Earlier this spring, Commonweal magazine featured a pair of articles on gender identity, titled “The Church and Transgender Identity: Some Cautions, Some Possibilities.” You can read Bondings 2.0’s coverage of theologian David Cloutier’s piece here and theologian Luke Timothy Johnson’s piece here.
In response, a transgender person, who remained anonymous, wrote a powerful letter to the editor about their experiences with the church. “Anonymous” explained:
“I was a transgender child raised in a very religious Catholic family. . .the price of living ‘in the closet’ has been high: hundreds of hours of psychotherapy and spiritual direction, a lifetime of eating disorders and psychological suffering, and very little experience of deep, fulfilling friendships. When interacting with people, I am guarded, not myself. I feel as if I’m putting on an act, to spare other people from having to ‘freak out,’ as the people in my pre-school did.”
Still, the letter’s author has no clear answers about what the church or society should do with transgender children. The author only knows that their identity was “inborn” and nothing could change it. The letter concluded:
“Over the years I have longed for better guidance from the church. Nowhere does the vast literature of Catholic spirituality ask how a transgender person can lead a Christian life. All I can do is cling to the faith that, if the Creator made the kind of universe in which transgender people are possible, then the God ‘who wills everyone to be saved and come to knowledge of the truth’ must have a plan even for me. I just wish I knew what it is.”
Letters like this one clearly indicate how much the church must improves its pastoral care for trans Catholics and their families. To read the full letter from “Anonymous” in Commonweal, click here.
To read the latest updates on transgender Catholic issues, see Bondings 2.0’s “Transgender” category in the right-hand column or click here.
—Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, May 28, 2017