“Ask a Priest: What If I Were to Transgender?”

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Q: I am a new convert and joined the Church at the Easter vigil. I have a question regarding transgender sexuality. If a person is born male and they engage in sexual acts with another male, that is considered homosexual and a sin. But what if a person was born male, undergoes hormone therapy, surgery, etc., and transitions to female? Would it then be considered homosexual for that person to be involved with a male? Would it be considered homosexual/lesbian for this person to then be with a woman? Or, if a male transitions to female, is their only acceptable partner a female who transitioned to male? I have been struggling with what to consider. I am afflicted with transgender thoughts and am contemplating transitioning. But if I do, where do I fall? Completely celibate? Or is there a path for me to go forward and find a compatible partner? I would really appreciate some moral guidance. – R.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: It’s good to see that you were drawn to the Church, and in that sense a warm welcome is in order. The catechesis you received before entering the Church now needs to be deepened and broadened.

It’s providential that you have entered the embrace of the Church now, since this gives you the chance to get real guidance.

Lesson one: All the talk about transgendering is nonsense.

You were created as a male. You are a beloved son of God. And his glory shines through you in your masculinity.

One of the key steps to happiness is learning to accept ourselves as we really area.

Pope Francis has touched on this theme in regard to our sexuality.

In his encyclical Laudato Si’ the Holy Father wrote:

“Pope Benedict XVI spoke of an ‘ecology of man,’ based on the fact that ‘man too has a nature that he must respect and that he cannot manipulate at will.’ It is enough to recognize that our body itself establishes us in a direct relationship with the environment and with other living beings.

“The acceptance of our bodies as God’s gift is vital for welcoming and accepting the entire world as a gift from the Father and our common home, whereas thinking that we enjoy absolute power over our own bodies turns, often subtly, into thinking that we enjoy absolute power over creation. Learning to accept our body, to care for it and to respect its fullest meaning, is an essential element of any genuine human ecology. Also, valuing one’s own body in its femininity or masculinity is necessary if I am going to be able to recognize myself in an encounter with someone who is different” (No. 155).

Being male or female doesn’t mean we are locked into stereotypical ways of dealing with life, however.

“It is true,” Francis writes in his apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia (No. 286), “that we cannot separate the masculine and the feminine from God’s work of creation, which is prior to all our decisions and experiences, and where biological elements exist which are impossible to ignore.”

He adds: “But it is also true that masculinity and femininity are not rigid categories. It is possible, for example, that a husband’s way of being masculine can be flexibly adapted to the wife’s work schedule. Taking on domestic chores or some aspects of raising children does not make him any less masculine or imply failure, irresponsibility or cause for shame. Children have to be helped to accept as normal such healthy ‘exchanges’ which do not diminish the dignity of the father figure.”

What might be happening in your particular case is that you are a bit confused about your identity. You are not accepting yourself as you are. That is a different kind of question.

The best thing would be to find a solid, regular confessor and/or spiritual director who can guide you. It might also be helpful to seek out a counselor (suggestion: Catholic Therapists).

For now, as always, you are called to live a life of chastity in the stage of life you find yourself. Homosexual behavior is absolutely prohibited.

As for the various scenarios you ask about, the simple rule is this: If born a male, a person has to conduct himself as a man. If born a female, a person has to conduct herself as a woman. Period.

If a life of celibacy awaits you, then that can be a path toward holiness. Celibacy doesn’t hold anyone back from loving others at the deepest level, as Christ loved others.

In any case, part of our call to love is to love ourselves as we are created.

Stay close to the Blessed Virgin Mary. She will help you to accept yourself.

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