As real as the blessings of my spiritual journey in the the Catholic faith have been, most Catholic transsexual persons experience the institutional church less as a blessing than as a stumbling block. The problem with a secret position on transgender people, such as the Roman Catholic Church seems to have, is that members of the church hierarchy are empowered to follow the most reactionary course in their words and deeds on the subject, all without public justification, debate, or challenge.
According to a 2003 Catholic News Service article, the Vatican’s doctrinal congregation has sent church leaders a confidential document concluding that ‘sex-change’ operations do not change a person’s gender.
Consequently the document instructs bishops never to alter the sex listed in parish baptismal records and says Catholics who have undergone “sex-change” procedures are not eligible to marry, be ordained to the priesthood or enter religious life, according to a source familiar with the text . . . .
“The key point is that the (transsexual) surgical operation is so superficial and external that it does not change the personality. If the person was male, he remains male. If she was female, she remains female,” said the source.
Those familiar with transsexuals will see the irony of the “key point” since, in fact, the truth is the reverse. Transitioning allows us to share with society the gender personality that we have had from birth, and to leave behind the false-selves we developed to live as others expected us to live based on our external bodies. In the United States, a transsexual can have a surgical procedure only after an extensive psychological evaluation, much soul-searching and living for at least two years in their perceived gender. The vast majority of transsexuals never have surgery because the cost (up to $50,000) is covered by only a handful of healthcare policies. Interestingly, surgery does not define one’s gender for passports or many state drivers’ licenses; rather, a doctor’s psychological evaluation does. Still, the assertion that one’s genitals are superficial could only have come from someone committed to celibacy.
Furthermore, focusing on surgery effectively negates the spiritual path that most transsexuals report their journey to be. Having had no religious upbringing, I used psychological terms to describe my progress to my true self. But now having lived for twelve years now in a community where we seek to follow Christ, I understand that this was always my path of transfiguration, of revealing my true self to my community. Hearing and saying the Nicene Creed each week, I came to understand that my path followed that of Christ, when we would say, “He suffered, died, and was buried.” As a transgender person, I suffered alienation, died of shame, and was buried in guilt. Though transition, I rose again in accordance with God’s will for me and am now leading a heavenly life.
Unfortunately, according to reliable reports, those armed with this confidential Vatican document regarding transsexual persons have expelled a music minister, a priest, a nun, a lay counselor, a college student, a parochial school student and even a substitute teacher
. They have also torn families apart by teaching that transsexualism is a psychological disorder: parents are counseled to suppress transgender children and to reject transitioning adult children; transsexuals are forbidden the sacraments of marriage (i.e., forbidden to marry anybody) and holy orders, and are barred from religious life. Some bishops even wrote to Congress to oppose the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would add gender identity to the list of protected classes in employment law.
Excerpt from:Mother, Father, Brother, Sister, Husband, and Wife by Hilary Howes
an article in-
More than a Monologue Sexual Diversity and the Catholic Church:
Volume I: Voices of Our Times
Christine Firer Hinze and J. Patrick Hornbeck, editors