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The ethics of the transgender debate

First slide

Father Tad Pacholczyk, director of education for the National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia, gave a presentation Sept. 14 at St. Raymond of Penafort Church in Springfield titled, “Thinking through the Ethics of the Transgender Questions.”

An estimated 200 people attended the event, according to Father John De Celles, pastor.

Father Pacholczyk said the Catholic Church has spoken out on the transgender issue, most recently in a document, “Male and Female He Created Them,” that was released in June by the Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education.

The document recognized a distinction between "the ideology of gender," which it said tries to present its theories as "absolute and unquestionable," and the whole field of scientific research on gender, which attempts to understand the ways sexual difference is lived out in different cultures.

While claiming to promote individual freedom and respect for the rights of each person, the document said, those who see gender as a personal choice or discovery unconnected to biological sex are, in fact, promoting a vision of the human person that is "opposed to faith and right reason."

Father Pacholczyk said that thanks to the lobbying efforts of homosexual activists and the agenda-driven science of some medical groups, the number of gender identities has exploded in recent years.

“There are well-placed advocates everywhere,” he said. “We’re in the midst of a gender revolution.”

The ideology first rose through gender studies programs at universities and has spread to other levels of society, he said. Advocates claim that gender can be entirely divorced from biological sex.

Father Pacholczyk used the term “gender dysphoria” to describe transgenderism. He made a distinction between transgenderism and intersex condition, which he said is a medical diagnosis involving a disorder of sexual development or hormonal problems.

“The issue has gotten rather complicated,” he said.

The cultural impact includes a loss of clarity in how language is used, distorting its traditionally accepted meaning, he said.

“University students have bought into this ideology hook, line and sinker,” he said.

The ideology has led to changes in public school curriculums and legislation that allows transgender students access to bathrooms and locker rooms for the gender they identify with.

The use of polarizing language labels someone a bigot if they oppose transgenderism, Father Pacholczyk said.

He believes the medical community has not been as outspoken against gender dysphoria as it needs to be. One exception is the American College of Pediatricians, which has rebuffed transgender ideology, saying that it harms children.

People with gender dysphoria often have deep-seated struggles that go back to childhood, Father Pacholczyk said. Some potential causes of gender dysphoria include: parental psychopathology; aberrant family dynamics; adverse childhood events; and social reinforcement.

Those with gender dysphoria need evidence-based care, he said, with youngsters receiving care as part of family therapy.

Father Pacholczyk said we can’t overlook the role of contraception in the creation of gender confusion. “Contraception makes females into infertile images of males,” he said. “Contraception planted the seed. There are consequences.”

He said it’s important for concerned Catholics to get involved in the medical debate regarding gender dysphoria. “There will be a need for courage,” he said. “This is going to be another long battle. We can’t get tired.” 

Flach can be reached at mflach@catholicherald.com.

The discussion continues

St. Raymond of Penafort Church, 8750 Pohick Rd. in Springfield, will host an event Oct. 9 at 7 p.m. featuring Cathy Ruse from the Family Research Council discussing the Fairfax County School Board’s Family Life Education curriculum. Erin Lobato from Voices of Fairfax will speak about the “One Fairfax" policy and how it influences boundary changes with the focus on racial and socio-economic equity. 



© Arlington Catholic Herald 2019