Girls and Boys

04-03-2022Pastor's LetterFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends, The AZ Legislature passed a bill that specifies that a “physician may not provide irreversible gender reassignment surgery to any individual who is under eighteen years of age," (The bill makes some exceptions, including in the case of someone born intersex.) And right on cue the media and the usual progressives they cheer for accused the Legislature of “targeting transgender children”. Well, no. The law doesn't target transgender children, it protects children, who cannot give full consent, from having their bodies permanently mutilated. We don't allow minors to purchase alcohol, tobacco, firearms, vote or be conscripted into military service because we understand that there is a developmental difference between children, teens and adults. So why would we allow them to have surgeries and treatments that are irreversible? Why is it OK for a minor to have a mastectomy or have their genitals surgically removed but not buy a six-pack?

Those who oppose surgical and chemical mutilation of children for sex-reassignment purposes are always depicted as not oozing compassion. But actually, it's the opposite. Sometimes we have to say no to one thing so we can say yes to another. In this case saying no to a child who is confused about their gender identity to have surgery or chemical treatments to alter their body is to say yes to helping them find a real solution to their suffering and not a false panacea. The problem lies in the mind and not the body. Altering the body doesn't fix the inner problem. Those who cheer this on without understanding the real nature of the problem and the context it is created in, are harming children and setting them up for a very difficult life that includes all sorts of medical problems.

The Legislature also is sending the Governor a Bill that prohibits transgender children from participating in sports on teams that are not of their biological gender. Again, the howls go up about discrimination. But is it? The goal of the Bill is to protect mainly, Girls sports by not having biological boys, who have a physical advantage over girls, compete on Girls teams.

Transgender ideology is like an 18-wheeler going downhill with no brake. I phrase it as an ideology, not because the issue of gender dysphoria is not real, it most certainly is and those who struggle with it require our love and compassion as well as the very best of therapeutic interventions. It has become an ideology because the therapeutic interventions are only being allowed to go in one direction, namely affirmation, with the force of dogma and anyone who deviates from that dogma, including well accomplished clinicians are being burned at the stake in the modern version of the Auto-de-fe known as cancel culture.

The idea that a person was born into the wrong gender or body, is just that an idea. The resolution of the idea is to explore what it means, why it has occurred and what is the best way forward. In the seventies and eighties, the basic rule of thumb was for a person experiencing gender dysphoria to live as the opposite gender/sex for a least a year before any medical or pharmaceutical interventions. With that therapeutic strategy there was at least an implicit recognition that a person needed to work through other issues before being able to make a fully informed decision and that the consequences of hormonal therapy or surgery were permanent and irreversible. The current strategy is full steam ahead sex change as soon as a person identifies as trans.

I am glad the AZ Legislature is applying the brakes on this issue. Hopefully it will save children the pain of making a decision to which they have no idea of the consequences. Hopefully, it will also allow practitioners to have the freedom without political coercion or mob rule, to provide those who struggle with the issue honest and helpful ways to resolve the problem.

Our Catholic theology has a very specific definition of the human person, namely that we are created in the image and likeness of God, which gives each of us equal dignity and worth. And it has taken centuries to make sure every human person is treated with the same dignity and worth, young or old, health or sick, no matter what skin color, language or ethnic group. A society that can no longer define what a woman is or a man is, will soon become a society that will no long understand what it means to be human. And then we are right where Orwell described in his book 1984: some animals are more equal than others.


Fr. John B.