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Religious Tolerance logo

Transgender/transsexual topics

2016-AUG: Pope Francis condemns
telling school children that they can
"choose their gender."

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During his pilgrimage to Poland during the week of 2016-JUL-24, Pope Francis attended a closed-door meeting with Polish bishops. On AUG-02, the Vatican released a transcript of his remarks.

He discussed the topic of transgender individuals and condemned educational institutions that teach students about individuals who are not cisgender. (The term "cisgender" refers to the vast majority of about 99.4% of persons who identify their current gender as the same as their birth-identified gender. The other 0.6% are transgender individuals, most of whom identify their current gender as opposite to their birth-identified gender).

"The Blaze" web site is a conservative news and information source. They quoted parts of Pope Francis' transcript:

Pope Francis said:

"Today, in schools they are teaching this to children — to children! — that everyone can choose their gender."
He blamed this on textbooks that have been supplied by:
"... persons and institutions who donate money."
He referred to:
"... ideological colonizing ... [backed by] very influential counries. ... [One such] colonization ... I'll say it clearly with its first and last name -- is Gender." 1

He referred to what he calls "gender theory:"

"... that everyone can choose their own sex ... [which may be] the exact opposite" of God’s creation.

"... God created man and woman; God created the world like this and we are doing the exact opposite." 1

A staff reporter at the Catholic Herald (UK) wrote:

"The Pope also said he had discussed the subject with Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who told his successor: 'Your Holiness, we are living in an age of sin against God the Creator.'

Pope Francis said this sin was often given financial backing by 'very influential countries:' a form of 'ideological colonisation ... [which is] 'terrible'."

Francis told the Polish bishops:

''Today, children are taught this at school: that everyone can choose their own sex. And why do they teach this? Because the books come from those people and institutions who give money.'

'It is a global problem: the exploitation of creation and the exploitation of people. We are living at a time when humankind as the image of God is being annihilated'." 2

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Reactions to Pope Francis' message:

  • DignityUSA issued a statement discussing both sexual orientation and gender identity, saying:
  • "DignityUSA, the organization of Catholics committed to justice, equality and full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in the church and society, responded with deep concern that the Pope’s comments could lead to increased violence towards and oppression of transgender and gender-nonconforming people.

    'Once again, the Pope is demonstrating a lamentable and dangerous ignorance of a subject that is literally a matter of life and death to some people,' said DignityUSA Executive Director Marianne Duddy-Burke. 'He is also failing to see that God speaks through many languages, cultures, and human experiences, and not always in ways that we have the skills to interpret correctly.'

    Duddy-Burke continued, 'What many, including Pope Francis, do not yet understand is that people do not ‘choose’ their genders. A gender is assigned at birth, and some people discover that they were incorrectly classified. The narratives of many transgender and gender nonconforming people show that this often begins long before they go to school. For most, the reality of their [gender] identity not matching their assigned gender persists despite incredible social, cultural, familial, and, yes, religious pressures to conform.'

    'It is interesting that until recently, the prevailing belief was that people chose their sexual orientation. Now, even the Catechism of the Catholic Church acknowledges that there are some people ‘who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex’ and that this is a ‘deep-seated’ reality,” Duddy-Burke continued. “It seems that we will have to undergo the same kind of conversion in our thinking about gender.'

    Duddy-Burke concluded with DignityUSA’s major concern. 'What Pope Francis says today could have serious repercussions for people all across the globe, especially in countries that are basing transphobic policies on the idea that the concept of transgender identity is a Western import. It is irresponsible of him to say such things without taking into account the fact that people’s lives are literally at stake. We urge the Pope and other Church leaders to enter into dialogue with transgender people, and to be very cautious in passing judgements that are based on assumptions rather than reality'." 3

  • Eliel Cruz, an LGBTQ advocate, and the Executive Director of Faith in America, -- a LGBT equality religious group -- said:
  • "It is incredibly naïve Pope Francis believes the image of God is anything close to binary. In believing that God is only represented in male or female, Pope Francis is effectively eliminating the diversity and complexity of the image of God." 4

  • Mitchell Gold, founder of Faith in America, wrote a message on their web site titled "It is not a sin." It appears to have been written independently of Pope Francis' remarks, but deals with the same topic.

    "I believe the time has come to end the harmful teachings by some religious denominations that being ... LGBT is a sin, or whatever words they use to demean, call evil, and cause enormous pain to LGBT people, especially our youth. More and more people are changing their minds….from evangelicals to Presbyterians to Catholics to Conservative Jews. Our understanding of human sexuality, and the natural place of same-sex love in it, has evolved!

    History has proven that using religious teachings to cause enormous harm to innocent people is wrong. I have faith in America to be better to all its citizens -- but especially innocent, vulnerable youth.

    Please join us in asking religious leaders to end the harm. Make your voices heard by signing Faith in America’s petition on Change.org, asking faith leaders and those who teach that same-sex orientation is a sin to stop.

    Get a more personal understanding of the stakes involved by watching our short film, "It's Not a Sin," presented by Faith in America with the Ali Forney Center, the nation’s largest organization dedicated to homeless LGBT youth, and share it with both those you love and those who can learn from its powerful message." 5

Homeless LGBT youth is a very serious problem in the U.S. Although lesbian and gay youth only total about 5% of the population, and bisexual youth another 5%, about 40% of the youth in homeless shelters are from the LGBT community.

  • Kelsey Louie, CEO of Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC) reacted to the Pope’s remarks, saying that he was:

    "... saddened and disturbed. Our children deserve to know that of course they have the right to choose, and GMHC applauds all schools that teach students not to oppress who they are, but instead live the life as the gender they most identify with." 6

    By referring to students' "right to choose" he does not appear to be referring to the gender that a student will identify themselves as actually being, since they have no choice in that matter. He appears to be referring to their choice of how to present themselves to others -- as either female or male.

    Referring to the mass shooting at The Pulse nightclub in Orlando, FL which occurred two months previously, Louie said:

    "What we need now is for our world leaders to spread messages of tolerance and acceptance." 6

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The Blaze's article contained many comments by readers:

Most were attacks on the Roman Catholic Church. But some were directly related to the topic discussed by Pope Francis:
  • "username05" wrote: "I don’t like this pope because he seems to be wrong on everything. A child cannot choose it’s gender. It is either born a boy or a girl. Parents are so screwing up their kids now a days."

  • "eda76" wrote: "Believing you are something you are not is called schizophrenia. Lithium is the answer, not communal toilets."

  • "Deborah" corrected "eda76's" reference to Lithium as a treatment for schizophrenia." She posted: "No, 'believing you are something you are not' is called being 'delusional.' Lithium is used to treat bipolar disorder."

  • DSMike" posted: "Biology does not lie, but the human mind often lies to itself…"

  • "angeleyes63" posted: "Only the mentally ill, or those lacking any common sense would believe children can chose what sex they are or those really sick people can chose from minute to minute. This is perversion and the Democrats love it."

  • "angelofmusic04" posted: "Our Lord perfectly creates us in our mother’s womb. We are either male or female from in our mother’s womb. No one is born in the wrong body. It’s Satan who is attacking God’s plan. This is Satan’s doing. And sex and gender ARE the same thing. Don’t listen to Satan’s lies. Resist the devil."

  • "festivalgirl" posted a note about the pope's: "... failure to understand what transgender phenomenon is. They don’t tell kids they can change gender but that they can align their body in hormonal and surgical ways to better align with their identity. ..." 1

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Webmaster's comment: [bias alert]

I personally posted the following text to The Blaze's comment section:

  • "And finally, a dose of reality. This is how being transgender really works.

    Almost all newborns can be identified as either male or female from a casual inspection of their genitals. This is recorded on their birth certificate. Meanwhile, there are other sexually dimorphic structures in the newborn's body other than their genitals. There are structures in the brain which take on either a male or female form. They are located in the space between the two hemispheres of the brain and were discovered recently. Their apparent function is to "tell" the person whether they are male or female. For about 99.4% of humans, the gender of these structures matches their genitals; these are cisgender persons. For about 0.6% there is a mismatch which will cause the person to identify as the gender opposite to that implied by their genitals. These are transgender persons. No amount of counselling or therapy can change the mismatch. The conflict between having a female body and a male brain (or vice versa) can often be successfully treated by (sometimes) the use of puberty-blocking medication, sex hormones, and (sometimes) genital reassignment surgery.

    Nobody chooses their gender. Their gender is forced upon them by their brain structures.

    The above is believed to be accurate for cisgender persons and a large percentage of transgender persons. However, a small percentage of transgender persons either identify as both genders or as having no gender. The cause of this is currently unknown." 1

This posting was immediately displayed in The Blaze article's comment section. It will be interesting to see if it survives the censors.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Jon Street, "Pope Francis Says It’s ‘Terrible’ Children Are Taught They Can Choose Gender," The Blaze, 2016-AUG-02, at: http://www.theblaze.com/
  2. Staff Reporter, "Pope Francis: It’s ‘terrible’ children taught they can choose gender," Catholic Herald, 2016-AUG-03, at: http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/
  3. "Pope Francis Demonstrates 'Lamentable and Dangerous Ignorance' on Gender Identity; DignityUSA Cautions His Words Put Lives at Risk," DignityUSA, 2016-AUG-01, at: https://www.dignityusa.org/
  4. , "Pope Francis: It's 'Terrible' Children Are Taught They Can Choose Gender." NBC News, 2016-AUG-03, at: http://www.nbcnews.com/
  5. Mitchell Gold, "It is not a sin," Faith in America, undated, at: https://www.faithinamerica.org/
  6. Kaitlyn Hayes, "Pope Francis says the growing acceptance of trans people is ‘terrible’, " Pink News, 2016-AUG-03, at: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

How you may have arrived here:

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Copyright © 2016 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original posting: 2016-AUG-10
Latest update : 2016-AUG-10
Author: B.A. Robinson

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