Published February 9, 2021
EPPC Kate O’Beirne Fellow Mary Rice Hasson spoke with Rod Dreher of The American Conservative about the launch of the Person and Identity Project, a new web resource from EPPC’s Catholic Women’s Forum that provides formation, resources, and pastoral guidance on issues of faith, “gender,” and sexual identity.
Rod Dreher: I hear all the time from Christian parents who feel overwhelmed by gender ideology, and have no idea what to think of it. Now I have somewhere to send them. In my experience, most parents seem to think that this is just going to pass them by, that it can’t happen to their family. Are they wrong?
Mary Hasson: Yes, 100% wrong. Gender ideology is already affecting them and their kids. From the classroom to the Internet and social media, to entertainment, sports, and corporate advertising—it’s inescapable.
The CDC reports about 3% of young people identify as trans, but this is the tip of the iceberg. Social contagion is at work, which means it’s more important to pay attention to your child’s immediate environment. A school with one “trans” child will soon have five, with a dozen more who are “questioning.” The adolescent world is flooded with images presenting “trans” as normal and healthy. Teens on social media face daily dilemmas – when a classmate (or a celebrity) “comes out” as “trans” or “non-binary” on Instagram, Snapchat, or TikTok, should they “like” the trans declaration or risk being tagged as a “hater”? Should they signal their wokeness by adding trans or rainbow flags to their profiles for Pride month or any of the dozens of LGBT-themed days?
It’s critically important to realize that even if a child is not personally confused about being male or female, it is deeply de-stabilizing to every child when authority figures outside the family normalize and validate the core beliefs of gender ideology—and they do, routinely. Teachers in public schools (and some private schools) teach gender identity concepts, “debunk” the binary, and affirm “trans” or “non-binary” students. Pediatricians ask adolescents privately about their gender identity or pronouns. Youth ministers, trying to be compassionate, affirm a troubled adolescent’s self-declared “non-binary” identity, and encourage the group to do so as well. The President of the United States has decreed that it is “discrimination” and “bigotry” to refuse to include, affirm, or validate a person’s self-declared “gender identity.” It’s hard for an adult to stand fast to the truth in the face of such opposition. Imagine the difficulty for our children.
Some kids are particularly vulnerable to trans ideology: adolescent girls, kids with autism, pre-existing mental health issues, histories of trauma or abuse, and those already have trouble fitting in or are socially isolated. Anecdotally, although more kids from progressive families might “come out” as trans (because they often encourage sex and “gender” experimentation or pride themselves on being “open”), I know of many kids from strong faith backgrounds who are seduced into the trans craze, including kids who were homeschooled, or attended solid Christian or Catholic schools. The culture is like a powerful riptide pulling our kids out to sea, and many of them are drowning.
RD: I also hear from Christians — Catholics and others — that they are getting no direction at all from their parishes. What should priests, pastors, and church personnel be doing?
MH: I hear the same. The silence of pastors, ministers, and pastoral teams is deadly in the face of the never-ending gender ideology soundtrack that plays in the background of our kids’ lives. Silence means the lies go unanswered, the believer’s pain is unrecognized, and their confusion unresolved. Faith communities need to act with urgency—because lives depend on it. Some specific suggestions:
- Get up to speed now on gender ideology—the core deceptions, its destabilizing and destructive impact, the chief spreaders (schools, social media, the Internet, entertainment, counselors and medical professionals), and the dangerous idea of “transition.” Learn who is most vulnerable and why.
- Get the facts on “gender transition” so you can confidently speak the truth to families needing advice. Sex is immutable. “Transition” is a mirage, a false “solution” to deeper issues that need to be resolved.
- Know who your allies are—and aren’t–within the medical and mental health communities. Families want referrals. Find out who is trustworthy, e.g. professionals who accept biological reality and share the same anthropology. (Hint: “Gender” clinics and therapists are never the right choice—they are the fast-track to transition.)
- Face the ugly reality of transgender “medicine” so you will grasp, on a gut level, the evil of gender ideology and why it is never “compassionate” to affirm a person’s false belief in a “trans” identity. How? Read at least three stories of suffering parents who lost teens to the trans cult because other adults “affirmed” them as “transgender.” Browse the thousands of YouTube videos of teens “transitioning,” e.g. 16 year old girls showing off bloody mastectomy scars, discussing their mental health, etc. And visit the website of a “gender surgeon,” who is getting rich off the barbaric surgeries he performs on vulnerable young people. You must confront the evil in order to feel the urgency of speaking the truth and condemning the lies.
- Speak the truth boldly, and often. Be intentional about educating your staff and your congregation. The Person and Identity Project has resources and expertise to help.
- Openly acknowledge the pain of families whose children are caught up in the trans cult. Many parents are berated by “professionals” for not supporting a teen or young adult’s transition. Their extended families and the world at large tell them to support their child’s transition—which they know is destructive physically, spiritually, and emotionally—lest they drive their child to suicide (a lie). They may fear being blamed and shamed as “bad parents” by fellow believers. They need you to acknowledge their pain, speak the truth about the person, and support them in this difficult time.
- Pray, with confidence, but urgency. The Biden administration is ramping up the flow of trans propaganda. The human costs will be devastating.
RD: Person & Identity makes a claim that undergirds its reason for being: “Gender ideology is irreconcilable with Christian anthropology and Catholic teaching.” Explain why.
MH: A full explanation is on our website, but in brief: The Christian believes that we are created by God, male or female, and that we are called to accept our sexual identity as a gift. We are “embodied persons, a unity of soul and body, called to eternal life. Males and females are oriented to one another sexually, and their union brings forth new life—a family. A person’s happiness comes from living in accord with the Creator’s design (accepting our bodies, following the moral law). To manipulate, degrade, or destroy the body’s natural function in pursuit of an alternative “identity” is morally wrong.
Gender ideology views the person as material, autonomous, and self-defining; it rejects the idea of human nature and denies the significance of sexual difference. Thus, it champions the person’s supposed “right” to self-define on the basis of feelings. Gender ideology asserts it is possible to be “born in the wrong body” (a scientifically erroneous claim), that the body is merely a canvas for self-expression (a dualistic separation of will and body). It justifies medical interventions to modify the body according to the person’s desires as the legitimate expression of individual autonomy and a path towards authenticity.
RD: Catholic Women’s Forum has created this site for Catholics, but from what I can tell, most of what you all say about gender ideology is applicable to all Christians. What can concerned parents from other Christian confessions learn from Person & Identity?
MH: We hope that our website and expertise will assist people from all faith traditions. The Christian vision of the human person that we promote was—until recently—accepted by most Christian denominations as well as the wider secular world. Sound science—biological reality—is not a matter of faith. But God is the author of the created world, so it’s no surprise that science solidly supports the truth of the human person as explained by faith. Our website reflects the Catholic reliance on faith and reason, so our resources are drawn from the best secular and scientific sources as well as those within our faith tradition.
We encourage all faith communities to address this issue head on, because believers need the wisdom of faith, and clear teaching on the truth of the human person. They also need their leaders to call out the lies that are becoming woven into the law and our cultural institutions. We invite other faith leaders to be in touch with us—we are happy to serve in any way we can.
RD: I know you have read Abigail Shrier’s new piece about how Planned Parenthood is facilitating young teenagers’ attempts to transition. This phenomenon seems so clearly to be a matter of social contagion, especially among girls. Why is nobody stepping up to protect these kids?
MH: There are good legislators who are stepping up on the state level, proposing various bills to prevent medical interventions on minors and seeking to safeguard girls’ and women’s sports. But they are facing a negative media onslaught, big business (which bends to the will of the LGBTQ lobby), and the corruption of the medical establishment. (Harvard Medical School is piloting a program, funded by LGBTQ donors, to train physicians in trans-affirming medicine. The intent is to duplicate it in other medical schools.) Pharma is investing heavily in promoting the transgender phenomenon. Cancel culture is making it virtually impossible for people to stand up and speak the truth with boldness—unless a person is willing to face the substantial costs.
If the Church doesn’t stand up and speak the truth with confidence and boldness, then who will?