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Against The Gender Ideologues

Good news from Rome today: [1]

The Vatican on Monday flatly rejected what it cast as the notion that individuals can choose their gender, releasing its first extensive document on the issue as Western countries are increasingly wrestling with the social and legal implications of more fluid definitions of identity.

The document, issued by the Vatican department overseeing Catholic education, echoed past statements by Pope Francis. It argued that acceptance of flexible ideas of gender posed a threat to traditional families and ignored the natural differences between men and women.

It lamented “calls for public recognition of the right to choose one’s gender, and of a plurality of new types of unions, in direct contradiction of the model of marriage as being between one man and one woman, which is portrayed as a vestige of patriarchal societies.”

The idea of gender moving along a spectrum was “nothing more than a confused concept of freedom in the realm of feelings and wants.”

I can’t find a link to the original document, but here is an official Vatican News report on it, which is full of details not in most of the mainstream media reports [2]. It really sounds like an excellent piece of work.

Catholic News Service reports: [3]

“The effect of this move is chiefly to create a cultural and ideological revolution driven by relativism, and secondarily a juridical revolution, since such beliefs claim specific rights for the individual and across society.”

The document says it aims to set out an intellectual framework “towards a path of dialogue on the question of gender theory in education.”

Published at the beginning of “Pride Month,” during which many cities and corporations mark the campaign of LGBT advocacy, the document says that the Church teaches an essential difference between men and woman, ordered in the natural law and essential to the family and human flourishing.

“There is a need to reaffirm the metaphysical roots of sexual difference, as an anthropological refutation of attempts to negate the male-female duality of human nature, from which the family is generated,” the document explains.

“The denial of this duality not only erases the vision of human beings as the fruit of an act of creation but creates the idea of the human person as a sort of abstraction who ‘chooses for himself what his nature is to be.’”

This is exactly what needs saying, and exactly the time to say it. Good for the Vatican. Note well that this document is not about homosexuality or bisexuality, but about transgenderism.

I don’t know how well this will play in the pews in the US. I received a lengthy e-mail today from a doctrinally orthodox parish priest who explained why he is boxed in on all sides by his bishop on matters like this. I can’t use the letter because the details would out him, but trust me, he is in a completely no-win situation. Catholic laity frustrated over the failure of their priests to teach and uphold Catholic orthodoxy ought to spend some time talking to this man. He wants to do it, but — well, I can’t tell you more, but know this: if the local bishop is either heterodox, or orthodox but afraid to take heat, then parish priests are completely exposed.

I’m not going to approve comments about this anonymous priest’s situation, because I can’t give you more details, and defending him beyond what I’ve said here would require more details. I just wanted to make a strong point here: that just because Rome says something good doesn’t mean it’s going to make it down the chain into the parishes. And if it doesn’t make it down to the parishes, that’s not necessarily because the priest doesn’t want to teach it. This just goes to show that the teaching is there, and it is the responsibility of the laity to inform itself. That’s the nature of the times we live in. You cannot necessarily trust the local institutional church to have your back.

On this topic, Jesse Singal is one of the best journalists. He is no conservative, but he writes deeply reported and analyzed pieces about science, social science, and culture. In the latest issue of his newsletter [4], Singal explores the recent NYTimes piece about gender nonbinary people [5] — a piece that I called a “propaganda blast” [6] the other day. The NYT absolutely cannot be trusted on these topics. More than a decade ago, when the paper had an ombudsman, at least two of those ombudsmen flagged the paper for cheerleading in its coverage of gay issues. Now it’s doing the same thing for transgenderism.

Anyway, Singal analyzes the piece, which was written by Daniel Bergner. “Salem” is a nonbinary male teenager who is clearly in mental distress, and who went on female hormones, but then couldn’t figure out if he liked the breasts that were developing on his chest. Salem uses the plural pronoun “they,” which Singal uses too. Leading up to this excerpt, Singal says that in his own reporting, he has found clinicians who work closely and carefully with gender dysphoric teenagers to understand the nature of their dysphoria, and to come up with the best treatment option — which is not always hormone therapy. That did not seem to happen in Salem’s case; he sort of wandered into this position, in which he is not obviously happy. Excerpt:

Bergner makes it clear that this sort of vagueness often suffuses cases like Salem’s, which differ from more clear-cut ones in which someone born male simply wants to present in the world as female, or vice-versa. Bergner notes that “the goal of treatment [for nonbinary people] is often unclear to the patient themself; the prevailing binary paradigm doesn’t apply. The need is to get beyond [gender], but how?” Doctors and psychiatrists who express skepticism are part of the problem: “To make the doubt and dismissal faced by nonbinary people worse, some physicians and surgeons who are committed to treating binary trans patients with hormones and surgery are wary of doing the same for the nonbinary, questioning whether the interventions are psychiatrically, and therefore medically, necessary.”

I guess it depends a lot on the nature of this questioning, no? In Salem’s case, how could a competent medical caregiver not question whether they should go on hormones? Salem isn’t even sure that they want breasts! Why would you possibly take a substance that will cause you to grow breasts if you aren’t sure you want them? I could practically hear the voices of the clinicians I have interviewed over the years screaming in my ear as I read this article. It seems like in the case of Salem (and others mentioned in the article), there was just no real exploration, no real attempt to unpack the complicated dynamics of gender, and none of the real work that, in the best cases, goes into helping someone figure out if hormones and surgery will make them feel better in the long run.

The one exception, naturally, was someone who didn’t even want her name to be used:

A New Jersey-based therapist in her 50s, who describes herself as a butch lesbian and who has worked with nearly two dozen nonbinary high school and college students, is more circumspect. She guessed that many of her assigned-female nonbinary clients would once have lived as butch or — a subcategory — stone butch lesbians. “Are we just being faddish in the wish for more and more individualized identities?” she asked. And what percentage of the nonbinary kids now coming to her will be calling themselves nonbinary 10 or 15 years in the future? “To tell you the truth, I can’t be sure.” But despite her skepticism, her sense is that something urgent is going on, that new and necessary territory is being delineated. She’s not, at base, at odds with [a nonbinary clinician mentioned elsewhere in the piece], who wonders if we will all gradually question whether “the gender binary is inherent to human experience.”

Something urgent sure as hell is going on. There are large upticks in the numbers of people, particularly young ones (nonbinary folks are mostly under 30, Bergner reports), who are experiencing such distress at being seen as male or female that they desperately want out the whole thing. As this anonymous therapist points out, though, there’s just no way to know exactly what’s at play here. And most of the people who are suffering don’t have access to a good, thoughtful, careful clinician to help them figure this stuff out — they might not even know what to look for in one. There are a million screaming sirens urging caution, and the only response, in terms of how progressives are publicly discussing this issue, is to call anyone with questions about this a bigot. (I want to reiterate that I think Bergner is an excellent reporter, but I really do question the framing of qualms on the part of medical professionals as “doubt and dismissal,” at least in cases where, as Bergner describes, the patients seeking the treatment don’t even know what they want, exactly — “the goal of treatment is often unclear to the patient themself” — but rather just have a general sense they need to do something to change their body. The Hippocratic Oath is a real thing!)

Singal goes on to talk about how the fact that some really damaged and struggling kids are being rushed onto hormones by clinicians is the result of a culture that says this must happen:

The idea that I’m supposed to read this as a positive story (other than the part about Salem finding a queer community, which will undoubtedly improve their quality of life immensely) doesn’t make sense. The idea that, as a progressive and a science writer, I’m supposed to nod along and say that Salem is part of some sort of revolution we should be applauding and helping to spread — a revolution in which we put troubled kids with serious mental-health problems on hormones that will cause effects they aren’t sure they want — doesn’t make sense. The idea that it’s unaffirming or backward or bigoted or transphobic to say “I think the best outcome for Salem would have been a bit more exploration before embarking on a permanent medical journey they already seem to be partially regretting” doesn’t make sense.

Read all of Singal’s piece.  [4]

I should make it very clear that Jesse Singal is not a conservative. From his past writing, it’s clear that he would not in any way support what the Vatican said today. I have to emphasize that because even though he’s openly a progressive, and has stated many times that he generally favors all forms of treatment for transgenders (including surgery), he is still frequently attacked by trans activist berserkers. He ends his newsletter piece calling for “compassionate common sense” in dealing with the medical aspect of transgenderism — the same as we would use with any other medical matter.

That said, the position articulated in Rome’s paper is profound and philosophical, having to do with the meaning of human nature. You don’t have to agree with the reasoning, but the idea that it’s based on nothing more than arbitrary theological impositions is absurd. We hear this all the time from the pro-choice side in the abortion debate: that the argument against abortion rights is based on nothing more than theology. That’s not true, and neither is what the Catholic Church said today. (Again, I haven’t read the entire document, but I know from what’s in the reports that I’ve read what the argument is). By the way, it’s based in part on the same general concept that the Catholic Church uses when it talks about the sacred importance of respecting the natural world and the limits within it. Today’s document says that gender theory is an attempt to “destroy nature.” This is true.

Jesse Singal would certainly reject the Vatican’s position, but he’s absolutely right that the cultural politics of this issue shuts down any real discussion of transgenderism. It’s being forced on families, communities, schools and others, in the name of individual rights. We have become so fanatically conditioned to think narrowly in terms of rights that many of us can’t even bring ourselves to think in any other way. A progressive Catholic ministry fell back on the usual brain-freezing, dialogue-stopping claim that to oppose in any way what transgender activists want is to be a HATER, and even to have blood on your hands:

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js [9]

Big Business has been strongarming every state government that has failed to accept transgenderism without any restrictions. Big Media propagandizes for it constantly. Even though, as Singal writes, the medical profession’s hysterical embrace of transgenderism is hugely irresponsible, it’s still happening — and soon, doctors who have genuine objections to giving trans or gender-nonconforming patients what they want will be in the same position at that anonymous Catholic priest: unable to speak and act on the truth for fear that they will have their vocation taken away.

UPDATE: Reader Jonah R., alas, probably correct:

These Vatican pronouncements won’t be useful. In fact, they’ll be the opposite. I already see them being mocked by people on Facebook—the straightest, whitest, most suburban people who are so desperate to look progressive that they’re framing their photos not just in rainbows but the transgender flag (which is apparently, suddenly a thing now).

Sad to say, what the Vatican says on the matter of transgenderism is culturally irrelevant. People who think this is madness need to make it easier for dissenters and those victimized by schools and medical profession to speak freely. You need to nurture dissent and change minds. Seriously, people are literally flying transgender flags online, on their houses, and occasionally at progressive churches. Show them the lives being ruined. They’re only laughing at whatever the pope has to say.

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66 Comments To "Against The Gender Ideologues"

#1 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On June 11, 2019 @ 2:58 pm

Just FYI, according to PRRI, 68% of Catholics support transgender rights compared to 69% of unaffiliateds and 52-60% of Protestants.

The question is meaningless, unless we break down what “transgender rights” consists of.

The right to cross-dress without being mocked, spat upon, killed, and ostracized? I think the percentage would be much higher than a mere 60 percent.

The right to declare that you “identify as” a different sex than your physical body, and walk into private spaces reserved for the opposite sex, invading and trashing everyone else’s privacy? Likely the percentages would be much lower.

There are all kinds of other questions that need specific answers before anyone has credibility pontificating on what “people” are “in favor of.”

To attribute the rise of transgenderism to environmental factors is to say that an affinity for fashion, accessories, cosmetics, etc. are because of inherited biological traits

Nope. Nothing about cultural choices of accessories. Just that plastics include, or are lined with, chemicals that mimic sexual hormones, and in many ways not yet fully explored, wreak havoc on the human ecosystem, producing “feelings” and “senses” and impulses that aren’t natural, but feel genuine because the chemical mix in the body is what it is.

#2 Comment By Roy Fassel On June 11, 2019 @ 3:08 pm

[NFR: Is there any serious reason at all to believe that vaccines have anything to do with this? That sounds crackpot to me. I might be wrong. In any case, John’s point is a good one. — RD]
=================================

Injecting female hormones (steroids) into animals so the factory farmed animals grow faster might very well have much more to do with it. Those steroids get into the food chain and it is quite possible that they could alter the DNA of some who don’t have a strong immune system. Factory farmed animals have been injected with growth hormones for 50 some years. This can’t be ruled out.

#3 Comment By Mareh On June 11, 2019 @ 9:02 pm

What I do not see very much in this piece or the attendant comments are the words “mental illness.” I do see a great need to rationalize or intellectualize, and the need to “make it fit,” this bizarre phenomenon, which I have no problem calling insanity. One could argue the origination of the insanity, but I am going to suggest that the removal of boundaries at all levels of reality, the addiction to anything goes in all human endeavor and behavior, the filling of self with junk substances of all kinds (a long list), the war against nature, the death of God – have all led to this devastating outcome of a kind of emerging of the living dead. I am reminded of the warnings I have read over recent years from exorcists. In the story on this blog not long ago, “Life During Spiritual Wartime,” there were the clear warnings, of getting “much worse before it gets better,” and the “darkness coming.” The true story here is that we are living in a condition that is fugitive from reality. When a thing, a being, a culture is “fugitive from reality” It is open to possession of all kinds. It is not hard to see the rampant and bizarre ideological possession that rules our time. In fact this whole discussion of “no gender” and “fluid gender” and “multiple genders” and “gender dysphoria” is an excellent example of the workings of ideological possession. And, judging by the evidence that abounds, demonic possession is a very real factor that creates the kind of fragmentation of soul that leads to this tragic condition.

#4 Comment By MichaelGC On June 11, 2019 @ 9:28 pm

Siarlys Jenkins says June 11, 2019 at 2:58 pm:

Nope. Nothing about cultural choices of accessories. Just that plastics include, or are lined with, chemicals that mimic sexual hormones, and in many ways not yet fully explored, wreak havoc on the human ecosystem, producing “feelings” and “senses” and impulses that aren’t natural, but feel genuine because the chemical mix in the body is what it is.

[10], not testosterone. That would not account for the girls who want to grow whiskers and then shave them off in mimicry of men. Even at that, until they at least run some tests feeding the stuff to male lab rats and observing their behavior against that of a control group, it’s a wild guess. Occam’s razor still applies — fetishes, the social contagion of ROGD, trauma, personality disorders, etc.

#5 Comment By Lee On June 11, 2019 @ 9:32 pm

@ Siarlys Jenkins
“Just FYI, according to PRRI, 68% of Catholics support transgender rights compared to 69% of unaffiliateds and 52-60% of Protestants.

The question is meaningless, unless we break down what “transgender rights” consists of.”

Presumably, all were asked the same question(s) and the percentages fell out as shown. The point was that the response of Catholics was nearly the same as unaffiliated. I don’t think they are listening to the pope.

#6 Comment By Lee On June 11, 2019 @ 9:56 pm

Re: plastics etc.

Humans poisoning themselves is a long-standing tradition from eating from pewter plates to using arsenic or crocodile dung as a cosmetic. History is full of such stuff.

We all swim in our own specific cocktail of chemicals every single day. In our water. In the personal products we use on our bodies. In the pills we take. In the fabrics we wear. In the foods we eat. On the foods we eat (pesticides). And on and on.

The combinations are infinite so there is a limit to how much we can determine about causality. You can be pretty sure though, simply from the lessons of history, that a lot of what we voluntarily put into our environment isn’t very good for us and if we survive as a species, our descendants will look at what we did and shake their heads that we could have been so stupid.

#7 Comment By Zoe Brain On June 11, 2019 @ 11:03 pm

The document is available in full at [11]

#8 Comment By Eric Mader On June 11, 2019 @ 11:48 pm

Very skeptical of the thesis that the rise of transgenderism is due to chemicals in the environment. Can this or that chemical explain the over 1000% rise in youth identifying as trans in the past handful of years?

Hardly. What the West is dealing with is a cultural virus. I live as an expat in an Asian country that has for decades been awash in the same soup of plastics plus birth control plus growth hormones plus whatever other chemical influences modern capitalism can offer. And though there are trans-identifying individuals, I see nothing like the aggressive dismantling of gender I see in my home country.

Though I do in fact see such disorders being enthusiastically introduced by … whom do you imagine?

By young people, especially women, who were sent by their parents to study in “prestigious” American universities.

This is an ideological pollution, not a chemical one. Take the advice of Sohrab Ahmari and Just say No. Loudly. Do it for all the youth whose lives are being systematically ruined by this arrogant Rainbow Cult.

#9 Comment By grin without a cat On June 12, 2019 @ 2:37 am

Assuming that the Zenit version is accurate, the Vatican document is an extremely silly one. It makes vague references to “gender theory” and “the ideology of gender” but it doesn’t cite the name of a single person, document, or organization who holds any of these views they find inacceptable.

Accordingly, the reader has no way of knowing whether any opposing point of views are being represented fairly. Such an approach would not be acceptable in a term paper written by a college sophomore.

#10 Comment By JonF On June 12, 2019 @ 6:13 am

Re: Can this or that chemical explain the over 1000% rise in youth identifying as trans in the past handful of years?

I agree there a bit of a fad to it as well, whereby people who do not feel right in their own bodies are going the trans route. However there does appear to be a long term increase in the number of people who are in that situation, and there’s some evidence of dysfunction in sexual development among animals too.

#11 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On June 12, 2019 @ 10:31 am

What the West is dealing with is a cultural virus.

I think that’s true of the last several years. This thing has become a fad, like the hula hoop, except it can do a lot more damage.

But, how did it even become a question in the first place? There has always been some degree of cross-dressing, sometimes connected with homosexuality, sometimes not. But its quite possibly that there are larger numbers, because hormones are having an effect. That might also result in a larger incidence of same-sex attraction. Its not too long since we discovered that lead fumes from gasoline additives produced a marked increase in violent crime.

#12 Comment By DRK On June 12, 2019 @ 10:46 am

Plastics only mimic estrogen, not testosterone.

The testosterone and androgen hormones in our soil and water are not due to plastic, but rather to animal waste runoff. (Also, fun fact: all animals, including humans, naturally excrete hormones. Not just women on birth control pills, all animals. Until very recently, there was no concern about filtering those hormones out of our water supply). Are there enough of these hormones to to trigger transgenderism in some cisgendered women? Who can say? We are all just part of a massive unregulated, unmonitored experiment in the effects of bathing organisms in hormones. Honestly, common sense says this probably isn’t good for us.

Here’s a report from a conference at Southern Illinois University Carbondale on this topic:

[12]

It has been known since the eighties that androgenic substances can masculine female mosquito fish, causing both physical and behavioral changes, i.e. the female fish not only grow male reproductive fins, they exhibit male reproductive behavior.

[13]

So, while the recent explosion of the transgendered population may well involve social contagion, the idea that some of this is caused by our environment is not an outlandish one.

#13 Comment By JonF On June 12, 2019 @ 1:14 pm

DRK, animals and humans have been excreting hormones since before Pangaia was a continent. And to cite a gross fact, people were much more exposed to each others’ effluvium, and that of livestock, before modern sanitation became a thing. It’s the plastics that are new to the environment.

#14 Comment By Fran Macadam On June 12, 2019 @ 6:09 pm

“Big Business has been strongarming every state government that has failed to accept transgenderism without any restrictions. Big Media propagandizes for it constantly.”

The Love of Money is the root of all evil. You could call it going green.

#15 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On June 14, 2019 @ 11:41 am

Presumably, all were asked the same question(s) and the percentages fell out as shown. The point was that the response of Catholics was nearly the same as unaffiliated. I don’t think they are listening to the pope.

Well, a high school friend of mine who became a priest ten years later and is most sympathetic to parishioners with LGBT members in their family is deeply devoted to the Pope, and his parishioners seem deeply devoted to him. There are a lot of fractals to whether Catholics are paying attention to the Pope.

My point remains, what Catholics, Protestants, Jews, atheists, Muslims, or anyone else means when they answer those sloppy polls is entirely unclear, as is, whether a pronouncement from the Pope would change the perspective of those who are Catholic. Attempts to simplify the world for analytic convenience are almost always going to miss a lot.

#16 Comment By Lee On June 17, 2019 @ 2:38 pm

@ Siarlys Jenkins
“a high school friend of mine”
Gee, I thought you might have realized that I was taking a forest view with the poll, not speaking to individuals. Even so, your friend could have been in the 32% I believe.

“Attempts to simplify the world for analytic convenience are almost always going to miss a lot”
I wasn’t trying to answer the question of the meaning of life, Siarlys, just pointing out that a lot of Catholics support LGBTQ issues to at least some extent. Accept it or don’t accept as you wish.