Trans People Respond to The Vatican’s Latest Doctrine

Trans People Respond to The Vatican’s Latest Doctrine
Image: Photo by Morgane BEDEL on Unsplash

Transgender individuals in the Catholic community have responded to the latest Vatican document that rejects the core notion of altering one’s biological sex.

The Vatican issued a declaration condemning gender-affirming surgery and surrogacy as serious violations of human dignity on Monday. 

Named “Dignitas Infinita” (Infinite Dignity), the 20-page document has been in development for five years under the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith. Pope Francis granted approval and mandated its publication on March 25.

The document provides a list that includes abortion, euthanasia, surrogate motherhood, and war as violations of human dignity.

The Vatican reiterated its stance against “gender theory” – the idea of altering one’s biological sex. It affirmed that God created man and woman as distinct biological beings and warned against the arrogance of trying to “make oneself God”. 

Trans Rights Under Attack 

Brooklyn community organiser and campaigner Jawanza James Williams denounced the document, declaring that trans people’s rights had come under attack with this doctrine. 

Williams took to X to write, “Our Trans siblings are under IMMENSE attack, constantly. Love on your trans & gender nonconforming/fluid friends/loved ones”. 

“Trans people are holy, and the Vatican’s position makes no difference on this *eternal* fact”, they added.

One Catholic trans teacher from Leicester condemned the doctrine, taking to X to write about a trans person who was left severely beaten, with broken bones in her face after a vicious attack in Coventry, UK.

“The Vatican statement released today suggesting that people like this trans person below are violating their dignity adds to this kind of response. Disappointing and irresponsible”, religious educator George White wrote. 

The Vatican on Gender Theory

The Vatican addressed gender theory, stating that the Church recalls “human life in all its dimensions, both physical and spiritual, is a gift from God”. 

“This gift is to be accepted with gratitude and placed at the service of the good. Desiring a personal self-determination, as gender theory prescribes … amounts to a concession to the age-old temptation to make oneself God”. 

According to The Vatican, gender theory “intends to deny the greatest possible difference that exists between living beings: sexual difference”. 

While acknowledging the potential for surgery to address “genital abnormalities,” it emphasised that such medical procedures do not align with the concept of sex change as defined within the document.

Lead expert in social and environmental justice at the London Jesuit Centre Nicolete Burbach, declared that the Vatican’s document reflected a continued reluctance to engage with queer perspectives on the body. 

Burbach criticised the Vatican’s dismissal of trans rights, citing its troubled history on human dignity.

She believed the document’s main challenge lies in affirming the Church’s commitment to human dignity despite its “troubling history”. 

The Vatican’s declaration reaffirmed its opposition to abortion, euthanasia, and the death penalty. It also addressed sexual abuse as a pervasive threat to human dignity, acknowledging its prevalence both in society at large and within the Catholic Church.

LGBTQ+ Groups Outraged by Catholic Document

Equality Australia TransEquality Chair Ymania Brown criticised the declaration, stating that it “takes us back to the dark ages”.

“These harmful and derogatory statements ignore the diversity of the human population and the growing scientific evidence about sex and gender,” she said.

Ms Brown advocated for religious institutions to actively listen to LGBTIQ+ individuals in their own faith communities.

“As a trans woman and devoted Catholic I see myself as God’s creation and deserving of support, respect and love.”

Former Hobsons Bay Mayor and intersex advocate Tony Briffa stated that the declaration dismisses intersex voices and experiences.

“As a Catholic woman subjected to non-consensual and unnecessary medical intervention as a child due to my intersex variation, I am extremely saddened by the Vatican’s hypocrisy and lack of compassion and understanding,” she said.

“The Vatican’s idea of what constitutes sex and gender is outdated and dangerous and ignores the fact biological sex, like sex characteristics and gender identity, exist in a spectrum. I call on the Vatican to meet with trans and intersex people so they can be enlightened”, she added.

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