It all happened so fast. Over the past decade, Catholics have witnessed dramatic changes in law, culture, and popular opinion on issues of sexual identity and “gender.” These changes present Catholic families with unprecedented challenges. It’s already difficult to maintain a Catholic identity and transmit the faith amidst a secularized culture and increasing intolerance towards traditional morality. Now, basic truths about the human person—the reality of biological sex and the significance of sexual difference—are being repudiated by courts, universities, public schools, and corporations with stunning speed.

Young people are vulnerable to gender ideology.  Young people are bombarded by media and entertainment with false messages about “who they are,” and promises of freedom to do whatever they like with their bodies. Vulnerable teens, especially adolescent girls, are sometimes drawn into cultish online communities or peer groups that encourage them to reject their bodies in favor of transgender identities. Public schools and politicized medical organizations have jumped aboard the “gender-affirming” bandwagon, validating new identities without question, in spite of the lack of medical evidence that transitioning is either safe or beneficial. A growing number of physicians practice “transgender medicine,” promoting unproven, very profitable hormonal and surgical interventions on children, all based on the ideological “belief” that any “gender identity” is “valid.”1 In the U.S., the number of “gender clinics” for children and adolescents has risen from one in 2007 to over 65 today. Gender transition is big business: according to Market Watch, the global market for transgender “reassignment surgery” will be worth over $1.5 billion dollars by 2026.

1. Chen, D., Edwards-Leeper, L., Stancin, T., & Tishelman, A. (2018). Advancing the Practice of Pediatric Psychology with Transgender Youth: State of the Science, Ongoing Controversies, and Future Directions. Clinical practice in pediatric psychology6(1), 73–83.

All parents need to understand gender ideology. The stark reality is that the “gender revolution” is being livestreamed into our children’s daily lives, offering a seductive vision that is deeply disturbing and untrue. Gender ideology is having an impact: the number of children and adolescents with identity concerns has risen sharply in recent years. (The UK, for example, reported a 400% rise over five years in the number of children seeking gender transition, and a 4,400% increase over ten years in the number of adolescent females seeking gender transition.) For families with a loved one who experiences gender dysphoria or announces a transgender identity, the situation is especially difficult. It is hard to know who to trust or how to help.

The impact of gender ideology extends far beyond the number of children and teens who personally experience identity confusion, however. Gender ideology has distorted the cultural meaning of “man” and “woman.” It is changing our language, dictating new words and meanings (e.g., “cisgender”), and altering our relationships. Every institution is affected. Employers and schools require new trainings on “transgender inclusivity” and institute new policies covering “gender identity.” Social media has become a minefield, where people who think biological sex is real, that males can never become females (and thus “transwomen” are not women at all), or that women’s sports and private spaces are worthy of protection, must tread lightly or face a virtual mob and social humiliation.

Catholics are called to respond. For Catholics, gender ideology is best understood as a troubling disconnect from the truth about who we are—the inevitable result of a culture that has forgotten God. As both Pope Francis and Pope Benedict XVI have observed, gender ideology promises a false, androgynous “utopia” even as it wages a “global war” on marriage and the family.

But where sin abounds, grace does too. This present moment offers a tremendous opportunity for the Church to re-propose the truth about the human person, and to call all persons into relationship with the merciful and loving God. Catholic families need to understand the threats posed by gender ideology and then counter its lies. We have something to offer that the world—and our loved ones—so desperately need: the truth.

Grounded in theological principles and practical experience, Person and Identity Project resources are designed to assist Catholic families and institutions in responding to the false claims of gender ideology and proclaiming the truth about who we are, in the light of Christ.

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