Studies show that how parents respond to a child’s gender identity can have profound consequences for that child. The chances for depression and suicidal thinking are markedly higher among transgender children whose parents reject their gender identity, ThinkProgress reports.
But, religious right-wing homophobes in the U.S. continually step in to harm transgendered people, who are already marginalized by society. In other words, religion is always interfering where it doesn’t belong.
In December 2017, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops released a vile and pernicious letter that claims transgender identity is a “false identity,” Michael Stone writes for Patheos. The usual assortment of ignorant and ignominious right-wing religious conservatives signed the letter that urges parents to reject their transgender children. It further encourages them to deny necessary medical treatment because “What God created is good,” and “God created mankind in his image; in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them,” (Genesis 1:27).
And at an October meeting (or Synod) at the Vatican for church leaders around the world, the U.S. branch of the Catholic church showed just how tone-deaf it is.
“There is no such thing as an “LGBTQ Catholic” or “transgender Catholic” or a “heterosexual Catholic,” as if our sexual appetites defined who we are,” Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput, a U.S. delegate to the meeting told the assembly at the meeting.
“It follows that ‘LGBTQ’ and similar language should not be used in church documents, because using it suggests that these are real, autonomous groups, and the church simply doesn’t categorize people that way,” he added.
Well maybe not, but it would behoove them to get with the program. Because, while for some of us (not me), religion does define who we are, but so does our sexual appetite. LGBTQ and transgender people are real and autonomous. Period.
Their counterparts across the pond have a much more empathetic and welcoming view. In late November, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales held a day of remembrance for transgendered people. The day was founded by transgendered activist Gwendolyn Ann Smith in 1999.
Today is Transgender Day of Remembrance and we pray for all people who are ill at ease with their gender, seek to change it, suffer for it and have been persecuted, and also killed. All people are loved by God and valued in their inherent God-given dignity. #TDOR
— Catholic Church (@catholicEW) November 20, 2018
The U.S. version of so-called Catholic charity could take a page from this.
Their letter from last year opens with this paragraph:
“As leaders of various communities of faith throughout the United States, many of us came together in the past to affirm our commitment to marriage as the union of one man and one woman and as the foundation of society. We reiterate that natural marriage continues to be invaluable to American society.”
I’m not going to post the entire letter here, if you wish to check it out, here’s the link. Suffice it to say that the authors assert, with false sincerity that this is a “complicated reality that needs to be addressed with sensitivity and truth.”
“Each person deserves to be heard and treated with respect; it is our responsibility to respond to their concerns with compassion, mercy, and honesty. As religious leaders, we express our commitment to urge the members of our communities to also respond to those wrestling with this challenge with patience and love.”
But while the authors write that transgender individuals should be treated with respect, they are hypocritically not doing that. They want transgendered people to conform to their archaic beliefs about gender identity. The bishops state that transgendered people should be dealt with honestly, but their idea of honesty is one-sided. It’s based on the idea that being transgender is somehow “bad.”
And this fuels bigotry and hate. Consider this: Transgendered people are frequent victims of deadly violence, The Human Rights Campaign notes. In 2017, 29 transgendered people were murdered in the U.S. and while it isn’t known if all of these murders were due to anti-transgender hate, several of them were. In 2018, 26 transgender people were killed by guns or other violent means. Haaretz reports that worldwide, at least 369 transgendered people have been murdered since November 2017.
The murder rate for trans people has escalated notes the Trans Murder Monitoring project. In 2008, 148 murders were reported worldwide, in 2017, that number rose to 358.
Antiquated and deeply ignorant attitudes almost certainly fuel this horrific behavior. If Catholic bishops in the U.S. wish to prevent further harm to trans people they need to change their insincere message to one of love and acceptance.