“The Church and the heresies always used to fight about words, because they are the only thing worth fighting about.” G. K. Chesterton, The Ball and the Cross.
When Pope Francis listed Gender Theory among the most destructive threats we face today, many people had no idea what he was talking about.
"Gender" used to be a perfectly respectable word – a grammatical term. In English some pronouns have gender: masculine, feminine or neuter. Living things, on the other hand, are categorized by sex: male or female. Recently, however, on forms rather than being asked for our sex, we are asked for our gender. The public did not object, probably assuming "gender" is just a genteel synonym for "sex," since "sex" can also mean "sexual intercourse." However, sex and gender are not interchangeable. We may speak of people "having sex," but we do not describe this as "having gender."
Most of the public were unaware that in the 1950’s gender was given another meaning. "Gender" is now used to describe one’s personal identification with a particular sex. "Sex" was reduced to the biological reality. According to Gender Theory: gender is not simply the natural expression of and inexorably linked to sex, but socially constructed; gender roles, imposed by oppressive cultures, can and should be changed; gender doesn’t have to match sex; gender is not limited to the male/female binary and can change over time; there are an unlimited number of genders; what appear to be natural differences between the sexes are oppressive stereotypes. To even mention the possibility that in some cases, sex difference should matter, is to open yourself to accusations of sexism. Pope Francis is quite correct when he points out the dangers of Gender Theory. It is a frontal attack on reality.
Gender theory owes a lot to the notorious John Money. While employed at Johns Hopkins, Money promoted a protocol for treating baby boys with severely damaged genitals. Surgeons were encouraged to amputate any remaining male parts and tell the parents to raise the boy as a girl. The parents were assured that the boy-to-girl would accept the change, because gender identity is constructed by socialization. In fact, Money was a fraud. He promoted his most famous case, that of the identical twin David Reimer, as a success for years when he knew David had rejected female identification and was living as a man. Follow-ups on other boys subjected to Money’s scheme revealed that many of them spontaneously rejected female identification. Even without external male parts, they knew they were boys.
Money also encouraged Johns Hopkins to perform so-called "sex change" operations. Biologically normal males, who claimed to have women’s brains, wanted their bodies to match their brains. Surgeons knew that the treatment was at best palliative. While they could transform male genitals into something resembling female genitals, this didn’t make their patients women. When Dr. Paul McHugh became the chief psychiatrist at Johns Hopkins, he commissioned a study of the results of the procedure. Its authors, Jon Meyer and John Hoopes, found that:
In a thousand subtle ways, the reassignee has the bitter experience that he is not—and never will be—a real girl but is, at best, a convincing simulated female. Such an adjustment cannot compensate for the tragedy of having lost all chance to be male, and of having in the final analysis, no way to be really female.
McHugh labeled the process “cooperation with madness.”
I concluded that Hopkins was fundamentally cooperating with a mental illness. We psychiatrists, I thought, would do better to concentrate on trying to fix their minds and not their genitalia.
While the media showcases happy transitions, transsexuals suffer from a myriad of problems. They are more likely than any other group to be HIV-positive and to attempt suicides. Reading their case histories and autobiographies, one sees that while they may be able to "pass" as the other sex, their real sex is always present beneath the surface According to Dr. Robert Stoller:
What she [a Male-to-Female] could never forget –nor can any transsexual ever forget—that life began as the opposite sex. There patients are not delusional, and they are not able to deny their past, especially the knowledge that they are forever the sex into which they were born, more than many researchers on transsexualism, these patients know they will never be truly female, therefore can never be, in the depths of their identity, women.
No matter how much they may envy the other sex and covet what is not theirs, they cannot change their sex. Transsexual refers to those who want to make a complete change from one sex to the other. Transgender is a blanket term for all those who want, either fulltime or occasionally, to appear as a member of the other sex. After some reticence, the LGB movement adopted the transgender cause and added a T to its acronym. According to Kelly Coogan, a male-to-female, the term transgender carries a subversive message:
…a presupposition of the term transgender is that seemingly any body, irrespective of its anatomically assigned sex at birth can circulate freely through the trans, arriving at some gender identifications and leaving again momentarily for others.
The rebellion against reality of sex differences has led to the emergence of the Queer or GenderQueer, the Q in LGBTQ. The GenderQueer want to be free to present themselves as either sex or neither. According to GenderQueer Riki Wilchins:
…gender is the new frontier: the place to rebel, to create new individuality and uniqueness, to defy old, tired, outdated social norms, and, occasionally drive their parents and sundry other authority figures crazy.
Gender theory was taken up by radical feminists who hold that sex difference is the cause of the oppression of women. If sex differences are not natural, but socially constructed, then they can be eliminated and this barrier to equality removed. Radical feminists dream of a society without sex difference, where men and women participate in every occupation and activity in statistically equal numbers. The major obstacle to their dream of absolute equality is the fact that when two people engage in sex only one gets pregnant and it is always the woman. For the radical feminists, women can only be equal with men if women can become un-pregnant; therefore, contraception and abortion are the sine qua non of their revolution.
Women have been unjustly discriminated against and subjected to demeaning stereotypes, but that doesn’t change the fact that men and women are different, that a bride is different from a bridegroom, motherhood different from fatherhood and children do best when raised in a home with their biological father and mother. If just equality is to be achieved, sex differences must be taken into account.
We are all familiar with the story of the Emperor’s new clothes. A pair of swindlers convinced a vain emperor that they could make him a magnificent suit of clothes, which would be invisible to anyone unfit for his position or stupid. The swindlers pretended to cut and sew on their special material. When they were finished, they pretended to dress the Emperor in his new suit. No one, least of all the Emperor, could admit that he couldn’t see the magnificent outfit, since he would be admitting he was unfit or stupid. However, when the Emperor appeared before his people, a child in the crowd cried out, “The Emperor has no clothes.”
Gender Theory is much like the Emperor’s new clothes. Anyone who won’t pretend to see the fantasy world created by Gender Theory--anyone who knows that there are natural differences between men and women, that the relationship between two persons of the same sex is not a marriage, that hormones and surgery do not make a man a woman, or that a male dressed as a female should not be allowed to play on girls’ teams or use girls’ locker rooms--is labeled a stupid, sexist, homophobic, transphobic bigot. Otherwise intelligent people deny the reality before them. They use feminine pronouns when referring to what is obviously a man altered to resemble a woman.
Dale O’Learyis a freelance writer, author of The Gender Agenda: Redefining Equality (which is available in Spanish and Italian) and One Man, One Woman. She writes for numerous publications and has spoken around the world.