I was just trying to say in a more polite manner that I was attracted in a romantic and emotional way to men. I understand that that in itself is not the determining factor that makes a woman a woman, but when you asked abut the long term consequences of my physical transition I was trying to say, in a more refined manner, how I felt.

Because of that, it seems to me that what is labeled as "transgender" feelings has to lie somewhere other than what "cultures" label as female or male traits. It seems to me it is a dissatisfaction with societies' acceptance of the differences among people rather than a dissatisfaction with self. And if it is a dissatisfaction with self resulting from an individual's perception of themselves, then wouldn't that be rather a mental disorder (though certainly may be a disorder caused by brain chemistry)...

Thus, treating the "problem" by giving in to the delusion--even if it gives comfort--seems contrary to promoting health, both mental and physical.

Although there is no specific single answer as to why some feel the way I did, at present it seems to be attributed to brain structures and brain chemistry. I guess we would get into semantics as to whether my depression was caused by a "dissatisfaction with self". I feel my depression was caused by having to live everyday as someone other than who I felt I was. To me that was more from not being able to be like the persons I considered more like me, meaning other girls. I didn't hate myself as a boy, or hate other boys. I just felt that everyday that I developed in one direction, it was taking me farther way from the person I felt I was. I inerstand this could be hard to comprehend, but it was just the way I felt.

ewtn.com/library/papaldoc/jp2tbind.htm

[/quote]


#18

People who alter their bodies in permanent ways often later decide based on further learnng or personal reflection that the choice was not made with full consent or understanding of the eternal consequences. Of course, God knows that about the individual and the culpability for error is mitigated due to God's mercy and justice. However, It seems that you (personally) leave the door open for a relationship with a man. Please consider the eternal consequences of such a choice. God does not make mistakes, but he does call some individuals to bear very challenging crosses. And He made you with male chromosomes and a male body--you can change the body, but the chromosomes do not change. My personal belief is that it can be moral to live as a woman (although it seems that it would be presenting a falsehood in some ways, which could be morally questionable), but to have a romantic/sexual relationship with a man would be totally contrary to the natural law--and justifying it convicts God of a mistake in matching gender to body.

JPII homilies on the Theology of the Body are very instructive on the role of sex and gender and our relationship with God. I recommend them greatly.

I have mentioned in other threads that when I first became aware of people who changed gender, I was scared. The reason I was scared was that I realized that I felt in someways as they did. Some seem exhibitionistic and I wasn't like that. Most of the television shows in the early 90's gave a sensationalistic view of gender transition, but I knew that if it was possible for me to physically be a girl, I wanted to do that. When my parents found out how I felt, they wanted to help "cure" me and keep me from bringing disgrace on the family. I honestly did try to do that. I went to a boys Catholic prep in Philadelphia and I worked with the counselors there throughout my senior year. They were all very sympathetic and understanding, but they did encourage me to accept myslef as I was, to try to emulate saints who dealt with challenges, and to place more emphasis on spirituality and less on physicality. In following that plan I found myself sinking into a deeper depression and my grades plummeting. I attended one semester of college and at Christmastime of 2002 I was at the point where I didn't want to get up in the mornings. Our doctor referred me to psychologist who referred me to a gender therapist. Ultimately the recommendation that I consider transition came up, and eventually I completed the social and physical transition. As I have mentioned, I didn't do this without considering possible spiritual consequences, and at times I still find myself trying to reconcile my choices with my faith. I don't think I was convicting God of a mistake. There are countless cases of physical anomolies that medicine addresses surgically and pharmocologically. There is a strong oppinion in the medical community that issues such as mine are an intersex condition. From being raised a Catholic and attending 14 years of Catholic school, I understand that the marital act is for procreation. I don't support practices that distance the marital act from the ability to procreate. I am not able to bear children, however many natal women cannot have children and marry. For me, being a woman was not undertaken at all to enable me to participate in the physical aspect of a relationship. I don't feel this is the proper place to go into detail, but as I became comfortable assimilating socially into society as a woman I also grew comfortable in a wholesome way of appreciating that others would find me attractive and I enjoyed that social aspect. I keep stressing that I have found acceptance in my family, who would normally be contentious of a individual in my situation except that they have gained more knowledge of this issue through my experience with it. I have been told by others that it is a private matter between God and me. I feel I need more than that. I have been told the Church will never approve of individuals who have made the choices I have, but at times the Church already has, I just want to be able to be a normal woman in a healthy heterosexual monogamous relationship.


#19

[quote="Theresa_Frances, post:18, topic:224330"]
Although there is no specific single answer as to why some feel the way I did, at present it seems to be attributed to brain structures and brain chemistry. I guess we would get into semantics as to whether my depression was caused by a "dissatisfaction with self". I feel my depression was caused by having to live everyday as someone other than who I felt I was.

[/quote]

But you see--the way I understand it--the person you were, was a person who felt at the deepest level his body did not match his feelings. Not that you were in actuality a woman in a man's body--but rather a man with those "feelings."

I think sex is like race--you are what the DNA says. You can't be a Caucasian trapped in a black man's body--an Asian woman in a Latina body...No matter how one "feels" about it. A person certainly could ACT according to stereotypes of cultural norms, but no matter what one does, it doesn't change the race.

I have another question--what are your thoughts on people who long to be amputees, or deaf or blind? There is a segment of the population who perceive they are deaf in a hearing person's body--or that one leg is a foreign body part that does not belong to them and they want to match their body to their perception. From what I've read on that "condition," it sound like the way you are describing your own feelings related to your body and your gender. Do you (as a person trained in psychology) consider a reasonable treatment for a person who's personal perception doesn't match the physical reality? Should that person make him/herself deaf? Should that person surgically amputate a healthy leg?

I do understand "feelings"--I'm asking what the rational part of your mind says on the matter.

When my parents found out how I felt, they wanted to help "cure" me and keep me from bringing disgrace on the family.

Peronally, I don't think it is something to "cure." I believe it is something to learn to accept and cope with. A person who is born with a withered hand cannot be "cured" (well--Jesus did cure that :) but that was a unique situation). Likewise, I think that some burdens cannot be medically "fixed."

Ultimately the recommendation that I consider transition came up, and eventually I completed the social and physical transition. As I have mentioned, I didn't do this without considering possible spiritual consequences, and at times I still find myself trying to reconcile my choices with my faith. I don't think I was convicting God of a mistake. There are countless cases of physical anomolies that medicine addresses surgically and pharmocologically.

True--but there are many that cannot be surgically or pharmacologically corrected also. I think a person's sex is one of those things. As I said--your DNA doesn't change.

There is a strong oppinion in the medical community that issues such as mine are an intersex condition.

But then, your gender would be "intersex"--not female or male.

Are you hermaphroditic? or XXY?

From being raised a Catholic and attending 14 years of Catholic school, I understand that the marital act is for procreation. I don't support practices that distance the marital act from the ability to procreate. I am not able to bear children, however many natal women cannot have children and marry. For me, being a woman was not undertaken at all to enable me to participate in the physical aspect of a relationship. I don't feel this is the proper place to go into detail, but as I became comfortable assimilating socially into society as a woman I also grew comfortable in a wholesome way of appreciating that others would find me attractive and I enjoyed that social aspect. I keep stressing that I have found acceptance in my family, who would normally be contentious of a individual in my situation except that they have gained more knowledge of this issue through my experience with it. I have been told by others that it is a private matter between God and me. I feel I need more than that. I have been told the Church will never approve of individuals who have made the choices I have, but at times the Church already has, I just want to be able to be a normal woman in a healthy heterosexual monogamous relationship.

You don't think that implies God made a mistake with you?

I'm glad you feel some comfort--truly--and it is a private matter between you and God, although I also understand the need for more definite answers. I'm going to be really blunt here: People who have vasectomies, for example, can repent of their altering of their body and not attempt to change what has already been done. However, on a spiritual level--that person is called to live chaste at times with his spouse in submission to the fact that the altering of the body was contrary to God's plan for that individual--his fertility was healthy, and it damaged healthy functioning. I would think that to present as female is something that has already been done, but one does not need to compound the implied affront ( the implied "mistake" of God's) by sexual error, and pulling anther person into sin as well.


#20

I think this is one of the issues where science is developing so quickly that the Church teaching isn't there yet. One knows today that there are persons with male bodies that carry XXchromosomes, as well as persons with female bodies that carry XY chromosomes. It's not as easy as many people think - that sex and gender are the same. Support your brother. Be gentle and explain to him that you have doubts, I don't think he expects anything different.


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