Archive for the ‘Gender Ideology’ Category

The Jurisprudence of Lies

Thursday, March 8th, 2018

I have often written about how our nation is no longer truly governed by our elected representatives, but is instead dominated by unelected, unaccountable Black-Robed Platonic Guardian Rulers on the Courts. By that I primarily mean the body of men and women who have received life-time appointments to the federal courts, and who use their enormous power to invent new principles of law that have either been rejected by the democratic process or never contemplated by it.

This judicial oligarchy has a long history. The fundamentally false concoction of abortion law is the perfect example — a body of alleged jurisprudence that declares that unborn children have no rights that born people are bound to respect. We saw the rash of lawlessness surrounding the redefinition of marriage, resulting in the intellectually incoherent stew of the Obergefell and Windsor decisions.

We are now seeing it in the infiltration of sexual orientation and gender ideology into the judicial mindset, resulting in a growing jurisprudence of lies. In the last two weeks, we have seen ample evidence. Both cases involve judicial re-invention of the plain, clearly-understood meaning of a federal statute — Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which in part prohibits discrimination on the basis of “sex”.

As one federal judge recently said, “In common, ordinary usage in 1964 — and now, for that matter — the word ‘sex’ means biologically male or female; it does not also refer to sexual orientation.” There really is no intellectually coherent way to understand Title VII as having anything to do with notions of “sexual orientation” or “gender identity”. In fact, every “LGBT” organization understood it that way, since they have spent, and continue to spend, a great deal of time, energy and money trying to amend the law to include “sexual orientation” and “gender identity”. But Congress has consistently rejected those amendments.

Now, in order to be valid and legitimate, any law has to have certain characteristics. St. Thomas Aquinas would define a law as “an ordinance of reason for the common good, made by him who has care of the community, and promulgated.” So a law has to make sense and be reasonable. It has to be enacted through the proper process — in the United States, that means passed by a legislature and signed by an executive. It must be clear so that ordinary people can understand it, and it cannot change constantly or be subject to shifting sands of interpretation — it has to be predictable so that people will know what is expected of them.  It has to be made public so that there are no secret meanings that people will be held accountable for. If an enactment does not have these characteristics, it is arbitrary and subject to the abuse of power and the advancement of special interests rather than the common good. It is not law at all, but merely an imposition of power.

This is where our lawless oligarchic judiciary comes in. Last week, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Ohio, ruled that Title VII isn’t just limited to discrimination on the basis of “sex”, it also bans discrimination based on “transgender and transitioning status”. Perhaps that was in the statute all along, but in invisible ink? The alleged basis for this decision was a prior Supreme Court ruling that a woman could not be penalized because she did not conform to some stereotypes of how a woman should dress and act. It’s important to note that the court was completely unimpressed by what the term “sex” was understood by everyone to mean when the law was enacted. They just blew right past that and re-defined the word to fit their own ideological agenda, turning the law into a lie.

By doing so, the court fell right into the utter incoherence of gender ideology. That bizarre body of thought rejects the male/female sexual binary, denies that biological sex has any significance to a person’s self-defined identity, holds that “gender” is an invented social construct designed to oppress sexual minorities, and maintains that a person can change their “gender identity” into anything they want. If that’s the case, then “transgender and transitioning status” clearly has nothing to do with “sex”, because it entirely rejects the normative relevance and value of sex. But by trying to shoehorn “transgender and transitioning status” into the term “sex”, the advocates — and the court they bamboozled — are trying to have it both ways by saying that “sex” is both irrelevant and a decisive factor. They want to eliminate “sex” but still benefit from it when it suits them. Talk about stacking the deck in your favor.

The second example of judicial usurpation took place earlier this week. The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, based here in New York, overturned its precedents and held that Title VII’s term “sex” also includes “sexual orientation”. That’s quite an expansive word, isn’t it? Once again, the court just re-invented the word at the wave of a hand. As one of the dissenting judges said, “the majority misconceives the fundamental public meaning of the language of the Civil Rights Act… By prohibiting discrimination against people based on their sex, it did not, and does not, prohibit discrimination against people because of their sexual orientation.” To say that “sex” in Title VII means anything other than “male” or “female” is just a lie.

Our Church calls us to avoid any unjust discrimination against homosexual persons. But different treatment of homosexual persons is fundamentally not the same as discrimination on the basis of “sex” or even “sexual stereotypes”. Sex discrimination involves negative treatment against a person because of who they are — male or female — or whether they meet certain notions of how a man or woman should behave. Differential treatment of homosexual persons is not like that at all — it is based on disapproval of anyone, male or female, who has sexual attractions or engages in sexual behavior that is considered immoral or otherwise unacceptable. That may indeed be invidious discrimination in some cases, but it certainly is not what Congress meant, or what anyone understood, when Title VII was enacted. To treat such different legal concepts as if they were the same is just a lie.

In 1820, Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter in which he discussed his views about the proper role of the judiciary in the American constitutional system.  In his letter, Jefferson made a famous observation:

You seem … to consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions;  a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy.

Jefferson was a prophet.

Big Brother in Albany

Wednesday, February 7th, 2018

The public policy environment of New York State is almost invariably depressing. When you combine a corrupt dysfunctional State Legislature with an arrogant unaccountable Governor who rules as if endowed with the royal prerogative, there’s little reason for pride in the way the Empire State is led. In fact, it’s sometimes difficult to imagine how things could get any worse.

And then, earlier this week, the Governor veered frighteningly into the territory of the suppression of free thought and speech, and intolerance for religious freedom.

His press release trumpeted that the Governor had signed an Executive Order “banning all state agencies and authorities from doing business with companies that promote or tolerate discrimination” against “LGBTQ” people. At first glance, who could object to that? Discrimination is a bad thing, isn’t it? But read that statement again carefully. It doesn’t say “companies that discriminate”. It is aimed at companies that “promote or tolerate” discrimination. What in the world does that mean?

The answer can be found by reading further in the press release and the Executive Order. There it is made clear that the target of this new action is the very existence of religious agencies, and the intent is to suppress any deviation from the new orthodoxy of gender and sexual ideology. There we will find these nuggets (the original language is in italics and my comments are in regular text):

“Additionally, in October 2017, the federal government rescinded a contraceptive coverage mandate under the Affordable Care Act.” 

This is a reference to proposed new regulations that would finally end the interminable controversy over the HHS Mandate, which forced religious organizations to provide health insurance coverage for contraception and abortifacients. This was the mandate that caused the Little Sisters of the Poor and other Catholic institutions to fight for their rights all the way up to the Supreme Court.

This gives the game away right at the start. Those proposed regulations had nothing to do with discrimination laws or “LGBT” rights. They dealt solely with religious liberty and the HHS Mandate. By citing this completely irrelevant federal proposal, the press release inadvertently made clear that the Governor’s new order is rooted in animosity towards religious freedom.

“This action has permitted employers and organizations to claim broad exemptions from nondiscrimination laws, which has increased the vulnerability of LGBTQ rights.” 

This statement is absolutely false, misleading and incomprehensible. The Administration’s action on the HHS Mandate had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with anti-discrimination laws, and it had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with “LGBTQ” rights. It granted no exemptions of any kind whatsoever from non-discrimination laws, which the Executive Branch is not able to do anyway without an act of Congress. The idea that “LGBTQ rights” might be “vulnerable” (whatever that means) because of a decision relating to health insurance coverage of contraceptives is something that only an ideologue could believe.

This also gives the game away. This claim about exemptions from non-discrimination laws is the bogeyman raised by gay rights advocates to create a (non-existent but sympathetic) conflict between their interests and religious liberty. By parroting the advocates’ talking points, the Governor shows that the real intent of his Executive Order is to stigmatize religious freedom and threaten to penalize people for unacceptable thinking.

“With this executive order, New York reaffirms our commitment to protecting the rights of everyone.”

This is classic Orwellian doublethink — simultaneously believing in two utterly contradictory things. You cannot at the same time quash religious liberty and freedom of thought and still claim to be protecting the rights of everyone. This order is premised on the assumption that freedom is a zero-sum game with winners and losers — and the Governor has chosen which side he wants to win.

“Finally, the Governor announced that any school that refuses to protect transgender students will not receive state funding.”

Here is the unequivocal and direct attack on religious liberty. Note that the Governor’s order is aimed at “any school”, not just public schools. Catholic, Christian and Orthodox Jewish schools receive state funding for things like textbooks and computers as a matter of basic fairness to the parents of their students. They already protect all students from any kind of harassment or bullying or violence. But they do not and cannot recognize the idea of transgenderism, which is based on a false anthropology contrary to their religious beliefs. These faith communities continue to commit what contemporary sexual ideology considers to be an unforgivable heresy — namely, that God created every human person as male and female and that one’s “gender identity” must accept and conform to to the biological reality of male and female nature.

The amorphous language being used here — the vague undefined terms “protect”, “tolerate” and “promote” — shows that broad discretion is going to be given to unaccountable bureaucrats to police speech and thought as well as behavior. Who will decide what is sufficient to constitute “protection” and what standard will they use? Will it be enough to protect all students equally? Or will the state require Catholic, Christian and Jewish schools to violate their religious beliefs and treat some students in special ways that acknowledge the false notion of fluid gender identity? Does anyone trust this state government led by this Governor to act in a way that respects religious freedom as well as the rights to free speech, thought and association? Or are we witnessing the foundation of a Thought Police?

“Affected State Entities are hereby directed to amend their procurement procedures to prevent Affected State Entities from entering into contracts with entities that have institutional policies or practices that fail to address the harassment and discrimination of individuals on the basis of their gender identity, transgender status, gender dysphoria or any of the other protected classes enumerated above.”

This is the language of the Executive Order itself, and it carries much more weight than a press release. This is the directive that will be used by state agencies to come up with binding rules. If this language just spoke of banning companies that have been found guilty of actual acts of discrimination, then it would be one thing. Or if it dealt with government agencies subject to the Governor’s direct authority, that would make some sense.

But this Order is aimed at banning private companies “that have institutional policies or practices that fail to address” harassment and discrimination. This doesn’t seem to require proof of actual wrong-doing — that acts of discrimination have occurred or that the company failed to correct them. So how will we know if a policy “fails to address” discrimination? Who will decide that, and what standard will they use? Since our schools and institutions do not recognize the validity of transgenderism, are we per se guilty of this thoughtcrime because of our religious beliefs? Again, can we trust this state government led by this Governor to act in a way that respects religious freedom as well as the rights to free speech, thought and association?

To really capture the import of the Governor’s new policy, just consider his own words: “I can tell you that any school that refuses to protect transgender students will not receive a penny of state money and then they are out of business.” No subtlety to that threat. The only schools he could be talking about are religious ones, and everyone knows that means Catholic, Christian and Orthodox Jewish schools. The message is clear — conform or be destroyed.

Last year, the Supreme Court ruled in a case named Trinity Lutheran Church v. Missouri. It involved a religious school that was denied a government contract that was generally available to anyone else. The Court said,

The State has pursued its preferred policy to the point of expressly denying a qualified religious entity a public benefit solely because of its religious character. Under our precedents, that goes too far. The Department’s policy violates the Free Exercise Clause.

The Supreme Court saw clearly that our Constitution recognizes the fundamental human right to think and believe freely, and that government cannot penalize persons or organizations solely because of their religious beliefs. The Court rejected the fundamentally totalitarian idea that all private entities must be forced into harmony with the government’s ideology.

The Supreme Court sees what Big Brother in Albany does not. The future of freedom in our state is not looking good.

Liberated by the Truth

Friday, September 1st, 2017

I recently was asked to give a class on gender ideology. I’ve written about this many times before, but I was once again struck by how nonsensical gender theory is. It is a soup of very strange ideas — my biological sex is irrelevant to my self-determined “gender identity”, the “male/female binary” is oppressive and must be eliminated, there are an infinite number of possible genders, and everyone’s choice of gender identity must be accepted and affirmed by the government and other people.

Gender ideology is a symptom of a significant modern intellectual disorder — a rejection of objective truth. This is so severe that it affects not just theories of sexuality, but it infects our political dialogue and is a serious problem within the Church. The need to hold firm to the truth is more important now than ever. Blaise Pascal, the French philosopher, wrote in the 17th Century something that so clearly applies to our own age:

Truth is so obscure in these times, and falsehood so established, that, unless we love the truth, we cannot know it.

Two recent news items exemplify what happens if we aren’t fully dedicated to seeking the truth.

This week, a group of Evangelicals issued a document called “The Nashville Statement”. It is a re-statement of very basic Biblical values about marriage, sexuality, homosexuality, and gender theory. It re-affirms that God’s basic plan for humanity is that we are male and female, that sexuality is designed to be expresses solely within a marriage between a man and a woman, and that homosexuality and transgenderism are not consistent with God’s plan. The Statement was nothing earth-shattering, in that it was really just a brief summary of Christian Morality 101 as the Church has always believed, just applied to the hot issues of the day. All orthodox Christians — Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox — should have little difficulty assenting to it.

Of course, nothing in Christian Morality 101 is uncontroversial in this age. Many liberal Protestants and some Catholics denounced the statement as judgmental and un-Christlike, and claimed that its tone is antithetical to the need for dialogue and inclusiveness. One even called it “evil”. A satirical religious website aptly skewered the flap with a story entitled “Progressives Appalled As Christians Affirm Doctrine Held Unanimously For 2,000 Years”. This is what happens when the truths that have been handed down to us become optional.

The second news item was a wonderful op-ed in the Wall Street Journal by Cardinal Robert Sarah. It was titled “How Catholics Can Welcome LGBT Believers” (the article is unfortunately behind a paywall, but you can read a decent account of it here and here). If a piece with that title had appeared in the New York Times, written by any of the usual suspects, it would have said all of the tediously usual things — dialogue, acceptance, affirmation, a rejection of allegedly “hurtful” statements in the Catechism, bridge-building, etc., etc. The notions of sin, immorality, repentance, and conversion would have been conspicuously absent.

But Cardinal Sarah’s op-ed offered a refreshingly different approach. His theme was that God loves all of us and wants us to be happy. The most loving thing that we can do for our “LGBT” brethren is to present them with the full and unalloyed teaching of the Church and to encourage them to live lives of chastity. He also stated plainly what the Church has known forever, namely that sin is bad for us but living according to God’s will brings us fulfilment and joy.

In other words, the truth is the best medicine for what ails all of us, including homosexuals and transgenders. Our disordered desires lead us to the slavery of sin rather than the liberation that comes from a life in Christ. And the desire to act against God’s will is not, and cannot be, a gift — it is a curse.

This is the reason that we are so insistent on defending our religious liberty and freedom of speech against all threats. We are seeing bills that would impose criminal penalties on those who fail to use a transgender person’s favored pronouns, school policies that restrict students’ ability to speak about their faith, and laws that seek to punish businesses that don’t want to participate in same-sex “marriages”. We have to resist such measures, so that we can share the truths that will allow people to live according to God’s will and to be set free to a life of joy.

Both the Nashville Statement and Cardinal Sarah make a crucial point. Living a life of chastity is undoubtedly difficult, especially since we will have to act against some deeply-ingrained inclinations and desires. But the grace of God is sufficient for us in our weakness (2 Cor 12:9). It offers us forgiveness and healing and will enable us to live in accord with His holy will.

God’s grace helps us to love and know the truth.  Which, we have on good authority, is what will set us free.

A True Understanding of Sexual Identity

Tuesday, June 14th, 2016

Having written a number of blogs about the nonsense of gender ideology, it’s only fair that I outline the true vision of sexuality presented by the Church.

It’s very important to understand at the outset that this vision is part of a coherent system of thought about human nature — anthropology in the real sense. It is informed by faith and revelation, but it is also confirmed by reason and science. It is not to be accepted just because the Church says so. It is proposed for acceptance because God has revealed it to us, and also because it makes sense.

First, let’s lay out a few definitions of terms.

  • “Sex” means whether a person is male or female.
  • “Sexuality” is a much broader term that encompasses one’s biological sex, but is not limited to our reproductive anatomy. It includes the characteristics that have been identified by science (e.g., psychology, neuroscience) to have an impact on the way we experience the world as males or as females. It also has an element of divine will in it – we are made deliberately by God as male or female, and are intended to express and receive love as men or women in all our relationships with family, friends, spouses, etc.
  • “Sexual identity” is the way that we integrate our sexuality into the overall self-understanding of who we are as persons.
  • “Gender”  I have serious misgivings about using this word.  The way it is currently being used, it means both too much and therefore virtually nothing at all, and it presupposes an irrational complete separation from biological sex. However, I think the term has some validity if it is understood in the narrow sense that Pope Francis uses it in Amoris Laetitia: “biological sex and the socio-cultural role of sex (gender) can be distinguished but not separated”. So in this limited sense, the term “gender” would mean our biological sex, including the innate characteristics that flow from that, plus socially-defined ideas and expectations about men and women.

Having said that, there are several points that serve as the fundamental foundation for our view of the human person, and thus of human sexuality.

  • Every human being is made in the image and likeness of God. We are not just accidents of an impersonal evolutionary process (although we have certainly evolved in many ways from earlier forms). Instead, each person is directly willed by God and brought into existence. We are, each and every one of us, good in God’s eyes, even with all of our faults. And we have a purpose in life — to be happy in this life, and to be happy with God forever in the next.
  • Human beings are not just material, but are the union of soul and body. Our soul is our spiritual component, the part of us where we experience feelings, thoughts, dreams, knowledge, personality, and free will. Our lives are a constant partnership of the physical and spiritual, in which we live in both the world of our senses and in our inner life. The physical and spiritual are intrinsically united, and I cannot even exist without both — their separation is the actual definition of death.
  • Every human person is made male or female. Our sex is a definitional part of who we are — God deliberately made each one of us, both body and soul, as a man or a woman. This is part of the innermost core of our being. This is crucially important — we are not male and female just because of our biological sex, we have that biological sex because God has made us male or female. Our anatomy is one of the ways that our male or female identity is revealed, but we can also see it in so many aspects of our lives.  We don’t know this just because of revelation, but it is confirmed by the evidence of science. Genetics, physiology, neurology, and psychology all recognize the intrinsic differences between the sexes. These can be seen in the ways that men and women experience the world, have feelings, and form our relationships. The differences between men and women do not in any way imply inequality. Instead, “Woman complements man, just as man complements woman: men and women are complementary. ” (St. John Paul II, Letter to Women, 7) This complementarity and equality of male and female has a deep meaning and significance for who we are and what we are meant to be.

The Church proposes a vision of human nature and sexuality that brings these principles into harmony and allows every human being to develop and flourish as God desires, so that we can find genuine love and be truly happy.

We hold firmly to the truth that we cannot separate sexuality or sexual identity from biological fact. The reality of our biological sex “is a fundamental component of personality, one of its modes of being, of manifestation, of communicating with others, of feeling, of expressing and of living human love”. (Congregation for Catholic Education, Educational Guidance in Human Love, 4). So our sexuality is not just a physical phenomenon. It helps to define every human being on every level – emotional, psychological, and spiritual.

Indeed, since by our very nature we are ensouled bodies, there can’t be a radical separation of the physical and spiritual. Our true identity depends on both — we are male or female in both our body and our soul. Our bodies are not just raw material to be changed and adjusted to match our feelings, no matter how transitory or deeply-seated. Every person is a man or a woman, regardless of how they might feel, or how they might change their anatomy. I would be operating under a serious delusion if I were to make a mistake about this.

As a result, we have no need for notions of “gender identity” or “gender expression” that are at odds with our biological sex. Remember, as those terms are used in our culture nowadays, they mean one’s subjective attitude and experience of one’s “gender”, and how one expresses that. But it makes no sense to adopt an identity that denies an essential fact about myself (i.e., that was made by God as male or female), to define my identity based purely on transitory cultural norms, or — even more so — to trade one socially-defined “gender identity” for another. People can accept or reject social norms as much as they want — it’s a free country, after all — but it isn’t healthy to deny the truth about our sex, and what it means for who we are.

Instead, a healthy sexual identity is always rooted in the reality that we are male and female in both body and soul. We then seek to integrate our feelings, personality, self-image, etc. with that fact, and express ourselves accordingly in our relationships. In this way, there is no separation between a person’s “gender identity” and their sexual identity.

To do this, it is vital to understand that my sexuality is not just about me. The physical reality of male and female anatomy itself shows that we are created for others, and that God did not intend for us to live in isolation. After all, “it is not good for the man to be alone” (Gen 2:18) In fact, we believe that human sexuality is fundamentally ordered towards the union of man and woman in matrimony – the unique loving relationship that involves a gift of self to another that is designed to bear fruit.

This means that every person is called to develop their sexual identity in a way that integrates their masculinity or femininity, and their call to live in relationship with others. This is a life-long task, and it goes through stages of development. Frequently, we find this to be difficult. There is often a tension between our physical impulses, our feelings, and God’s will. Society sends us conflicting signals about how to deal with this, signals that are becoming more and more confusing.

The way to integrate all of the elements of a healthy sexuality and sexual identity is by working on developing the virtue of chastity. That word is typically understood to mean abstinence from any sexual behavior, but in our view it actually means living our sexuality in the fullness of its deeper meaning, according to our state in life. “Chastity means the successful integration of sexuality within the person and thus the inner unity of man in his bodily and spiritual being.” ( CCC 2337) Chastity is expressed in different ways, in different relationships, according to God’s will.  For example, chastity means continence for single people and fidelity for married people.

Of course, it is not easy to live a life of chastity, and our present cultural values make it particularly difficult. But by developing this virtue with the help of God’s grace, we can harmonize our physical reality (e.g., our bodies and sensory desires), our spiritual nature and our affective experiences (e.g., our feelings and personality), and live in authentic loving relationships. We can thus truly be ourselves, on all levels of our being.

That is how a fully and properly ordered sexual identity works. We don’t try to change reality, nor do we deny human nature. We embrace them, and learn to live with them, however difficult that may be. But in the end this is the way to true happiness, by living according to the plan that God has set out for each one of us.

(Special thanks to my friend and colleague, Alexis Carra, for her contributions to this article, particularly her challenging questions that helped greatly to clarify my thinking and language)

Irrationality, Magical Thinking, and Gender Ideology

Friday, June 3rd, 2016

The drive to enforce universal acceptance of gender ideology is accellerating in our country. Government action, coupled with cultural propaganda, is seeking to transform our understanding of the nature of the human person as male and female. I have been having a number of discussions about this with my friend and colleague, Alexis Carra. She has a background in academic philosophy, which gives her very valuable insights into the problem. She recently wrote me an email that I thought was worth sharing, along with my responses (her thoughts in italics, mine in plain text):

First of all, why have we so easily accepted the distinction between biological sex and gender? Who suddenly defined gender as “an individual’s actual or perceived sex, gender identity, self-image, appearance, behavior, or expression, whether or not that gender identity, self-image, appearance, behavior or expression is different from that traditionally associated with the sex assigned at birth”? Just because new concepts have been invented doesn’t mean we must accept them, let alone accept them without any sort of debate with regards to their correctness or truthfulness. 

The short answer, I’m afraid, is that people are acquiescing in this patent nonsense out of fear and cowardice. Smart people in academia, law, and the public square willingly submit and fail to resist, out of concern that they will be marginalized, penalized, and ostracized. Administrators of universities and schools bow to decrees from distant government agencies out of fear of conflict, and to sustain funding streams. Debate is stifled, or never initiated, because those who object are stigmatized as bigots and haters.

One would think that scientists – and those who like to style themselves as the “reason-based community” – would be the first to resist those who deny the reality of sexual difference. Just think of how vigorously people denounce “climate change deniers”, for even the slightest variation from “orthodoxy” on that issue. The science on the sexual differences between male and female is hugely developed, and indisputable in its conclusions. So why aren’t they in the forefront of the debate?

Philosophers, too, should see right through this kind of shoddy reasoning.  They certainly should realize that gender ideology is incoherent at its core. Gender theory holds that the idea of being male and female has no inherent meaning, that sexual identity can be defined independently of physical reality, and that the physical differences between men and women are irrelevant or meaningless. But if that is so, then what could it possibly mean for a person to claim to be a “transgender man” or “transgender woman”? “Male” or “female” can’t simultaneously both mean something and mean nothing. That violates a basic rule of reason, the Law of Non-Contradiction. Any philosopher should be able to see that this is irrational, and that the ideologues actually wish that “gender” simply means whatever any individual wants it to mean, at any given day. That is intellectual anarchy, not reason. But the philosophers are silent.

Secondly, aren’t we concerned that adhering to this ideology reinforces a lie? Namely, I can, by virtue of my will, create reality. There are no external forces beyond my control (i.e., the laws of nature, the laws of biology, the laws of logic, etc.) that shape reality. As such, I can be whoever or whatever I want, even if nature/biology/logic says otherwise.  A person may be born male, but can magically identify as female if he so chooses! And we all must now refer to him as such!

Gender ideology adherents promote the strangest kinds of ideas. One recently wrote this about the simple, straight-forward statement that “transgender girls are biologically male”:

That is an offensive and inaccurate notion… But transgender girls are not “biologically male.”… [People] might believe that a person’s genitals define their “biological” sex, but that does not make it so. Continuing to put forth that narrative without challenging it as an ideological position, as opposed to a fact, is extremely harmful.

This is magical thinking. It denies a fundamental truth about reality, namely that things exist independently of anyone’s beliefs, language usage, feelings, conceptual ideology, etc. One cannot reason with a person who believes that they can change reality by waving a mental magic wand. The fundamental differences between men and women do not disappear, do not become a mere “narrative” or an “ideological position”, merely because someone wishes it to be so. They remain facts. As Daniel Patrick Moynihan once said, “everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.”

As a lawyer, I also am dumbfounded at the way that gender ideology turns anti-discrimination law on its head. The traditional understanding of anti-discrimination law is that there are certain inherent qualities (e.g., race, sex, national origin, disability) that absolutely cannot be taken into account when making certain decisions (e.g., employment). This is an expression of the value that all persons must be treated equally under the law. Yet the drive to include “gender identity” in anti-discrimination laws actually does the opposite. It requires people not only to recognize the existence of this alleged quality, but to make it the essential factor in granting favorable treatment when making decisions (e.g., about bathroom access). In this one case, failure to use “gender identity” would be made unlawful. All this, based not on an immutable characteristic like race or sex, but instead on a purely self-defined, malleable concept that is entirely subjective and not related to any kind of reality.

Thirdly, why is this being perceived as compassionate? There is nothing compassionate about reinforcing lies. In fact, if we reinforce a lie held by another person, we not only harm the person by allowing him to continue living the lie, but we also rob him of an opportunity to know the truth. And as Christians, there are few roles of greater importance than proclaiming the truth to others.  

One does not have to be a Christian to understand that “the truth will make you free” (Jn 8:32). Anyone with any degree of self-awareness and knowledge can tell that they cannot live in a coherent way if they deny the truth. Lies imprison us, truth liberates us. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, on the day that he was arrested by the Soviet secret police due to his dissent from Communist ideology, wrote a great essay, “Live Not by Lies”. In it, he said this:

the simplest and most accessible key to our self-neglected liberation lies right here: Personal non-participation in lies. Though lies conceal everything, though lies embrace everything, but not with any help from me… It’s dangerous. But let us refuse to say that which we do not think.

People who are struggling with their sexual identity are troubled, and need help. But we do them no favors if we continue to participate in the lies. More than anything, they need to be liberated from the irrationality and magical thinking of gender ideology. All it offers them is continued enslavement to false ideas about reality, sexuality, and the way to achieve happiness. Accepting the truth about our human nature, about our maleness and femaleness, has to be the foundation of the development of a healthy sexual identity.

More Gender Ideology Madness

Thursday, May 5th, 2016

It is axiomatic that a sound understanding of the nature of the human person is essential to a rational system of morality and public policy. The converse of that principle is equally true: an incoherent misunderstanding of the nature of the human person leads to nonsensical morality and public policy.

The best evidence for this are the ongoing lawless actions by the Administration to impose gender ideology on our nation, not by making law in the legitimate way established in the Constitution, but by issuing arbitrary edicts that purport to find new meanings in existing law, in ways that no rational person could ever consider sensible.

Let me be specific. Over the past several years, minor unelected officials in federal agencies (no doubt acting with the approval of high-ranking members of the Administration) have issued letters claiming that existing prohibitions against sex discrimination also ban any differential treatment of persons who consider themselves to be “transgender”. No acts of Congress have been enacted saying this, and no regulations have been issued through the normal course of rule-making. But that hasn’t stopped the Administration from making up law as it goes along, arbitrarily arrogating power to itself to re-define what it means to be human.

The most recent example is a threatening letter sent by the Justice Department to the State of North Carolina. That state recently passed a law declaring that multiple use bathrooms and locker rooms could only be used by persons of the appropriate sex, as determined by their biological sex as stated on their birth certificate. The Justice Department has decided that this law violates the federal civil rights statute, usually referred to as “Title VII”, and that the entire state could lose all federal funding as a result. Their reasoning, if you can call it that, is the bizarre notion that Title VII’s prohibition of discrimination on the basis of “sex” also includes a ban on any differential treatment of “transgender individuals” due to their “gender identity”.

Of course, Title VII says nothing about “gender identity” or “transgender individuals”. Nobody understood it that way at the time it was passed in 1964.  And nobody interpreted it in that way until this current Administration decided to do so. In fact, Congress has flatly refused the Administration’s request that they amend Title VII to include “gender identity”, an amendment that would surely not be necessary if the term “sex” already included that meaning as well. This is not an isolated case, by the way. The Administration has also pushed this agenda in other areas — education, health care, and government contracting.

The whole idea makes no sense at all. Set aside for a moment the fundamental nonsense of gender ideology, which I have written about before. In this case, the government is arguing that acting on the basis of biological sex is discriminatory against people who think that biological sex is meaningless, and who are defining their identity in a way that they feel has no relationship with their biological sex. They also claim that the state is treating people badly on account of their “gender identity”, even though the state is completely disregarding the person’s claimed identity, and is instead using the person’s undisputed biological sex as the relevant standard.

There is no way to extract any intellectual coherence from the Administration’s position. But reason has little force when people in power are pursuing an ideological crusade to re-make man in their own image and likeness, when they have no trouble running rough-shod over the rule of law in order to impose this new orthodoxy, and when they will brook no opposition or dissent.

The Dangerous Falsehood of Transgenderism

Tuesday, April 5th, 2016

Recent news has once again brought to the forefront the issue of “transgenderism”.  This phenomenon is based on something called “gender theory”, and it is a critical issue that far transcends arguments about who can use which bathroom. Society is being pressured to accept something about the very nature of the human person that is fundamentally false and dangerous.

The whole idea of “gender theory” is, in my opinion, so nonsensical that it is hard to believe that anyone actually accepts it. The argument is that “gender” is not determined by one’s biological sex, but is a separate matter that is defined according to the subjective desires of an individual. To these advocates, one’s biological sex is an arbitrary classification that is “assigned” at birth, and has no intrinsic connection with one’s actual sexual identity.

This is a bizarre and dehumanizing idea.  It denies the unity of body, mind and soul, and it rejects the logical and scientifically undeniable understanding that biological sexual difference is essential to human nature.  It treats the body as a mere physical shell that can be used or manipulated as one wishes. People become just raw material, to be fashioned and changed — and mutilated, as happens with “gender reassignment surgery”.

This ideology is contrary to reason and science, much less faith.  Science has proven beyond any reasonable doubt that sexual difference is a significant part of human biochemistry, physical structure (not just our reproductive system, our brains too), behavior, and psychology.  It is also at the heart of an authentic Christian anthropology, which recognizes the inherent complementarity of the sexes, and their dignity as man and woman, made in the image and likeness of God.

Pope Francis directly confronted the danger of gender theory in his encyclical on respect for reation, Laudato Si.  In his typical pithy way, he said:

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. In this way we can joyfully accept the specific gifts of another man or woman, the work of God the Creator, and find mutual enrichment. It is not a healthy attitude which would seek “to cancel out sexual difference because it no longer knows how to confront it”.

Several years ago, in his annual address to the Curia, Pope Benedict went even deeper and confronted the philosophical flaws in gender theory, and its larger significance (my emphasis is added in bold):

[T]he question of the family is not just about a particular social construct, but about man himself – about what he is and what it takes to be authentically human…

The Chief Rabbi of France, Gilles Bernheim, has shown in a very detailed and profoundly moving study that the attack we are currently experiencing on the true structure of the family, made up of father, mother, and child, goes much deeper. While up to now we regarded a false understanding of the nature of human freedom as one cause of the crisis of the family, it is now becoming clear that the very notion of being – of what being human really means – is being called into question. He quotes the famous saying of Simone de Beauvoir: “one is not born a woman, one becomes so” (on ne naît pas femme, on le devient). These words lay the foundation for what is put forward today under the term “gender” as a new philosophy of sexuality. According to this philosophy, sex is no longer a given element of nature, that man has to accept and personally make sense of: it is a social role that we choose for ourselves, while in the past it was chosen for us by society.

The profound falsehood of this theory and of the anthropological revolution contained within it is obvious. People dispute the idea that they have a nature, given by their bodily identity, that serves as a defining element of the human being. They deny their nature and decide that it is not something previously given to them, but that they make it for themselves. According to the biblical creation account, being created by God as male and female pertains to the essence of the human creature. This duality is an essential aspect of what being human is all about, as ordained by God. This very duality as something previously given is what is now disputed. The words of the creation account: “male and female he created them” (Gen 1:27) no longer apply. No, what applies now is this: it was not God who created them male and female – hitherto society did this, now we decide for ourselves.

Man and woman as created realities, as the nature of the human being, no longer exist. Man calls his nature into question. From now on he is merely spirit and will. The manipulation of nature, which we deplore today where our environment is concerned, now becomes man’s fundamental choice where he himself is concerned. From now on there is only the abstract human being, who chooses for himself what his nature is to be. Man and woman in their created state as complementary versions of what it means to be human are disputed…. When the freedom to be creative becomes the freedom to create oneself, then necessarily the Maker himself is denied and ultimately man too is stripped of his dignity as a creature of God, as the image of God at the core of his being. 

The debate over “gender” is, at its heart, not just about bathroom access and kindness to those who have difficulty accepting their sexual identity.  It is about the nature of the human person and our relationship with the created world and ourselves.  The stakes are very high. We are fifty years into a massive social experiment that has revolutionized the understanding of sexuality based on a distorted view of human nature.  We are living with all its disastrous consequences. Gender theory takes us a bridge too far, to a place where human life loses its meaning.  And those of us who dissent are already facing legal pressures to conform.

A healthy society cannot continue to substitute falsehoods for truth, and expect people to thrive.. We must stand firm on the truth about man, woman and human nature.