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Catholics for Choice Condemns U.S. Bishops for Outrageously Transphobic Healthcare Guidance

March 21, 2023

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, March 21, 2023
Contact: John Becker, Press Secretary­­­­­
Phone: (202) 203-0931

Catholics for Choice Condemns U.S. Bishops for Outrageously Transphobic Healthcare Guidance

WASHINGTON – Yesterday, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) released new guidance advising Catholic hospitals about how to treat “gender dysphoria.”

The 13-page document, authored by the USCCB Committee on Doctrine, came approximately four months after it was initially expected and claims there is a “natural order” to the world and a “fundamental order to the human body” that determines that men and women were created for specific purposes. The document declares that there are two ways that altering a body “may be morally justified” in the eyes of the church: efforts that “attempt to repair a defect” in the body and “when the sacrifice of a part of the body is necessary for the welfare of the whole body.” It concludes by saying that treatments for “gender dysphoria” or “gender incongruence” are not morally justified under these conditions, as they “do not respect the fundamental order of the human person.” According to the USCCB, Catholic health services must not “perform interventions,” and instead “must employ all appropriate resources to mitigate the suffering of those who suffer with gender incongruence, but the means used must respect the fundamental order of the human body.”

Catholics for Choice President Jamie L. Manson, M.Div., issued the following statement in response:

“The USCCB’s so-called ‘moral criteria’ directing Catholic hospitals to refuse to provide transgender patients with gender-affirming healthcare is anything but moral — it is an attack on basic human rights, an affront to Catholic social justice values, and with 1 in 6 U.S. hospital beds housed in Catholic hospitals, a very real threat to the lives, health, and well-being of transgender, non-binary, and gender-expansive patients. Committing such spiritual violence in the name of God is an abomination, plain and simple.

“Nearly every major mainstream medical and mental health organization recognizes transition-related healthcare, including gender-affirming care, as medically necessary and appropriate care for transgender people and the best way to ensure their physical, psychological, and emotional well-being. Indeed, studies show that denying such care to trans people, including trans youth, leads to higher rates of depression, substance abuse, and suicide. By ignoring the scientific consensus on the necessity of gender-affirming care, the U.S. bishops are effectively promoting discrimination against and further marginalization of an already vulnerable and deeply marginalized community, despite the fact that Jesus calls us, and Catholic social teaching compels us, to do exactly the opposite.

“It is additionally galling that this document was released by a group of cisgender men, apparently without the consultation of a single transgender, nonbinary, or gender-expansive person. The bishops’ unwillingness to listen to the wisdom and lived experiences of countless healthy, prospering transgender persons is a glaring reminder of the powerlessness of LGBTQIA+ people and women in the church. Transgender people are a reflection of the extraordinary complexity and variety that God has made in every aspect of nature and throughout our universe, and their gender expressions and spirits are a testimony to God’s boundless creativity. The falsely binary God portrayed by the nation’s Catholic bishops is so small and so limited by comparison.

“The U.S. Catholic bishops should immediately rescind this harmful document and instead of victimizing transgender people in their latest culture war battle, they should listen to them, care for them, and embrace them just as they are. In doing so, they might learn something about the God who created all of us.”

Catholics for Choice shapes and advances sexual and reproductive ethics that are based on justice, reflect a commitment to a person’s well-being and respect, and affirm the capacity of all people to make moral decisions about their lives.