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Christian Compassion: A Catholic Perspective on Gender Ideology

by Kelly Green

I have been trying to write this essay for months. I don’t know what has been holding me up, because my opinions and thoughts are clear. I think it’s just that this issue is so important, for all of us in Canada, that I would like to get it right. But now I realize that saying it out loud is much more important than getting it absolutely right.

To be fair, I have been saying it out loud, to anyone who will listen, for at least six years. But seldom, unless speaking to those who share my beliefs and opinions, have I expressed my concerns about gender ideology in the context of my Christian faith. The arrest of a young man in Ontario for expressing his Christian beliefs has made me realize that the time has come for me to do just that.

This morning my husband pointed out an article in the National Post that described how a Catholic high school punished a student for expressing Catholic beliefs during a class discussion about “gender.” In fact, his school had him arrested. That’s right. A Catholic school had a Catholic student arrested after he expressed his belief, grounded in the teachings of the Catholic church, that there are two, and only two “genders” (a word which he used as a synonym for biological sex).

As a Catholic, I have often been ashamed of my church. I did believe, however, that we were holding the line, to some extent, on gender. In 2021, Pope Francis said, “The ‘gender’ ideology of which you speak is dangerous, yes. As I understand it, it is so because it is abstract with respect to the concrete life of a person, as if a person could decide abstractly at will if and when to be a man or a woman.”

In 2020 the Canadian Council of Catholic Bishops challenged the Canadian government’s “conversion therapy” bill, C-6, by quoting Vatican II: “From a Catholic perspective and its teaching on religious freedom, every person is to ‘be immune from coercion on the part of individuals or of social groups and of any human power, in such wise that no one is to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his own beliefs, whether privately or publicly, whether alone or in association with others, within due limits.’”

But the principal and staff at St. Joseph’s Catholic High School in Renfrew, Ontario did not, apparently, get that memo. And 16-year-old Josh Alexander received an exclusion order from that school for stating Catholic beliefs and biological facts.

A few months ago I had an extensive conversation with a Catholic priest who has a long history of working as a teacher in Catholic high schools. I expressed my concerns about how the Canadian government has removed women’s sex-based protections, and how children are being indoctrinated in schools to believe that they have a “gender identity” that could be different from their biological sex. I spoke of how many of these children are being put on a medical pathway that will result in infertility, lack of sexual function, possibly altered brain development, heart disease, weakened bones, and a host of other health problems.

My priest friend assured me that Catholic schools were holding the line. I had talked to enough Catholic parents who were worried about what they were hearing in their children’s Catholic schools to have my doubts, but I hoped he was right. Now it appears that he, like many other Catholics, did not realize how far this cult has infiltrated our own institutions.

Virtually every “progressive” Christian and Catholic group I have ever been a part of seems to have drunk the gender ideology koolaid uncritically and with no caveats. But one thing I have been hanging on to, in recent years, was the fact that Catholic teaching had remained fairly steadfast in the face of this cult. Yes, I said cult, as gender ideology has so many of the hallmarks of religious fanaticism. I am very far from the first to point this out. Now it appears that even Catholic leaders, and Catholic clergy, may be unwilling to challenge this cult head on.

Many Christians find the whole gender issue very confusing. Because aren’t we, as Christians, supposed to be compassionate? Aren’t we supposed to love as Christ loved, and not to judge? As Christians, especially as Christian WOMEN, who are double programmed, both as Christians, and as women, to put the needs of others ahead of our own, mustn’t we accept other humans in their entirety, however they choose to present themselves? Isn’t it unkind, perhaps even mean, not to accept “transwomen” into our spaces? Isn’t that the compassionate thing to do?

Mary Magdalene by Georges de la Tour

Short answer to those questions: Yes, we are called to be compassionate. But that compassion can be expressed in a variety of ways. And we cannot privilege the needs of one group over those of another. Women and children are also entitled to compassion. Above all, we are called to seek the truth.

I think that a lot of Catholics, and many other Christians, have bought into the “queer theory” idea that “gender” is just an extension of the struggle same-sex attracted people have had to be treated fairly, and without discrimination. Many Catholics disagree with Church teaching on homosexuality, and want to push the Church to be more progressive on this issue, among others. But Catholic women who care about other women, and about children (whether we call ourselves feminists or not), are aware that “gender” is not an extension of same-sex attraction. In fact, as many, many gay and lesbian individuals have pointed out, gender ideology is a homophobic philosophy that tells young people who do not conform to sex-role stereotypes that perhaps there is something wrong with them. Perhaps they were “born in the wrong body.”

Many of these young people would grow up to be same-sex attracted, or bisexual, but because of the “no debate” demand for “gender affirmation” of young children and adolescents, we are, in Canada and many other wealthy western nations, determined to indoctrinate children into the regressive idea that boys behave in different ways from girls, and if you deviate from the behaviours associated with your sex, that may mean that there is something wrong with you, that you have a “girl” brain in a “boy” body, or vice versa. And that bits of you might need to be chopped off. That you should be put on experimental drugs and opposite sex hormones that will ensure that you are infertile and have no adult sexual function at all. So we are, in fact, “transing the gay away.” Can you get any more homophobic than that? I don’t think so.

Which leads me to point out that a number of deeply homophobic, fundamentalist Christian parents have grabbed onto gender ideology as if it were a life raft to save them from drowning in the terror that they might have produced a child who could grow up to be gay or lesbian. Your little boy plays with dolls? It’s OK, he’s probably really a girl. We can fix that for you. For these parents, it’s not the suicide scare that some clinicians have used, that you must affirm your child’s new “gender identity” or they are much more likely to attempt suicide (a claim now debunked). In other words, it’s not, “Would you rather have a live daughter or a dead son?” It’s “Would you rather have a gay son or a heterosexual daughter?”

To my fellow Christians, I say this. I believe that here we can take a lesson from our Muslim brothers and sisters. I do not believe that God “makes mistakes.” And furthermore, there is no scientific evidence to back up the “boy” or “girl” brain nonsense. We have human brains in bodies that produce either large gametes (females) or small ones (males). And nothing, absolutely nothing, can change us from large gamete produces to small gamete producers, or vice versa.

As Christians, we believe that we are created beings. Also as Christians, we believe that there is objective truth. We further believe that these two things are not in conflict. Confident Christians trust in their faith, and are not afraid of scientific endeavours that are similarly committed to a search for truth. And biology is the bedrock of our truth as human beings. We do not believe in the reality of human beings as a sexually dimorphic species simply because “the Bible tells us so,” but also because current science shows that we are sexed beings in every cell of our bodies.

Historical evidence tells us that there have always been same-sex attracted humans. This is a truth that has challenged certain historical and homophobic Christian teachings. However, despite the many specious claims to the contrary, there is no convincing evidence of “transgender” humans. Sorry, no, Queen Elizabeth I and Joan of Arc were not “non-binary.” The latent misogyny in such claims is obvious. Strong women who behave in ways that challenge the stereotypes and demands for women in their societies are still women. And being a woman is neither shameful nor less than.

The fact remains that, understandably, the conflation of gender ideology with same-sex attraction has confused many well-meaning Christians. And this is an enormous problem, especially in Canada, where mainstream media has refused to cover women’s objections to Canadian laws that have destroyed sex-based protections. Christians who haven’t been exposed to these objections, and who trust that our elected officials are at least attempting to act in the best interests of citizens, have trouble believing the dire reality of the present moment for many women and children., patron saint of abuse and domestic violence victims

They haven’t heard about the defunding and harassment of the Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter, persecution that has been meted out to that organization because it insists on remaining a safe and women-only space for women who have suffered from male violence. They don’t know that women in Canadian prisons have, for the past several years, been forced to endure the presence of “transgender” male prisoners in the female estate, that many of these women are Indigenous, survivors of sexual abuse/trafficking, or both, and that many of the “transgender” male prisoners are actually sex offenders. (This is a truth so horrible that many people refuse to believe it is happening. I have had several conversations with strangers about this situation during which they have looked me in the eye and said, “You are lying.”)

Which leads me to the other article that enraged me this week, and got me writing.

For years I have supported the work of Canadian prisoners’ advocate Heather Mason. I have stood with her and hundreds of other women outside Canadian prisons, waving placards at people driving by, chanting “No males in female jails.” Heather has organized many, many such protests, all over the country. But most Canadian Christians don’t know about these things, because these protests are virtually NEVER covered by media, despite the press releases, despite the calls, despite the desperate tweets from women begging reporters to come out and see what we are fighting for, to discover how the Canadian government is torturing women in prison.

Heather Mason. Photo credit: Postmedia

But finally, an article on this issue. Heather was interviewed regarding a recent report from Correctional Service of Canada that nearly 45 percent of the men who have claimed a “gender identity” as a woman, and who have been housed with vulnerable, trapped women prisoners, are in fact sex offenders. The terrifying abuse that women prisoners have been reporting ever since Justin Trudeau’s government decided that “transwomen are women” who should be housed with women, regardless of the nature of their crimes, has been confirmed by the government’s own study.

The thing is, I believe that if Christians understood what was happening, they would care. One of the things Christ called us to do was care for the prisoners. But in Justin Trudeau’s Canada, a woman who calls out a question to the pretty prime minister about men in women’s prisons is dragged out of a press conference.

The irony and hubris of this is overwhelming. Trudeau’s government seems to think that belief and speech can be compelled. Back in 2016, when Bill C-16, which forced gender identity on Canada, was being debated, Meghan Murphy, a feminist, and Jordan Peterson, an academic psychologist and free speech advocate, both testified before parliament, making exactly these points. They were ignored. Apparently Canadian politicians don’t study history.

We Catholics could have told them that the Church learned centuries ago that belief, and speech, cannot be compelled. Humans will rebel against this type of control. They will leave their country, go to prison, in extreme cases they will die for their beliefs, and their right to express them. And as Christians, we cannot accept, we cannot believe in an ideology that says women must be raped and children must be mutilated because some men have a sexual fetish that makes them want to believe that they are women.

Back to Christian compassion. The best compassionate act for people who have a mental illness is the provision of therapeutic treatment (and hatred of one’s body, the idea that one can transform one’s human body to align with one’s personal delusions, is definitely a mental illness—remember anorexia?). Appropriate treatment for this condition includes the talk therapy that Trudeau’s government has now labelled “conversion therapy,” and criminalized.

We need to tell young girls that being a woman is a wonderful thing, despite the challenges women face. We need to address issues like the effect of pornography on mental health. In short, and to repeat my main point, we need both compassion and a commitment to truth.

Jesus cared about children, and said they should be allowed to come to him. He cared for women, and made them his companions and disciples. He cared for prisoners, and called upon us not to forget them. I believe that we, as Canadian Christians, must challenge a government that is attempting to deny the material reality of biological sex, and in the process, destroy the safety and security of women and children. If we truly wish to live our faith, we have no other choice.

Charity of St. Nicholas, patron saint of children, by Ambrogio Lorenzetti.

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