Enjoy re-reading Fr. John's weekly bulletin letters for the past year.
When someone suffers, be it physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually the question we should ask is "what is the most loving thing I can do for this person?" The answer is not always apparent and sometimes even counter-intuitive. One of the chief characteristics of mental illness is delusional thinking. Namely that what is in the mind does not conform to the reality outside it. The most loving thing we can do for such a person is to help them accept and adjust to reality so as to live life on life's terms. The worst thing we can do for them is to confirm them in their delusion and pretend that their delusion, as strong as it might be, is actually reality.
This is exactly what our society is trying to do with those who suffer from gender dysphoria or gender confusion or Gender Identity Disorder (GID). By saying to a biological male, who feels like a woman trapped in a man's body, that you are actually a woman and setting up a cultural system that affirms the belief, is confirming the sufferer in his delusion and not the most loving thing that would help him. Then by labeling as intolerant, hateful, 'same-as-slave-owners' those who insist the problem is centered in the mind and not the body is an abandonment of empirical reality if not logic itself.
Most clinical research studies, and the witness of clinicians who work with those with gender confusion all point to the fact that over the long haul, gender reassignment, whether through hormones or surgery is ineffective in dealing with the problem. Still activists and politicians wrap the issue in the language of discrimination (asking men to use the Men's Room and women to use the Women's Room is not invidious discrimination just common sense) and are pounding it into our heads that the suffering of the transgendered will be greatly alleviated by letting them use the restroom of their choice. Many will say that the transgendered insist on this. Well yes they do, everyone who suffers a serious delusion insists we all accept their delusion. If you have ever dealt with the mentally ill you know how incredibly strong their delusion can be and how easy it is to fall in to the trap of changing reality to fit the delusion.
This researcher put it succulently: "Currently, the predominant cultural understanding is that all male-to-female (MtF) transsexuals are, essentially, women trapped in men's bodies. This understanding has little scientific basis however, and is inconsistent with clinical observations. [Therefore] the persistence of the predominant cultural understanding…is damaging to science and to many transsexuals". (J.M. Bailey in "What many transgender activists don't want you to know: and why you should know it anyway".) Or you can read the witness of one person who suffered through the surgeries to only fine himself worse off: "Sex Change Surgery: What Bruce Jenner, Diane Sawyer, and You Should Know" (http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2015/04/14905/)
The facts show that many of the underlying issues that those with GID face are not resolved with hormone treatment, sex-reassignment surgery or social policy. Long after all that is done the rates of depression, self-harm, other mental illness and suicide are extremely high for them. Despite gender reassignment surgery, hormone treatment or just living life as the opposite gender they are not living long-term happy, well-adjusted lives. Worst still is that since activists pretend the problem is solved by becoming the opposite gender any suffering or anguish that they still feel is brushed away and denied and any negative feelings are used as a way to blame still lingering societal transphobia making it all the more difficult to get effective help. After all where can they turn in a society that has been obsessed with using transgendered activism as a political tool as a substitute for the best standard of care?
So in light of that we have to ask ourselves: is what our politicians and big businesses are proposing in terms of restrooms and other public policies really the most loving thing we can do for those who suffer the mental anguish of believing they are trapped in the wrong body? Apparently there are many in our society who are happy to deny science in order to push a political agenda. Sadly this includes using political pressure to close down some of the best clinicians and therapies in the US that have demonstrably helped people with GID to accept the gender they were born with and to live within it.
The irony of the current debate is that those who are accused of being intolerant and hateful because they will not accept the anti-science, illogical prescriptions of those who insist on treating men as women and women as men are actually the ones who offer the most hope for the transgendered. Why? Because the most loving thing we can do for those who suffer this mental anguish is not to confirm them in their delusion by going along with it. No, the most loving thing we can do is to help them accept reality as it has been biologically determined and to successfully live within it.
Those who suffer with gender identity deserve our love and support and not our judgment. But they also deserve our honesty and the truth about their condition. We can walk with them and help them to accept the reality of who they are, made in the image and likeness of God as male or female not both.
Love, Fr. John B.