The full title of the post by someone named Steve Warren is: Vatican Rejects Idea People Can Choose or Change Genders; Noted Psychiatrist Agrees. Accompanying the post is a profoundly offensive photograph of a man with a beard wearing lipstick and nail polish. That psychiatrist is Dr. Lawrence Mayer.

I actually agree with the headline (and presumably the Vatican). Gender identity is not a choice and gender identity is highly resistant to change. I doubt that my version is what the Vatican had in mind.

Pope Francis recently went on record again rejecting the idea that people can choose or change their genders, insisting that men and women are the biblical complement to each other in order to make children.

The document of the text released by the Vatican last week, “Male and Female He Created Them,” is intended to help Catholic teachers, parents, students and clergy address what the Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education called an “educational crisis” in the field of sex education.

The title of the document referred to in the preceding paragraph reflects a passage in Genesis which serves as the foundation for a great deal of anti-transgender rhetoric.

The paper called gender fluidity a symptom of the “confused concept of freedom” and “momentary desires” that characterize post-modern culture. It rejected terms such as “intersex” and “transgender” and said the purpose of the biological “complementarity” of the male and female sex organs was to ensure procreation.

At this point the term “gender fluidity” has become meaningless. There is some stunning stupidity either from Mr. Warren or the Vatican because intersex is a biological reality. Some people are — in point of fact — born with ambiguous genitalia. When it comes to “confused concept[s]” … the Vatican and Mr. Warren demonstrate an inability to differentiate between sex, gender and presentation (transgender). Differentiation depicts comprehension.

I get faith. I have ancestors who did all sorts of weird stuff. For example, aside from keeping kosher, 12 days each month wives and husbands could not touch each other. Don’t get me started with “evil eye” mythology; its application or defenses (spit thrice). But I digress.

The Vatican can ask adherents to conform to Catholic teachings. Most U.S. Catholics are quite selective in that regard. Indeed, Catholics in the United States supported marriage equality in greater percentages than the general population. I have little problem with the dogma. Obviously I disagree with it just as I disagree with most belief systems. There are, however, two very real problems:

  1. The Catholic Church has a long history of attempting to impose its dogma on public policy. It is unacceptable to the Church for merely adherents not to use birth control, have abortions or marry someone of the same sex. Through its bishops the church continues its attempts to make illegal the use of birth control, access to abortion and same-sex marriage.
  2. The dogma is taught to students in Catholic schools as truth. Aside from confusing faith-based dogma with evidence-based science, they risk making children prejudiced. All the “love of all God’s children” BS is veneer, not reality. The tolerance of children becomes dependent upon parents to contravene the same teachings that they are obliged to adhere to.

Warren continues:

Contrary to claims by activists in the LGBT community, sex isn’t “assigned” at birth – and that’s why it can’t be “reassigned,” according to The Heritage Foundation’s Ryan T. Anderson.

In his book When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment, Anderson says sex is a bodily reality that can be recognized well before birth with ultrasound imaging. The sex of an organism is defined and identified by the way in which it (he or she) is organized for sexual reproduction.

No one on planet Earth is responsible for more anti-trans bullshit and confusion than Ryan T. Anderson. Anderson says what they want to hear. Listeners suspend critical thinking which should include the fact that Anderson lacks the qualifications to weigh in on human sexuality. He is a music major turned philosopher.

Anderson has tactics that he repeatedly uses to deceive people. Some of these are represented in the two paragraphs above:

  • Anderson falsely claims that people are wed to a belief. It is a form of creating a straw man which is a logical fallacy. Imaginary LGBT activists do not claim that sex is not assigned at birth. Chromosomes are a reality. No one disputes that.
  • Anderson pretends that gender, as a separate construct from sex, does not exist. Gender is an absolute, irrefutable scientific reality.
  • Anderson pretends that disagreement exists when it does not. We all know that genitalia, and thus sex, is visible in an an ultrasound image of a fetus. No one disputes that. What we do not know is what gender will develop by the age of about two or three. About 99.5% of people have congruent sex and gender. But, for a small percentage of people, these are incongruent and the resulting condition, gender dysphoria, causes distress. All this noise is disproportionate to the number of transgender people.

Some people are exceptionally intellectually dishonest. Ryan T. Anderson is, simply put, a liar. Apparently, any lie in support of the faith is acceptable to Anderson. He lacks the introspection to understand just how immoral he has become and he is immoral despite all the trappings of religious piety. The reason for this, I think, is the lack of objective criticism from the faithful.

Skipping over a fair amount of gibberish:

Anderson also highlights a court case where Dr. Deanna Adkins, a professor at the Duke University School of Medicine, called the standard account of sex – an organism’s sexual organization – “an extremely outdated view of biological sex.”

Dr. Adkins is a highly respected pediatric endocrinologist. She is also the Fellowship Program Director of Pediatric Endocrinology at Duke
University School of Medicine and the Director of the Duke Center for Child and
Adolescent Gender Care. Anderson has not provided a case to refer to. I can only assume that he is referring to Dr, Adkins’ testimony in the North Carolina HB2 matter. Before I get into Anderson’s dishonest claim, Dr. Adkins also testified:

Both post-mortem and functional brain studies that have been done on the
brains of individuals with gender dysphoria show that these individuals have brain
structure, connectivity, and function that do not match their birth-assigned sex.
Variations in these studies include overall brain size, intra- and inter-hemispheric
connectivity (number of connections within each half of the brain and between halves of
the brain). Differences have been shown in visuospatial and verbal fluency tasks and
their activation patterns in the brain. Variations in cortical thickness in the sensory motor
areas, the white matter microstructure, and regional cerebral blood flow are also present
in those with gender incongruence compared to those without.

I suppose that part did not resonate with Anderson. Nor this (emphasis added):

With the exception of some serious childhood cancers, gender dysphoria is
the most fatal condition that I treat because of the harms that flow from not properly
recognizing gender identity. Attempted suicide rates in the transgender community are
over 40%, which is a risk of death that far exceeds most other medical conditions. The
only treatment to avoid this serious harm is to recognize the gender identity of patients
with gender dysphoria
and differences of sex development.

If, in fact, Anderson is referring to Adkins’ testimony in the North Carolina matter, the text that Anderson quoted and attributed to her (“an extremely outdated view of biological sex”) does not exist. Either Anderson is lying again or Anderson is referring to something else. To be fair, Dr. Adkins did testify in the Drew Adams matter in Florida. I can only find a summary of her testimony. The fact that I cannot find something does not mean that it does not exist.

Enter the shrink:

In a rebuttal response [to Dr. Adkins’ alleged testimony], Dr. Lawrence Mayer, a scholar in residence in the Department of Psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a professor of statistics and biostatistics at Arizona State University, wrote: “This statement is stunning. I have searched dozens of references in biology, medicine, and genetics – even Wiki! – and can find no alternative scientific definition. In fact, the only references to a more fluid definition of biological sex are in the social policy literature.”

Let me preface this by saying that I have a cordial relationship with Dr. Mayer. While we have immense differences of opinion, I like him. In this case I do not know if he is responding to Anderson or if he has actually read court testimony to that effect. No one has contended that there is “a more fluid definition of biological sex” as Mayer puts it.

I have read Dr. Adkins’ HB2 testimony in full. What she is saying is that we have to appreciate sex differently. In the small minority of people who have incongruent biological sex and gender, gender is controlling. Adkins uses the word sex, when not preceded with the word “biological,” as synonymous with gender:

The cost of not assigning sex based on gender identity is dire. It is counter
to medical science to use chromosomes, hormones, internal reproductive organs, external
genitalia, or secondary sex characteristics to override gender identity for purposes of
classifying someone as male or female. Gender identity does and should control when
there is a need to classify an individual as a particular sex.

And in conclusion …

“Scientifically speaking, transgender men are not biological men and transgender women are not biological women. The claims to the contrary are not supported by a scintilla of scientific evidence,” explains Dr. Mayer.

The problem I have with the above is that there are no claims to the contrary. Dr. Mayer is rebutting an argument that no one has posited,

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By David Cary Hart

Retired CEO. Formerly a W.E. Deming-trained quality-management consultant. Now just a cranky Jewish queer. Gay cis. He/Him/His.