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Open Letter to Archbishop Hebda, Minnesota Bishops, and Minnesota Catholic Conference

October 10, 2017

Transgender research and therapy should be the province of scientific research and the medical community.

It is unfortunate, and ironical, that the September 28th issue of The Catholic Spirit features an article by Jonathan Liedl, “Switching sexes? Transgender ideology and the Church,” that reveals a clear ideological bias favored by Christian conservatives for whom transgender is paired with same-sex marriage and “third-wave feminism” (never defined).

Liedl relies heavily on the views of Jason Adkins, Executive Director of Minnesota Catholic Conference, who believes that we are all created either male or female, disregarding the fact of intersex and the issue of transgender.

Liedl claims, without evidence, that the American Psychiatric Association caved into pressure when it recategorized transgender as “gender dysphoria” and recommended “gender-affirming therapy.” He offers the support of only a single psychiatrist, Dr. Paul McHugh, a practicing Catholic who publishes his critique of transgender therapy in The New Atlantis, a journal not associated with the medical profession.

Liedl also references The American College of Pediatricians, “a group of predominantly Christian pediatricians,” which is not the official group representing pediatricians (the American Academy of Pediatrics). The American College of Pediatricians is, rather, a far right group that the Southern Poverty Law Center labeled “an anti-LGBT hate group,” that has protested same-sex adoption, that claims—also without evidence—that there is a strong link between abortion and breast cancer, and that is frequently quoted in Breitbart News.

Liedl also features Emily Zinos, whose only authority to speak on this topic is being the mother of 7 children and a parishioner of Holy Family in St. Louis Park.

Transgender identity is a controversial and complex subject not yet well understood. Continuing biological and psychological research is underway. Christians who claim to speak for the Church would do well at this point to stay out of the fray and not discredit the Church as so many have done recently when they supported conversion therapy for homosexuals.

If you haven’t seen the Frontline documentary Growing Up Trans, you could watch it on the web. The stories of young people, their parents, and the doctors who treat them at the Robert and Ann Lurie Gender Clinic at Children’s Hospital in Chicago are moving. All of them are struggling to do what they think is best while evidence is still coming in.

Mary Ellen Jordan

Former professor at the (then) College of St. Catherine

Parish: Basilica of St. Mary

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