South Dakota Bishops “Praised” New Bill Banning Some Healthcare for Transgender Youth

In several U.S. states where local governments have taken up LGBTQ rights, the Catholic hierarchy is placing itself in opposition to equality. Today’s post features three related stories.

South Dakota Bishop Praise New Ban on Youth Gender Transitions

The South Dakota Catholic Conference has “praised the vote” in which state representatives approved a bill that makes it illegal for doctors to provide hormone replacement therapy and gender-affirming surgery to minors. Angelus News reported that the bill makes it a misdemeanor for doctors to provide such services to  minors under the age of 16. The bill now goes to the state senate. The Catholic Conference commented:

“With deep compassion for the experience of suffering that marks those with gender dysphoria, the Church firmly insists on the dignity of all human persons as created and loved by God, and further expresses special affection for the marginalized and suffering.”

“HB 1057 would ensure children, especially those experiencing distress concerning their sex, are given the chance to develop and grow in understanding the gift of their created nature” 

Nebraska Catholic Conference Opposes Gender Neutral Markers, Multiple LGBTQ Bills

The Nebraska Catholic Conference has come out in opposition to every LGBTQ-related bill that state’s legislature is considering. For instance, a proposal that would allow gender neutral markers on identification cards is currently making it way through the state’s senate. Omaha Senator Megan Hunt spoke to the Norfolk Daily News about the bill, which she introduced:

“In order to live safe, full and authentic lives, it is essential that transgender people have access to identity documents such as photo identification and birth certificates that accurately reflect their name, gender identity and gender expression.”

But the Nebraska Catholic Conference (NCC) held a different view, reported the Lincoln Star Journal:

Marion Miner, with the Nebraska Catholic Conference, said the church has love, compassion and respect for those people who feel an incongruence between their biological sex and the gender with which they identify, but it also owes them the truth as the church believes it to be, with charity, respect and compassion.

“Not accepting the biological reality of their sex would be a lie, he said.”

According to the NCC’s website, the bishops also oppose Hunt’s initiaives to protect LGBTQ people in court proceedings, ban conversion therapy and classify it as child abuse, add “gender identity” to hate crime laws, and other non-discrimination protections. NCC has stated, according to the Omaha World Herald, that non-discrimination protections “discriminate against people of faith and divide our communities.”

Ohio Bishops Oppose Anti-LGBTQ Non-Discrimination Protections

In Ohio, all of the state’s Catholic bishops signed a letter to the Ohio House of Representatives opposing a bill that seeks to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Ohio currently has no statewide protections, but many of the state’s cities have enacted protections at the local level, ACLU reported.

The letter, signed by the bishops of all six Ohio dioceses,was sent by the Catholic Conference of Ohio to all state representatives.. The letter states:

” […] HB 369 would negate and inappropriately redefine reasonable laws that currently protect the rights of conscience and religious liberty. Of major concern is the possibility that certain actions our Church takes regarding behaviors we view as immoral will be perceived and litigated as discriminatory. […]

“For example, ‘sexual orientation’ laws could force a Catholic school to retain a math teacher for obtaining a same-sex marriage because they do the same for those who obtain opposite-sex marriages.”

A common theme exists among these stances from the church hierarchy. Although church officials offer sympathy for those people who experience gender dysphoria, these same officials also express the opinion that transgender people’s “biological sex” overrides their identity. In other words, they believe that the physical composition of one’s body matters much more than one’s understanding and knowledge of self.

Furthermore, in Ohio, the hierarchy tries to make the case that their employees’ job security should come second to concerns that have nothing to do with their job. Catholic institutions firing LGBTQ employees is a well-documented problem, and one lay people and church officials have criticized. Such firings are the very discrimination from which new laws seek to protect LGBTQ citizens.

It is concerning and disappointing that church leaders in these states oppose protections for LGBTQ people. We hope and pray that they will come to understand the harm these stances do to people.

Artemis Walsh, February 16, 2020

4 replies
    DON E SIEGAL says:

    South Dakota state representatives approved a bill that makes it illegal for doctors to provide hormone replacement therapy and gender-affirming surgery to minors under the age of sixteen.

    There are two separate and distinct medical interventions lumped into one bill. To the best of my scientific knowledge` (I am a health care provider in the field of dentistry) hormone replacement therapy is completely reversible. Why withhold such a beneficial therapy for gender dysphoria?

    On the other hand, gender affirming surgery is not reversible—whether top or bottom surgery. My question is this, what do the gender dysphoria specialist in psychiatry and surgery say about what is an appropriate age for gender affirming surgery? I have asked this question several times and I have not received a satisfactory answer. Or, is this one of those situations where the answer has to be an individual decision based on all the patient’s personal facts and the medical team?

    • Sarasi
      Sarasi says:

      Don, going by what I have picked up, age of surgery is an evolving topic in psychology/psychiatry/endocrinology, with some practitioners willing to transition young people under 16 and others unwilling, mostly because of *some* research suggesting that within a group of non-conforming individuals, some will go on to be gay but will never transition, and a smaller number will transition. So that theory says wait and see. But it’s unclear if that number is being replicated. The answer is, time will tell, I think.

  2. Sarasi
    Sarasi says:

    Regarding the Nebraska Catholic Conference (NCC) … I understand space is a consideration when handling 3 news stories at once, but there is one angle on this story that I think was missed. When Omaha Sen. Megan Hunt introduced this bill she made a point of stating that when transgender people do not have the correct identity documents, they often cannot obtain the benefits they are entitled to. “Nearly one -third said that when they presented an ID that did not match their gender presentation they were verbally harassed, denied benefits, asked to leave or assaulted.” Hunt stressed that the bill would not infringe on the rights of those who oppose it but would mean a great deal to those affected by it.

    Which means that when the bishops opposed this bill, they actually stood in the way of Nebraskans receiving rights they already had under the law. This is a big deal.


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