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About Gender Dysphoria

July 28, 2015

For those of you who are interested in learning more about “gender dysphoria” which is the condition of feeling one’s emotional and psychological identity as male or female to be opposite to one’s biological sex, there is a very informative video available from the talk show host Charlie Rose.  This video called The Brain Series:  Gender Identity, contains comments from various scientists who explain the biological underpinnings to gender dysphoria.  One of the scientists who himself is a transgender person explains what it was like to be born feeling at odds with his biological sex.  I believe that it is important for the general population to understand that this condition is not a moral one but should be seen as a medical condition no different from being born with Down’s Syndrome or being born with blond hair versus brown. This video explains that there are physiological and biological factors in utero that can explain why some people are born with gender dysphoria.

Another helpful article called Can God Surprise Us? by Augustinian Fr. Paul F. Morrissey, addresses the issue of whether God intends for certain people to be born LGBTQ. This is a very important article in helping us understand that all people no matter what their sexual orientation and gender identity are created in God’s image and have value in the eyes of God. Fr. Morrissey speaks of the important gifts that LGBTQ members of our society bring which reminds me of some of the teachings of Jean Vanier, the founder of L’Arche Communities.  He writes in his book Becoming Human:

“Every child, every person needs to know that they are a source of joy; every child, every person, needs to be celebrated. Only when all of our weaknesses are accepted as part of our humanity can our negative, broken self-images be transformed.”

Anyone who condemns the most vulnerable of our society, is only condemning the most vulnerable parts of themselves.  In accepting others in all their differences, we can accept all parts of ourselves.  We have a lot to learn from those whom we find “different”.

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3 Comments
  1. Harold Neth permalink

    Thank you.

    Harold

  2. Kim permalink

    Thank you so much for your posts on this topic. My daughter is lucky to go to a school where LGBTQ is an open and accepted part of daily life. It is individuals like yourself that provide a direct and positive impact on promoting education and inclusiveness.

    • Thank you so much Kim, for your support. My intention as a school trustee is to offer a pastoral approach to transgender students. There was a study done recently on self harm by transgender youth called “Being Safe, Being Me” and is believed to be the first national health survey that focuses on transgender youth. The study authored by Elizabeth Saewyc suggests that just like lesbian, gay and bisexual youth, transgender youth have a 7 times higher likelihood of attempting suicide. The study showed that “70% of transgender youth said that they had been sexually harassed in the last year and close to 25% said they had been raped. Fifty five percent of school aged youth said they were bullied in the last year and 33 percent said they had been cyber-bullied. Two thirds reported discrimination because of their gender identity.” (Edmonton Journal, May 7, 2015) As reported through the Edmonton Journal, the report does suggest however that “Young people who have supportive adults in their lives, whether it’s their parents or members of their communities, were four times less likely to harm themselves…the minority of transgender youth who said they felt connected at school were much more likely to report good mental health”. So it is absolutely imperative for the sake of their safety that we welcome and support our transgender students in our Catholic schools. If there are parents and students who do not understand why we welcome these students by allowing them to participate fully in their school in their chosen gender identity, then we need to educate these parents and students and remind them of what Jesus said “when you do this to the least of my brethren, you do it to me.” For information on the study go to: https://saravyc.sites.olt.ubc.ca/files/2015/05/SARAVYC_Trans-Youth-Health-Report_EN_Final_Web2.pdf

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