Celebrated gay activist Father Daniel P. Horan OFM rails against two U.S. bishops in a September 1 diatribe in the far-left National Catholic Reporter for their criticisms of “gender ideology.”
In his essay, Father Horan accuses Bishop Michael Burbidge of Arlington, Virginia, and Bishop William Joensen of Des Moines, Iowa, of making “transphobic statements” because of their opposition to administering hormone blockers to adolescents who are confused about their sexuality.
The bishops “resort to the tired straw man of ‘gender ideology’ as the catchall for everything that frightens or confuses them about transgender persons or those who are otherwise gender nonconforming,” the priest asserts.
Gender ideology is “an ideological bogeyman or frightening specter to haunt congregations into greater transphobia,” Horan declares.
In point of fact, Bishop Burbidge straightforwardly condemned transgender ideology in his Catechesis on the Human Person and Gender Ideology because it “presents a view of the human person contrary to the truth” by disconnecting the idea of gender from that of the biological sex of a person.
Appealing to both biology and Christian anthropology, Burbidge reasserted basic truths of human sexuality. He recognized that some people suffer from gender dysphoria while insisting that the use of puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and surgery to mutilate healthy adolescents is “morally unacceptable.”
Curiously, Father Horan fails to note the several times Bishop Burbidge cited Pope Francis, who has been one of the most vocal opponents of “gender ideology.”
“Let us not play with truths,” the pope said in a 2017 book-length interview. “It’s true that behind all this we find gender ideology. In books, kids learn that it’s possible to change one’s sex. Could gender, to be a woman or to be a man, be an option and not a fact of nature? This leads to this error. Let us call things by their names.”
For his part, Bishop Joensen similarly recommended pastoral compassion toward those experiencing gender dysphoria, without resorting to drastic, irreversible, life-altering measures.
Joensen denounced recourse to “dramatic interventions such as prescribing hormonal blockers to sexual development, or surgeries that would alter sexual organs and recraft one’s physiognomy, whether within the medical, LGBTQ+ communities or even one’s own parents and family.”
“The emerging medical data confirm that so-called gender-altering surgeries and the chemical disruption of sexual development that is a preceding step do not deliver promised long-term therapeutic relief,” the bishop stated.
By these and similar statements, the two bishops reinforce “transphobic stigmas,” Father Horan writes, all the while claiming that their opinions are “supported by Catholic teaching.”
“Transphobia is a form of dehumanization, a kind of destructive and dangerous discrimination that has no place on the lips of a pastoral minister or in the documents of a church leader,” the priest asserts.
Moreover, “to reject the names and preferred pronouns of transgender people,” as Bishop Burbidge does, “is sinful, harmful and dehumanizing,” Horan adds.