DignityUSA condemns “heinous and immensely damaging” letter on transgender people issued by US Conference of Catholic Bishops, calls for disavowal
December 19, 2017 – DignityUSA, the organization of Catholics working for LGBTQI equality, reacted with shock, anger, and deep concern to the open letter titled “Created Male and Female” posted on December 18 on the website of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). Rejecting the legitimacy of transgender identities as a “false idea,” the letter maintains that sex and gender “cannot be separated” and argues that the “movement” to accept transgender people is “deeply troubling.”
The letter also calls into question the support of parents for the gender identities of their transgender children, claiming that “gender ideology harms individuals and societies by sowing confusion and self-doubt.” To the contrary, scientific studies have shown that when families reject their children for being transgender, this can significantly increase their already high risk for depression and suicide. Not mentioned in the letter is the high degree of discrimination faced by transgender people in employment, housing, health care, education, the justice system, and public accommodations.
“This is a heinous and immensely damaging letter that we condemn in the strongest terms,” stated DignityUSA Executive Director Marianne Duddy-Burke. “At best, those who have signed and promoted it do not appreciate the tremendous harm that it could inflict. At worst, they are cynically and callously disregarding the emerging scientific and social understanding of transgender people and their identities in the service of outdated and inaccurate ideas. In any case, the damage that this letter could cause to transgender people, their families, and their communities is immeasurable.”
DignityUSA has called upon the USCCB to remove the letter from the organization’s website and disavow it, according to Duddy-Burke. She notes that it has been signed by a mere twenty “religious leaders” from various Christian denominations out of thousands who work across the US, and only four Roman Catholic bishops. “If the letter is allowed to remain on the website, however, or allowed to stand with the signers using their USCCB titles, then it can certainly be construed by many to represent the opinion of the body of US Catholic bishops,” she stated.
“All of the bishops who signed the letter,” Duddy-Burke concluded, “represent the most extreme right wing of the US Catholic Church, which consistently tries to rebuke Pope Francis for his more pastorally oriented leadership on many issues. It is shameful that the USCCB would validate this destructive, ill-informed, and mean-spirited extremism by posting a letter signed by less than 2% of its membership on its website. We have not only asked the USCCB to take the letter down from its website, but to disavow it.”