Why We Left: Our Church refuses to recognize scientific facts about our intersex daughter

In DecemberBondings 2.0  invited readers to share the stories of their relationship with the Catholic Church by writing on the theme of “Why We Came, Why We Left, Why We Stayed.”  We “borrowed” this topic from a feature that Commonweal magazine published recently.  We felt it was important for LGBTQ people to share their own stories, so we made the invitation to our readers.

We asked contributors to keep their contributions under 500 words, and also asked how they would like to be identified in terms of name and gender/sexual identity, location.  Anonymity was offered as an option.

We received many responses, and we have been posting a selection of them them over the last few months on Sundays.  

However, because our Lenten reflection series has started this week, during Lent, the “Why We Came, Why We Left, Why We Stayed” series will be moved to Saturdays.

To read all the previous posts in this series, click here, or click on “Why We Came. Why We Left. Why We Stayed” in the Categories section of the right-hand column of this page. Many thanks to all the contributors!

Why We Left: Our Church refuses to recognize scientific facts about our intersex daughter

Name:  Anonymous

Idenitified:  Mother

I was born and raised in the Catholic Church. It was home to me for 43 years. I appreciated the teachings and tried (not always successfully) to live what I had been taught for so many years: Love one another.

Wherever I lived in the world, I always had a home and community in the Catholic Church. During hard times, my faith helped me know I was not alone. Our Church stood up for the most vulnerable. Our Church demanded we continually work to love one another. I even worked for my parish briefly when I lived overseas.

I was heartbroken when the news of child abuse surfaced. I had also not liked the way certain people were excluded from the church community, especially the LGBTQ population. I stayed because I thought we, the Church, were responsible to change these problems in our church.

The intersex flag. For more information about intersex people, see below.

When we had our fourth child, everything changed. This child was the second child we had adopted. She was born with different biology than most children–birth defects some might call it. She was born with an intersex condition, called ovotesticular disorder, also known as hermaphroditism. She was an incredible gift. She makes our little family so full of love.

[Editor’s note:  For more information about intersex people, please scroll down to the note at the end of this post. There you will find a definition, and a link for more information.]

My husband and I naively assumed she would be embraced by all, but especially in our church community. I thought she would be embraced completely, just the way she was created. Soon I learned that fellow Christians refused to understand the truth of her biology. Her identity was/is rejected. Our Church refuses to recognize scientific facts about her. I have heard the most hateful things said by fellow Catholics about her and other innocent, beautiful children, created by God.

A young child rejected by her Church family: I still have a difficult time wrapping my brain, my heart around this phenomenon. We could not continue to support or raise our children in a Church that refuses to love all. My faith in God has never been stronger, but my faith in our Church has been destroyed.

We must all continue to recognize that there are things we need to learn. We must question and learn in order to truly love one another.

Anonymous, March 9, 2019

The following definition and description about intersex people comes from Intersex Human Rights Australia.  For a fuller description, with links to more information sources, click here.

“Intersex people form a diverse population with many different kinds of bodies, sex characteristics, sex assignments, genders, identities, life experiences, and terminology and word preferencess. What we share in common is an experience of being born with sex characteristics (such as chromosomes, gonads or hormones) that differ from medical norms for female or male bodies. Intersex is a matter of bodily diversity. We risk violence, stigmatisation and harmful practices because our bodies are seen as different.

“Intersex is not about sexual orientation; people with intersex variations have as diverse a range of sexual orientations as non-intersex (“endosex”) people. Intersex is not about an experience of transition or gender identity; we have as diverse a range of gender identities as non-intersex people. Intersex is primarily about the body, although intersex people may have an identity that is contingent on our embodiment and natural sex characteristics. The term intersex was first used by science in the early 20th century; historically, the term “hermaphrodite” was used. The term is not applicable to situations where individuals deliberately alter their own anatomical characteristics.

“Although figures vary, intersex people represent a significant percentage of the population.”

2 replies
  1. Paula Mattras
    Paula Mattras says:

    My heart goes out to not only to the misunderstood but to the not-understood-at-all. There is a remedy for both: education. It is amazing to hear people making “authoritative” announcements who have no clue as to the true facts Who would know better than parents themselves who have given birth to and lovingly reared their children? God bless each and every one with the strength to bear the suffering and each and every one who is willing to research and publicize the truth so that all may live in love and peace.

  2. Tom Bower
    Tom Bower says:

    Why the hierarchical Church would care and be particularly up set about a person’s intersex status has always amazed me as a go mind your own business moment. I am left handed and I know that was a problem in the last half century and in many countries it still is. Luckily after a few attempts to hand me things to my right hand failed my parents handed me things and I took them in my left and that was that. God created us in His image; how can we dare to think we get to change God’s work enough said.The human population is a majority of minorities to be enjoyed.


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