Gender ideology refers to theory that gender is not determined by one’s biological sex, but is a separate matter that is defined according to the subjective desires of the individual. The New York City Commission on Human Rights has bought into this ideology and now defines 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." 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. As per gender ideology, one’s biological sex may be male, but one may identify as female if one so chooses.
This is a seriously flawed ideology. It asserts 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 ultimately irrelevant. It also denies the unity of body, mind and soul, and it rejects the logical belief 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. Yet gender ideology is especially damaging because it denies a fundamental truth about reality. Namely, there are things that exist independently of one’s beliefs, language usage, feelings, conceptual ideology, etc. The fundamental differences between men and women do not disappear or are rendered insignificant simply because someone wishes it to be so.
In terms of the law, gender ideology turns anti-discrimination law on its head. The traditional understanding of anti-discrimination law is that there are certain inherent qualities (i.e., race, sex, national origin, disability) that absolutely cannot be taken into account when making certain decisions (i.e., 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 that people not only recognize the existence of this alleged quality, but also make it the essential factor in granting favorable treatment when making decisions (i.e., about bathroom access). In this one case, failure to use "gender identity" would be made unlawful.
THE CATHOLIC PERSPECTIVE
The debate over gender is, at its heart, not just about bathroom access or being kind to those who have difficulty accepting their sexual identity. It is about the nature of the human person and the relationship between the human person and the created world. Fortunately, the Catholic Church proposes a vision of human nature and sexuality that allows every person to develop and flourish, just as God desires.
In the Catholic tradition, human sexuality can only be properly understood and expressed according to the fundamental truth that every human person is created male or female by the will of God. The Church holds that a person’s biological sex is part of the divine plan and that every person should acknowledge and accept his or her sexual identity based on the complementarity of the sexes. All humans are either male or a female, regardless of how they might feel or how they might change their anatomy. As a result, there is no need for a notion of “gender identity” that is at odds with one’s biological sex. 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.
The human anatomy is one of the ways that male or female identity is revealed, but genetics, physiology, neurology, and psychology all recognize the intrinsic differences between the sexes. There are differences in the ways that men and women experience the world, have feelings, and form relationships. Yet the differences between men and women do not in any way imply inequality, but instead point to the complementarity between the sexes.
In his meeting with the Polish bishops, Pope Francis connects makes the interesting connection between gender theory and ideological colonization. He explains:
I’d like to conclude with this point, because behind this are ideologies. In Europe, in America, in Latin America, in Africa, and in some countries of Asia, there are real ideological colonizations. And one of them - I’ll say it clearly with name and surname - is gender. Today children - children! - are taught at school that everyone can choose their sex. And why do they teach this? Because the books belong to people and institutions that give money. They are the ideological colonizations, paid for by highly influential countries. And this is terrible. Speaking with Pope Benedict, who is fine and lucid, he said to me: “Holiness, this is the era of sin against God the Creator! He’s clever! God has created man and woman; God has created the world thus… and we’re doing the opposite. God gave us an ‘uncultivated’ state, in order for us to turn it into culture; and then, with that culture, we do things which bring us back to that uncultivated state! We should think about what Pope Benedict said: “This is the era of the sin against God the Creator.” And that will help us.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Understand the concepts
+USCCB: select resources on gender theory and ideology
+"A True Understanding of Sexual Identity”
+“Sexual Identity and Gender Identity (SOGI) Laws Threaten Freedom”
Discuss the flaws in gender ideology with others, especially young people
+Gender ideology is often indoctrinated in schools and universities, so be prepared to discuss these concepts particularly with teenagers and young adults. Intuitively, people recognize that there is real significance to being biologically male or biologically female, and that one cannot choose a gender identity at odds with this biological reality.
Live the alternative to gender ideology
+The complementarity between the sexes is not meant to be a source of oppression or inequality, but testifies to the beauty of God’s plan for humanity. Lasting peace is achieved when biological sex and gender identity are in harmony.
Contact state and federal representatives
+Urge public officials to oppose bills that redefine gender. For laws that have already redefined gender, advocate for conscience protections, so that conscientious objectors are not coerced into accepting gender ideology.
+New York Code of Rules and Regulations (NYCRR) §466.13
+NYC Gender Guidance
Cultivating the virtue of chastity is the first step in embracing God-given sexuality identity. Here is a prayer for chastity.
Jesus, Fortress of mankind,
You are Immaculate as God and Man!
Bless me with Your infinite graces,
That I may remain in a state of purity.
Strengthen my body, spirit and soul
To continually reflect Your chastity.
Protect my soul in its daily struggles,
Guiding it to ponder on Your Godliness.
Defend me from the forces of evil,
Those that seek to acquire my soul:
I am truly Yours forever and ever.
Holy is my King, the Conqueror of sin!