Gender ideology highlights the need to reassert basic truths

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In the past weeks, I’ve met more and more Catholics whose lives have been touched by gender ideology. I’ve talked to parents who describe their children as “lost,” having been swept away down a destructive and tragic path. One mother sobbed, saying over and over again the beautiful name her daughter refuses to be called.

But despite the rise in young people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer (28% of Gen Z, according to one report released earlier this year), there are signs that people are beginning to realize the dangers this ideology poses to children.

Rising awareness of the dangers

The latest sign is a statement authored by the American College of Pediatricians, which was cosigned by four major Catholic health care organizations: the Catholic Health Care Leadership Alliance (CHCLA), the Catholic Medical Association (CMA), the National Association of Catholic Nurses, USA, and the National Catholic Bioethics Center (NCBC).

At the heart of the declaration is the affirmation that sex is a “dimorphic, innate trait” determined at fertilization and directed by genes on the X and Y chromosomes. Gender ideology, on the other hand, promotes the idea that sex can be redefined based on individual thoughts and feelings. This basic claim fundamentally opposes the innate biological differences between the two sexes, which leads to the dangerous and inaccurate belief that children can be born in the wrong body, resulting in medical interventions that harm healthy bodies rather than affirm biological reality.

Gender ideology is a rejection of the created world and the one who made it, not unlike philosophical and theological errors the Church has faced in the past. And what are we to say to a distortion of our faith? We have to reassert basic truths. Creation is good. The body is good. God is good. And his plans are for our good.

These may seem like basic tenets of the Faith, but they require repeating in an age that has forgotten them.

The Theology of the Body

Just one generation ago, Pope St. John Paul II gave beautiful articulation to relevant, fundamental truths of our faith in his Wednesday catechesis, which has come to be known as the “Theology of the Body.”

Pope St. John Paul II taught that the human body has inherent dignity and is a crucial aspect of our identity. He emphasized that the body is not merely a vessel for the soul but also an integral part of the human person created in the image and likeness of God. This holistic view contrasts sharply with gender ideology, which often posits a separation between the physical body and a person’s perceived gender identity.

Moreover, gender ideology relies on individual autonomy and subjectivism, where personal feelings and perceptions come to define one’s identity. In contrast, Pope St. John Paul II emphasizes that creation is received. For those who are created, happiness will be found by living in alignment with God’s design, not by rejecting it. Ultimately, for Pope St. John Paul II, true freedom is not found in self-creation but in self-gift and living in accordance with the truth of our bodies.

The consequences of gender ideology

Gender ideology amplifies alienation from one’s own body and intensifies radical individualism. It is no surprise, then, with such foundational philosophical distortions, that evidence-based research has demonstrated the failures of medical intervention, including puberty blockers and surgery, to improve the mental health of adolescents.

False premises beget false conclusions. As a beloved professor of mine used to say, “A little mistake in the beginning can be a big one by the end.” We must hold fast to true and simple premises. These will bring clarity and light.

Are we beginning to see the dam break on gender ideology? For the sake of our children, I hope so.

Father Patrick Briscoe

Father Patrick Briscoe, OP, is a Dominican friar and the editor of Our Sunday Visitor. Along with his Dominican brothers, he is host of the podcast Godsplaining and a co-author of "Saint Dominic’s Way of Life: A Path to Knowing and Loving God." He is also the author of the OSV seasonal devotional, "My Daily Visitor."