The Failure From The Vatican To Understand Gender Minorities

Image: Shutterstock

Image: Shutterstock

On June 10th of 2019, the Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education released a document with the intention of informing Catholic educators on how to teach gender. This document is titled, “Male and Female He Created Them.” , and claimed to have a desire to create a dialogue around non-“traditional” genders within the church. Simply put, the document stated that non-“traditional” genders are unnatural and would destroy the family. This stance isn’t surprising as the church has a similar stance in regards to same-sex marriages, in that people with non-heterosexual sexualities are perfectly fine as long as they don’t fall in love with someone. It’s the usual “hate the sin, but love the sinner” argument. 

While the argument is similar to the one against same-sex couples in the Catholic church, the Congregation then said that transgender and gender non-conforming persons can’t exist as they are “unnatural”. First, they gave their version of what they believe brought about gender theory and how in the past century it has, “....presenting them [gender constructs]  instead as merely the product of historical and cultural conditioning.”, destroyed their idea of a family. They believe that when cis-women were given a chance to become more liberated in society, that it began to degrade family values leading us to having people “choose” their gender. Also during the 20th century, anti-discrimination policies came about to protect minorities, which the congregation seems to believe is great except these policies shouldn’t apply to transgender and gender non-conforming persons  The Congregation also made it clear that they believe transgender and gender non-conforming people are victimizing themselves by “choosing” their gender. They then made the rather ridiculous argument, “...that each individual can act arbitrarily as if there were no truths, values and principles to provide guidance, and everything were possible and permissible.”, essentially saying that if a person can “choose their gender” then everything in life is a free for all, which is simply untrue. Transgender and gender non-conforming persons have always existed since humans have existed. So to say that modern transgender and gender non-conforming persons are creating a world in which everything is arbitrary is false, as not everything in life is arbitrary, and shows their lack of a fundamental understanding of transgender and gender non-conforming persons (which is prevalent through out the whole document). It is clear by their lack of knowledge, that the Congregation for Catholic Education failed to consult LGBT+ catholics and LGBT+ catholic allies such as Father James Martin S.J., or DignityUSA.

This document which claimed to want to start a conversation in the church instead shuts down the conversation around transgender and gender non-conforming persons, and leaves room for more hatred against gender minorities. The document fails to see the danger this causes those of non-“traditional” genders. This year, eleven people have been murdered because they were transgender. It is common for those who are transgender and gender non-conforming to be murdered, are likely to commit suicide, assaulted, refused basic services, and often find themselves in poverty. This document just allowed for another way to discriminate and harm transgender and gender non-conforming people which can have deeply harmful affects on them. Not to mention the document already goes against the New Commandment, and against the Consistent Ethic of Life (which is against suicide).   

The main point is that their argument against transgender and gender non-conforming is weak and that the Congregation for Catholic Education has seem to forget the power they hold, and has to a degree further put gender minorities in harms way. If the Congregation wanted to start a conversation around gender in the church, they would’ve made sure to remind that God’s love is unconditional and consulted the help of transgender and gender non-conforming persons, allies, and organizations instead of publishing a hateful document that does not understand those of non-“traditional” genders.

Eileen MurrayComment