Another U.S. diocese has released a set of anti-transgender guidelines for Catholic insititutions, which, among other restrictions, prohibit the use of preferred pronouns and ban certain transition-related medical treatments from being used on church property.
The guidelines, titled “Catechesis and Policy on Questions Concerning Gender Theory,” were released by the Archdiocese of Milwaukee this week. Citing opposition to “gender theory,” the document mandates that “all interactions and policies, parishes, organizations, and institutions are to recognize only a person’s biological sex.”
Among the policies laid out include a ban on the use of preferred pronouns “in speech or in writing” at any diocesan institutions, saying that doing so “opposes the truth of our sexual unity.” Assigned sex (the sex category on a birth certificate) is to be used as the basis for determining a person’s involvement in all gender-differentiated facilities, dress codes, athletic or extracurricular activities, or institutions, like schools.
Although other dioceses have already implemented similar policies, one new development in these guidelines is a prohibition on certain medical treatments that transgender people might use as part of transitioning. The policy reads, in part:
“No person is permitted to have on-site or to distribute any medications for the purpose of gender reassignment [sic]. Also, students and those entrusted to the care of the Church are not permitted to take ‘puberty blockers,’ even if self-administered, on parish or school property, with the purpose of a potential or actual ‘gender reassignment.'”
At the conclusion of the policies, there is a single line about church institutions and organizations taking steps to “avoid bullying and to protect the integrity of those who may express tension or concerns about their biological sex.”
According to Archbishop Jerome Listecki, the leader of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, the policy applies “but is not limited to, all Church employees, personnel, volunteers, and those entrusted to the care of the Church.”
The guidelines were developed by an Ad Hoc Committee of the Archdiocesan Healthcare and Bioethics Committee led by Fr. Javier Bustos. The documents sources include the writings of Pope Francis and his immediate predecessors, the Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education’s gender identity instruction, and the anti-transgender policy of the Diocese of Arlington.
The Archdiocese of Milwaukee joins the growing number of U.S. diocese that have issued anti-transgender policies in the past two years, including Marquette, Arlington, Lansing, St. Louis, Indianapolis, and Springfield, Illinois. In addition, Archbishop Listecki previously called for “special vigilance” to prevent trans men from entering seminaries, suggesting that invasive medical exams could be part of the screening process.
While not limited to youth, such policies disproportionately impact gender-diverse young people in Catholic education and parish life, and do so in period of particular vulnerability for them. By not referencing any scientific literature on gender, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee does not qualify as any sort of authority on transition-related healthcare. By ignoring what science and medicine reveal about the best ways to care for trans youth, Archbishop Listecki and his staff are endangering the safety of children and adults.
—Robert Shine (he/him), New Ways Ministry, January 20, 2022