I am what I am, and nothing can change that!

Everybody wants to show compassion, especially to people who are emotionally hurting. Most people, however, know that misplaced compassion is even more harmful than lack of compassion, and sometimes we have to look very carefully at exactly what we’re doing when we decide to address someone’s needs. Let’s consider the following example:

Suppose I were to come to believe one day that I feel more like a chicken than a human being and I publicly announced to the world that from now on I want to be considered a chicken. What do you think most people would say? They may feel terrible for my plight and may see the anguish I am going through, but they would clearly realize that, irrespective of the cause, something has gone wrong in my thought process and my feelings to make me believe I am a chicken. They would undoubtedly say I need some sort of help. I am not a chicken, and they need to get me to accept the truth that I have deceived myself. Of course there would be some people who, in compassion for me and in fear of being accused of discrimination against those with different feelings, would go along with me and would tell me that it’s okay for me to be a chicken if I want to be, and they might even build me a chicken coop to live in. They would publicly defend my “right” to live as I wish and would brand anyone who doesn’t allow me to live out my fantasy as “chicken-phobes”. Someone may even find a doctor who is willing to give me avian hormone shots to help me grow feathers and others may teach me how to cluck properly, but is any of this really doing me any good? As much as I may think I’m a chicken, I’m never going to lay an egg! In fact I am not a chicken: I am a man, and the only thing that will truly help me in the long run is to get me the help I need to accept that I am a human being and address whatever the cause is that’s made me think that I am a chicken. Anything to the contrary would be a misplaced compassion, which is far more harmful than lack of compassion.

It may seem a bizarre stretch from this story, and I apologize if anyone is offended by the analogy for I assure you no offense is intended, but I find our modern society guilty of making the very same mistake when it comes to “transgender” individuals. Now please don’t get me wrong, I understand that there are great pains involved by someone in such a situation. I have a good friend of mine whose daughter is going through this at this very moment, and I know the pain both the child and the parents are experiencing. But are we actually helping anyone who thinks they’re a different gender by going along with the charade? We can certainly empathize with their struggle, and we may think we’re helping a girl who think she’s really a boy or vice-versa by telling her she can dress as a man and use the men’s room (even the Obama administration is now encouraging schools all over the country to allow young people to use the bathroom of their choice rather than their natural gender), but the girl is not a boy; she is a girl. We are male or female down to every gene in our body and dressing up in other clothes, even having surgeriesMale and female he created them to alter the appearance is only doing that: altering the appearance. It’s like putting on a costume, but it does not change reality. I know that we want to understand and help people, but are we in the long run helping people by encouraging them to deceive themselves? It would be far better if we were to help the person accept the reality of their gender and work with them in living as that gender, not encouraging them to delude themselves into thinking they are something which in fact they are not. And especially when we are talking about teenagers, who have their whole lives ahead of them, would it not be far better in the long run for us to help them live with the gender they are rather than encouraging them to live their whole lives pretending to be something they are not? Encouraging someone to be “transgender” is the easy way to convince ourselves we’re helping them, but it is not the right way in the long run.

Consider this real instance: I know of a young woman who is living as a man and dating another woman. Does the other woman know that this “man” she is dating is really another woman? If she does, then she’s a woman dating a woman pretending to be a man. Am I the only one who sees something unhealthy in this whole bizarre scenario? Is encouraging this altered reality really in either of their best interests in the long run? And if she doesn’t know “he’s” really a woman, imagine how hurt and angry she will be when eventually she finds out! Is that fair to the other woman? I find that indefensibly cruel.

I do not want to mislead anyone into thinking I am naïve about the real pain experienced by people and families in these situations, and I’m not for a moment pretending that I can offer a simple solution, but I know what the solution is not: it is of absolutely no help to encourage people to live a lie. This massive social embrace of “transgenderism” is, quite frankly, political correctness run amok. We’re so afraid of being accused of lacking compassion or of discriminating that we don’t tell people the truth for fear of hurting them, so instead, we encourage a farce. As a society we have overdosed on looking for simple solutions to complicated problems, and so we blindly embrace anything that offers a quick answer. But there are no simple solutions; if there were, they would not be complicated problems. When matters are complicated, you can be sure that the solution will be difficult. My question is, what’s the next lie we are going to embrace?
It’s time we start facing the hard reality that encouraging people to identify themselves as “transgender” is convenient and accommodating in the short run, but in the long run it only makes things worse. Counseling and true compassion – not misplaced compassion – that lovingly helps the person live with their God-given gender (or nature-given if you don’t believe in God) is the only hope for true peace of mind for the “transgender” individual. Anything else is nothing more than a real life application of the Emperor’s New Clothes.


21 thoughts on “I am what I am, and nothing can change that!

  1. Chuck Leach says:

    Good sir, what do you recommend for the person who has both male and female genitalia? As a therapist I have to deal with people who wish they were dead because they are not accepted, and I presume I should be grateful to the Catholic church and others for making certain these folks have no safe refuge–it helps keep me in business; but I am not grateful for all the pain that is engendered by such as you who have never related lovingly to someone in that hell.
    You believe that since you are not a chicken you will never lay an egg; This article clearly belies that. You laid and egg and I hope God will help you undo the damage you are helping create by such an ill-informed parody of God’s grace and love. Please get an education from doctors and transgender people who know the facts at a deep level who understand enough to help prevent suicides.

    • Such individuals that you describe are not transgender: they are intersex, and that is a completely different issue and not the one that we are talking about. If you wish to help those who are intersex and would like to learn the difference between the two, please visit the following website: ISNA.org. I assure you I am well educated on this topic and your insult to me was totally unwarranted.

      • Joann Prinzivalli says:

        Transgender is a kind of intersex – the Church has been misinformed about the state of the science of biology by Dr. Paul McHugh of Johns Hopkins, and by the late Urbano Cardinal Navarrete. Transgender people have genetic predispositions that lead to ontological development in which the brain develops along one gender line, while the genital tract (embryos form with both mullerian and wolffian tracts, but as development continues, one or the other usually withers away while the other develops) develops along the other gender line. In its basic assumption – that gender is biologicaly based, the Church is correct. The problem is that the Church’s understanding of biology stopped at around 1965, while the bulk of the increase of scientific knowledge regarding transgender people has occurred between 1995 and the present.

      • In response to Joann Prinzivalli: According to the Intersex Society of North America, Transgender. is NOT a kind of intersex. Let me quote their website:

        People who identify as transgender or transsexual are usually people who are born with typical male or female anatomies but feel as though they’ve been born into the “wrong body.” For example, a person who identifies as transgender or transsexual may have typical female anatomy but feel like a male and seek to become male by taking hormones or electing to have sex reassignment surgeries.

        People who have intersex conditions have anatomy that is not considered typically male or female. Most people with intersex conditions come to medical attention because doctors or parents notice something unusual about their bodies. In contrast, people who are transgendered have an internal experience of gender identity that is different from most people.

        Many people confuse transgender and transsexual people with people with intersex conditions because they see two groups of people who would like to choose their own gender identity and sometimes those choices require hormonal treatments and/or surgery. These are similarities. It’s also true, albeit rare, that some people who have intersex conditions also decide to change genders at some point in their life, so some people with intersex conditions might also identify themselves as transgender or transsexual.

        In spite of these similarities, these two groups should not be and cannot be thought of as one. The truth is that the vast majority of people with intersex conditions identify as male or female rather than transgender or transsexual. Thus, where all people who identify as transgender or transsexual experience problems with their gender identity, only a small portion of intersex people experience these problems.

        It’s also important to understand the differences between these two groups because in spite of some similarities they face many different struggles, including different forms of discrimination. The differences between transgender and transsexual and intersex have been understood by lawmakers in countries such as Australia where lawmakers have publicly acknowledged that people with intersex conditions have distinct needs from people who identify as transgender or transsexual.”

        Therefore, according to ISNA, I am correct and you are the one that is mistaken. This calls out your puerile insult of the Church stating that “the Church’s understanding of biology stopped around 1965…” Not only was this insult unnecessary, but it is also wrong, as you are the one who is missing information. I would think someone of your professional standing would refrain from childish mud-flinging and would discuss issues in a mature manner.

      • joannmprinzivalli says:

        The ISNA is a political organization. Its choice to dissociate with transgender people is a poltical decision, not a biological one.

        Some of the more recent science:

        In 1995, in a peer-reviewed article in Nature, entitled A sex difference in the human brain and its relation to transsexuality [Nature 378, 68 – 70 (02 November 1995); doi:10.1038/378068a0] the researchers involved gave us a first glimmer into transsexual brain structures.

        This was confirmed in a follow-up study in 2000, entitled Male-to-Female Transsexuals Have Female Neuron Numbers in a Limbic Nucleus, published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism Vol. 85, No. 5 2034-2041

        In 2008, two separate studies from Australia established separate genetic predispositions for different kinds of transgender development.

        In one study, the predisposition for those who develop with female-identified brains and male genital tracts was shown to involve a long androgen receptor gene:

        Lauren Hare, Pascal Bernard, Francisco J. Sanchez, Paul N. Baird, Eric Vilain, Trudy Kennedy and Vincent R. Harley. Androgen Receptor (AR) Repeat Length Polymorphism Associated with Male-to-female Transsexualism. Biological Psychiatry, Advance online publication date 27 Oct 2008, Jan 2009 print edition

        The other study,aimed at those who develop with male-identified brains and female genital tract development, was entitled A Polymorphism of the CYP17 Gene Related to Sex Steroid Metabolism is Associated With Female-to-Male But Not Male-to-Female Transsexualism by Bentz, Eva-Katrin; Hefler, Lukas A.; Kaufmann, Ulrike; Huber, Johannes C.; Kolbus, Andrea; Tempfer, Clemens B., published in Obstetrical & Gynecological Survey: December 2008 – Volume 63 – Issue 12 – pp 775-777
        doi: 10.1097/01.ogx.0000338093.21452.0b

        These studies, and the brain structure studies from 1995 and 2000, provide clues to the ontological developments that result in transgender people. While there is much additional study required, these studies make it possible to discredit the earlier understandings of transgender people that date back to 1965, in which transgender people were seen as merely delusional members of their initially-assigned sex, for whom any treatment is seen as merely palliative.

        The reason I used 1965 as a date for the Church’s science “stopping” in relation to transgender people in my prior comment, is that the earlier understanding came from a 1965 blue ribbon medical commission created by the New York City Health Department. It was only in the past couple of years that the State of New York and the City of New York have gotten around to recognizing the science past 1965 – so it’s not unexpected for the Church to be a little behind (No insult was intended.)

        It took the Vatican 359 years to rescind the condemnation of Galileo. I have to give Pope John Paul II credit for opening up the investigation and getting that unfortunate historical event cleared up. The current Vatican position is partly correct – it *is* a matter of biology. But it isn’t just the gross shape of the 23rd chromosome pair – it includes the actual genes on those chromosomes and how they are expressed during embryonic and fetal development, and beyond.

      • Fair enough. But let me ask you this: you state that the ISNA is a political organization. But isn’t this whole “transgender bathroom war” issue politically motivated? The reason it has become such a contentious issue is because the LGBT movement has pushed it. How many of the individuals behind this issue are in fact intersex individuals? The cases being pushed are based on people who “feel like the other sex”, and Target and Obama’s blanket mandate, even if they help one or two people, open the door to such serious potential for abuse and discomfort for countless others, and all for political reasons. The biggest danger for any cause is when it becomes politically motivated.

        I have always stated and agreed that there are some serious cases of individuals who have serious psychological problems with gender dysphoria. My concern is that society is too easily jumping on the bandwagon for transgender acceptance without wanting even for a moment to consider therapy to help people identify with their actual gender. In doing this they do a grave disservice to people afflicted with gender dysphoria by inflicting upon them their own often politically motivated desire for them to live as a transgender person and push them through that door far too easily. I do believe that is far better to help someone live with their true gender than to pretend to be the other, and that people are far too easily pushing them through the transgender door for political reasons. There’s no doubt in my mind that this is what is driving Target, Obama, and the others; they are actively encouraging people to live as transgender and trying to force society to accept it not as a psychological disorder but merely as a personal choice.

  2. As regards the document you quoted, I am not a canon lawyer, and I would refer any such question to one who is.

  3. Liz says:

    Hi Father,
    i don’t quite know how to put this, but all the time my daughter was
    growing up I was afraid that she would be trans-gender. She could never understand why God made her a girl and not a boy. She was never a girly girl, always acted like a boy, wanted to dress like one, and was waiting to grow her “boy” parts We would talk to her about how God made her a girl because that was His plan for her, and she would never be a boy. I can’ t tell you the relief I felt when she just turned out to be gay. I am not making light , if she had to be one or the other it seems like its the easier of the two – even though I know neither is what acceptable. I don’t know if I have said it before , but she is an awesome, kind , caring young woman, but I do wonder what her life would be if she was straight. Would she be the same awesome human?
    I have talked before of my confusion and search for peace with her lifestyle , without turning my back on God or her. I have spent many hours in prayer, but still don’t have an answer in my heart.
    anyhow, thank you for your blog, and for trying to make some sense of a complicated subject.
    Still praying for you.

    • I hope I have helped you, Liz. I have a friend going through the very same thing with his daughter and I know it is heartbreaking. I’m sure she’s a terrific person, as nothing in any of this discussion is calling the personal goodness of the individual into question (or at least it shouldn’t!) I am convinced that the fullness of peace and healing will only come through adherence to God’s call to holiness and not merely through popular ideas. Let’s keep both of us in each other’s prayers.

      Fr. C.

      • Liz says:

        Honestly, the only time I have any sense of peace is when I tuck all of this away and don’t think about it. The problem is when it all comes back in to my thoughts and prayers it quickly becomes overwhelming. The evil one is quick to pick at my conscience.

      • That’s how he works!!! But Remember that Jesus said “I am with you always, even until the end of time.” He is very near. Fear not.

  4. Andy Thompson says:

    The Catholic Church will continue its decline among the young unless it comes up to speed on human sexuality. It is decades out of date.

    • Thank you for your comment. But I think are are completely missing the point of the Church. We are not trying to win a popularity contest. We are commissioned by Jesus to “teach them to carry out everything I have commanded you.” Our job is to bring people to Christ and His call to salvation and not to ourselves. If we change the Gospel because it is currently unpopular, we will be bringing them to ourselves and not to Jesus, thus failing in carrying out our mission.

  5. Chris P says:

    Fr. Carrozza,
    Thank you for some well needed clarity on this issue. The church, and society as a whole needs more shepherds/leaders to speak out against how far we have lost our way. May God continue to bless you in your ministry.

  6. Joan S says:

    This was brilliant – we had dinner guests on Sunday evening and never left the table as we discussed this matter. We all felt like you but the chicken example itself makes the best and clear case. I can’tell wait for the next get together. Of course I will acknowledge my favorite priest as my source.

    • You’re very kind Joan! Sadly, the situation is getting so bad that one of my 8th graders asked me if God became “transgender” would the Church approve of it. Absolutely amazing! How disturbing!

  7. Emerson says:

    I have a question, Father.
    I have a friend, who is biologically male, but living as a female. She has a girlfriend. The girlfriend is completely aware of her gender-orientation and accepts it. So… since biologically, they are a male and a female, are they a sort of loop-hole to the same-sex rule, despite living as two women?

    I hope you don’t think I’m being rude. This is something I’ve thought about quite a bit.

    • Hello. There is no loophole to the “same sex rule.” Any sexual act outside the bond of marriage is sinful whether the couple is straight or has same sex orientation. The sexual act was made by God to be the means by which a man and a woman unite their love with His in a lifelong union and join Him in bringing about His most precious creation – a new life. Anything that alters that is a manipulation of a Sacramental bond and is therefore sinful.

      • Father, perhaps the question might be whether the couple referenced by Emerson, if Catholic, could get married in the Catholic Church, partaking in the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony? (And would the answer depend on whether the transgender party still has functional gonads (i.e., has not had GRS or been on HRT long enough to lose procreational functionality?)

        My guess is that the answer would still be “no” because of the way the Church characterizes transgender people, under a “sub secretum” document from 2000 (leaked to CNS in 2002), which concluded that people who have undergone GRS cannot enter into a valid marriage, either because they would be marrying someone of the same sex in the eyes of the church or *because their mental state casts doubt on their ability to make and uphold their marriage vows.*

        While that sub secretum document does contain an affirmation of the validity of marriages in which one partner later undergoes GRS, *unless a church tribunal determines that a transsexual disposition predated the wedding ceremony.*

        In this case, the individual clearly is transgender, and the “condition” predates the wedding ceremony – one might conclude that a sacramental marriage in the Church would not be possible. It would also avoid “creating a scandal in the Church” by having a church wedding where both spouses are wearing white wedding dresses.

        I’d be interested on whether you agree with this analysis.

      • Thank you for your comment. As Pope Francis states in Amoris Laetitiae (I’m paraphrasing him), our gender is determined by our genetic makeup and not by our feelings; therefore, the only valid marriage would be between one man who is genetically male and one female who is genetically female. If it is later discovered that one of them had altered their appearance with dress, surgery, or hormones, and entered into marriage under the pretense of being of the other gender, that marriage would be null and void.

        The bottom line I have been saying through my argument and which Pope Francis stated in Amoris Laetitiae, is that gender is a matter of biology and not opinion. One’s feelings don’t determine his or her gender; only the biological fact of their genetic makeup does.

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