So... My family converted to Catholicism?

Yeah, interesting year. I grew up Lutheran and the people from the church I used to go to were like family to me, though I rarely talked due to what everyone thought was me being shy at the time(I now suspect differently).

In early 2013 my family decided to start exploring other options for our “type” of Christianity I guess it would be called, and we ended up going to a Baptist church for about 6 months. I personally loved it there, and for the first time I felt close to God, and I ended up meeting a few people through the church’s youth group, whom are still somewhat my friends(one of them ended up being amazing actually, besides just being one of the few bassists in my area). I also went to my first Christian youth event thing, and for the first time I truly prayed to God, though it was also the start of what is actually the reason I am posting today.

Sadly my parents decided that they did in fact, want to be Catholic, and started going to the local Catholic church early in the morning, then would take me and my brother to the youth group at the Baptist church.

At the youth group, I had my first major experience with the topic of LGBTQIA+, though it was somewhat negative. At the time I didn’t have my own opinion on it, but after the discussion on it that the youth group had, I went home and researched as much as a could, more related to my own feelings though. I still hate what I said during the discussion, since it was a lie.

I think shortly after that discussion, the youth group fell apart, and eventually stopped altogether.

I forgot exactly when, but my parents started their conversion stuff, for becoming Catholic, I tried one private class with the priest, and as much as I wanted to continue them, I couldn’t, it didn’t feel right.

I think the last time I went to any church was on Christmas Eve of 2013.

Mostly forgot what happened between then and now, besides that my older brother revealed that he had actually gotten married around Thanksgiving of 2013, but didn’t tell the family until just a few months ago, and he is now having a baby.

Back to the main reason on why I am posting. I personally do not really consider myself a part of any religion, I just know that there has to be a God. But, I have recently decided that the fact that my parents are Catholic, may hurt what I was planning on telling them before I turn 18 around Christmas.

This past year I have decided, I am in fact, a male-to-female transgender. I have technically known that I hate my birth gender for most of my life, and I now suspect this is the reason I was so shy when I was younger. I didn’t know what it was called until last year, and I wasn’t sure of it until October.

I have been struggling with the right time on when to tell my parents, because I fear their reactions, as well as what will happen if they do support me but the other Catholics in my area consider me an abomination or something. I plan on telling my mom this week, since I feel she will have a better reaction than my dad, and she already seems to suspect that I am gay(I actually consider myself pansexual… sort of… I don’t feel sexually/physically attracted to people, only emotionally).

Anyways, I guess I am asking more for anything I should know about how my parents may react, based on their religious choices? As well as possibly my younger brother and his friends who have already seemed pretty negative toward me growing my hair out and wearing it in a pony tail?

I would hope that your parents would treat you with great sympathy and empathy. The Catholic Church has generally not accepted transgenderism as a valid phenomenon. However, we should all be sympathetic to those suffering medical issues, whatever the cause.

Please don’t rush into anything dangerous like surgery or hormones. See, for example:

online.wsj.com/articles/paul-mchugh-transgender-surgery-isnt-the-solution-1402615120
Wall Street Journal 6/12/2014: Psychiatrist Dr. Paul McHugh: “Transgender Surgery Isn’t the Solution”

You will be in my prayers.

It is kind of sad, that you are trapped in thinking you are stuck being what your appetites (emotions and sensitivities and feelings) define you as being, and that you perceive full life as the fulfillment of desires and emotions, a kind of reactionary existence, reacting to maintain existence.

Jesus was hungry but did not turn stones into bread, but rather remained hungry and declared he would wait for the fulfillment of his life by whatever was given by God.** You are hungry (for identity), and you are reacting to your hunger and going to satisfy your hunger yourself and not remain hungry waiting for God to send life to you. He acted freely, you are reacting as if you have no choice because of your hungers.

** Mt 3:3-4

I do not usually write on these forums, but because I can see how difficult this situation must be for you I will make an exception.

On an official magisterial level, The Catholic Church presently has no teaching concerning transgenderism. That doesn’t itself mean it’s acceptable to Catholics, rather they don’t acknowledge it as a phenomenon; exactly the same as Gay Marriage. You may be thought by Catholics to be “disordered” as homosexuals are considered to be (in believing you have the wrong physical body) but they might toy with the theory you have a legitimate mental condition requiring either treatment or accommodation.

What we do know for certain however from precedent is this. From a related topic from the Catechism…


2297 Kidnapping and hostage taking bring on a reign of terror; by means of threats they subject their victims to intolerable pressures. They are morally wrong. Terrorism threatens, wounds, and kills indiscriminately; it is gravely against justice and charity. Torture which uses physical or moral violence to extract confessions, punish the guilty, frighten opponents, or satisfy hatred is contrary to respect for the person and for human dignity. Except when performed for strictly therapeutic medical reasons, directly intended amputations, mutilations, and sterilizations performed on innocent persons are against the moral law.***

If transgenderism is indeed a mental condition in the view of the Church, an operation might be permissible if found to have any positive impact on the individual. If not, it will be forbidden. At either rate the Church declines to comment for the time being as research is lacking.

One thing I do know for absolutely certain from precedent is that if you do proceed with this, as far as Catholics are concerned you can never marry. Regardless as to what you physically become, you will always be viewed as male by the Church. That does mean you can marry a woman, but not a man.

…If you ever receive an operation to alter your genitalia or receive any hormone treatments that alter your fertility you will therefore be considered a eunuch, and thus ineligible for matrimony. You cannot reproduce, and by changing your physical characteristics you have shown as far as the Church is concerned you are not open to creating new life; therefore you cannot marry. Any romantic relationship never mind sexual encounters of any form would automatically be grave mortal sin.

As far as teaching goes, you are in the same category as the gays. You will not be judged for having these impulses, but you are likely to be forbidden from indulging them (i.e: Fantasizing, cross-dressing, hormone treatments etc).

As for your parents…In practice rightly or wrongly do not all Catholics adhere to church teaching on all matters. Are they orthodox or cafeteria Catholics? The latter are likely to be supportive, the former less so.

I think you’ll get plenty of evidence of how Catholics may react and what their arguments will be, whether it will help you develop a set of strategies for dealing with those reactions and arguments is another matter. :slight_smile:

I feel like you’re talking out of your hat here … do you have any sources to back this up? The only thing I’ve ever seen about hormone treatments is that obviously you aren’t supposed to use hormones as contraceptives. But if he’s not using them for that reason, and they’re prescribed by a doctor, what sin would that fall under exactly?

And cross-dressing – I mean, come on – saying that Catholics are forbidden from cross-dressing would imply that there is a gender-specific dress code recognized by the church. We’re not Muslims or Seikhs, not required to dress a certain way (other than modestly I suppose)

We’re also not Amish, so I think it’s important to stress to this guy that if his parents are true Catholics they aren’t going to shun him for what he feels/does. He’s not Catholic, so I assume he doesn’t care about whether it’s a mortal sin or not. He cares how his parents will feel about it. And while they might not be supportive, they should at least be understanding.

See therapy with a qualified psychiatrist before cementing in your mind that you are transgender. It’s not uncommon for those in their teens and early 20’s to be in a state of flux while they fully mature. Remember, our brains aren’t done developing until we’re about 25. It’s possible you do have some gender issues. It’s also possible you are in a state of flux and what you think are gender issues are something else entirely. A qualified psychiatrist will be able to help you sort out what’s going on.

If I were you I’d speak to my parents about this and ask that they help find a psychiatrist to help you. Re-evaluate where you are after you’ve been in therapy for a year or so. Discuss your situation with your parents then when you know for sure what that situation is.

Avinia,
You are in a difficult situation.

First, I would recommend that you do read the linked article above, which has a lot of information that you probably won’t get elsewhere.

Second, I have found that esp. young people experience an isolation from others which feels completely unique to the sufferer but is actually very normal and experienced by many people. What I have seen is that some of these people see these various situations floating by (transgender now; repressed memories of abuse, eating disorders, etc., in the past) and grab at it. And that can become a serious problem for them. (I in no way mean to denigrate these mental disorders–they are after all “discovered” because people have them.)

It is not unusual for people to react against one’s own sex: the senstive man will recoil from the display of “masculinity” by a crude person, the intellectual woman will recoil against advice to let men best her; and there are limitations imposed by one’s sex which one may not notice a correspondence to in the opposite sex which one may revel against.

I also think that all this is separate from one’s need for God. Pray to Him. I of course think we Catholics have the best prayers :slight_smile: and the best organization of prayers :slight_smile: Get to know Him Who loves you so very much and Who wants so much to help you, but the best prayers are those you will actually pray, right?

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, questioning… I A + ?

Nevermind. I looked it up. I stands for intersex, A for asexual, and + for allies of the LGBTI and As.

Although, as an S ( I just made that one up now–S for straight), I take issue with the T and the I. I think we’re splitting finer and finer hairs. Maybe instead of LGBTIA+S we ought to use HB, for human being.

Previous posters on here for the most part, I’ll attach as appropriate.

I meant that they may be viewed as such, and provided interpretations as to why some Catholics oppose transgenderism. Since these hormones begin physical changes such as the growth of breasts deliberately to “mutilate” the body without medical need, this could be a violation of the catechism section 2297.

It’s not so much the crossing dressing itself, but rather the occasion of sin. A heterosexual man is allowed to live with another man but not a woman correct; less he commit scandal? A homosexual man is unable to live with another woman, but is also barred from living with another man. Not because he may be sinning, but because he places himself in a situation where he might sin (the near occasion of sin) or give the impression he may be doing so (potentially grave public scandal).

A heterosexual crossdressing might be seen as a bizarre playful act, someone believing themselves to be transgender doing so could be seen to be indulging or even advocating pursuing a disordered inclination.

Hopefully not, and statistics do appear to be on his side. I don’t see the RC willing to accommodate any new gender identities within its scope however anytime soon.

He may not care about a sinful aspect to it, I must emphasize again this is pure conjecture and not official teaching from segments of conservative theology I’ve seen used on the matter before, but his parents may do. He/she (forgive me, I’m not sure how you would prefer me to address you Avinia) still lives in their house I presume, so likely has to follow their wishes.

They do need a tag however, since they’re all existing minorities often ostracized from normal society, especially churches of any creed if we like it or not.

I can’t see why anyone should take issue with the tag, it’s a good way to highlight a section of society sharing similar issues. After all, do we get Anglicans going for us when we call ourselves “Catholic”? (Some Anglicans considering themselves “Catholic”).

Hey Avina,

You have my sympathy, for all your past and future struggles.

First, I’ll try to answer your question. Don’t worry yourself about whether your family or friends hate or judge you. Be at peace in the knowledge that if they do hate or judge you, they are in the wrong.
However, please listen to them honestly if they hate or judge your actions or opinions; they are very likely in the right. Again, be at peace in the knowledge that this is nothing against you personally. Everyone sins, and its okay to acknowledge a fault for what it is: a fault. Often, others are better at recognizing these than you yourself are. Drawing attention to a fault can be an act of hate, but it can also be an act of empathetic love. So, if your parents or family hate you for this, be sympathetic towards them. But if they criticize your actions, be grateful towards them and listen to them.
Both of these will require humility and strength of character.

Second, although I’m unfamiliar with hormonal and gender struggles, I’ll try to give you comfort, because you seem to needlessly make yourself enormously miserable.
There is not one teenager that has not felt uncomfortable with his or her newly adult body, or that has not struggled with shyness or awkwardness, or that has not been repulsed by some of the shallowness and sin of the masculine *or *feminine adult worlds. This applies for both men and women. None of these mean you were born into the wrong gender, and I think you’ll find that attempting to switch genders or simply attempting to reject the idea of gender altogether will resolve none of these issues. Today, both masculinity and femininity have problems, but simply ignoring them by styling yourself as neither won’t make them go away.
Think about this: you say you hate the male gender. So, your options may seem limited to two: suffer though being a man for the rest of your life, or consider yourself to be transgender. In other words, you can either suffer though a faulty manhood or give up on manhood.
However, there is a third option. You’re not necessarily doomed to a hate-worthy and pathetic half-manhood. If you think your masculinity has room for improvement, then improve it! If there is such a thing as a better man, then be that! You in fact have three options: suffer though a faulty manhood, give up on manhood, or improve your manhood to be less faulty. #3 requires more work, but is by far the least painful, for you and your family.

I know, this is a weird way to comfort someone, but I believe you will only make yourself more miserable by continuing on the path you’re on.

So, I hope this helped. (I spent nearly two hours on it. :))

You’ll be in my prayers,

-Greg

This is a wonderful post, Greg.

That was a lot of replies to read through… I was expecting like one reply.

That part about not being able to get married if I transition, I kind of already knew that, but wanted to be sure, was going to ask it in the OP but thought my post was long enough by that point.

I actually don’t really think I could ever get married if I don’t transition, since I feel like it would be lying to whomever I decided to marry… or something like that. Also I would be a bit worried about you know, having kids then discovering I do need to transition, thus leaving the kids without a father.

To whomever said I should seek therapy… I was actually kind of planning on coming out to my parents and asking to see a gender therapist to help me sort through everything, and make sure I am mentally stable enough for HRT and all of that stuff.

But yeah, thanks for the replies. I was mostly worried about hurting my parents and their faith. Weird moment though when I suddenly remembered today that my mom uses this forum…

One of the things it mentioned in the article was the surprisingly high number of people for whom these feelings fade. You are at a time of your life when a *lot *of your feelings will fade.

And Greg’s post about sorting through the idea of manhood for yourself is also good and would pertain to marriage and fatherhood.

To whomever said I should seek therapy… I was actually kind of planning on coming out to my parents and asking to see a gender therapist to help me sort through everything, and make sure I am mentally stable enough for HRT and all of that stuff.

Try a therapist who will do more than see if you are mentally stable enough to start down this road; try and find one who is interested in helping you find total health.

Maybe the Catholic idea of health will help you sort through this. We believe that health is a state in which our physical functions attain the end or goal for which they were made. If a heart has trouble pumping blood, it is in poor health. But we would not say, his heart cannot digest, there must be something wrong! Because the heart does not have as its end digestion.

In a similar way, mental health for Catholics is that the parts of our mentalities work towards their ends. Cutting off the leg of a person with body dysmorphia doesn’t help them become mentally healthy; helping them accept their leg does, altho both make the patient “feel better.” Do you see the difference?

But yeah, thanks for the replies. I was mostly worried about hurting my parents and their faith. Weird moment though when I suddenly remembered today that my mom uses this forum…

A sympathetic :eek:

The truth is that you are and will always be what you were biologically born. It makes no difference what you think, how you feel, how you act, what drugs or surgery you may have. If you are born biologically male you remain male forever.

But what does it mean to be born biologically male? I mean, I was reading about a group of people before, I forgot what the condition was called, but it caused the women to naturally turn into men, and many of them want on to father biological kids.

Also other things, if it is the chromosomes we are talking about, how do you explain intersex? What if at birth someone was assigned for example… Female, then later on in life they decide they were assigned wrong and would rather live as a male, since technically they were neither.

Also touching on the subject of a transgender never being allowed to marry, I have a question about that. What about if I chose to live as a male, but found out I was unable to have kids, would I be allowed to marry? I am just asking because they way the person explained it, it made me feel that in the Catholic church, marriage is only about reproduction.

If you are born male, live as a male, and marry a woman it is not relevant if you or your wife turn out to be infertile. Infertility (even if known prior to marriage) is not a bar to marriage. Impotence is a bar to marriage.

Here are two interesting articles about the Church’s view:

religioustolerance.org/transsexu15.htm

catholic.org/news/national/story.php?id=56646

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