What does the Church teach about transgendered people?

Hi everyone. I have been putting off posting this for a while but I have finally decided to post it because I really want to know. Anyway, I was at a local gas station recently and there was this person there who told me that they are transgendered and that they are getting sex change surgery. I couldn’t tell what their biological gender is because they do not have a distinctly masculine or feminine appearance/persona. All I know is that this person is getting a sex change. Well, I told this person that I am a devout Catholic and that I do not agree with sex changes and things like that. This person acted really offended even though I did tell them that I was not preaching at them. I hope I wasn’t uncharitable toward them simply by stating that I disagree with what they are doing.

So anyway, I am just wondering, what does the Church teach about transgendered people? From what I understand, transgendered people suffer from a mental illness known as gender identity disorder but that’s all I know. I am pretty sure that the Church considers sex change operations to be immoral but this is what I don’t understand. This person told me that they are so uncomfortable with themselves that they have been suicidal in the past because of this. This person seemed to think that getting a sex change surgery would take away a lot of their depression over the issue. So, that leads me to wonder: would the Church be okay with sex change surgery as a treatment for gender identity disorder in serious situations such as this?

The Church hasn’t really commented.

Yeah, that’s what I thought.

So do orthodox Catholic theologians say anything about the issue?

Attempting to change the sexual appearance of one’s body because of one “feelings" is like trying to make a square circle. Better to go with what God has already created. Even when a person goes through all the operations and plastic surgery, one’s DNA remains what one was born with. Besides not being honest, such attempts constitute sins of mutilation of the body.

Certainly, such feelings are a cross. But when one recognizes them as such, one can offer them to the Lord as a response for His sacrifices for us and they become acts of great love.
To understand this, one must recognize how loving God is and how our very existence is all about Him.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

That’s the best I got.

Not specifically about transgender surgery, but here is something from 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.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.

:shrug: Seems to me that if being a man or being a woman is willed by God, then to try to alter that would be to willingly go against God’s will.

My two cents’.


I understand that changing oneself (either cosmetic surgery to ‘enhance’ something or alter it altogether) is a sin because it goes against God’s unique design for each of us.

I am wondering though, what happens in an off-chance that the person who transgendered regrets doing it? Are they forgiven? Given the fact that they can’t go back to their original physical self.

Good article about the views of the Church.

If a guy feels like a woman, he can dress like one. If a woman feels like a man, she can dress like one.

But obviously for people who seek surgery, dressing living and acting like one just doesn’t cut it.

The only way for them to reach happiness is to change their genitalia?

How could changing ones genitalia bring true happiness? Its just mutilation?

Is it because then a guy will be able to wear swim suits better or because a girl doesn’t want her boobs?

I’m not a trans, but my boobs do not make me who I am mentally, and I think thats what really matters. If I felt like a boy doesn’t mean Id have my boobs chopped off or have a fake penis sewn on me.

The thought of surgery kinda scares me anyways. Sounds extremely painful. Well, I hope the best for the person, they sound brave to go through with the surgery.

oh wait, I just realized. Its probably mostly for sex isnt it! Well that makes sense then.

Hm. Wouldn’t that hurt though? Sex post-op? ouchies!

Of course they’d be forgiven. No sin is unforgiveable. People who are surgically sterilized can be forgiven, even if they don’t attempt to reverse the procedure.

Hi Holly,

Thanks for asking such an interesting question.

“Sex change surgery” includes the removal of the breasts for female-to-male trans men. For trans women, it includes the removal of the testes and the surgical conversion of the penis into a vagina.

What did Christ Himself say about the removal of healthy body parts? In Matthew 5, Christ tells us:

29 If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.

If a transsexual is tempted to suicide, a grave sin, and removing a body part would relieve that temptation, then it is clearly permitted by Christ.

Now lets look at the Catechism on the matter:

2297 “…Except when performed for strictly therapeutic medical reasons, directly intended amputations, mutilations, and sterilizations performed on innocent persons are against the moral law.”

Although it is by not a perfect “cure,” “sex change surgery” is well recognized as a legitimate medical therapy for transsexuals. Therefore, according to the Catechism, sex change surgery is permitted.

Catholics should support transsexuals in bearing their cross. If a transsexual individual commits the grave sin of suicide due to mocking or insensitivity, then those who mocked or were insensitive have contributed to that sin.

1868 Sin is a personal act. Moreover, we have a responsibility for the sins committed by others when we cooperate in them:

If “sex change surgery” will help a transsexual avoid the sin of suicide, we are obligated to encourage her to follow Christ’s teachings in Matthew 5 in a compassionate and charitable way.


Sex change surgery is not cosmetic if it helps a person avoid the sin of suicide.

It is very rare for a transsexual to regret “sex change surgery.” Such regret usually involved botched surgeries and unrealistic expectations. Since it is not a sin, there would be no need for forgiveness. If one still felt that she had sinned, she can confess and ask for forgiveness like any other sin.

Almost no one these days fully understands the gravity of such an act and as such it wouldn’t be mortal sin for them, hence why the CHurch now allows burials and masses for people who committed suicide.

Hi Gertie,

I’m curious how you know God’s will for an individual’s gender.

In the case of a person born into the intersex state called “mosaicism” there exists a mix of 46,XY and 46,XX chromosomes and cell types. They have both male and female cells. And correspondingly, their body has features of both men and women, including ambiguous genitalia that is somewhere between male and female genitalia. How are such individuals supposed to know what is God’s will with regards to their gender? It might appear that God willed them to be both genders at the same time.

Here is a Christian website which talks about the various intersex conditions which make it difficult for some people to know God’s will with respect to their gender.


I think above all else, the Church teaches us that such individuals should be treated with dignity, charity, and compassion.


Hi Dakota,

Whether or not it is a mortal sin for the person who committed suicide, it is still a sin for anyone to contribute to the suicide of another person.

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Indeed and everyone should be loved.

The scope of medical procedures allowed is correlated with how serious it is. For example the extreme scale of operations need for a severe burn victim is allowed because of the sever health threat physically, the psychological effects of not doing it further tips the scale. A mastectomy to ensure the removal of a tumor or breast cancer is allowed. It would also be permissible for breast shrinkage in males if the breasts have become improperly large due to something such as disordered functioning of hormonal glands and there is psychological distress, in a case where it is not a life threatening condition, severe emotional discomfort alone would not be sufficient.


Christ was saying that if your eye is offensive pluck it out so that as a man or a woman you go through the world with one eye, ie a one eyed man or a one eyed woman.

If your genitals are offensive cut them off and then you can go through the world as a genital absent man or woman. I have cared for people that have castrated themselves and authored a paper on that subject. Those that entertain self castration were in my research mentally unstable.

Jesus was not saying to change your sex.

The Catechism is not saying that transgender surgery is an aid to suicide. The first tenet of Surgery is that “cold steel” as we call it is not the cure for mental illness. Suicide is a mental illness.

You wrongly interpret transsexual surgery as “therapeutic”. It is not.

If sex change surgery leads a person to commit suicide then the physician that did that surgery bears the cross of that sin.

You are grasping at straws. Read your Bible and Catechism again and get back to me.:thumbsup:


Suicide is contemplated before acted. Suicide has many reasons and many causes. A person that commits suicide is never referred to a Surgeon for treatment. Let me know when after researching the DSM on your own you discover the assesment for suicide and initial referral to a Surgeon.

I can see it now…

Plastic Surgeon advertising on the web…

Tummy Tuck:tiphat:
Face Lift:blushing:
Suicide prevention Surgery:hypno:

perhaps you know something I don’t know…


You are a man that wants to be a woman and you have played this exception to the rule card with the various anomalies that don’t apply to you. Give it a rest.


Since there is a high rate of suicide in the transgendered population it would be wise for any Catholic Physician through conscience to abstain from involving themselves with this population for fear that there may be any association or contribution to the sin of suicide should it happen. That is what I would do.

Hi Dakota,

Suicidality caused by gender dissonance is certainly a life- threatening condition. I’m not sure where you got that idea about “severe emotional discomfort,” or even what that means. Christ makes it crystal clear in Matthew 5 that a body part which is causing a person to sin should be removed to save the soul of the person. The Catechism supports the direction in Matthew 5 since “sex change surgery” is a sound medical therapy which resolves gender dissonance. And finally, the Catechism makes it clear that by not disclosing the instructions of Matthew 5 to a suicidal transsexual, a Catholic might be guilty of contributing to the sin of suicide in another person.

Please come back when you have an argument based on the Bible and the Catechism.

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