What is the offical Church teaching on transgenderism/issues?

A friend of mine from college recently “came out” as being uncomfortable identifying as male and being transgendered. I found this surprising since “she” has a girlfriend and had never been particularly effeminate (though we were theatre majors…so it would have been harder to tell :wink: ) in as far as I observed. I recognize that these are stereotypical ideas that I’m trying to force onto a dynamic human being, but nevertheless I say them to convey my surprise at learning this news. A lot of people have posted on “her” page supporting “her” on coming out about this, but I felt a little reluctant to join in the congratulations as a person making my way toward conversion to Catholicism since I was unsure (but suspected) what the Church teaches about this. Upon doing a little bit of digging I have to admit I’m still a bit confused, is there an official teaching of the Magisterium on this topic, or are anti-trans opinions merely conservatives being conservatives and people boldly declaring that the Church doesn’t teach anything officially about this just liberals being liberals?

I want to support my friend, but not condone anything immoral or intrinsically disordered. Please advise me as to the Church’s position on this.

Thank you,

The Church says that you are the sex you are born with. Gender dysphoria, as this person may have, is a psychological disorder that should be dealt with by counseling, etc, to help someone’s mental gender return to their birth sex, and not by gender reassignment surgery.

Exactly. Let’s not forget that homosexuality was also a psychological disorder until public opinion/pressure changed that as public perception plays a large role in what is “normal” and what is a “disorder.” The same doesn’t apply for what the Church teaches, thankfully.

There is no official reference to the term “transgender” in the Church, as this issue is very new.

However, according to Church teaching, human soul and body are one. There can be no “person having the wrong body,” as the body is intrinsic to the person.



Example: if I were so mentally disturbed as to believe I could fly, would the correct response be to perform surgery on me to graft on wings? Likewise with transsexualism, the correct response is therapy of a psychological kind, not mutilation.

Yes, “transgenderism” is so new that there is not much detailed Church teaching on the subject. The unbiased evidence seems to show that this is a psychological, rather than a physical, disorder. These persons should not leap into surgery in the hope that it will cure their issues.

I’m afraid you have that upside down. The very few professionals who claim that are all very biased and agenda driven. Only in the eyes of someone with a bias, would their “research” seem unbiased.

The unbiased evidence seems to show that this is indeed a physical, neurobiological condition. What people in this thread have said about such incongruence being impossible according to Catholic teaching is blatantly wrong.

However, I and others have written so many posts about this now, that I’m afraid I’ll just point to earlier threads this time, instead of spending an hour on rewriting the same things. There’s plenty of information on scientific research, relationship to Catholic teaching (and more importantly, discipline, since there is truly no teaching on this), and so on in this thread:


Edit: Oh, and just one more thing (not to imitate Steve, but I just had to…): Nobody “leaps into surgery”. It is a long process, and surgery requires at minimum one year of hormonal treatment to discern if this is really what the patient needs. Preceding that year of hormonal treatment, there’s usually months to years of therapy. And generally, people wait longer than one year after getting hormones. Generally, medical transition takes everything from (at minimum) two years to seven, eight or even ten years and more. There is no “leaping” allowed into these procedures.


OP: there are plenty of threads on this topic. Conservative orthodox Catholics tend to believe it is incompatible; liberal orthodox Catholics tend to believe that the body/soul unity is only perfect with the glorified body and that birth defects can happen on Earth.

Either way, the Church currently allows for the reassignment surgery and current Church discipline (changeable, not doctrine) bars transgender people from marriage and Holy Orders. As a Catholic, you are free to believe either way on the basic issue. If you believe, as some Catholics do, that a birth defect can alter the protein expression in-utero that leads to genital formation, you can support her. If you believe, as some Catholics do, that God infallibly protects said protein expression in-utero from being corrupted, you can oppose the action. But you are free to act according to your conscience on this issue.

Currently, scientific evidence has shown transgender people to have brain structure sizing and neuron counts specific to dichotomous numbers consistent with their identified gender, if people in this thread want to discuss the science behind the issue.

You are certainly mistaken about that. I know a man who began the surgery only a few months after the “epiphany” that he was supposed to be a woman.

You obviously have an agenda on this subject, for whatever reason. I don’t want to argue with you. I have great sympathy for anyone with these issues.

Actually such an example is very surprising and very different from the average or the recommended setting. What Rin said is much more typical, as the guiding steps for trans* people follow, as a rule, the WPATH steps. These steps (outlined here: :admin.associationsonline.com/uploaded_files/140/files/Standards%20of%20Care,%20V7%20Full%20Book.pdf - English, view wpath.org/site_page.cfm?pk_association_webpage_menu=1351 for other languages) support Rin’s claim and suggest that your situation was abnormal.

None of the surgeons that I’ve researched accept any less than 2 recommendations (one from a Masters level psychologist, another from a Doctorate), and it generally takes 3 months minimum (if assuming biweekly appointments) to attain such a recommendation and effectively screen for other possible mental disorders (note, it’s not viewed as a disorder according to medical community until it disrupts how someone lives or thinks, but that’s not something i’ll pay attention to from opinions of non-medically trained people). It outlines the 1 year recommendation of hrt before any surgeries.

Next time, please view the materials regarding a subject before accusing someone of being wrong for having an exception to the rule instead of the rule itself.

There seems to be a swarming and pouncing by those with the transgender / transsexual condition on every thread on the subject in this forum, who maintain as if the Catholic Church has already accepted that said condition has a biological etiology. She has not. Certainly the Church is being cautious as she has always been and should be with her pronouncements.

What is purported to be science, is not truly free of bias, self-serving agenda, and politics, and is therefore very much arguable.

Pope Benedict XVI admonished the faithful in December 2012, warning that a new philosophy of sexuality is put forward today under the term “gender."

…According to this philosophy, sex is no longer a given element of nature, that man has to accept and personally make sense of: it is a social role that we choose for ourselves, while in the past it was chosen for us by society. The profound falsehood of this theory and of the anthropological revolution contained within it is obvious. People dispute the idea that they have a nature, given by their bodily identity, that serves as a defining element of the human being. They deny their nature and decide that it is not something previously given to them, but that they make it for themselves. According to the biblical creation account, being created by God as male and female pertains to the essence of the human creature. This duality is an essential aspect of what being human is all about, as ordained by God. This very duality as something previously given is what is now disputed. The words of the creation account: “male and female he created them” (Gen 1:27) no longer apply. No, what applies now is this: it was not God who created them male and female – hitherto society did this, now we decide for ourselves. Man and woman as created realities, as the nature of the human being, no longer exist. Man calls his nature into question. From now on he is merely spirit and will. The manipulation of nature, which we deplore today where our environment is concerned, now becomes man’s fundamental choice where he himself is concerned. From now on there is only the abstract human being, who chooses for himself what his nature is to be. Man and woman in their created state as complementary versions of what it means to be human are disputed. But if there is no pre-ordained duality of man and woman in creation, then neither is the family any longer a reality established by creation.

It is understandable that those with the condition are emboldened by the winds of liberalism with freer and easier path towards sex reassignment surgery. They deem their bodies, even with confirming DNA of their sex, to be prisons from which they wish fervently to escape. Such is a cross, indeed. Catholic transgenders look to explicit permission and all they can use for now is a purported sub secretum Church allowance on extreme cases where or if inner turmoil could be resolved. Whether said secret document is true or not, it is clear that the Church maintains that SRS does not change one’s sex, that said procedure for transitioned individuals do not benefit with a change of sex category on baptismal records, permission to marry or be ordained into priesthood based on a transitioned sex category.

Catholic transgenders and transsexuals, as with Catholic homosexuals and lesbians, seem to wish for nothing else than the Church to yield to their demand: change the teaching.

Some here are quick to claim lack of charity. When Catholics point to or state Catholic position on these controversial and hot topics, they are not being uncharitable. Veritas et caritas go hand in hand.

I would simply point out that, without knowing anything more about the situation, I would wonder how long this man had been “in the closet” about his feeling transgendered? It’s possible that what appeared to be a leap to surgery after an “epiphany” might have actually been beginning surgery after many months or even years of questioning his gender identity, body image, etc. I’m not saying that’s what happened, I’m just saying based on reading two sentences, that sounds like at least a possibility that might account for what is, apparently according to other posters, unusual behavior.

See this is my problem. I seem to be hearing BOTH a definitive “the Church teaches against it” and “the Church is silent and currently permits reassignment surgery” in this thread, so hopefully you can empathize with my confusion. So which is it? Does the Holy Catholic Church believe that it is impossible for a man or woman to be physically bodily sexually defective from birth such that a person’s mind, heart, and/or soul could be of one gender, with their body being of the opposite gender and condemn medical procedures to alter the body’s sexual organs and structure in such people as immoral…or NOT?

I honestly really feel sorry for those who deal with gender identity abnormalities and disordered thinking. I have no idea exactly what causes it and will wait until clear science comes out that proves what causes it before I decide what causes it. Regardless, I do believe that transgenderism is an abnormality of some sort. Nevertheless, we should still be compassionate towards them. Hopefully the Church will come out with an official teaching on the issue sometime in the future.

The problem you’re having is that the Church has teachings on gender in general, but not on transsexualism specifically. But conservative orthodox individuals and liberal orthodox individuals apply the teachings on gender differently to the condition.

To start you off, here are the Church’s teachings on gender:

*]It cannot be changed, period. From before you were born for eternity, you have the same gender.
*]It cannot be chosen, period, whether by you or your parents.
*]It has fundamental meaning.

So a conservative orthodox individual will say “See? You can’t change your gender, so you should see what your genitalia say and then just go with it.” These three teachings are what make some Catholics oppose the issue.

A liberal orthodox individual will hear a transgender person talk about how they’ve always been the gender they identify as, they’ve always known they’re that gender, and that they can’t choose their gender, or else they’d go with what was easiest. They see that as consistent with the above teachings. They then compare it to the scientific evidence showing that our brains are gendered, irrespective of hormone exposure, and that transgender people have a 100% rate of being in the neuron count/brain structure size range of their identified sex, and so they consider the person to be that gender.

The Catholic Church, in its current discipline, takes a somewhat middle-of-the-road approach between these two positions, but it has no official teaching or doctrine. It bars transgender people from gendered vocations (Holy Orders, Matrimony), does not currently allow for a change of gender on a Baptismal certificate but does allow for a notation of transgender on the Baptismal certificate, and allows for the surgery.

Your confusion is more borne out of the fact that conservative and liberal orthodox Catholics see transsexualism as such a different condition that it’s impossible to really have a discussion on the issue. Conservatives see it as someone trying in vain to change their gender (which would be theologically impermissible). Liberals see it as someone correcting an in-utero protein expression error (which, as corrective, would be theologically permissible and even advisable).

Read the thread Rin posted. It has pretty much all the information you could possibly want on transsexualism, from the most conservative arguments to the most liberal arguments to the scientific evidence on the issue. But there is no official Church teaching, and you should go with whatever your conscience most believes.

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