By Lara Pickford-Gordon
Anyone who does not support gender dysphoria may be labelled a hater and a transphobic bigot. If a family member or friend identifies as transgender, the choice is not whether to affirm them or walk away.
This is a false dichotomy said Catholic author and founder of the Chastity Project, Jason Evert at the Emmanuel Community’s webinar, ‘The Gender Issue: I am Who I am’ on August 31.
According to Evert, what is missing is what Pope Francis has said, “accompaniment”: “You don’t have to affirm or abandon. You can walk with these individuals with love and what we need to avoid is false compassion—if you love somebody, you cannot lie to them. There is no relationship if there is not honesty and trust.” Evert was speaking on the distinction between gender and same-sex attraction.
Evert, Dr Michelle Cretella, Executive Director of the American College of Pediatricians, a socially conservative advocacy group of paediatricians and other healthcare professionals, and Deacon Derek Walcott were speakers at the webinar aimed at providing information on transgenderism and LGBTQ+ issues, with a focus on the youth. Jacqueline Allamani, Administrator, Emmanuel Community was the moderator.
Evert said the prefix “trans” cannot be added to words to create a new reality, such as “trans-racial” and “trans-aged”. Evert said medicine is “sex specific”, pharmacists prescribing drugs will take into consideration the impact on men and women.
There were certain diseases which men and women were prone to having. He added that biology goes deep, and a study found there were 1,559 sex-specific genes in the body, e.g., the pancreas, oesophagus, and bone marrow. Every cell in the human body was typed by sex.
Delivering the information with love and compassion may cause resentment but Evert said it can be worse if in the future “what you knew was the truth and you did not have courage to share with them”.
The Church’s good news is that the body is meaningful and male and female were complementary. “We are created to give gift of ourselves to the other in life-giving love and in so doing that becomes an earthly image of life-giving love of God.”
Evert said the first thing to do in encounters with persons who are transgender was to listen. Providing the perfect argument to change their mind should not be the focus. Befriend the person but not with the intention to “fix them” because this would not be authentic friendship.
“We should not make projects of each other…you are just reinforcing that struggle is who they are”.
Evert advised a respectful approach to someone who wants to be called by a name of the opposite sex. “Instead of them trying to make you feel like you are the bigoted person that is rejecting them, I think you need to have an honest and frank discussion about what your beliefs are and what theirs are.”
The value of their friendship should be emphasised and the need to speak truth with the hope that the difference of opinion will be respected. They are free to reject you, Evert said. The Church is trying to encourage individuals to find their identity in Christ.
He recommended persons who want to learn more to visit: www.chastity.com/gender and personandidentity.com, a new website created specifically for Catholic schools and churches that need very specific pastoral advice on the tough issues.
Harmful effects of treatments
Dr Michelle Cretella’s topic was ‘Transgender beliefs: A call to heal minds and save lives.’ She outlined the harmful effects of the procedures—puberty blockers, hormones, and surgery.
“There is a large growing population of men and women who were given these hormones and surgeries as teenagers who are now realising the truth that you cannot change sex; they are physically and emotionally devastated by the irreversible changes.”
She said there were many studies linking high rates of severe psychological illness in teens— severe depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and in some cases psychosis, that pre-date their gender confusion.
Other teens and young children who develop transgender belief fall on the autism spectrum or have Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder. “If these underlying disorders are successfully treated and addressed the gender confusion may resolve”.
Dr Cretella said behaviour was shaped by free-will choices, but the teens who spend hours binging on LGBT forums and websites will be influenced, and those addicted to pornography are likely to struggle with their sexuality and gender identification.
Prior to the transgender activism, she said as many as 98 per cent of gender-confused boys and 88 per cent of girls outgrow gender confusion by young adulthood.
Dr Cretella’s views have been repudiated in the United States by the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine, the Southern Poverty Law Centre, and the American Academy of Pediatrics. A video featuring Dr Cretella was censored by YouTube in 2017.
Puberty blockers “locks children into a transgender belief. Puberty is not a disease. We should not be blocking puberty in normal healthy children”.
Girls experienced brittle bones, in their 20s and normal brain development was disrupted. There was the possibility of memory loss and low IQ.
Boys on puberty blockers do not develop sperm and the addition of oestrogen caused sterilisation and negative effects on bones.
The child’s natural hormones can resume after stopping the puberty blockers. However, even with temporary use, Dr Cretella said there can still be “permanent damage because normal developmental time is forever lost.”
Boys and girls on hormone treatments face an increased risk of strokes, heart attacks, diabetes, high blood pressure, and various cancers “across their lifetime”.
The rates of mental illness and suicide were found to be higher than the general population. Dr Cretella cited a study done in Sweden [‘Long-Term Follow-Up of Transsexual Persons Undergoing Sex Reassignment Surgery: Cohort Study in Sweden’] on transgender persons over 30 years [1973–2003] which found suicides were 19 times higher than the general population.
Evert and Dr Cretella pointed to increases in gender confusion with the inception of Facebook, Tumblr, and Instagram.