On Fathers’ Day, A Grandfather’s Struggle with Church and State for Transgender Grandchild

Today is Fathers’ Day in the U.S.  Today’s blog post is by a guest blogger Francis Morgan who is the grandfather of a transgender grandchild.  To protect the identity of his family, he is using the pseudonym “Francis Morgan.” The other names in this post have also been changed for the same reason.

My daughter, Marsha, is the mother of identical twins. Both were born with the bodies of girls. Marsha always wanted to name a daughter after my mother, Mary, so she named the twins Joanne and Mary. Joanne always loved to wear tutus and Mary wanted to wear camouflage type outfits.

For the last couple of years or more, Mary has insisted that he is a boy, not a girl, and has taken the name Joseph. Joseph is greatly troubled that he doesn’t have a boy’s body and desperately wants a “pee part.” He has tried various things such as urinating standing up and placing a small branch in his vagina. He often reacts to his body by being defiant and actually hates his body. It breaks our hearts when we see him struggling in this way.

Marsha, her husband, and their child traveled to a children’s hospital in Baltimore to meet with psychologists who specialize in transgender issues. After talking at great length with the parents and child, the psychologists confirmed that Joseph fully identifies and firmly believes that he is a boy. Professionals say that gender identity begins in the womb and occurs in the brain prior to the development of the child’s sex. Proof of the transgender identity comes when the child is persistent, consistent, and insistent concerning who they are.

It was clearly apparent to our family that Joseph was transgender when he was about 2 1/2 to 3 years old because he was very persistent, consistent, and insistent that he was a boy. The twins just turned five years old in September. Everyone in our immediate and extended family has been accepting and fully supportive of little Joseph. It was very satisfying to see Joseph so overjoyed when he got his haircut and dressed like the boy he is.

Our state is attempting to pass legislation to prohibit professionals from seeking to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity. I wrote to ask our legislators to support this bill because I believe strongly that medical and mental health providers should not engage in conversion or reparative therapy. We need to protect LGBT youth. People must be allowed to be who they are.

On behalf of our Roman Catholic Bishop, the diocesan spokesperson, whom I greatly respect, testified in opposition to the bill during the bill’s public hearing. I was very much saddened that the Church that I love is so narrow-minded that it ignores science and the mental well-being of God’s children. Joseph is going through such mental anxiety because people will not accept the way God created him. We see him as a very special child of God. The bill even exempts “the church,” yet the church tries to impose its beliefs on civil society. How shameful of the church, my church.

I once had a meeting with our Bishop and, in conversation over several topics, I talked about the time when I was police chief. I had created a “hate/biased crimes task force” with members of various minority communities. Because a number of “gay-bashings” had occurred in our community, our command staff and I met with representatives of the LGBT community. I unwittingly made the mistake of using the term “sexual preference” at our first meeting.

A young man stood up and said, “Excuse me, Chief, but it isn’t ‘sexual preference.’ It’s ‘sexual orientation’.” He continued, “When I was young, and other boys developed an attraction to young girls, I never experienced that. I don’t know what that is. I developed an attraction to young boys like me. It wasn’t a preference that I chose. It just was my orientation.” This incident caused me to think about my own heterosexual orientation. It wasn’t a choice for me either; it just was.

I told the Bishop, “I believe that the kind and loving God that I know wouldn’t damn someone to hell for living out the life that God gave him or her. I believe you are born with your sexual orientation.”

The Bishop responded, “Do you have scientific proof?”

I was flabbergasted and couldn’t counter quickly enough to say, “Do you have scientific proof that lesbian and gay people are not born with their sexual orientation?” I find it hard to accept that the leaders of my Catholic Church are so harsh on this issue.

As a police officer, I saw suicides of all sorts from young people to elderly and by various means, including drugs and guns. I even had brain matter drip from a ceiling onto my head while I was investigating a suicide. Having seen these senseless deaths, I now am fearful for my own grandchild who could be led to such an end of his life because of the pain that society and my own Church would place on him.

Does my Catholic Church become complicit in such deaths by its positions on LGBT issues? Where is my “pro-life” church? My Church needs to broaden its perspective and to communicate with LGBT people and their families. LGBT people are hurting. I too, as a grandfather of a transgender child, am hurting. I firmly believe that Jesus would be drawn to LGBT persons and bless them as his own loving children that we all are. God does not make mistakes!

–Francis Morgan, June 17, 2018

6 replies
  1. Casey Lopata
    Casey Lopata says:

    Like Francis Morgan I too have a transgender grandchild (I also have a son who is gay). I pray for the day when all Church leadership can prove they are are truly Jesus’ family members by accepting all LGBTQ+ persons as Jesus did and does.

  2. Cathy Hoffmann
    Cathy Hoffmann says:

    Francis, thank you for sharing your story. In your words, I recognize my own frustration (and for me, anger) with church leadership. I often wonder how intelligent people can refuse to see what is. Blessings to you and your grandchildren.

  3. MaryLynne Boisvert
    MaryLynne Boisvert says:

    Francis, blessings to your family and especially little Joseph. May the angels protect him as he grows, and may your family’s love safeguard him. Thank you for sharing from your heart.

  4. Jean
    Jean says:

    This is a touching story. I hate that the family is facing such a difficult struggle. As a Catholic, though, I abide by the Church’s teachings. As a former therapist, I am dismayed that the mental health community hasn’t done more to encourage children to love who they are as God made them, not as they “think” they are. In this case, I would have encouraged the child to tell me what it is she think makes the difference between being a boy and being a girl. Other than the absent penis, there really isn’t anything.


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